22 September 2015


There’s often a fairly treacherous conversation around the dinner table as students approach their parents regarding subject selections. Both parties have their own interpretations of what makes up a ‘good’ education and students tend to value completely different aspects of school than parents do.

Traditionally, the Western education system valued the core subjects like English, Maths, Science & History. Giving weight to their significance are the universities which demand them as particular pre-requisites; this in turn directly affects how our schools are organised. The 5 strands of Arts subjects, Drama, Music, Media, Visual Art & Dance were historically never recognised as being ‘valuable’ or ‘necessary’ for a ‘proper’ education.

For the last 15 years though, we’ve been in the 21st Century and the workforce has changed significantly. It’s widely noted that employers are now looking for people who are critical thinkers, resilient, risk-takers, innovative and curious – all skills that are directly linked to creativity

Despite their perceived insignificance at times, The Arts subjects in schools are highly regarded as a valuable contributor to a child’s holistic development. So much so, that the Australian Curriculum has deemed it mandatory to study The Arts from Prep to Year 8!

So when the time comes to ‘choose’ what subjects to study, here are 3 reasons why parents allow their children to study an Arts subject in high school.

1. Develops Collaboration Skills
Working collaboratively in partnership with others and in teams is essential for learning and life success in today’s interdependent world. Collaboration is the lynchpin for effective participation in families, workplaces and in local & global communities.

Through the Arts, students are encouraged to collaborate face-to-face or online, within the classroom, across schools and with local and global communities. They can collaborate with peers, learners of all ages, and with community members and experts.

The Australian Curriculum highlights the personal and social capabilities learners develop through collaboration:
(Students) ‘...perceive and understand other people’s emotions and viewpoints, show understanding and empathy for others, identify the strengths of team members, define and accept individual and group roles and responsibilities, be of service to others. (Social awareness)
...students who have developed solid social and emotional skills find it easier to... form positive relationships...cooperate and communicate effectively with others, work in teams, build leadership skills, make decisions, resolve conflict, resist inappropriate social pressure, (and) ... feel positive about themselves and the world around them.’ (Social management) http://www.acaratwb.com/general-capabilities/personal-and-social-competence 
Collaboration & The Arts are fundamentally linked. The benefit to the student’s ability in integrating these skills in the real-world is invaluable, hence why parents allow their children to study an Arts subject.

2. Encourages Critical Thinking
In studying an Arts subject, students learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems. Critical and creative thinking are integral to activities that require students to think broadly and deeply using skills, behaviours and dispositions such as reason, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation. (http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/critical-and-creative-thinking/introduction/introduction)

3. Grows Confidence
This is one of the most common reasons parents allow their child to study Drama & I know it’s the same for Dance & Music in other schools. Parents want their children to be
  • Proud of their own achievements
  • Able to share their talents
  • Comfortable talking & performing in front of crowds 
  • Noticed as a leader 

All these skills are directly linked back to a child’s confidence in themselves. We work very hard at my current school to promote the social & emotional development of all our students which in turn allow them to become more confident.

The Arts subjects are a safe, engaging, supportive & creative platform for students to explore & develop their confidence.

Here’s an inspiring video to leave you with: Why is Creativity Important in Education by the great Sir Ken Robinson.

Do you agree with these reasons? I'd love to know some of the other reasons.. Send a tweet & let me know