We had a busy time last week, running two workshops with young people and encouraging a national online conversation around Future Views, as well as starting to write up our findings. Consequently, this is a brief post, sharing some responses to the final questions.
We asked you to consider:
Returning to the present day, and perhaps thinking about a particular place, what are the biggest barriers now to creative skills and cultural opportunities for young people being able to continue or grow over time?
Fear of not being good at it, from all sides. The teachers who don’t have the confidence to support young people, the parents who just want their children to earn a decent living and end up influencing them to pick things that are safer. Young people hearing messages that they are unskilled and won’t be needed for jobs in the future, which takes away their motivation.
Access to opportunities (money / resources / places / time). Assumptions about creativity as something that you are good at or not. “I play the piano but I’m not very good” qualifiers. Lack of understanding of creativity as something you can do for yourself and for relating to things bigger than yourself. Education system focused on outputs and narrow understanding of what constitutes good education and success.
The technical aspects of “making a living” or “running a business” can be uninspiring, even “launching a start up” today can be seen just as another way of making money. young people don’t often have time to experience and digest culture with the right timeframe, they are overwhelmed, more informed and knowledgeable than anyone before, but also sometime stuck and afraid of being bored. Thinking of culture and creativity beyond entertainment I would like to see more creativity in politics, across businesses and administrations. There is where creativity is most needed but is also the last place where young people today and in the future would like to be.
We create competitive spaces where education is treated as a sport. We limit funding. We over-burden our children with anxiety for becoming “useful engines” of our society as quickly as possible. This mechanisation of our world is the anti-thesis of all creativity. Think The Renaissance, not Sparta.
Teaching and curriculum limitations on the extraordinary broad spectrum of the arts, signposting access point to that spectrum.
Schools and curriculum. However, historically it has often been barriers and difficulty that have led to extraordinary creativity.
Most of the school environment. If one thinks about the curriculum as a place, it currently feels like a building small rooms, without even windows. A prison perhaps. It is certainly square, with little hope of seeing outside or flexibility. In fact over the past 8 years or so it seems as though these small square rooms have been shrinking.
Knowing they are there, thinking it is for them and affordable for them without a huge mountain of debt which for young people from particular backgrounds is going to be a massive deterrent now. Ignorance. Passivity. Desperation. A lack of belief and or motivation. No notion of the possibility of building your own future. Legacy of an overly instructive and prescriptive education system (in the UK and in particular England).
Education – removal of Art History A level is proof that the education system is still heading in a bad direction re: arts education. Again, money. Both young people’s ability to afford culture, but also the distribution of money to London meaning those young people who are not in or able to access London are left with less opportunity. There is fantastic regional arts of course, but just not as much.
Decreased value placed on creative skills and cultural opportunities in some quarters – these being seen as less valuable for careers and less worthy of pay in order to maintain those careers and that culture within society.
The erosion of all practical obstacles to participation: transport, parking, traffic, etc The financial constraints to developing models of engagement. Forgetting that creativity is an ITERATIVE process. Underestimating the importance of context, and assimilation in aesthetic learning. Presuming that the mental furniture of young people is basically the same as adults without the knowledge.
Finally, we asked:
If you could ask someone influential to do one thing to overcome these barrier, what would it be and who would you ask?
I’d ask parents to be braver and let their children feel free to choose their own paths – create an environment where it is safe to fail.
Education secretary Justine Greening – make “the arts” (music, movement, drama, art) more important in policy and make well being the aim of education.
[Educators/cultural leaders] “be open to change”, if you stop the process of constant transformation of society everybody will suffer from it, any age, any sector. Young people are already part of society, even when they are young. They play a role, in their own way. Acknowledge and listen more to their impossible and naive ideas, even when they have no clue on how things work, because they have the key to solve problem we cannot tackle with our experience. Young people have less personal interest in how the future may evolve, even if this may sound strange they look selfish but after all they are less self-interested in how future may evolve.
I simply cannot answer this question. The causes are inherent in our species. Greed dominates history. All our ills can be traced back through time with a constant undertone of our brains circuitry for fear and greed. In my view, the truly influential will the genetic engineers and my only hope is that they reformulate our violent tribal chemistry.
Pour money into an Artists (residencies) in Schools programme that is process led and has multiple outcomes from performance, craft, digital and musical.
Wholesale change in our education system.
3 years ago I worked on a project to bring digital learning into a school. Science, Art, Media, D&T and a specialist computer science lab decided to work together. The SLT with enforcement from the Head agreed a joint project to start the following term. All except D&T dropped out. Last year Art joined but could get timetables to work together so did a separate digital project. A new head started last year and decided that the projects did not contribute to the school targets. The project has been presented at the V&A, Dorkbot, Comino Foundation and a video and resources from the project are about to be made available over the internet by Innovate My School and Create Education (backed by the Ullitmaker 3D printer company). [Presumably this respondent would ask heads to be more accommodating to such projects.]
Prime Minister, Education Minister, and the media. Listen to young people to the experts, employers and to the cultural sector and make change that values education properly and puts children and young people back at the heart of things. A higher priority for wellbeing and instilling love of learning instead of a Pavlovian approach to shoving information into people.
Here lies the problem. We have a society quite heavily disengaged from the Government. Can I advocate and try and fight for Arts policy? I don’t believe I know who I would ask, or if I did know, I don’t think it would be affective. Teresa May certainly won’t help me. But, put me in a room with Darren Henley I suppose I’d ask him to use his powers of persuasion to get rid of the Ebacc, keep ALL galleries / museums free (at least for young people).
Keep pushing politicians to fight for STEAM instead of STEM agenda – to value Arts education by increasing political support and funding for work in formal and informal learning settings.
Sadly, it would be the government, and they are the ones that have caused this problem in the first place. With Brexit, the EU can’t support us for much longer.