Guest blog by Joseph Brasse – Head of Art and Product Design
The late, great, educationalist and author Sir Ken Robinson argued “that children do not grow into creativity but are educated out of it by school systems that prioritise academic achievement and conformity instead of liberating imagination and initiative.” Leaders with real vision – whatever their field – do not come forth from a straitjacketed educational environment.
Nationally, Arts in education may be in crisis, but FBS staunchly advocates the role that they have to play in every young person’s life.
Boldly, and unapologetically, written on the walls of the school corridor it reads: “It’s cool to SING, ACT and make ART”.
At FBS we seek to bridge the gap between the Arts at school and the real world. Our boys learn that the Arts are an intellectual exercise that will extend the means of their communication; that these disciplines provide them with the vision and creativity to help shape the environment in which we all live. The Arts matter at FBS because we are mindful of the world beyond education, which is why we encourage our boys to explore interests and indulge in what excites them most.
The Arts at FBS foster key skills including collaboration and group learning, which we showcase in the several school productions throughout the year. A highlight this year will be the end of year school play in the week beginning 11th July but first, on the 11th of January, our boys will be presenting works across the three disciplines at the Spring Arts Revue. The works on display and performances will demonstrate the boys’ enterprising endeavours and decision making.
We’re determined to keep bucking the national trend in this. With school time and budgets under pressure, and school inspections increasingly valuing ‘core’ subjects as the indicators of school progress and success, it’s understandable why, nationally, the Arts are being sidelined in the curriculum – in turn, leading to a steady decline in the number of students choosing to study arts subjects. However, at FBS we are seeing an upturn in the number of boys engaging with the ‘Arts’. Yes, we have revamped our curriculum to encourage this; but our ‘have a go’ school culture catalyses it: ‘it’s cool’ to bellow out the notes of a hymn at a whole school assembly, take part in the several talent shows that are on offer, or design the stage sets in support of those shows.
It’s been a challenging few years, blighted by a pandemic that has put public-facing events in particular on hold. However, singing is now back in all our assemblies and we will be reinstating the eagerly anticipated ‘Eisteddfod’ and ‘Going Solo’ events. These are a true homage to how seriously we take the Arts at this wonderful school. Boys of all backgrounds and abilities can take to the stage and perform in front of families and peers (Covid permitting), with the notion that it’s all about taking part and a have a go attitude.
“Creativity now is as important as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status” (Sir Ken Robinson)
Arts in schools shouldn’t be sidelined, it should be right up there, in the forefront because we firmly believe the arts teach you to deal with the world around you. Creativity enables critical thinking, and the means for our boys to learn how to express themselves, to open up and ask the hard questions of today – and uncover the innovative and groundbreaking solutions of tomorrow. The Arts offer up possibilities to think beyond what we already know – and with so much knowledge so readily available, at FBS we believe it matters less what our boys know, than how they use what they know. The Arts at FBS allow our boys to explore solutions with confidence and flair, which we believe are key ingredients in moulding the next generation of leaders.
A sentiment shared with Sir Ken, who said: “Imagination is the source of all human achievement.”