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Whither the art

November 20, 2012 in Comment, General

Whither the art - at school. Considered by UK @ procartoonists.org

© Bill Stott @ Procartoonists.org

Our wise old cartoonist Bill Stott contemplates the state of the, er, art.

Interesting discussion on the Radio 4 Andrew Marr slot (19 November 2012) all about arts, arts funding, art in schools, and the new National Curriculum, which doesn’t include art and design as a compulsory subject.

The artist Antony Gormley and others sang the praises, quite rightly, of all the craftspersons and technical experts who make artists’ work possible, but the bit which stuck with me was that fact above about the National Curriculum.

I know a bit about art education in secondary schools, having been a teacher in the past. Its standards and performance nationally are much like that of maths or biology. i.e. good, bad and indifferent.

However, it always struck me that decisions about what subjects should be taught were never the remit of art teachers. It was fine for a head teacher, or a head of curriculum as they became known (usually a deputy head) whose specialist subject was English or physics, to decide how many periods of maths, geography, history, science, languages, PE, RE and art etc, should be taught.

It was always taken as read that maths and English were the most important and I’ve no argument with that. What does make me wonder is the grasp, or lack of it, that these decision-makers have of good art teaching. My experience is: not a lot. When I was teaching art, there was still a deeply irritating belief, from those who didn’t teach it, that being good at and enjoying art was a “gift”– the stamping ground of the very few. Which is nonsense. Just as having a “gift” for geography is nonsense.

Bill Stott cartoon

© Bill Stott @ Procartoonists.org

OK, some kids are naturally able. But some kids are naturally able at PE, that doesn’t mean that all kids don’t get the opportunity.

So, given the new non-compulsory nature of art in schools, and the fact that curriculum decision-makers in schools were rubbish at art when they were at school, I fear that art may soon be relegated to after-school clubs. A pastime. How sad.

If you have something to say about BIll’s opinion please jump into the comments below.

The degree of visual communication

June 16, 2011 in Comment, News

Bloghorn Opinion logoThis story raised a storm about the value of the drawn form as a subject worthy of study. The row provoked by the Labour MP Tom Harris has provided some lively correspondence for Bloghorn. Rob Murray reports:

Dr Ernesto Priego, co-editor of The Comics Grid, publicly responded to Mr Harris by asking him whether he also believed that film courses constitute dumbing down.

Speaking  to Bloghorn he said: “The new programme at Dundee is a triumph for comics scholarship worldwide.

“It will certainly be an asset for Dundee and the UK.

“The MP’s opinion was misinformed. It represents the view of many people who still don’t understand what comics are, have been, can be.” Dr Priego added: “I believe it’s also our responsibility to inform the wider public, and the policy makers, [of] the importance of graphic storytelling.”

Dr Priego is not alone. The Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie has also come out against his colleague’s comments. You can read his thoughts on the cultural value of comics here.

Bloghorn thanks Dr Priego who  holds a PhD in Information Studies, focusing on comics and digital technology, for his time and opinions.

EDITED: Noon 16th June

Bloghorn thanks Gregor Murray from the office of Stewart Hosie for passing details of the local media story which you can read here.

Editor, Matthew Buck adds:

Isn’t there a need for more courses like Dundee’s (at degree level or, indeed, much lower down the education “value chain”) to help move opinion about drawing beyond such ill-informed prejudice?

It would help develop better practice of communication for both business and people in the digital age.

Please have your say in the comments below. Bloghorn will be publishing more reaction to this story tomorrow.