Myth: creative subjects are less difficult than Maths or English, require less effort and are chosen by some students as a means to reduce their workload.
Truth: Art, Design and Technology, Music and Drama exams involve a range of challenging components which are designed to test technique, knowledge and composition, hardly a walk in the park. Not to mention the fact that controlled assessments in Art at GCSE level, for example, can take up to 10 hours.
Not only that, but creative subjects add so much value to a student's development, that they should most definitely not be underestimated. Studies have overwhelmingly proven that participation in creative subjects is a key component in improving learning throughout all academic areas. The nature of these subjects develops a student's creative problem-solving techniques, expands their mental and visual agility and teaches communication skills as well as mastery of a range of media and technology which all produces a student capable of functioning in tomorrow's workplace.
Here are some values these subjects teach, and how they build an outstanding learner:
Art teaches students to
- Interpret visual information
- Learn that feedback is part of learning
- Breakdown the mechanics of body language
- Approach tasks from different perspectives
- Take creative risks
- Interweave ideas into new possibilities
- Keep an open mind
- Be perceptive to details and ideas
- Entertain various possibilities
- Follow through
- Develop deferred-reward working habits
Be Socially Responsible
- Act with the interests of the larger community in mind
- Know and appreciate diverse societies
- Interpret and evaluate others' perception of reality
Be fluent with technology
- Develop information and media literacy skills
- Create content in a variety of forms and media
- Use digital and social media as an appropriate vehicle for their message
Design & Technology
"Design and Technology is a phenomenally important subject. Logical, creative and practical, it's the only opportunity students have to apply what they learn in Maths and Science."
Sir James Dyson Founder and Chairman of Dyson and Patron to the D&T Association
Students get to actually use their theoretical knowledge to design and make new and better solutions to real life problems - on their own and with others - working with materials they choose.
Students learn to
- understand users
- design in a creative way, using imaginative ideas
- use materials based on their properties, and learn about ground-breaking new materials
- manufacture, while working safely with tools and machines, including 3D printers
- analyse how things work: mechanisms, electronics and computers including robots
"Design and Technology teaches young people to 'think with their hands.' The ability to use tools and materials to solve problems is vital, and is as important in medicine and surgery as in the jeweller's workshop or the sculptor's studio. Now more than ever, D&T is a crucial subject for every young person."
Professor Roger Kneebone, Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science, Imperial College London
By studying Drama, students will acquire:
- self-esteem and confidence, public speaking skills
- empathy and identification
- ability to think creatively, imaginatively and divergently
- connection not only with themselves, but with other disciplines, cultures, traditions and most importantly with an audience.
- teamwork; learning how to work collaboratively is a precious skill.
- understanding of important aspects of our psychology
- memorising techniques
- ability to express emotions
- giving and accepting feedback
- management of insecurities.
- physical activity - drama is an active subject that requires students to get up and move most of the time.
- storytelling, communicating with or without words
- Discipline, routine and structure, all without having to go to military school! The drama classroom can be like working in a professional theatre at times. For example, if they miss a performance, their absence affects the whole dynamics of the show.
No-one doubts at this stage the obvious advantages of studying music, but here is a reminder of a few:
- A mastery of memorization – students will memorise melodies that will stay with them forever, while training the brain to easily memorise other information
- Increased coordination – gross and fine motor skills
- A sense of achievement – how sweet, the sound of applause
- Fine-tuned auditory skills – train the brain to be tuned in to, and interpret, a detailed range of sounds
- Self-discipline – set aside time for practise, stick to a schedule and deliver
- Teamwork – contributing to a large group such as an orchestra is a priceless skill
According to Year 13 student Isabel Flynn, who is studying Art, Design Technology and Maths, "the problem solving within art and DT is obviously creative and often needs to be, but I think within subjects like Maths which are more structured and there's a specific, set way to do something, I view things differently and have my own way of understanding an instruction or formula based on its purpose. I think within many areas of my life the way I work creatively has influenced how I approach and deal with solving problems, not just within the subjects I study in school."
Isabel has had offers to study Graphic Design in university, and she has also applied for an integrated Art Foundation year which leads into a degree in either art or design, which she can decide on after her first semester of trying a variety of creative subjects and flexing her already developing creative mindset.
"GCSE DT taught me many things, including planning, designing and creating things under intense pressure. It made me more aware of the world around me and I find myself looking at products and consider designer influences and materials. DT provided me with ways of thinking that I use in other subjects - some unexpected like chemistry, where I use my knowledge of properties of metals to help me understand. I have an insight of how businesses work, and the designing and development products undergo before going into production. Overall, DT was a fun experience that widened my view of school and the world around me, and I look forward to using the skills in future."
Flora Beer – Year 11 student