Six minutes for creativity
At 11am UK time this morning, the #includedesign campaign to have creative subjects included in the UK Government's new Ebacc qualification is asking everyone in the creative industry to devote six minutes of their time to raising awareness of the issue. CR is supporting this initiative by writing to Secretary of State Michael Gove
Why six minutes? The campaign calculates that this is the amount of time per day that may be allocated to creative subjects in schools if they are sidelined by not being included in the core Ebacc subjects.
Here is the text of the letter which we have sent to Mr Gove this morning:
Dear Mr Gove,
I am the editor of Creative Review, the leading monthly magazine for the visual communications industry. Our readers work mainly in the design and advertising industry and it is with their interests in mind that I write to you today regarding the exclusion of creative subjects from the Ebacc.
Successive UK Governments have held the creative industries up as a shining example to the rest of the world. We have been told repeatedly that the creative industries form a vital part of our economy and will play an increasingly important role in the UK's push toward a 'knowledge-based', high-skill economy. In the fields of design and advertising we have a host of genuinely world-leading companies; education is the bedrock of their continued and future success.
I appreciate that you are under enormous pressure from various, competing interests over the make-up of the Ebacc programme. However, I urge you to consider the merits of the Bacc for the Future campaign, which advocates a sixth pillar of creative subjects for the Ebacc. You, more than anyone, will be aware of the effects that league tables have had on schools in encouraging them to 'game' the system to produce the best results. I am aware that schools will be able to offer subjects such as Design & Technology as a GCSE, but I cannot help but think that any subjects left out of the core Ebacc 'pillars' of study will be considerably disadvantaged, particularly when it comes to the allocation of resources.
In my position I am fortunate enough to be invited to attend conferences around the world; in the last two years I have spoken at design conferences in China, India, Malaysia and Singapore. These countries are working extremely hard to, in their eyes, catch up with what they see as the UK's world-leading position in industries which they view as absolutely vital to their economic growth. Particularly in India and China, both government and industry leaders have expressed astonishment to me that we would endanger this position by neglecting the education of our next generation of Jonathan Ives, James Dysons and Terence Conrans.
Rather than condemning creative subjects to the margins, surely the way to ensure the UK's future world leadership in this field is to put design at the heart of our education system? The Ebacc presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the direction of UK education. In 20 years' time, would you rather be remembered as the Secretary of State who had the vision to secure Britain's future as a world leader in these important drivers of the new economy, or the man who threw it all away?
Our sister publication Design Week is also supporting the campaign. You can read the text of the letter sent by its editor Angus Montgomery to Mr Gove here.
Anyone wishing to support this campaign can find details of how to get involved at the #includedesign website, including a template for a letter to your local MP and a link to the Bacc for the Future petition.
Visual literacy for all.
This should be seen as an opportunity not to bin arts education but instead rethink about what is taught at level one (GCSE).
Visual literacy isn't just a competency for future designers, it needs to be seen as a key skill that all young people are introduced to. It permeates so many aspects of modern society that if delivered in our schools effectively, it could foster a more reflective, adaptable and creative generation.
When GCSE art is delivered poorly, it becomes no more than painted facsimiles of Monet and gravel hot glued into sketch books. I take huge issue with students 'responding' to an 'inspiring starting point'. As a Foundation tutor, I've seen hundreds of conceptually vague projects (hard fought by able students) in response to equally conceptually vague starting points. Decay. Reflection. Movement.
I believe that it is the vocational contextualisation of 'art' in schools that reduces it to a course with little perceived value by many parents, creatives and educators. As well as Micky Gove. Do 15 year olds really need to be thinking about Performance Art, Advertising and Fashion photography?
I'm not sure. The results are homogenised and derivative. Perhaps if we remove the mysteries of Fine Art from our schools and replace it with a visual literacy programme that nurtures young people to think creatively, we can reposition how our society values creativity as a form of intelligence. All young people are creative. They have things to say. They can solve problems and learn from doing so. They are able to make, craft and learn new skills. I would like to see a simple, inclusive programme that encourages students to visually communicate, solve problems, form their own opinions and read the visual world that surrounds them. Visual literacy for all means that every young person should be able to function effectively in the internet age, understand crafting quality and solve everyday problems. It could also make some young people happier and help them to better understand their role within the world.
It could also benefit Fine Art as well in the long run by perhaps removing some of the suspicion and cynicism that surrounds it in the popular consciousness. By making creative thinking a core competency, it could make a huge impact on our future sustainability. Is there a rhetoric within our schools about the materiality and sustainability of our consumables? Or the functionality of popular media and marketing?
What is a problem
What is an idea
Tell a story with pictures
Wear a sheet in new ways
Draw a hundred different circles
Make a poster that makes me smile
Say something loud with a painted shapes
Photograph a collection of the same thing
These are just rumbles, my research into GCSE Art hasn't gone any further than here:
If you teach GCSE art, I'd be interested to hear what you think. In fact, I'm interested in what anyone has to think.
Most of these ideas are in response to an excellent presentation I saw by Shan Wearing. You really should have a read:
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