The importance of the arts in education

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

A pretty clever man once said this…his name was Einstein.

Every child is born with the ability to imagine. Now, more than ever, should be a time we are encouraging children, not just to learn, but to create.

With the introduction of robotics bringing us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the skills people will need to thrive by 2020 are dramatically going to change. It is our responsibility to equip the next generation for this new era.

While reading about the desired skills for the next industrial revolution, I noticed how all of these skills can be acquired through creative subjects, such as drama. Now, it is important our children still learn Maths, Science and so-called ‘core’ subjects. But I would argue it is of more, or at least, of equal importance, that the next generation is able to communicate well with one another, think creatively and have a high level of emotional intelligence.

I want to share with you the 10 desired skills- according to the World Economic Forum -needed as we enter this new world and explain how all of these can be learned through drama.

1. Complex problem-solving – we can use drama to explore difficult situations and topics. In a safe environment, children are able to create real-life scenarios and solve the problems they encounter in these situations. They learn how to think on their feet, identify problems, evaluate a range of possible solutions, and figure out possible solutions.

2. Critical Thinking – drama teaches children how to critic their own and other people’s ideas, in a constructive manner. They question themselves and each other, as well as learning to explain their thoughts and ideas.

3. Creativity – exercising curiosity and self expression are essential for both drama and creativity. We ask children to create imaginary situations, we allow them to be themselves and express their ideas, we encourage them to think outside of the box. In drama, no idea is too outrageous and no idea is wrong.

4. People management – what better practise can children have at this than actually doing it? Drama is all about people managing. At first children may argue and shout at each other until they realise this doesn’t work. Through teamwork they develop a way to get their ideas across in a calm and collective way and learn to respect other people’s contributions.

5. Coordinating with others – in drama children learn to work with a variety of different personalities and collaborate with one another. All jobs require good interpersonal skills and employees who ‘play well’ with others. Drama also gives children strong communication skills which are vital for coordinating with others.

6. Emotional intelligence – children are able to ‘act’ out any emotion in a controlled environment, helping them to understand their own and others’ emotions. They also learn to see the world from different perspectives and physically put themselves in other people’s shoes by playing a wide range of characters. These two things combined help them to develop empathy, which is essential, not just in work, but in life.

7. Judgement and decision-making – drama allows children to make choices. They learn they can’t always do everything and have to make decisions to benefit the whole group as opposed to just themselves.

8. Service orientation – this one is a bit more abstract but service orientation is defined as the ability to ‘actively look for ways to help people’ so developing a child’s empathy will surely help them achieve this. Drama helps children to understand people- even those very different to themselves -and this is an essential part of service orientation.

9. Negotiating – this is an important skill in both drama and life. Through drama children learn that they can’t always get their own way, they have to discuss everybody’s ideas and come to an agreement that works for everyone.

10. Cognitive flexibility – we achieve this by learning new things and learning new ways of thinking, something that is vital in drama. Drama gives children the chance to challenge each others’ view points and question their own.

(11) Emotional Resilience – not a part of the official list but I couldn’t miss it off. Drama teaches children how be resilient and develop coping strategies. With 1 in 4 of the UK population experiencing mental health issues, emotional resilience really is the most essential skill we can give the next generation.

Most importantly drama makes learning these skills fun and enjoyable, in fact it doesn’t even feel like learning at all. With creative education being less focused on in the school curriculum, it falls to out of school activities to give children these vital experiences.

Camp Xplode is teaming with Fall Into Place to deliver a fantastic Drama Programme this Easter. We will be at Moorlands School from the 2nd-13th April.

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