https://thankyouforswallowing.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/oct16.pdf (I was originally going to post a 'hooray' about my published poem but...)
How much do we, in the UK, value the arts? I would say that depends on who you ask and when you ask. At the moment, I feel concerned about the potential for the reestablishing of social divides from pre-sixties England, plunging us into a dark age where the disadvantaged are channeled away from supposedly ‘unproductive’ social pursuits towards academic or tertiary pursuits that will prepare them for the workplace – though what that will look like post-Brexit God only knows!
I was prompted to think about this, in particular, today for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, a friend from a previous course sent me a link to an article discussing how a major examination board was axing their art A’Level syllabus in 2018; and secondly, the publication of a poem I wrote a few months ago. The first seemed to indicate that certain sectors of the education system feel that the arts are of less value for sectors of our society, preferring to focus the young within a lower income social strata towards more productive pursuits while the Oxbridge students still had access to these syllabuses through different exam boards.
Thankfully, despite a non-existent education, I am now fulfilling whatever potential I might initially have had and rather than making me feel that the exam boards have it right, I feel even more strongly that they are wrong. By narrowing the horizons of our young people from their own narrow-minded, or pernicious, lack of appreciation of the far-reaching benefits of the arts to our society they are stifling the potential of the young or the returning learner and to the detriment of the richness of social life for all.
Thank goodness there are organizations such as the Open University and night schools available to those who want more from life than a simple, Gradgrind version of education.