The importance of Performing Arts
St Cuthbert’s Head of Performing Arts, Judy McIntosh, discusses the true value of Performing Arts while learning remotely during the lockdown.
In recent years there has been much emphasis on STEM courses in our secondary schools as we head into a rapidly changing digital world where ‘hard sciences’ have taken precedent with in school courses. Dance, Drama and Music have commonly become optional and as Peter O’Connor, Professor of Education at the University of Auckland, argues in his article for ‘Newsroom’, Arts subjects have been considered the nice subjects you “did on a Friday afternoon”. As a consequence in many schools, The Performing Arts are disappearing altogether.
Fortunately, at St Cuthbert’s, we understand the true value of Performing Arts and are able to challenge this thinking. We are in the very fortunate position to be able to promote the difference between mere achievement and absolute success in life. We believe you can’t have students performing well in the Sciences without the creative, innovative glue that connects and actions their thinking.
At a time like the present, when we were faced with the reality of teaching our students remotely, we looked closely at our pedagogy and what our students really needed.
Performing Arts not only build the skills future employers are looking for: collaboration, curiosity, risk-taking and an ability to think outside the square, but provides young people with an opportunity to express themselves and experiment with finding the very thing that brings them joy. Actors, dancers and musicians are encouraged to train their imaginations, and imagination is vital for our individual wellbeing, as our lives can only be made better if we can imagine a kinder, more colourful, better world. Performing Arts creates worlds of imagination and hope so desperately sought by young people today.
But, most importantly, Performing Arts are vital to schools because they encompass the very competency we all need for the 21st century, Empathy. To be able to step into someone else’s shoes, to recognise and acknowledge the pain and suffering of others, to understand that there is always another side to the story, to unravel the mystery of why people say and do what they do, gives our young people some of the skills they need to cope in this world. Empathy and Understanding create the insight and tolerance we need to hold the future of our fragile world together.
At St Cuthberts, we don’t see Performing Arts as a nice add-on to the hard subjects, but as essential to the wellbeing of all of us, the individual student and the whole school community.