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What young people say about studying the arts


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These slides report what young people in secondary and special schools toid us about their reasons for choosing arts subjects. The full report is on

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What young people say about studying the arts

  1. 1. The TALE Project: Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement What young people say about why they want to study the arts Christine Hall, Pat Thomson, Lexi Earl & Corinna Geppert
  2. 2. who we asked In year 3 we talked to 96 focus groups, n = 439 students In year 2 we talked to 120 focus groups, n = 484 students In year 1 we talked to 124 focus groups, n = 569 students our interviewees were in years 10-13 (aged 14-18)
  3. 3. arts are viewed as a ‘worrying’ choice We did a curriculum evening and one of the parents was asking me about Drama, and what it was worth. This is what I was trying to explain. But the response I got from them was, ‘but it’s not really a subject. It’s not really worthwhile doing’ (Y13). Because I am quite academic, when I told people I was going to do it [take Drama] they were like, ‘you don’t want to be an actress so why would you? Do Maths or something’. They didn’t understand. We had these university students who came in and they were suggesting you don’t have to want to be an actor to do Drama. I was talking to my mum and saying there were some people using it with people in hospital who had gone through traumas. It can help you empathise with people (Y10).
  4. 4. the arts relate to things the students want to do in future • the arts are connected to the ways they want to live their lives • they see their arts practice as something they could keep going alongside paid work • fewer than half intend to pursue the arts further through formal education • they are generally vague about possible careers in the arts • they adopt a ‘next steps’ approach to thinking about their own future careers
  5. 5. the arts are not like other subjects It’s more laid back, free. They let you do your own thing. You’re learning in the way you want to, not a strict way, ‘oh you’ve got to do this or that’. They give you the guidelines of what you have to have completed by a certain point and they let you get on with it, instead of telling you every step of the way (Y11). You can learn how you want to learn it. Do you own research (Y10).
  6. 6. there is no right or wrong in the arts Arts allowed students to develop capacity for failure, and classes gave space for experimentation, exploration of ideas and imagination. In lots of subjects there’s always one right answer you have to strive to get right, but Art is what you do and what you achieve (Y10). In tests you get the marks back and you got it wrong, and you think ‘oh I knew that’, but under pressure you got it wrong. Art is not like that. You can always go back (Y11).
  7. 7. Before, I was very confined and I used to stop myself from saying any of my ideas even though my head was bursting. Now I’m not so afraid. That’s how I know I’ve progressed (Y10). studying the arts encourages self belief and self expression The arts build confidence and team building skills so when you go out into the world you are not going to work with your friends. It teaches you to work with others and get along with them no matter what. You get to see the world from other people’s point of view (Y10).
  8. 8. the arts produce a sense of wellbeing Now we are coming up to our exams and it is all writing, and all the fun stuff is gone because they’ve got to get you ready for your GCSEs. So Art is something you can relax in. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve still got a lot of work to get done, it’s just a different type of work. It’s more enjoyable (Y11). Art is my relaxing subject because the other subjects I chose are quite challenging and I liked Art from when I was younger. It is very therapeutic. It’s not just book work or where you have to constantly keep up to speed. You can go at your own pace. You are doing what you want to do so it relaxes you more (Y11). It’s a form of relaxation for me. It’s so cool that there are subjects like this that bridge the gap with real life (Y12).
  9. 9. the arts are demanding! It quite angers me when people go oh that’s not hard. Try and do Maths. I did Maths last year and compared to art, I found art harder than Maths because it was so much more work. I wanted to go into it so I wanted to get good grades (Y13). I feel like it does demand a lot more work. We've had to stay after school a lot more than any other subject, probably combined. We've had to do lots of weekend and after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's taken a lot more time. Definitely (Y11).
  10. 10. arts teachers are different (and that’s a good thing) The teacher is always there. You can ask for help if you need to. They kind of let us have freedom to do our work and they're there to help you if you need it. (Y13). It's intense but you have a completely different relationship with the teachers. It's a lot more easy-going. It's a lot more conversations, rather than this is the work (Y12). You get to have independence but you work more as a group rather than individually. The teacher is more like a partner (Y12).
  11. 11. what these perspectives tell us • Arts make the present more enjoyable, interesting and meaningful • Engagement in the arts promotes wellbeing, and helps reduce stress • Young people recognise that the expertise and skills that they learn in arts are part of preparing them for later life, even if they do not work directly in the arts • We must take students’ perspectives seriously, when considering a case for the arts