Art History- save our creativity

Can you picture a world without art?

Commenting on the political climate is something I don’t usually cover here on Old Fashioned Susie. Recent decisions by our government here in the UK about our education system have really riled me though!

It is being described as “cultural vandalism”, subjects like Art History and Archaeology at A-Level are to be scrapped. Michael Gove has called them “soft”.

There are so many issues I could talk about with regards to our education system, from homework to teachers jobs and pay.

But the removal of choice here is what has outraged me the most. Here’s a great article from the Guardian on why we must continue to have Art History as an option at A-Level.


“… appreciation and love of art is not just the mark of any civilised society, it is the clearest mirror you can hold up to that society, telling you more of its time than a thousand academic histories or earnest documentaries.”

Stuart Maconie,The Guardian.17.10.16

It’s taken me a few days to compose my thoughts on this, and I still don’t have them articulated well in my mind. I just keep thinking- how dare they.

What I do know clearly though, is my belief that education is for everyone. And the freedom to choose what you want to learn beyond high (secondary education) school is a part of the diversity of our culture. Learning about the past is key to understanding and shaping our future.

creative thinking

As you may know, before having kids and starting a blog, I worked as an art & design teacher in secondary school, so this subject feels very close to my heart.

I asked a colleague, who still teaches art, for her thoughts about the situation;

“I’m experiencing frustrated children who are specifically told that creative subjects have no future. Told they must study other more ‘important’, ‘worthwhile’ subjects because doing so will help them get into college/unversity.

How can people who have no understanding of creative courses be allowed to cut away at our children’s future career pathways? Reducing options or removing them altogether is not the answer. Just because a subject can not be measured in monetary terms doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.

Art and creative subjects have been proven to reduce stress, promote a positive outlook and produce imaginative thinkers with initiative.
Isn’t this what we want for our children entering the workplace?

Removing Art History at A-level along with other courses which broaden the mind and allow us to understand our past is a mistake. To truly plan and prepare for our future we must understand what has come before us.

In a visual world where social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook dominate our lives why would we ever be removing creative, artistic pathways that are producing the designers of the future?”

Dawn Lee, Art Teacher ages 11-16

uk education

800 students took A-Level Art History this year, seemingly that isn’t enough for Art History to continue. The BBC reports that hundreds of experts have wrote to the government in protest.

Here is a full list of the courses that have been axed.

And here’s food for thought…

Want Your Children to Survive The Future? Send Them to Art School

Do click through to the articles I’ve mentioned here, highlighted in blue, or the one above. They make for great reading.

What are your feelings on the scrapping of Art History and the other courses? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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  1. October 24, 2016 / 8:15 am

    I 100% agree with you. I’m very pro arts and cannot believe that he is thinking this way. It’s very worrying.. Great post – thanks for being pro active about it X

    • Susie
      October 24, 2016 / 7:54 pm

      Thanks Lucy- I feel sad for my kids and others their age. I hope someone see’s sense x

  2. October 24, 2016 / 8:40 am

    Oh I do think its terribly sad awe learn so much form art it so historical/ emotional/ social and thought provoking. what a loss

  3. October 24, 2016 / 10:10 am

    I find it awful that it’s been taken off the curriculum. It’s important for us to gain understanding of not just art history, it teaches children broader thinking. We do too much spoon fed information style teaching these days.

    • Susie
      October 24, 2016 / 7:55 pm

      Thanks Emma- I’m still in shock.

  4. October 24, 2016 / 1:45 pm

    This made me so sad when I heard they were axing it. Art and design is very close to my heart and there’s certain modules from my graphic design BTEC that really stuck with me, art history being one of them. Learning art history is valuable in so many ways – particularly if you choose an art & design career and you’re able to eloquently discuss important moments in the industry. Sad times.

  5. October 24, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    I feel your frustration Susie. It is indeed an outrageous removal of choice 🙁

  6. October 24, 2016 / 6:10 pm

    As an ex-teacher who left the system primarily due to the fact that the government was draining the curriculum of any creativity this makes me so cross. The bottom line is that not all kids are the same; they all learn differently; they are all interested in different things; they deserve choice and variety and failing to give it to them will trigger so many other problems in the future.

    • Susie
      October 24, 2016 / 7:52 pm

      Katy- My thoughts exactly! Thanks for stopping by x

    • Maya
      November 3, 2016 / 12:45 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Each kid is so unique in the way they learn and perceive the world around them. Of course, not everyone can be an artist, but these subjects in school broaden the minds of students. On the opposite side, if they are taken away, a kid from the very beginning is though that art is lesser and that anyone interested in it is not “serious” about life.

  7. October 24, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    I hadn’t heard about this, and it is terrible. I hate that the children are being pushed down routes that the gov think they should be doing. We are going to end up with lots of kids in jobs that they really don’t want to be in. They are scrapping Health and Social care too, I did that at college, it set me up for my nursing/caring career. How can they get rid of things like that?

    • Susie
      October 24, 2016 / 9:02 pm

      Stephanie it is really shocking isn’t it. Worrying times ahead xx

  8. October 25, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    The news of the scrapping of the art history A level (and the reasons given that it is a ‘soft’ subject) depressed me more than any other news in the past while (and that’s saying something, as the news has been pretty awful of late!) I’ve read lots about it, but was interesting to read your art teacher friend’s comments and the effects on her young students.
    I didn’t do an art history A level in Ireland (cos we didn’t have them) but art history was a big part of our art leaving cert, with a paper on it towards the art qualification. That in itself led to a lifelong love of art, leading to go back and study art history as a (very) mature student. On my first day of lectures the professor said ‘art history will change your life’ and I thought pah, that’s over egging the pudding/course – but less than a year later I remembered those words as I realised art history had definitely changed my life – for the better – in how I saw, understood, and reacted to the world. A few years later the transformation was even greater after postgrad study and getting a job as lecturer (and now in an art gallery). After the professor left, I took on saying to students in my introductory lecture ‘art history will change your life’ and even now I get past students letting me know how much it has changed their life, and even when they don’t tell me I can see it. I’m sorry for this essay, but like you I am so sad and angry about this state of affairs, and despair for humanity! I can’t defend art history as eloquently as the people in the Guardian article, but I’d definitely protest march for it, and I’m delighted you wrote this post Susie!

    • Susie
      October 26, 2016 / 10:05 am

      Molly – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I really hope they come to their senses soon, this just cant happen!

  9. October 26, 2016 / 7:55 am

    That’s so sad to hear. The world of creativity is so enriching and important. I have loved it ever I discovered it with blogging. The balance need to be kept. Hope they bring it back. x

  10. October 28, 2016 / 9:48 am

    I’m super pro arts too and a relevant in every day life as well as culture. It’s annoying to think that people can only see it as stress reduction.
    My degree is in fine art and whilst it’s not vocational like other degrees, it is important

    • Susie
      October 29, 2016 / 12:10 pm

      I did Fine Art too at Kingston- where did you go?

  11. October 28, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    Superb and thought provoking post. I too as an ex art student am horrified at this turn of events.
    What can we do? Protest march here I come….x