When we think of traditional measures of boosting the levels of literacy to a given group, all too often we tend to imagine classrooms full of willing students eager to improve their life skills. In many instances, particular in the less developed world this is often the case – where education is seen as a luxury, students are likely to seize the opportunities when given.
But this situation doesn’t fit all circumstances and improving the general level of literacy often requires more options. In the UK at the moment, the Arts Council of Wales is proposing a very similar argument in response to pressures on their budgets. They have produced a report demonstrating how the arts can be a powerful enabler in driving up standards of literacy especially in deprived communities.
It is certainly true that in times of austerity, art and the creative areas tend to get neglected. However this isn’t the first report which has suggested that teaching in and using the arts can drive up academic standards all across the curriculum. It’s important for students to develop creative skills that can benefit them in other academic areas. It is a vital part of development and a skill that is just as useful to scientists as it is to musicians and artists.
It doesn’t need to be expensive either, arts is accessible throughout many different mediums. The internet has opened up tremendous possibilities including in the study of art such as drama, music and literature. The world’s best galleries and museums are all accessible online to some extent. Same for the media – you can access UK Television through proxies anywhere in the world – the BBC is well known for producing quality art programmes.
It is obviously tempting to tackle literacy and numeracy directly however other areas of study can bring huge benefits in these areas. Reducing costs is obviously necessary in many schools and colleges but that doesn’t mean we should reduce choice.
Accessing BBC and UK TV using Proxies – http://www.iplayerabroad.com/using-a-proxy-to-watch-the-bbc/