Wednesday 5 May 2021

Arts, education and the child

The power of comparison and analogy: when a child says 'this' is like 'that', they're on the first rung of a ladder that leads to making categories and classes or abstractions. Reading is one way we can do this, comparing what's in a book, with our own lives or in other 'texts'.

In 'At the Very Edge of the Forest', Carol Fox points out that for very young children, stories often do a lot of cognitive work to do with eg scientific concepts adults take for granted: gravity (falling), properties of matter (melting), relative speeds (chasing) etc.

Even as high art is celebrated and consumed in high art venues and stately homes,  the arts are being downgraded for the rest of us. High art often celebrates the interpretation of other art: paintings of Greek myths etc but in education interpretation has to be in sentences and tested in exams.

Millions of words have been written by people interpreting 'Line of Duty' as it unfolded, speculating about what might happen next and why. Education can create these moments too, enabling flexible thought and debate based on evidence from texts.