Why is art class becoming less important

Role of artistic subjects in school : Art is more than making music and painting

Ms. Fontaine, what is the current situation of artistic subjects in the German education system?

Increasingly problematic. The German school and education system is increasingly oriented towards questions of usefulness and the measurability of benefits. However, it is difficult to classify the artistic subjects in this scheme. For example, how do you measure the extent to which an aesthetic experience is useful for an adolescent? Another problem is the often too one-sided tendency within the artistic school subjects to what is called “practice” there.

What is problematic about a practical orientation in artistic subjects? Isn't it good if children work artistically in class?

Of course, teaching music, art and theater includes artistic practice. But more importantly, students learn to reflect on art and the relationship between art and the world around it. The aim of public schooling in general subjects - and these include the artistic subjects - is ultimately not primarily to find future professionals. First of all, public schools are about educating young people to be responsible citizens.

What role can the artistic subjects play in this?

Art lessons can strengthen the self-confidence of the individual. In subjects such as art, music, and theater, students can learn how to argue and what criteria are for an assessment. Because they are constantly forced to question and justify their own position, over time they gain certainty about their own abilities and their own judgment.

What is good artistic teaching?

Teachers should offer pupils opportunities to engage with art. One should ask oneself what young people need for their own life in order to find their way as adults in their world. How these offers are then received by the children and young people is very different. But teachers should teach young people what public cultural maintenance means. Regardless of whether someone goes to a concert or a museum later, everyone should know what is being done in these cultural institutions and why it is a public task for which taxpayers' money is paid.

Computer science didactics called for digital education to be taught in schools rather than music. Encounters with art and culture belong in the family anyway. What do you make of it?

Nothing at all. Digitization is a pressing issue. But: artistic subjects in public general education schools are often the only channel through which children and young people can get to know this world when art and culture do not play a role in their families. If this were to be shifted into the private sphere, it would be an extreme disadvantage for these children.

What problems do arts teachers face?

Often art, music and theater are not seen as fully fledged subjects by colleagues and parents. That is exhausting. In addition, there is an unbelievable overload, also in social terms. Music, for example, is often taught at just one hour a week. If you as a teacher are only assigned to music and no longer in your second subject due to the shortage of specialist teachers, you will see hundreds of students a week. And everyone should be encouraged individually - how is that supposed to work?

How would you like to improve the situation of the artistic subjects?

On the one hand, I want to show my school colleagues that they are not alone. That there is social support, for example at universities and in interest groups. We have to pull together here. On the other hand, it is about creating public awareness of the function of the artistic subjects and of what happens if you let them go to the dogs. We have to show what it means for society if you orient your education system towards usefulness and no longer towards the responsible citizen. It is simply not enough to simply bring in the workforce that can be flexibly adapted to the labor market in one's schools.

Interview conducted by Miriam Lenz.

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