What is education for if it is not to better understand ourselves through multiple perspectives and viewpoints

Art, craft and design education helps us to have a dialogue with the world, to understand who we are collectively and individually. We believe that the Government is wrong to provide guidance that cites ‘capitalism’ or more so anti-capitalism as an extreme stance. We have a moral right to teach a broad and balanced curriculum.

The recently published DfE Relationship, Health and Sex Education (RHSE) Curriculum Guidance states:

‘Schools should not under any circumstances use resources produced by organisations that take extreme political stances on matters... Examples of extreme political stances include, but are not limited to:

A publicly stated desire to abolish or overthrow democracy, capitalism, or to end free and fair elections.’

As a learned society we ask the Government: What is education for if it is not to better understand ourselves through multiple perspectives and viewpoints – We ask that this specific directive is removed.

We believe the Government’s guidance is tantamount to censorship where specific artworks or organisations – that are perceived to stand in opposition to the ruling government – would therefore be considered unworthy. We believe this is government-sanctioned censorship of our own and other cultures’ rich histories and that this is anti-educational. We want to educate young people to question and think, not learn a prescribed and narrow view of the world. Being anti-capitalist is not tantamount to being anti-democratic. Indeed, the very notion of censorship is anti-democratic. 

To support a democratic position, we must listen to others’ lived experiences, especially where they differ from our own, and promote debate about how knowledge is communicated through visual culture. In an age when information is freely available online, it is vital that the next generation are given the tools to understand and critique all present day and historical political perspectives. In fact, we have a moral duty to do this.

NSEAD is made up of a diverse and inclusive membership. We believe it is vital for all young people to learn from history, indeed all art, craft and design history. Every citizen has a right to learn about capitalist and anti-capitalist artists and organisations, to learn from socialist and anti-socialist art, craft and design made by individuals and organisations. This allows us to better understand who we are today.

Censoring our teachers limits the scope of their work – to support effective teaching and learning. And so, we call on the government to trust art, craft and design teachers to organise curriculum content sensitively, thoughtfully and independently.

Art and art history makes the world a better place. The next generation of artists, makers and designer have a right to learn from, indeed stand on the shoulders of all those who have gone before them. A broad and balanced curriculum, in all subjects is arguably more vital now than it has ever been. 

 

 

Image: Cornelia Partker OBE RA, AD magazine, issue 20, (2017),  page 04-05

 

Addendum

 

We will continue to teach and learn from all artists, makers and designers, activists and organisations who make the world a better place. These include:

William Hogarth – an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist and social critic

William Morris – a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement

Banksy – an anonymous England-based street artist, political activist

Trade union, Suffragetteand Peace movement banners

Constructivism – Constructivists were in favour of art for propaganda and social purposes, and were associated with Soviet socialism

Feminist artists e.g.  Hannah Hock and Frida Kahlo

Climate aware artists e.g. Katie Patterson

Grayson Perry - has made artwork about MPs and critiqued contemporary society

Cornelia Parker – election artist 2017

Those who question our colonial past e.g. Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid, Christian Thompson, and Eroll Francis (to name a few)

Those who challenge gender norms e.g. Matt Smith (currently exhibiting at Pitt Rivers), Cindy Sherman, Diane Arbus etc

And,

Futurists – Before the first world war, the futurists, led by FT Marinetti, praised militarism and violence.

Salvador Dali – Dalí supported the Republicans in the Spanish civil war. 

Emile Nolde – Nolde was a member of the Danish Nazi party