Artists in schools: Preparing the workforce of the 21st century with the employment practices of the 19th

Employing artists in schools is frequently couched in terms of preparing the workforce of the 21st century (ie children). It’s a pity then that it’s the employment practices of the 19th century which are used to bring about this transformation.  This includes:

  • The absence of any job description or focused person specification;
  • The need to wait patiently at the dock gates (or, in contemporary terms, at the end of phone or email correspondence chain) for the whims, airs and graces of the dockside steward (aka programme co-ordinator)
  • No career structure;
  • Favouritism, lack of transparency about employment practices and avoiding anybody who looks like they might have an opinion, are going to argue back or at the very least critique the so-called work plan.

If you get through the dock yard and onto the boat, you can be confronted with wish lists of multiple dreams which contain all the packaged up school problems, organisational stupidities and blocks which need solving by some kind of outside magic – or failing that, the artist workshop who comes to school for 6 half days a term and is still expected to tolerate the sponsored bouncy castle event intruding into the rare time that has been allocated.

Go on, they say, wow us then… 

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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