Why do parents not want their children to take art subjects at GCSE/A level?

This is my Gold Arts Award Unit 1 Part D Arts Issue. I focused on why parents might not want their child to take an arts subject at GCSE/A level.

Why do parents not want their children to take art subjects at GCSE/A level?

In my Arts Issue, I am looking into why parents might not want their children to study an art subject at GCSE and A level, these art subjects include; Dance, Drama, Art and Photography. Personally I am passionate about this question and believe art subjects should 100% be taught in schools but some parents are against their children taking an arts subject at GCSE and A level, moreover it also made me wonder why I had chosen to do an arts subject and what benefits it has given me. Firstly, there is often a believe that if you take an arts subject it won't help you later on in life since it isn't an academic subject, most of these beliefs are from parents that don't understand what it can do for you as a person. For most people who do not understand the hard work that is being put into them call them 'soft subjects, an extra A* to prance around'. Noelani Pantastico said in an interview,

"My parents didn't understand what I was doing because they didn't support my decision to do dance, they didn't ask questions"

I feel like this statement really reflects what some parents are like (only focusing on the more academic subjects) and not giving the creative subjects a chance. I also created a survey on Survey Monkey and I got many responses saying that their parents value more academic subjects than creative, 41 responses out of 65 said this. After that question I asked 'Did your parents ever take an art subject when they were at school', the responses are what I predicted 49 out of 65 people said their parents never took one. This means that parents never experienced what it was like to be taught in such a creative way as when they were in school their main subjects probably would have been maths, English, Science. In addition, many parents only believe art subjects mainly focus on the practical side of things but this is not the case. The arts are heavy influenced on the theory side of things, which really help to improve a child's spelling, grammar and thinking capacity. This is one of the main reasons why parents do not want their children to study art subjects, purely because they don't understand them themselves. In an interview in Dance Magazine a parent said 'It can be short lived. It rarely pay well. It is insanely competitive for woman.' Some of the statements I can agree with for example it can be very short lived; an average career f a dancer is 15-20 years which isn't very long. But if you truly love doing what you do why let that limit you, personally I have met many people who have exceeded this 'barrier' and are still doing/teaching the art subjects they love to do which is the most important thing.

People, especially younger children who are being put through immense amount of stress need art subjects as a release from the stress and frustration of the more academic subjects. Stopping young people from expressing themselves at such a young age is not doing them any favours, to study art subjects you need to take risks, push yourself emotionally, expressively and creatively. In every lesson you have to be interpretive, passionate and collaborative. In my opinion I've worked harder in dance then I have every worked in my school life. Some parents in my opinion really do not understand what art subjects can do for you in the future even if you do not have a career in the industry, not only does it help you physically but also mentally. Some key skills you will get when studying an arts subject include:

  • team working skills
  • Motivation and discipline
  • Communication and interpersonal skills

So parents need to understand even if there child doesn't have a career in the subject there is still many reasons why they should let them take it at GCSE and A level (the arts subjects set you up for a career better than most academic subjects would by teaching you more values that will make you a better person). An interview with a dance professional (http://launchpadcreative.ca/dance/) stated, "Through dance I've learnt the importance of constantly supporting one another, we are a family that encourage each other. We never get jealous" she went on to say that nowadays in society people encourage us to think selfishly and act for our own personal gain, which I believe is true. With the arts subjects you bond like no other and create your own little family/friends you will have with you forever. If that is not enough for parents to be persuaded then I do not know what it.

Many teachers (that teach art subjects) that I have talked to all said to me there are some parents who don't give them any credit at parents evening. Parents evening is a chance for teachers to show how well their students are doing in their subjects. For some art subjects you get parents are not the slightest bit interested in it, you will get some parents saying 'why should my child take your subject, it won't get them anywhere in life' and teachers have to awkwardly reply to them listing off reasons why they should take the subject. Some teachers have even experienced parents take out a newspaper and read it while sitting in front of the teachers because they aren't interested. This truly disrespectful to the arts industry and to the teachers who only want the best for your child. In my survey I asked the question would your parents support you if you wanted a career in the arts industry the replies where; 76% yes but the 23% of people who took my survey did say their parents wouldn't support them which is still a big group of people whose parents don't support the arts or a career in the arts. When looking back on this figure it really shocked me as it was higher than I expected, I did not really expect that many responses of parents not supporting their child as I thought parents really would support their child's dreams especially in the arts. But then again it's all down to the type of background your parents came from. If your parents studied dance at school and or took part in a dance club they will most probably support you but the parents who didn't take or study a arts subject may not know the benefits to it, but even if your parents didn't like arts subjects they should still support you in everything you do and be happy that you are happy. However, even the parents who do support you say that you need a 'Plan B' just in case something does go wrong. In my survey, over half of people said their parents told them to have a plan b, there is still that little bit of doubt from parents even though they want their child to do what they love. At the end of the day parents just want their child to have a good life and be financially stable; some parents believe this needs to be done through the more academic subjects and other parents believe this can be done through the arts industry and other creative pathways.

Personally, one of my parents does not support the decision of me taking an arts subject which causes arguments between both my parents. The thought of telling that person that I was going to study dance at A level really scared me and I really had to persuade them to let me, eventually I did but they still have that little bit of doubt saying "you need a plan B and there's other subjects out there besides dance", which I understand because I believe you need a plan b with everything in life.

Overall, I believe parents should support their child no matter what and if they are happy doing arts subjects then the parent should be happy and encourage their child to be the best they can be within that area. The arts is a creative pathway that leads to many opportunities in life and parents should let their child do whatever they desire at GCSE and A level so give them a taste of what it would be like as a career.

In summary, I believe that there are benefits to studying arts subjects which extend beyond the concept of art for the pleasure of doing art and that many parents are not aware of this. You learn so much that you can take with you for the rest of your life and you also make friends for life. For many people the arts isn't just the final product it's the journey to the product that makes you appreciate certain values. Some parents don't support the arts because they have no understanding of what it actually is and what it involves, parents don't support arts as an option because they believe it might hold their child back in life by not making them reach their full academic potential. However, we can change this for future generations by giving the arts more funding. Right now the government doesn't give the arts much funding and much credit (which sets a bad example for parents) meaning parents think if the government isn't giving it funding then it must not be important. If the government in the future did give the arts more credit especially in schools, parents will then realise that its just as important to their child's development as the more 'academic subjects'.

In my opinion the arts are a major stepping stone to anything you want to do in the future (even if you only do it at GCSE or A level) it teaches you more life skills then an academic subject would teach you. As I was doing research there where many varied opinions about this subject but evidently my conclusion is just do whatever makes you happy.


Lucy Beacon

Lucy Beacon

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  • Victoria Williams

    On 4 July 2017, 14:30 Victoria Williams commented:

    I think this is really well written and I agree with all of the points you're making. Although the academic subjects are important, dance gives children a wider future and its the shame parents cant always see this!

  • Hollie Jenkins

    On 4 July 2017, 14:33 Hollie Jenkins commented:

    I really like this Arts issue Lucy. I believe that dance at GCSE/A Level can give students so many independent qualities that other subjects don't have to offer; such as team work, communication, physical and mental strength.

  • Luke Taylor

    On 6 July 2017, 10:29 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    I wish I had ignored my parents when they told me to "not take too many creative subjects"

  • Jake Wood

    On 11 July 2017, 13:50 Jake Wood commented:

    what you said about people needing an art form to release their stress was spot on, also extremely well written.

  • Chloe Lawrence

    On 11 July 2017, 13:53 Chloe Lawrence commented:

    Well done Lucy, this is a great arts issue! Dance and drama give students a wider future and are able to learn a lot of things that you can't always learn within the academic subjects. I just wish parents and people could see this!

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