The future of the arts

Coeducation is education for life. Naturally

Stephen Roberts – Head of Arts

In 2018 I look around our College and see students who are beginning to let go of creating traditional, time-honoured, carefully defined paths in favour of curating a program of study that allows for more than just a means to an end.

Students, it seems to me, are far more in-tune with what makes them tick individually, and are capable of identifying subjects that inspire curiosity and provide robust, practical and mental engagements.

The future of our students is an exciting one. Never before has information been so readily available through such a myriad of platforms. If you want objective solutions or answers, they are merely a press of a button. Finding creative solutions, however, is not so easy. Emotional intelligence, empathy and understanding of social interactions cannot be acquired from a quick Google search.

The arts therefore, has a crucial role to play in the development of our students, especially if the goal is to develop fully rounded, emotionally and socially intuitive people who have the capacity to provoke change and development.

Being accepted into medical school used to mean selecting time-honoured disciplines such as biology or chemistry, taking a more traditional route as a “pre-med” to gain entrance. The goal was to be the most prepared for the onslaught of biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy and science-related material that has traditionally permeated the first several years of medical school, prior to the transition to formal clerkships.

In the past two decades, however, with the advent of the problem-based learning promoted through Harvard Medical School, along with an earlier exposure to seeing patients in various electives, the traditional pre-med student that admission committees used to seek out has begun to change.

In 2015 Harvard Medical School launched its Arts and Humanities Initiative.

The School recognised that “the arts as powerful tools in medical education that have the potential to improve professionalism, reflection and empathy among physicians and trainees, foster humanism, reduce burnout, enhance perspective, sharpen physicians’ analytic and diagnostic skills, and improve teamwork and communication.”

In speaking on Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind, Leonardo da Vinci observed that to develop a complete mind one must ‘Study the science of art’. He explained that curiosity consumed da Vinci’s mind as his thoughts and questions streamed far beyond what a child past the age of ten wonders. Leonardo Da Vinci achieved astonishing results particularly throughout the medical arts.

As this is the final blog in this series, I mused on what might be some of the things we see from arts in the future and how I believe it will become more, not less, integrated into our teaching and learning.

Trends in the arts

  • The arts will become less silo-orientated with more emphasis placed on collaboration. The future of the arts industry will see less clear genres as art becomes more blurred and less easy to ‘categorise’.
  • Technology will continue to be embraced by the arts community which will progress with it as opposed to existing in opposition to it.
  • The arts compel us to be more human – vital in a future of artificial intelligence. The arts will be seen as the benchmark of our humanity…When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding to support the war effort, he replied: “Then what are we fighting for?”
  • Arts in education will create genuine opportunities for students to empathise and understand from a variety of perspectives vital for a world of ever-growing diversity.
  • The arts in the future will be seen as a fundamental key to human development.
  • Arts in education will be the conduit that binds the curriculum – with creativity being a highly sought-after commodity in an ever-increasing world of artificial intelligence.

The arts provides creativity in overall communication and ability to learn, therefore increasing students’ soft-skills to thrive in varying environments and challenges. Students are encouraged to become responsible and resilient artists and individuals through the arts as they face various challenges and environments during their lives and, therefore, I believe the arts has a secure place in our technologically-driven future.