The Depreciation of Art Forms in Australian Schools

Mathematics, Chemistry, English Literature, French, Politics & Law, and History.

I chose these subjects in 2011 before commencing my final years of high school. Intellectual, leaning towards the humanities, totally devoid of the arts. Whilst I slightly disappointed my father by not choosing a double-maths-double-science timetable, it was a satisfactory selection of ‘useful’ and academic subjects. Even the slight whisper of an arts course would have sent him into a fit of laughter. In fact, he did just that when my best friend listed Dance as one of her six subjects. As you can imagine, she was just a little bit offended…

In retrospect, I’m relieved that I didn’t take up an arts course, partly due to my complete and utter hopelessness in all arts areas. But mainly, as a serial procrastinator and generally lazy son of a bitch, I would never have been able to cope with the ridiculous workload and competitive talents that our arts students are currently dealing with as they draw closer to final examinations. Thirty page assignments for Drama and mammoth-sized sculptures in Art are certainly not my cup of tea.

These brave souls definitely deserve everyone’s sympathy and admiration, however, the copious amounts of hard work by these students are definitely not reflected through final results. The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is used nationwide (bar wacky Queensland) to award students a rank based on their examination and semester results. These ATAR scores are always difficult to predict exactly due to the scaling, manipulating, moulding, stretching, pounding, and grinding that each poor raw score endures. Contributing factors to these weightings can include socioeconomic backgrounds, private or public education, course levels, and subject. Geography often suffers a downgrade due to the perception that it simply consists of colouring-in maps (I have yet to find any evidence that disputes this). Languages on the other hand, receive a 10% boost due to the supposed difficulty and complexity of the course. Whilst these manipulations vary from year to year, the weighting of arts courses often remain steadily in the negative. Despite the talent and time that course like Visual Arts, Drama, Dance, and Music require, arts students are simply not being recognised in the Australian education system. Could this be an indication for a depreciation of the arts in comparison to academia?

I have always been described fondly as the “brainy daughter” compared to my “creative” sister. Whilst I have shown superiority in academic areas over our schooling careers, my 14-year-old sister could always beat me hands down in all fields of the arts. She sounds like an angel when she sings… I sound like a dying Austrian goat trying to give its last yodel on a mountain top. Together, we are the perfect balance of both the right and the left brain, contributing two extremely important cultural aspects to society. Without dismissing the obvious fact that both characteristics can exist in one individual as many famous artists and scientists have demonstrated, the move towards an increasingly more academically focused education system seems to be inevitable at this stage. The hierarchy of subjects and steering of students towards maths and sciences still continues, even after the 2020 Summit by the Rudd Government in 2008, which resolved an increase in arts funding and focus. In an attempt to lead a new art and cultural appreciation, Australia have more or less fallen back in line with the rest of the world.

In order to take that step forward, our country really needs to show their support and appreciation through our education system. This continued devaluation of the arts through weighting and scaling of ATAR scores and lack of resources will have serious repercussions in years to come.

Australia needs to get their heads out of their academic arses once in a while and start to show a little appreciation for one of the most influential aspects of the world. I mean, who would even trust someone who only used one half of their brain?

Click to comment
To Top