The importance of the arts in education…a John Badley Legacy

Burrowing around in the archives and doing some reading in preparation for my assembly last night on The Arts: past, present and future, am reminded of the distinctive and extraordinary legacy that comes from Badley’s Arts and Crafts-inspired educational vision. In particular, looking in the magnificently bound record of 1908 and the division of the school day into Head Work and Hand Work: the latter, comprising drawing, surveying, outdoor work, drill & dancing, domestic economy and music makes up about 1/3 of the timetable, even for the equivalent of sixth formers. Badley’s assertion that without developing the artistic side of a student’s nature we produce “a high standard of cleverness and efficiency but a poor human being” is as apposite now as ever. His definition of the Arts (from his book, Bedales published in 1923) is also powerful: “the delight in the expression of life and beauty in any form, the endeavour to create beauty for ourselves, and the joy we feel in doing it”. All this is now for us within the afterglow of last weekend – and a sense that the Chief would have approved of the health giving properties of that manual work – “stirring and vivifying the blood”.

I’m off to the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference in St Andrews next week; my next two blogs will be from there.

Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools