I read a tweet recently suggesting that politics should be compulsory in schools in the same way that RE is. I don’t agree with this sentiment and I’ll tell you why.
I do not believe that RE is just about teaching “religions of the world” but that it should be about encouraging young people to connect with something spiritual in their lives, to give them an alternative to the material and physical world that they are constantly bombarded with, to give them an inner peace, to give them faith; in themselves, their fellow man and the world around them, and to give them something to grasp in the inevitable times of crisis.
Politics is usually defined as; the study of activities associated with the governance of a country or area, but it carries an additional definition (much more accurately in my view); social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power.
So should this subject, loaded as it is through the ages (and into the present) with conflict, opposition and corruption, really be given a similar status to one that nurtures spiritual wellbeing? I think not.
But it got me to wondering whether any other subjects should be elevated to compulsory status?
What about Music?
Whether you love Dr Dre or Debussy, Callas or Cheryl, music connects us all. We can all enjoy it, we can all make it (some much more tunefully than others), it defines decades and peoples. We attach it to events throughout our lives such as our first purchased track (aka ‘single’ in my day), our first dance, our favourite movie and our first gig. We use it to exercise, to entertain, to love, to sleep, to relieve stress. It becomes a source of comfort as we age and we think long and hard about the music we want at our funeral, as if it will define, in one song, the meaning of our life for the mourners.
Attaching an importance to music at school and encouraging an appreciation of all genres, facilitating their experience of making music both with instruments and computers, seems to me to be an ideal way to teach our young people about their place in the world, both in a historical and national context.
We will be giving them something that they can draw on, and develop with, throughout their life. Something that will define their relationships, life events and their long term well-being.
And if, like me, they have periods of stress in their lives, they too can sit in their car and shout along to Sabotage by the Beastie Boys and instantly feel calm.