Book review : The Arts in Primary Education: Breathing life, colour and culture into the curriculum

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Author: G. Kenyon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Education
ISBN: 978-1-4729-6105-1
£19.99

The author was a primary school teacher before becoming Head of Education at the National Gallery, and then Head of Learning at Somerset House, a working arts’ centre. She delivers training in the arts for primary schools and is passionate about empowering teachers with effective, inexpensive and practical ways to integrate the arts across the curriculum. 

In the opening chapter, she makes a compelling case for placing the arts at the centre of primary education, enabling children to discover passions and talents that might otherwise remain unrecognised. For children with learning differences, this can be an area where they shine and can be recognised for their creativity. Keynon does however recognise that teaching the arts can be challenging for many teachers and this book is supportive and informative in that context. Chapters include: ‘Why the arts should play a central role in primary schools’, ‘Visual and plastic arts’, ‘Music’, and ‘Dance and Drama’.

The chapter on music is interesting in terms of its focus on rhythm and how it can be applied across the curriculum as well as recognising the power of singing for improving the emotional and physiological aspects of learning. 

This is a thought-provoking book, with a central section of colour illustrations of artwork. Kenyon makes a powerful argument for placing the arts at ‘the very heart’ of education. A very readable and inspiring text.

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