The growing loss of art-based subjects in our schools is a common cause of exasperation here at F&E. We know we’re not alone. However it’s less common we hear a story that particularly focuses on craft as a lost creative skill.
This story from the BBC titled, Surgery students 'losing dexterity to stitch patients’ resonated with us, as a company who’s foundation was built on traditional craft skills. Bolstering our long-held belief in the value of the arts and that creativity is not just for artists.
The article discusses a generation of highly intelligent students, who are experiencing a lack of manual dexterity which in generations past, was gained through handling and understanding different materials and tools. This loss in developing physical skills, has been identified by Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College:
This article highlighted a really interesting way in which the loss of craft (not only in schools, but at home too) is having a tangible affect on a generation of young adults who’ve grown up knowing only the digital world. Technology has overtaken the importance of experimenting with real, physical materials.
Thinking about some of the handmade characters and sets we create here at F&E, we realised these fundamental skills of understanding our tools and materials are completely taken for granted. Craft skills which have been ingrained from childhood are no longer given staples of a journey into adulthood. In a world of smartphones, disposable fashion, throwaway commodities and emphasis on academics over arts, we are losing skills we never realised were learnt.
At F&E, our craft is shaped by in-built expertise and practical experience. How we combine fabrics; understanding the tough rigid leathers and how they might connect to elastics without puckering; interpreting how the grain of paper influences the ways materials bend, bond, break and tear; or the instinctive knowledge which informs our decision to glue, cement, nail or sew. Having the dexterity to sew small or intricate creations, or visualizing the way flat shapes will translate into three dimensional objects is something we take for granted. It’s easy to understand how a loss of these instinctive skills would be relatable to the work of a surgeon.
Understanding materials, creativity combined with our human dexterity is what keeps us unique and separated from a future of complete automation. Having manual dexterity and being able to think creatively aren’t exclusively skills for the creative industries. There are surgeons, dentists, plumbers, engineers, carpenters, the list is endless, that make up a huge part of our economy. All of these jobs rely upon hands-on work and knowledge of materials. Creativity and dexterity needs to be encouraged and nurtured as part of our educational experience. The future isn’t a shiny flat screen. It’s round and star-shaped. It’s rough and smooth. It’s bendy and strong. It’s academic and creative. In a future we will sharing with robots, surely the significance of this synergy will become our ultimate value as human beings?