Algebra & Arabesques   

Photo by RODNAE Productions on
Published 26th January 2023

Here’s the thing…

January’s tough. You’ve long since abandoned your New Year’s Resolutions. It’s dark, it’s grey, and if you have to scrape the ice off of your car again, you’ll scream. (Especially because you’ve run out of anti-freeze, and the scraper thing’s still hiding). But fear not – in an attempt to cheer our spirits, the Prime Minister has announced that he intends to make Maths compulsory until the age of eighteen. There, now don’t you feel better about the cost of your gas bill? Erm…no. 

Someone who says it better…

“What about arts and humanities and fostering this country’s amazing reputation for creativity and self-expression? What about that? What about the kids that don’t want to do Maths? I hated Maths. I dropped Maths as soon as I could and I’ve never needed it other than the skillset I acquired at the age of 12. But no. Rishi Sunak wants a drone army of data-entering robots.”– Simon Pegg

Here we go then…

Sunak announced his plan for compulsory Maths, and, to put it mildly, us creative types were not thrilled. Indeed, I’ve used a very ‘nice’ edit of Pegg’s reaction. So why are we angry? Maths is a core subject, after all–even us creatives rely on it. Producers are experts at counting the house, musicians are pros at calculating overtime (or my husband is anyway) and dancers need to know if they’re whacking out a 90° or 180° arabesque (90° please, I’m old and creaky). And another thing – most of us are freelancers. In January that means one thing–the dreaded tax return. And so we’ll be needing our numeracy skills to work out how much tax to pay our current Prime Minister (you know, the one that no one has actually voted for). Perhaps that’s why he’s so desperate for us all to be good with numbers? He doesn’t want us to file our income tax incorrectly, and then get fined (coughs… like the former chancellor).

So if we’ve established that we all use Maths (and calculate tax better than some members of cabinet) then surely Pegg’s ‘robot’ claim is a bit of an exaggeration? Well, actually, no. This government has repeatedly treated students as though they’re nothing more than tick-boxes on a computer screen. Don’t believe me? Speak to teachers. There’s a reason why so many are leaving the profession. After all, it’s not that long ago Sunak was part of the cabinet responsible for the A-Level algorithm fiasco. Remember? It wasn’t exactly what you’d call a success. 

When will we realise that tick-boxes, and compulsory subjects are not the answer to a woefully outdated curriculum? Students do not need to be taking Maths further (unless they want to that is) trust me, they’ve suffered enough. How about celebrating their differences? How about telling those beautiful young minds, that they don’t need to be academic? That there’s a wealth of opportunity waiting for them if they can harness their creativity? How about seeing the Arts as viable? Yes, we still remember the unviable comment Rishi, and here it is yet again. But do I need Maths to know, that the Arts & Culture industry is worth billions? No. Do I need it to know that our young people deserve far more that what this government is currently offering? No. And something else I know–we can’t stop. For every kid who sits at their desk, hanging their head in despair, it’s up to us to show them the alternative. It’s up to us to rebel against a system that forgets too many of us, as we keep on creating. 

Let’s get creative…

I started this blog to embrace my creative writing, so I’m trying to challenge myself to write a poem, short story or flash fiction to accompany every post. (Makes another coffee. Procrastinates. More coffee.) Right, here goes… 

The Creative’s Rebellion”

A piece of verse by Chrissy Kett

You’re out driving, 

the same journey, 

the same time, 

all part of the same perfectionist’s routine, 

clinging with desperation to a schedule which holds you tight. 

Just another day…

until you notice the silent tears streaming down your cheeks. 

Yet, you have no idea why you’re crying, 

so you wipe them away and continue upon your way. 

Over time the tears become part of the routine,

a symptom of inconsolable frustration. 

But why? 

It’s time to stop avoiding. 

It’s time to acknowledge and accept the truth. 

Your creative soul has started its own rebellion,

for it can no longer mask its suffocation. 

It’s screaming for release and only you can free it. 

And set it on its way. 

So little Creative…

it is time to make a stand, 

don’t just dare to dream 

but dare to do…

for only you can set yourself on your path to create, 

to write, to dance, to sing, to act, to paint, 

to do all that is irregular and unconventional. 

Making sense only to you. 

You can break routine

and find your voice

if you find the 




Enough creativity. I’m a ‘Type A’ personality–give me a list!

Five other topics that could benefit young people 

  • Mental Health – According to Young Minds, ‘In the UK today, an estimated five children in every classroom has a mental health problem. A quarter of 17-year-old girls have self-harmed in the last year while suicide remains the single biggest killer of boys and young men.‘ These statistics advocate the need for mental health in the classroom, far more than anything I could write. 
  • Life Skills – My own students tell me, that they’d love more of this in the classroom. Whilst my own friends all joke about what we wish we’d learnt at school. Mortgages, cooking, tax returns, First Aid, parenting– you get the idea, so why aren’t we learning it? 
  • Sex Education – Surely not the worst idea for young people? And I’m not talking about biology. It’s fair to say teenagers know how it all ‘works’. No, I’m talking about emotions, consent, and self-esteem. 
  • Politics – Isn’t it time to engage young people in politics? Instead of complaining that young people couldn’t possibly have the vote at sixteen, (even though they can start work, give sexual consent, and are soon to start driving) perhaps we could start an actual discussion? Instead of, you know, giving them more sums. 
  • Creative Projects – I’m a big fan of ‘topics’ over subjects–all skills working together to achieve a creative goal. You know, like ‘The Apprentice’… but without the cameras, idiots, and cheesy one-liners.

Let’s cut to the last eight bars shall we?

I confess I’ve stolen this from my mother-in-law, but it’s one of her many sayings that I just love. 

Okay, I can hear some of you shouting at me, ‘Maths is important! It’s disgraceful how many people can’t even add up’. Yes, you’re right. Maths is important. I’m not denying that. I get it, our whole life is shaped around the principal of numbers. Mathematicians have contributed to the things that I rely on and enjoy every single day–laptops, cars, even the running of Caffé Nero. To all my fellow Disney lovers, we must acknowledge that Disney World (I’m obsessed) is the result of the calculations by many talented engineers. The most magical place on earth, exists because of maths. Creativity can only go so far on its own, before it needs a helping hand. But that’s the point isn’t it? It’s when we come together that the magic happens. And that’s why Disney doesn’t call them engineers, but Imagineers. Not just because Disney enjoys being ‘extra’, but because it values the creative part of the process. So please stop trying to make us all the same with compulsory subjects, tick-boxes, and algorithms. Stop patronising young people, and try listening to them instead. Trust me, it doesn’t take an equation. 

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About Me

Hi, I’m Chrissy! I’ve started this blog to celebrate the Arts. I’m a performer who’s taking a little break from being a ‘talking prop’, and am enjoying the teaching and writing side of things. If you want to know a little bit more about me and my writing journey check out my About page.

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