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Art Education

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Art Education: For decades now, the importance of the arts in the education system has been repeatedly debated, discussed and recommen...


Art Education:

For decades now, the importance of the arts in the education system has been repeatedly debated, discussed and recommended, but without much progress in this direction. The need to integrate art education in the formal schooling of our students now requires urgent attention if we are to retain our unique cultural identity in all its diversity and richness. Far from encouraging the pursuit of the arts, our education system has steadily discouraged young students and creative minds from taking to the arts or, at best, permits them to consider the arts to be 'useful hobbies' and 'leisure activities'. The arts are reduced to tools for enhancing the prestige of the school on occasions like Independence Day, Founder's Day, Annual Day, or during an inspection of the school's progress and working. Before or after that, the arts are abandoned for the better part of a child's school life, and the student is headed towards subjects that are perceived as being more worthy of attention. General awareness of the arts is also ebbing steadily among not just students, but also their guardians, teachers and even among policy makers and educationists.

Schools and school authorities encourage the arts of a superficial and popular nature and take pride in putting up events that showcase song and dance performances and plays that may entertain, but have little aesthetic quality. We can no longer afford to ignore the importance of the arts and must concentrate all possible energies and resources towards nurturing artistic capabilities and creating cultural and artistic awareness amongst the students of the vast and varied cultural inheritance we have. The arts in India are living examples of the country's secular fabric and cultural diversity. They include a variety of folk and classical forms of music and dance, theatre, puppetry, clay work, visual arts, and crafts from every region of India. Learning any of these arts would enrich the lives of our young citizens, not only in their school years but also throughout their lives.

The arts, visual and performing, need to become an important component of learning in the curriculum. Children must develop skills and abilities in these areas, and not treat these as a mere entertaining fringe. Through the arts curriculum students must be introduced to the rich and varied artistic traditions of the country. Arts education must become both a tool and a subject taught in every school as a compulsory subject (up to Class X), and facilities for the same may be provided in every school. All the four main streams covered by the term the arts, i.e. music, dance, visual arts and theatre, should be included. Awareness also needs to be built among parents and guardians, school authorities and administrators regarding the importance of the arts. Emphasis should be given to learning rather than teaching, and the approach should be participatory, interactive, and experiential rather than instructive.

Throughout the years of school, during all stages, the mediums and forms of art allow children to develop both a playful as well as a disciplined exploration of themselves and diverse materials, and allows them to experiment with many forms of expression. Music dance and theatre all contribute to the development of the self, both cognitive and social. The importance of such experiences during the pre-primary and primary school years cannot be overemphasised.

Language, exploration of nature, and an understanding of the self and others can all be experientially learnt and understood by children through various art forms. By their very nature, the art forms allow all children to participate.

Resources for the integration of the arts and heritage crafts should be available in every school. Thus, it is important that the curriculum provide adequate time for a range of art activities. Block periods of about one hour to one and half hours are necessary, especially where theatre, dance, and clay work are involved. The emphasis should not be on attaining some adult standards or notions of 'perfect art', but on supporting the child's own expression and style through exposure to material, skills and technique, but without overemphasising them. Over the years, teachers would help children to move towards formulating and executing their own art projects independently with dedication and persistence, while cultivating a sense of aesthetic quality and excellence.

In the secondary and higher secondary school stages, the art curriculum may allow children to specialise in some areas of their interest. Along with learning the skills and practising them, children could also at this stage learn about the theory of art and aesthetic experience, which could deepen their appreciation and also help them understand the significance of this area of knowledge. Discussions about popular cultural art forms, different kinds of art traditions (cultural differences) and creativity would also provide them with a perspective on the variety of forms and the development of 'taste'. It is important, therefore, that the curriculum not be biased and judgemental about high or low forms of culture, nor treat classical and folk art forms differently. It would also prepare those who wish to choose an art form for specialised study during the +2 stage, or even consider pursuing a career in the arts.

More resource material on arts education should be made available for arts education teachers. Teacher education and orientation must include a significant component that will enable teachers to include arts education efficiently and creatively. In addition, more Bal Bhavans, which have played an important role in the urbanscape, should be established at district headquarters, and eventually at all block centres as well. These would facilitate the additional teaching of arts and crafts activities, and provide opportunities for children to learn these at first hand.
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CLEAR CTET: Art Education
Art Education
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