Art, CCA and Schooling
‘Our education has got to be revolutionized. The brain must be educated through the hand. If I were a poet, I would write poetry on the possibilities of five fingers. Those who do not train their hands, who go through the ordinary rut of education, lack MUSIC in their life.’
A Chinese proverb very aptly states, ‘Tell me, and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.’ The most important goal of education is to prepare children for life as adults and to impart knowledge, skills, qualities and attitudes which make them self-supportive individuals and productive citizens. Today many schools encourage activities not falling within the regular school programmes termed as co-curricular activities or extracurricular activities. These CCA activities include various activities like arts, sports, games etc. Some happen before school, some after school and a few may even take place on the weekends. They are the fun factors of a well rounded education system.
An effective education system which connects arts and CCA helps students to see what they look at, listen to what they hear, and feel what they touch. One can trace the concept of Co-curricular Activity to our ancient literatures. Ancient scriptures of India like Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata, Ramayana, all inform us about gurukulas and ashram systems. Co-curricular activities like cleaning the ashram, collecting wood, milking the cows, wrestling, archery, dyeing clothes, cooking, singing, playing, warfare activities, etc. were quite common.
Cocurricular Activity plays a vital role in shaping the life of a person, especially the students.
Co-curricular activities help in the development of the mind and personality. For the all-round development of the personality, intellectual, emotional, social, moral and aesthetic growth is of utmost importance. This growth takes place if curricula are supplemented with co-curricular activities. All round development essentially means intellectual, physical, moral, sensory and social development. To fulfill this objective of all round development, there is a prime need of striking a balance between syllabus, curriculum, and also cocurricular activities. A co-curricular activity essentially takes place outside a typical pen and paper classroom experience. It gives the students an opportunity to develop particular skills and exhibit their non-academic abilities. Co curricular activities render a number of values like:
1. Educational value
2. Psychological Values
3. Development of Social Values
4. Development of Civic Values
5. Physical Development Values
6. Recreational Values
7. Cultural Values, etc.
Engagement in the arts helps students to stretch their minds beyond the boundaries of the printed text or the rules. The arts free the mind from rigid certainty. Art helps to develop tolerance for coping with the uncertainties present in the everyday affairs of human existence.
Why are Arts and CCA necessary in school?
Students need to be thinkers, problem-solvers, demonstrate creativity, and work as members of a team. We need to offer more in-depth learning about the things that matter the most: order, integrity, thinking skills, truth, flexibility, fairness, dignity, justice, creativity and cooperation. The arts provide all of these. Arts also provide learners with non-academic benefits such as promoting self-esteem, motivation, aesthetic awareness, cultural exposure, creativity, improved emotional expression, as well as social harmony and appreciation of diversity. The importance of arts in schooling is:
– Classroom lesson strengthens when some co-curricular activity is performed.
– Develop co-ordination, adjustment, etc among children.
– Provide life enriching experiences.
– Develop habits of constructive competition, improve skill and competence.
– Bring pleasant changes and develop joyful experiences.
– Make one a responsible member of family and society.
– Develop the capacity of organizing events and enable managerial and leadership activities.
– Develop the ability of decision making.
– Develop the sense of belongingness.
Every child is born with artistic sensibilities. A student who grows up with an artistic sensibility looks at the world from a different perspective. This sensitivity actually moulds his behavior, his interpersonal communication and his actions. Artistic sensibilities are to be nourished and encouraged at home, at school and ultimately, the society has to do its bit. A balanced society not only requires a good number of engineers, doctors and teachers but also artists, writers, actors, poets, etc.
Role of Arts and Co curricular Activities in schooling
1. Creativity. Art can help students generate creative ideas. The arts allow students to express themselves. These activities give them a better insight and let them choose what they enjoy and what they wish to learn and stimulate playing, painting, acting, dancing, singing and speaking skills in students.
2. Motor Skills. Simple things like holding a pen, crayon, pencil, paintbrush and scribbling with a crayon are an important element to developing a child’s fine motor skills. Arts help to improve the motor skills of a child and also lead to accurate movements in various activities.
3. Strengthen self Confidence. Getting on a stage and singing gives children a chance to step outside their comfort zone. As they improve and see their own progress, their self-confidence grows. The goal of co-curricular activities is to give fitness to students and inculcate a sense of sportsmanship, competitive spirit, leadership, cooperation and team spirit.
4. Visual Learning. Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through books. Art education teaches students how to interpret, critically evaluate, use visual information, and how to make decisions based on it.
5. Decision Making. The arts strengthen problem solving and critical thinking skills. Learning how to make choices and decisions will certainly carry over into their education and other parts of their future life.
6. Focus. Focusing is vital for the perfection of an activity. Engaging with arts will develop a culture of focusing in studying and learning in class as well as doing a good job later in life.
7. Collaboration. Many of the arts and co curricular activities require students to work together. They must share responsibility and work together to achieve their common goal. They become aware and learn that their contribution to the group is integral to its success. They learn that they are accountable for their contribution to the group. Thus, students connect with each other better.
8. Improved Academic Performance. Their academic performance will improve and they learn to balance their co-curricular activities with their academics. They also better understand how to manage their time efficiently.
9. Overall Personality. It helps to enhance the all-round personality of the students to strongly face the difficult road of future life. Students who participate in these activities show higher academic results, stronger relationships in schools and are more likely to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
Picasso once famously asserted ‘Every child is an artist .The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’. A creatively inclined student has a positive bent of mind and aesthetic approaches in every work he or she does.
Above all, such a student gradually develops a balanced approach towards life. There’s no doubt that the arts are fun for students. The arts also help children develop on many fundamental levels of their personal life. In short, art and co-curricular activities play a vital role in the 21st century education. Teachers and schools have to create an environment where creativity is generated. Teachers have to use of 21st century skills in imparting education in visual and performing arts and make classes more lively and dynamic.
Shani K I, M Com & B Ed, is presently working as Academic Coordinator at the IDC English Higher Secondary School, Thrissur in Kerala. He has been an avid blogger and has also worked as a Special Educator at the Ideal Academy, Perinjanam. He believes ‘in lifelong learning and the constant need to upgrade ones skills to meet the needs of the ever challenging society. As an educator, each successful year I feel a strong sense of achievement and satisfaction which give me immense pleasure and motivation to set goals and strive hard to achieve them’.