Over the years, art education has captured the attention of researchers. Intensive research is being carried out as to how drawing and painting can help the younger generations build a better future.
Many have suggested that visual art education can integrate skills such as creativity, communication, cooperation and critical thinking and prepare youngsters for the future. It is believed that encouraging children to be creative at a young age changes their approach to learning other subjects like mathematics and science. This in turn, inspires them to link art and science and be more innovative in all fields.
Why visual arts education is important for children:
Ninety per cent of brain development takes place by the age of 5. The age between 3 and 12 is when children begin to imagine and develop their memory. They slowly begin to think logically and learn problem-solving skills. They also learn to communicate, socialise and learn new subjects.
They develop the ability to seek out logical reasons to social and ideological processes and tend to be extremely curious about their surroundings and what they learn. That is why you have a child asking questions such as, 'why do I always have to paint the sky blue?’ or ‘why can’t I draw the Sun during the night?’. The manner in which children draw or paint depicts their artistic, emotional and cognitive development. This is helpful to analyse their mental and emotional status.
Keeping all this in mind, schools in India have introduced art education as a part of their curriculum to develop their foundation skills.
How it helps children:
Letting children explore the field of visual arts not only helps them be more creative but it also helps them concentrate better. It is similar to meditation and is considered to be a stress-buster. It also helps children to get a break from their routine education.
Children have abstract ideas which itself turns out to be an art with a unique meaning. Art helps improve their observation and develop a better understanding of what they learn in other subjects. For example, when a child draws the solar system or internal organs and body parts, it helps them understand better than just reading the textbooks.
Pictorial representations always have a long-lasting impact on the brain. It helps children understand lines and geometry better, making mathematics a fun subject in junior school.
H A Anil Kumar, HoD Art History, at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath says, “Art education is not necessary for someone to become an artist. It is to make them a better visualiser.
“Visual learning has a lot to offer. It also goes along with all other elements such as touch and sound and is essential in all fields.
“Gandhi himself had once mentioned that if he knew drawing, his handwriting would perhaps have been better,” he adds.
Sofi Meera, the art teacher at Colorwheel Art Studio, says, "I always advise my students to not miss art classes, especially during exams since it's a stress buster."
She says that she does not force her students to draw or paint a single subject but lets them draw what they imagine. This helps them be more creative.
The common problem with the method of teaching:
In many private schools, teachers spend an hour or so every week to teach children how to draw and paint. However, the problem lies in the fact that they force the children to draw what they expect rather than encouraging them to draw what they like. This leads to the comparison of their artistic ability instead of providing space for creativity.
Dr Pramila Lochan, art historian, critic, and curator, says that art education is already compulsory in many schools but what is required is incorporating the right technique in teaching art and the right faculty.
She also feels that it is important to encourage them to draw or paint what they like and then teach them the right techniques. This helps them improve both artistic as well as creative abilities.
Art educator Suresh K says, “Although art education has been included as a part of the curriculum, it is not effectively implemented in government schools and rural areas which should be changed.”
What we need to understand:
According to Anil Kumar, it is only in the past 500 years that people began learning through reading and writing. Prior to that, wisdom was acquired not merely by reading and writing but experiences, says Anil Kumar.
Dr Pramila Lochan says art requires skills like special aptitude, talent and hard work as much as any other field, if not more. It certainly requires a greater degree of perseverance, constant practice and ability for creative expression, she adds.
"It is impossible to imagine anything that excludes art and design from household utensils such as the pressure cooker to building interiors to aircraft, providing a huge scope for students in this field," says Krishna Prasad K, curator at Reuseum.