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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Education Through Art


Education Through Art

Education through Art, sounds impressive but what does it mean? What is Art? Painting, dancing, music. These are the Arts. But what is Art? Art is creativity, imagination, something from nothing, of no practical value - these are many other definitions. But more than all of these, Art is the passion. Art is the soul of the machine.

Long ago Western man decided to understand things by taking them apart. If you could grasp the function of each of the pieces then you would understand the whole. Body became separated from Mind. Physical from Mental. Reason from Faith. Practical from Artistic. For generations in sciences, philosophy, and education, we have analyzed and struggled to understand what makes us work, as individuals, as societies, and as a species. The problem lies in that only some parts are reducible to components. So we studied those parts, the body, the physical world, reasoning patterns, practical applications. And we learned how to pass these on to our children. Through formal education.

For the rest, the intangible, the soul, spirit, or whatever term you choose, we left that to the spiritual leaders, to traditions, to culture. And as a species we have been doing okay. Except recently. Now we have a breakdown of these support networks. Most families no longer have a spiritual counselor. Many have left traditions and family networks far behind in our global wanderings. So we look to our source of learning. We look to our scientists and our educators. And we ask them to take care of our children. To find the best practices for teaching. And they do their best. They use the system that they have always used. They emphasize the practical, the applicable, the concrete. Our children learn to use machines. They explore the world through their fingertips and electronic impulses which bring everything they need to them. The world is on the screen before them and they are all knowing.

No, they aren't. They don't know this information; they merely have access to it. In order to learn children must have the skills to learn. They must know how to think and use their minds in multitudinous ways. To see things from different perspectives. To imagine that which they cannot see or access. To stretch themselves. But teachers cannot help them to do that if they do not want to learn. We call them "reluctant learners" and they are a growing epidemic.

But all children learn all the time. They can't help it. It is basic instinct founded on survival skills. Knowledge keeps you alive and allows you to flourish. So what are they reluctant to learn? The very things that the scientists and educators keep telling them they need to know. They are reluctant because they are not engaged. There is no passion in their learning.

What is Art? Art is passion. Art is the realm of engagement. When you educate through art you inspire the spirit to crave the knowledge. A chemical reaction becomes a dance. A math theory becomes a thing of structure and beauty. A history lesson comes alive through the full experience of empathy. The children dream of gladiators. They wince at slavery as they read, write, draw, perform. They engage with the information and then they know it. Their passions are ignited and they are inspired and they learn.

Education Through Art.

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