All teachers are important. They help us and guide us to reach our goals in life. Their influence and teachings more often than not permeate beyond our school days. In this age of technology and science, we tend to ignore or forget our Art teachers. Many schools refer to these teachers as ‘Specialists’, and treat these classes as ‘extra hour classes’, which are at the mercy of the institution or schedule of exams. However, this has to change or is changing as we progress to a world that is driven more and more by ideas and imagination.
In the last decade, our world has changed dramatically. If one just looks at the changes that have taken place in just the last twenty years, it is even more overwhelming. Yet educational philosophies and practices have been painfully slow to keep up. Students today are being taught in the same manner as they were taught years ago. Twenty years ago, if you were qualified, jobs were easy to find in corporation, firm, factory, or service industry with a decent paycheck. These jobs still exist, but they are fading away rapidly as automation and specialized diversity of labor is catching up. Our world has changed in terms of its needs and they way it functions, hence obviously, the present education systems are ill equipped to deal with the dynamism of the economy. This is well illustrated by soaring numbers of unemployed youth who are well educated.
Unfortunately the existing education systems teach the students to believe that there is just one right answer to a problem and if it’s not an exam – it’s not important. The fundamental problem is that the students are not learning to be thinkers. Instead, they are learning to be memorizers, which is pointless in the new Information Age. Now students possess the world’s collective intelligence at their fingertips, many of them carry it around in their pockets. Internet has created a new period in human history where information is readily available. Things beyond imagination are becoming a reality in no time. Now we think of travelling to the Moon or doing a transaction in few seconds over continents. The world economy has changed drastically and the focus is on talent force as opposed to the labor force. So by sheer logic of the need of the hour, students who are capable of thinking creatively and innovate themselves have better chances of survival in a job interview in comparison to students who are incapable of thinking innovatively. The Internet and related technology has changed the world and should change the manner in which students are educated.
The students should be prepared for the new world, one that harnesses the technology that exists, one that pushes humankind forward. The key is creativity and innovation, and teaching these two things are the art teacher’s specialties’. They teach multiple answers to problems. They encourage mistakes and experimentation. They teach students to be thinkers – not memorizers. Never in the history of mankind has there ever been a better time to be a “creative”. It is the creative individuals that are finding success today. Simply look at the world around you, and you’ll quickly notice the opportunities that exist for those willing to be creative, to take chances, to innovate. Art teachers teach the essential skills that are necessary for students to be successful in this new age.
The role of Art teachers in a larger context is that they help to make connections to core content in daily life. Art is not an island but utilizes, manipulates, and incorporates math, science, history, literature, language, and more every day. So think of your Art teacher when you face a problem that seems impossible to crack!