“Cultivation of the Mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence” – said Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Well, what could be more stimulating and productive than art? The art of creating something, where the brain intercepts an idea and grows it into a manifold entity. Whether it’s writing an article, a poem, a story or making a painting, a sketch, or anything that is original and has a manifestation of ‘I’ in it; creativity is the highest form of human expression.
As Ernst Fischer writes in ‘The Necessity of Art’, “For make no mistake about it, work of an artist is a highly conscious and rational process at the end of which the work of art emerges as mastered reality – not at all a state of intoxicated inspiration”. So why does art (creativity, broadly) struggle to find its place in formal education?
Speaking of India, our popular education system is leg-shackled to archaic ideas of Brahminical pedagogy tweaked to supplement the ‘Market’. Artistic merit is largely earned through degrees and social position i.e., privilege. These individuals seem to create towering standards, that will fall into place, if this base of ‘privilege’ shifts.
The arrogance of this ‘merit’ forces – replication. Only replicas of these so-called acmes can work perfectly. We’ll use the analogy of a photocopier to understand this; the industry is the photocopier and the workforce is the ink, electricity, service parts etc. used to keep the industry running. They are only supposed to do what they are meant to do. They are nothing but, “cogs of a machine”. Individual creativity has no place here. To effect this, our ancient rote learning system is used.
Though indifference towards art is often witnessed in our culturally old-fashioned but neo-liberal Indian society, I recall an incident from my days at college that reconfirmed this. It was a ‘free-period’ and while the whole class was busy talking, playing games or surfing the internet on their mobile phones, I chose to draw. The substitute teacher came to me and asked me what was I doing. I told her that I was drawing and she immediately retorted, “Why did you join an engineering college if you wanted to draw?”. I bet Leonardo Da Vinci would turn in his grave if he heard this.
We should realise that it was creativity that gave rise to education. Someone had an idea and upon successful implementation, she/he started to teach people how to do it.
Again, creativity is becoming rare and we are only “manufacturing” service parts that could perpetuate the existing machinery. More specifically, we are manufacturing lubricants to oil a machine no one wishes to change.
Even the most sophisticated technology is fruition of an idea. That’s where an artist comes in. The artist has the talent to provide you with the first blueprint; while you’ll be pondering upon the practicality of the machine. You are fettered, and the artist is not. Education, as it is now, has confined you with bookish rules.
It surprises me that how much effort is put into education to separate science from art.
“The more bookish you are, the greater the technocrat you’ll become”. I believe we failed as policy makers when we decided to distinguish art from science when great scholars, theorists, architects and inventors like Vinci, Raphael, Maria Merian and even Ambedkar, were passionate artists themselves. They came up with ideas “ahead of their time” as they could think and represent what they visioned on paper quickly giving them a head start.
Poetically, Nature is a dreamer and an artist. The theropods dreamt and became birds, the first microorganisms dreamt and became the theropods. The potential of creativity is greatly undermined. It is time we let humans be humans, naturally.