Gentle Bamboo Solutions

My Adventures in Art Education for children – and the learnings from it

Hi,

About 12 years ago, I was a trustee at an NGO that specialised in art education for children. I was part of it a year or so, and then moved on to other things.

Our primary idea was simple. We would run a 16-week course. Every Saturday and Sunday we brought in two reputed artists from one of the art forms we had identified. The artist would then spend 45-60 minutes with the children and share some aspect of their journey with them. That is two artists on Saturday and two on Sunday. In total, the participants were introduced to 64 art forms in 16 weeks.

This was one of the most memorable times of my life. Along with the kids I was learning too. I learned about Kathak (the dance form from UP and Rajasthan) and fell in love with the art form and the beautiful storytelling in it. I learned about pottery and was amazed at how much fun getting your hands (and clothes) dirty can be. I learned so much – about theatre, poetry, painting, voice-acting, mime, magic, and dozens of other amazing art forms.

Of course, the exposure was very surface level. However, we did a lot of effort in the background. We would create a report during every session about:

1. How interested the kid was in the art form

2. How good the kid was in the art form

3. How participative the kid was in the session

4. What did the artist/teacher think about the kids

The idea was to give the kids’ parents a report at the end of four months which would show them the direction towards which they can take their kid’s art education. To ensure they don’t force children into pursuing something that would yield neither results nor fun.

Anyway, it’s all over now and I’m out of that NGO. It’s just nostalgia at this point.

But, there’s a reason I bring this up today. 12 years ago, I was learning four new art forms a week. These days, I barely learn anything which I can truly call new. All my learning these days is incremental. This is something I am trying to change in 2021. I want to invest 90 mins a week learning something that I have absolutely no idea about whatsoever.

Of course, it will still be surface level. But, I remember how I felt years ago about the same surface-level knowledge. I feel there is value in it. I still remember and use some of the things I learned during that year. Maybe something I learn now will be useful sometime in the next decade. I think it’s worth a shot.

I feel you should give it a shot too. Just the list I casually mentioned above might be a good start. I will try to share once a month about what I am learning.

On a learning crusade,

Abhilash