A child by his mid teens invariably develops a fancy for some subjects and a disregard for some. The leanings may be developed by his superior understanding of a subject or when people around him guide/influence him to take up that subject. Here, subjects of Arts/Humanities in general are at a bit of a disadvantage as compared to the pure sciences.
The inherent problem with a humanities subject like literature is that generally a child is unable to understand the real depth of literature for no shortcoming of his own but rather due to the integral character of subject. The kid may have innate talent for the subject but has to be groomed with nothing but experience of life. For instance, how is a child of fourteen expected to appreciate Shakespeare’s plays in the real sense, when its needs an understanding of the startling psychological depth of his characters, and this understanding at some level needs experience of having seen the flaws of human nature, that the heroes too have shortcomings. The point here is that the arts need time to be appreciated and a talent in arts even if present cannot completely be judged at a relatively smaller age. But this is not to say that such a judgment is impossible to make. A careful system of counselling can be developed involving the parents and teachers which impartially counsels the child for what he/she is good at. A child, for himself would be unable to see what’s best in him and the loss here is not only of the child or the parents but of country and society in not harnessing what could have been something great.
Now, the problem with identifying an inclination of the child is that an aptitude for science and that for arts are not much different in their early stages of development and one can be misunderstood for another in a child. He/she may have developed logics in accordance with those needed for arts but such logic can be easily well used in high school basic sciences and mathematics. And here comes the myth that a child with a high IQ should invariably apt for pure sciences.
Another matter killing the arts is the pitiful state of pedagogy in India and the fact that teachers with a passion for teaching are a rarity today. Science may get away with teachers who are not as passionate for their subjects but it’s not the case with arts.
This was a look from the bottom. A peek from the top of the pyramid may point to another relevant point in discussion. The world today in its mainstream is a run for money. And herein lays another innate problem in arts with its financial risks involved. A parent would rather want the offspring to be joining the science, commerce or management fields for a “secure” future.
All these problems pull down arts/humanities subjects in the preference list of children, but can we afford to let this happen for long. It does come down to the basic philosophical questions like what is the importance of art and what to live for. This is basically a question of individual choice but still it has to be accepted that a neglect of art that is being seen in today’s world would lead to a loss of something of great value. For as Ray Bradbury, the American writer said “While our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.”
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