Art – The Fourth Component of Literacy
In the modern world infused with multimedia reading, writing, and arithmetic literacy has found its fourth companion the arts. The current multimedia environment of the web and the oft conferred and explored world of computers pushes children to think and converse much like a designer or an artist. The text centered world is now left behind as a visually heavy world is pushing its way in bringing with it an age of the arts. The language of art has become the fourth pillar of literacy as it today claims a stable and pivotal position in modern curriculum. The students today need to be prepared quickly to be artistically literate to take on the newly morphed changes as the education world copes and shapes up to the current scenario.
The children of this day and age are conversant and comfortable with the physicality and maneuverability of technology, but there is a good percentage of children who struggle with the artistic aspect of this media of expression.
Art & the Digital Age
The prompt and widespread popularity of multimedia is due to two prime and recent developments. First, the way word processor opened the whole world of opportunities for writers, multimedia technology opened up an expansive gamut for the artists. This has enabled anyone with access to multimedia to explore the realm of arts. Second factor that has been crucial and instrumental here is the Web that has carried this multimedia communication across the global platform. There has been a massive paradigm shift that has moved on from text centric communication through more effective, visual, schematic, diagrammatic, audio or video form of communication. This has certainly encouraged a more universal form of communication.
A balanced mélange of these two developments has established the permanence of art in the common experiences we go through in our everyday lives. It is precisely for this reason that art needs to be included in the everyday lives of the students at school or in any educational setup or curriculum. Some may make it a career, but everyone will utilize it, infer it, or communicate with it in their own unique manner innovatively.
Road so Far
Since ages, the ardent supporters of the arts have been posing their arguments in favor of arts as a part of the curriculum. The prime factor being that art facilitates self-expression, an aspect we dare not ignore. It has been established that there is a strong correlation between being active in the arts and improved cognitive abilities. The arts have a strongly motivational impact on children, improving their attendance and receptiveness to learning. Also art is known to introduce cultures of the world to the young artist thus opening them up to the diversity that surrounds us.
In spite of these convincing reasons parents and educators have considered the arts as peripheral, or not really relevant to equip children for their future, resulting in the arts budget or activities getting slashed in times of economic or time constraints. Art, hence needs to be established globally as the fourth pillar of literacy alongside reading, writing and arithmetic. It is only when art is as rooted in the academic curriculum as the other measures of literacy that they will become unquestioned. Fortuitously the ever evolving and expansive world of multimedia communication along with the internet gives us the prospects and a stable foundation to make it happen.
What can be done?
Demystification of Art – the word art comes with a lot of baggage and has a certain mystique attached to it. The emotional, physical and social pain that an artist endures has been stereotyped and imprinted deep in our psyche. The demystification will ensure that a student can see it all around them, from the design of products we take for granted today, to the aesthetics on the web interfaces, to works of public installation that are known to morph a building to a mode of expression to reach out to the public.
Recruiting more Art teachers – as the text only communication morphs and shift shapes into a more visual multimedia environment, there is bound to be an excitement and anxiety accompanying it. The traditional teachers might hit a wall or a ceiling as they try to tackle an art integrated curriculum. To tackle this future issue from paralyzing us then, there is a definite need to hire more art teachers in a school setup.
Fortifying the educators – to induce art literacy and its relevance and importance into the curriculum and daily lives of our students, it is imperative that the educators be fortified with proper orientation and education. The teachers need to be prepared especially for the classroom.
Art Day – to engrain the importance and relevance of arts integration in the curriculum, there needs to be a day dedicated to infuse arts into the academic content all through the subjects from mathematics, language, and science, as teachers from across all content fields come together to deliberately enhance communication across curriculum
This needs to be carried out to the extent that there is no need of a dialogue or a dedicated Art Day and Art is accepted as an integral and natural component of literacy in the modern world.