Arts Matters, Why arts subjects should be promoted?

Art Matters

In the modern era, owing to the advent of more and more innovations, the field of education has been glamorized. Now there is no regard to the objectives and results of education as it has become a source of social prestige and personal superiority. In a hurry to adapt to the changing trends, people look reluctant to review their decisions even on such critical matters which may become decisive in their future life. Government too follows the same line and exhorts people more than it needs to do. This is due to this fact that different vices like inferiority complex, mental and social decay and unemployment have popped out.

Aristotle first separated the subject areas and our modern educational institutions also tend to protect the limits he had created. Most of the modern universities have separate faculties of arts and sciences. But the distribution has some conspicuous artificiality. Suppose one takes a viewpoint that arts is all about creativity while the sciences are about accurate application of techniques and methods, this would be a sweeping statement because all disciplines need both.

In the beginning, both science and arts were one faculty. The expansion of knowledge on research and properties of resources went hand-in-hand with the development of the decorative arts like carving, dyeing, pottery, metal-work and painting. During the Renaissance, the philosophies of art and architecture, engineering, science and manufacturing were known to all. In the 19th century, the refined classes were as likely to go to a lecture on the most up-to-date scientific discovery as one on art or exploration. Scientific knowledge was stylish and fashionable. But with the death of Prince Albert in 1861 something disruptive happened; division rather than integration occurred. The South Kensington Museum London was divided into two separate museums, one for science and the other for arts. During the 20th century, the trend sustained and it became allowable as well as fashionable to specialize. To facilitate the interest, school and university curricula made it nearly impossible to study arts and science subjects together.

Art MattersScience and art are equally important in life, even science needs art to survive. An architect cannot construct a building exclusively on the basis of science; he needs art to plan and sketch the building. The finest science requires creative and innovative thinking. Someone has to observe a problem, form a hypothesis towards its solution and then figure out how to implement its findings thereupon. That all needs creative thinking, which is often called innovation and novelty. The greatest scientists display creative genius equal to any artist. For example, the inventions of Einstein and Niels Bohr who realized that he was often inflowing into philosophical speculation.

In Pakistan, it is often witnessed that science subjects are given more importance than those related to arts. Be it the jobs of educators at school level or of lecturers in the higher education department and universities, the vacancies in science subjects are almost always double or triple to those of arts. Youth has been disappointed with this double standard adopted by the government. In our society, parents bear all kinds of hardships to provide their children with better education. When these kids grow up, they come up with enthusiastic dreams but due to having an arts degree in their hands, they are not given access to opportunities to fulfil their ambitions. When a young man or woman comes to know that his/her arts degree is of no value, all his/her dreams and plans shatter. It is in this way that the talented youth are being denied a proper space to serve the country. This leads our youth towards frustration and despair.

If arts subjects have no value, then these shouldn’t be included in the curricula being taught at educational institutions across the country. But, in fact, it’s an undeniable fact that without teaching arts subjects to our students, we cannot build a resilient and peaceful society. Admittedly, science has its own worth in the modern world and we have to progress in this field to earn a respectable place among nations, but we should give due importance to arts subjects as well. Government of Pakistan should revisit its educational and recruitment policies for the sake of its youth. Otherwise in the near future, it would be disastrous socially, economically, politically and educationally for the whole country, because it would leave our youth disinterested in country’s affairs.

Art MattersIn addition, most foreign scholarships are offered only to science students while arts students are completely ignored. Same criteria can be observed in HEC’s local and foreign scholarship policy. During the last decade, HEC had a positive policy towards subject-wise scholarships; even some arts subjects, which were traditionally supposed of a little value and were taught only on regional basis, like Seraiki, Balochi, Brahvi, were also considered worth of fully-funded scholarships. It was a healthy effort by the government. It is the need of the hour to accord same respect and prestige to the arts subjects. Government should sign agreements with foreign countries for new jobs and scholarships.

Most prestigious universities of the world like Oxford, Cambridge, etc., are giving equal importance to art subjects. They are offering DPhil in the subjects like Philosophy, History, Regional and International Languages and many more. We can also do it in Pakistan by changing the mindset of the people, and this can only be achieved if we give the equal importance to such subjects. Arts subjects are directly associated with human beings, and being humans we should support them!

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