Sunday, July 14, 2024

AVENUES :Liberal arts programmes are here to stay

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PNS | HYDERABAD

Thank God for modern times, because if a student wanted to pursue the arts as a major, society had a lot of strange comments to make. A hard truth to digest is that subjects included in the arts stream are thought to be very easy, but they aren’t! They are extensive and in-depth readings. It is never graded too high like the sciences do, but well, it at least teaches us life’s philosophy and the art of critiquing and analysing.

“An increasing number of universities in India are now offering liberal arts education. Even though the present-day model of liberal arts education is an American innovation, its roots go back to the ancient Greeks! Despite many changes over the centuries, the emphasis on the formation of character that is necessary for broader human flourishing differentiates it from training in crafts.

The liberal arts educational practises emphasising the development of generic, transferable skills. Also, the holistic understanding of the human condition, training in practical judgement, formation of new habits of being in the world, ethical orientation, skilful coping in the face of uncertainty, respect for difference, creative expression, cultivation of wonder, and life-long learning distinguish contemporary practises of liberal arts education,” emphasised V. Krishnappa, a professor of philosophy and interdisciplinary studies at RV University.

The extent to which it has changed the learner’s ways of being in the world can be used to assess success! He adds, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, liberal arts programmes are highly demanding — they are of a different order of difficulty than what is to be expected from conventional education programmes! Part of the challenge stems from the fact that students are expected to investigate broader areas of social science. Arts learners are also required to participate in a range of extracurricular activities in order to develop a holistic sense of the world and also appreciate the wisdom and beauty of artistic forms.”

A major pedagogical emphasis in the arts is focused on developing new ways of seeing psychological, political, and environmental phenomena in a different light. He explained, “Such an orientation requires learning to accept the irreducible complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty that constitute everyday experience. An ability to continually look out for discontinuities, flaws, and processes is a critical skill in a world that is changing faster than our ability to make sense of it. Experiential learning is the key differentiator in this educational process. It literally prioritises learning by doing, whether in the classroom, through community service projects, performing arts, field studies, or other extracurricular activities! Learners are expected to pay attention to detail, notice differences, see aspects that are not self-evident, and respond to these experiences creatively.”

Liberal arts educators appreciate that contemporary social, economic, political, and technological systems are continuously being transformed by a dynamic process that cannot be adequately anticipated by our existing knowledge systems.

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