“Jyothi is a 6th grader at a local government school that we serve. When we first encountered Jyothi in our Creative Learning Lab – a dedicated space that we’ve developed to nurture children’s creative potential and foster 21st-century learning and life skills – her disengagement was very evident. Also noticeable was that her detachment stemmed from a discomfort with open-ended tasks that required her to arrive at her unique solutions.”
“After, seven months in the Lab, the changes in Jyothi are hard to miss. Self-motivated and more self-assured, she meets challenges head on, stays flexible as she experiments with various solutions, takes creative leaps, collaborates more effectively with her peers. Her enthusiasm for being part of a learning environment is palpable.”
Jyothi ’s story is not unusual. Our education system routinely marginalises children like her with its singular focus on promoting academic knowledge and by perpetuating limited conceptions of intelligence. Skills and attitudes such as creative problem solving, independent thinking, positive risk taking, perseverance, collaboration, and more are often neglected.
The result: students often remain disengaged and lack the essential skills and attitudes that are necessary for their success, both in the present and in the future.
ArtSparks Foundation was founded in early 2015. The organisation and its work are built on the notion that the arts, specifically the visual arts & design, can serve as a valuable tool to facilitate deep and meaningful learning.
Research seems to agree. According to UNESCO, the arts not only strengthen cognitive development and the acquisition of life skills, but they also enhance social adaptability that leads to tolerance and acceptance.
ArtSparks was also founded on the belief that 21st-century learning and life skills are a necessity and must be inculcated in children. In fact, according to an IBM study, creativity, an essential 21st-century skill, has been identified by leaders across industries as the number one skill that ensures success in the workforce.
Nisha Nair, while speaking to The Logical Indian, said, “Education in India is very rigid and narrow. Students who are rich with ideas and creativity are systematically made to fall in line with the system. Teachers want the students to memorise and replicate the same in the examination and give no scope for the kids to think creatively. When I went to Mumbai for learning design, even the design was taught in rote memorisation format. The professors in the college never designed anything or worked in any firm and they were teaching fine arts.”
With a vision to challenge the status quo and positively impact the educational landscape, ArtSparks works within schools, conducting a range of programmes that run parallel to and supplement the school curriculum. All of the curriculum offerings span multiple sessions and use hands-on, inquiry-based methods to help foster 21st-century learning and life skills in children. For example, students may work in collaborative groups to ideate, explore, and come to a consensus on how to use recyclable materials in innovative ways to create a sculptural prototype for a futuristic transportation.
For a student like Jyothi, this means numerous opportunities to envision big and revel in her unique solutions. Numerous opportunities to learn more joyfully. Isn’t this what education should be all about?
About the foundation
ArtSparks Foundation is an educational nonprofit that works to support the creative, cognitive, social, and emotional growth and development of children through the medium of visual art. ArtSparks also supports the professional development of classroom teachers, encouraging them to reflect on their teaching practice, and explore new ways to enrich their students learning.
With #MySocialResponsibility, we aim to bring you more inspiring stories of individuals and organisations across the globe. If you also know about any changemakers, share their story at [email protected] and we'll spread the word.