Thematic week: Arts and Adult Education: a challenging relationship
Each time you mention "Art "(or Games) in an educational meeting, you may get surprising reactions. The conflictive relationship of the arts to education, particularly adult education, is challenging and full of conflicts. And it meant to be so.
Why is this? The two positions.
Today's values concerning education are based on usefulness, tangible results, and producing individuals that fit in society. Education is purpose-driven. Moreover, education, as it is today, is not about being something in a defined space of time, but about becoming something, a project of postponement of the today for a tomorrow. A student is a transitional being. The "student" follows a path in time, step by step, a chronology determined by a before and an after.
Art practices, on the contrary, can be seen as a vertical cut in the flow of chronological time, an immersion in a timeless time. A deepening in the present that makes sense of the past and future of that moment. Under this perspective, art practices are not a discipline of learning but a practice of being here and now, focusing primarily on the development of the self.
Is this a valid perspective?
No, it is a conceptual view. It is, of course, an artificial dichotomy. In real life, the arts are a learning discipline as education is a search, sometimes a desperate search, for making sense of our existence. One way or another, these two blocks play an essential role in our learning process, passive or active. As products or producers, as objects or consumers, we are part of humankind's species, whose only common ground, as much as I can perceive, is an ongoing perpetual learning process.Thus, the arts and general education should be considered as two entangled aspects of the learning process.
Fears, Gaps and Bridges.
It would be an easy conclusion. But the fear of losing the focus on the "usefulness", therefore losing control over the student, will make the Education Provider think again. Art activities are to be avoided rather than promoted. Consequently, the expression of the individual is postponed, widening the gap between the two worlds.
At the adult age, a person has a firm belief: he can not cross the line.
He is simply not suitable for the arts. Expression is only allowed in the frame of the normal, the usual, the everyday, the simple; anything beyond needs extra effort to leave the comfort zone. In the case of Adult learners, the tragedy is that precisely after those years of accumulated experience and achievements, or feelings of frustrations, of gains or losses, breaks and dependencies, any individual is mature enough to look for a new expression that connects himself with an ever-changing reality. Usually, what the Adult education providers have to offer is "New training" to this Adult learner. Fair enough, if into the "New training", the learner can bring his experience and energy. But how to build models, concepts and the feeling of freedom necessary to do that? There is where the arts can offer a new experience in Adult Education.
In our new project, "Trails" art in adult education, we aim to create a bridge to close that Gap.
"Trails" is not just an experience but can work as a model for art in Adult education. If you are an Adult education Provider or interested in art and creative projects, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
©Gerardo Wolf Perez, if quoted or discussed, please mention the source.