We live in a world that is governed by visual signs and symbols.
From the incorporation of infographics in office presentations to the simple emojis that we send our loved ones, we are progressing towards a visually fueled society.
Then why should education for children remain far behind?
One educational non-profit organisation based in Bengaluru is working towards making the learning process for children enriching, at the same time sparking curiosity and creativity.
And how do they do that?
Through the medium of visual art and design.
ArtSparks Foundation was established in 2015 to fill the gaps in the curriculum-driven education system — through art and creativity.
“At present, schools lay its focus on the end-of-year exams that continue to remain the main criterion for children to inch to the next grade. In order to foster growth and development in children, we learnt that this wasn’t enough,” says Nisha Nair, the founder.
Inculcating 21st century learning and life skills in their education models, the foundation works towards supporting the creative, cognitive, social, and emotional growth and development of children through the medium of visual art.
What exactly do 21st century learning and life skills mean?
“While the former includes creative thinking, problem posing & solving, investigating, flexible & independent thinking, decision-making, reasoning, reflecting and most importantly, communication, the latter skills consist of self-awareness, perseverance, tolerating ambiguity, managing emotions, empathy, adaptability, initiative, accountability and responsibility,” she explains.
Children aren’t the only benefactors of the programme. “We support the professional development of classroom teachers and encourage them to reflect on their teaching practice. This prompts them towards exploring new ways to enrich their students’ learning,” Nisha says.
The organization actively vouches for the vital role that visual art & design can and should play in children’s education.
Under the Model School Initiative, which is one of their flagship programmes, ArtSparks works closely with both students and teachers at a core group of schools, mostly in marginal regions.
“Schools receiving our carefully designed school-based programmes, geared towards class 6-10, offer exemplars that we periodically disseminate through various platforms such as public exhibitions, educational conferences, publications, and other forums,” she clarifies.
Another one of their initiatives include partnerships with other community-based educational organisations in order to expand the scope of their work towards helping support children’s growth and development by leveraging resources and mobilising others.
They also help setting up Creative Learning Labs within under-resourced schools.
“Housed within these schools, the labs offer a space to nurture children’s creative potential and foster essential learning and life skills. With carefully designed visual arts-based interventions that contribute to this vibrant space for hands-on, experiential, inquiry-based learning, these labs are designed to serve children from class 1 to 10,” Nisha adds.
Having served around 630 students and 165 teachers in the 2016-17 academic year, currently along the pipeline for the organisation is a new initiative, EdSparks Collective.
A one-of-a-kind professional development platform, the initiative invites educators and education administrators who are interested in exploring the full potential of visual arts and design to transform student learning.
“Through EdSparks Collective, we hope to effectively reach and impact those who are charged with providing meaningful learning opportunities to children,” Nisha says.
You can get in touch with ArtSparks Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.