Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Aesthetic pleasure is a learned and acquired skill that requires patience and perseverance

I believe that the expressive arts can bring young people much more than simply aesthetic pleasure. True, inculcating a cultural hobby is not an easy task. It requires patience and perseverance; aesthetic pleasure is a learned and acquired skill. Yet if music and dance are encouraged and validated by our school system, we would be doing our youth a big service. Yet in today’s busy world their value is readily sacrificed to accommodate, for example, extra science or maths lessons.
Let us assume that an important role of education would be to enable students to make sense of the world around them; to equip them to deal with reality. A very vital part of human experience is linked to the ‘senses’: we see, we feel, we touch. This experience might be difficult to put into words but is vital to our emotional well-being. It is often through these experiences, or maybe the memory of these experiences, that we collate our own conceptual tools; often it is these that determine our values, our goals, our aspirations.
Elliot W. Eisner, in the Art of Educational Evaluation summarises this caseas follows: “Each symbol system — maths, the sciences, art, music, literature, poetry and the like, functions as a means for conveying what one knows to others. Each system has unique capabilities. Each symbol system sets parameters upon what can be conceived and expressed.”
We often use the verb ‘to know’ in the educational context. The expressive arts constitute another way of ‘knowing’. Knowing how to be aware of any stimuli, be it tactile or social; knowing how to connect with various types of experiences; knowing how to distinguish nuances within a given context; knowing how to react to beauty; knowing how to pursue quality; knowing how to listen, not just with the ears, but with the mind.
These are the qualities that can, maybe, help our youth to deal with today’s pressured world. They are faced daily with unbelievable pressures. Choices supposed to bring freedom are sometimes terrifying. We are now faced with a situation where our youth are actually choosing death over life. The writer is founder of the Mumbai-based Sujaya Foundation
Sujaya Foundation is a five year old Mumbai-based not-for-profit organization. Our aim is to bridge the digital and linguistic divide through education. We offer educational services to underprivileged school-going children in the areas of Mathematics, Science, English and Computers and educational services in English and Computers to underprivileged youth. We then try and offer opportunities for employment in the BPO industry.
Our unique feature is that we are a niche NGO using the best pedagogical practices. The Foundation achieves this objective through a small dedicated team along with committed volunteers.
The aim of the Foundation is to provide education to the under-privileged by incorporating the best pedagogical practices at an Elementary as well as an Advanced Level. The Foundation attempts to bridge the gap for its students between education and employment.
While it is true that India's administrative language seems to be English it is also true that millions of young people are deprived to access to quality language skills in English. This automatically limits their opportunities in the labour market besides rendering them socially diffident and excluded. One of the objectives of Sujaya is to actively intervene through formal and non-formal educational activities to significantly improve the linguistic competence of bright, hardworking students who are trapped in an education system which does not teach English with a view to develop oral skills. Thereafter the foundation is committed to helping them secure a job.
Volunteers are an integral part of the progress and dynamic of Sujaya Foundation. Our volunteers come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, for instance even from the corporate world who have contributed immensely with their professional work ethic.
Sujaya Foundation, established in 2002, is registered under the Mumbai Public Trust Act, 1950. Its Board of Trustees comprises the following persons:
Name of Trustee                    Particulars
Ms. Neelambari Store Rao     Managing Trustee, Sujaya Foundation
Sister Felicity Morris              Managing Trustee, Prem Daan
Mr. Rajesh Pant                     Director, Kandor Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Mr. Gunit Chadha                  MD (India) and CEO, Deutsche Bank, India
Mr. Jaithirth Rao                    Chairman and CEO, Mphasis
Mr. Jagdish Moorjani             Chief Operating Officer, Citius IT Solutions Private Limited
The Managing Trustee of the Foundation is Ms. Neelambari Store Rao who has been in the field of education since 1982.

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