Children might have very clear reasons for their seemingly careless strokes on paper. They do not care if the houses they draw are bigger than the mountains in the frame. The cows could be blue in colour and the flowers, black. In representing the world through pencil strokes and colours, children have all the say.

While almost all children enjoy drawing and colouring, artists and art teachers wonder if schools give enough space and time for the teaching and learning of art.

A lot more could be done if more time was allocated, says R. Balasubramanian, art teacher at a Government Higher Secondary School. “We get one or two periods (45 minutes each) every week,” he says.

Since he feels that children ought to be oriented to different styles of traditional art while at school, Mr. Balasubramanian gives his students a few exercises they could work on throughout the week. “Some children come up with fascinating ideas. They observe the world around them keenly. We must encourage original thinking and give them the space to express themselves,” he says.

Artist Sangeetha Jaichandran, who independently trains youngsters in art, concurs. “All children need to get to do something that is not strictly part of the syllabus or for the purpose of examination. Art education allows them to do that,” she says.

Not all teachers give equal importance to art as a subject in school education, note some. The teacher of another government school, who did not wish to be named, says the attitude among some art teachers is also worrisome. “If art teachers see their subject as being inferior to other subjects, how will they teach with motivation?” she asks.

It is time they reflected on art curriculum, teachers observe. “A lot of us still resort to theme-based drawing where we want children to draw something based on or related to a particular topic given to them. Do we want to limit their imagination to those themes? We should allow them to explore new ideas as well,” says Mr. Balasubramanian.

According to a senior official of the School Education Department, the syllabus for art education will be revised soon. Senior artists and teachers will be involved in the exercise, he says.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012