Workshops — on anything from dance and cooking to theatre and parenting — always find takers. But do people get what they want?
‘Be an upcoming star’ screams one. Another goes ‘Be your own boss’. And another, ‘Anybody can dance’. Don’t we all see such advertisements in newspapers drawing our attention to some workshop or the other in the city? Covering various spheres — from photography, jewellery making, music and acting to cooking, personality development and parenting — most of these workshops run from one day to many months and a fee that runs from a few to several thousands. With exorbitant fees and promises to help you ‘bust stress’, ‘follow your heart’ and so on, do workshops benefit participants?
“I’m happy to enrol for a 25-session hip-hop dance workshop. A perfect stress-buster for me, I must say. It may be a little expensive, but it is worth it,” says working professional Ambalika Saha.
However, not everyone might get what they sign up for. “I regret going for this five-hour workshop on ‘collage as art’ by a recognised organisation; it gave me nothing. Of course, there were quite a few interesting people, but that was not what I went there for. It’s essential to find out what the workshop will offer you,” cautions Sharon Lobo, an art student.
The most important question is, can such workshops help one learn a skill or acquire a hobby in a short span of time? “No,” says psychologist Susan Zacharia. “An interest is inborn, and you develop it slowly. It can’t be learnt in a fortnight. It is important to enrol for a workshop relevant to your core interests,” she says. If so, why are there so many takers for such workshops? “In this generation, people have the habit of comparing themselves with others. ‘If my neighbour can become an actor, why can’t I?’ ‘If my cousin can become a photographer, why can’t I?’ The truth is there are no shortcuts to learning a skill,” she says. Ashok Ferry, author, agrees. “One of the great malaises of modern life is that we are taught that nothing is ever our fault, and there is always a reason for us being what we are. As a result, nobody is willing to take responsibility for their own actions. This is where this great thirst for self-help books and ‘experts’, workshops comes in. The more money you pay, the better you feel at the end of it.”
But then, in this fast-paced life where studies, deadlines, parental and peer pressure eat up one’s time and preferences, is does not seem healthy to give up on a hobby. And money seems to be one of the stumbling blocks to pursuing one’s interests. Gaurab Ghosh, a working student, says, “I don’t get pocket money from my parents. I wish I had a chance to enrol for an acting workshop; I believe I have it in me. But the price charged is astronomical. My parents will never give me a huge sum just so I can get into an acting workshop,” he says. And, the big question remains — do people enrol in workshops to pursue a passion or kill time? But looks like it does not matter. As Jaya Row says, “It is important to identify your interest and channel your efforts in that.” Rocky Luthria sums it up, “No matter what, these workshops make you think a lot about yourself; it is up to you to make the change — on a long-term or a short-term basis.”