There may be no greater evidence that increasing arts in schools won’t create more arts patrons/lovers than the fact people in India won’t use toilets.
Yes, while that statement may be a cheap ploy at getting you to read the rest of this post, there is some truth to it.
According to a CityLab article, even though the government of India has gone on a huge toilet building campaign in order to improve sanitation, so many people refuse to use the commodes that the government is pondering a monitoring program to make sure people do. (my emphasis)
In a recent survey of 3,200 rural households by Delhi-based Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, half of respondents who didn’t have a toilet believed that “defecating in the open is the same or better for health than using a latrine.” Most people who owned a government-constructed latrine still chose to use the outdoors. Some end up using their loo for storage or extra living space.
Many people in the article talk about the use/non-use as a factor of cultural and religious values and advocate for everything from education campaigns to social pressure and spying in order to achieve the goal of no public defecation by 2019.
It can be perplexing to read about the difficulties this effort faces despite the clear and nearly immediately demonstrable health benefits of sanitary practices (Not to mention the government will do the construction.)
We might think that the benefits and importance of using a toilet would be self evident, but apparently that is not the case in India. In that context, saying something that is far from self-evident like arts education improves test scores starts to sound a little weak as an argument.
Comparing toilets in India to Arts in America is probably rife with more flaws than I am immediately imagining. But there is a similarity in the societal inertia that needs to be overcome. Because India is a situation outside our experience, we can examine it with some objectivity and recognize some of the common issues we face.
Parents and schools providing arts experiences to kids certainly contributes to socializing young people to participate when they get older. When I look at India, it reinforces my sense that any effort to help people recognize the presence and importance of arts in their lives is going to involve a lot more than just advocating for more arts teachers in the schools.
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