Critical Thinking Workshop organized at Government Middle School, Jagti by JK Arts Foundation
JK Arts Foundation, a non-governmental Ed-tech organization, aims at use technology to bridge the gap between art education and the formal education system in India. By introducing students to aspects of indigenous artistic traditions, the Foundation also ensures that these traditions do not fade from public memory in the fast-paced modern world where anything associated with art is generally perceived as a relic of the past having no use for the current goal-oriented generation. Hence, the organization serves the dual purpose of popularizing ‘Arts in Education’ and preserving the indigenous art forms. Pursuing this mission, the Foundation organized an on-ground critical thinking workshop through art at Government Middle School in Jagti township, Jammu. The Jagti township was established by the Government of India in 2011 in order to provide accommodations for Kashmiri Pandits who were displaced from their homes.
The prevalent notion that art does not inspire anything useful or noteworthy for the modern person has been debunked through scientific research, but this new knowledge about the necessity of art in our lives remains confined to scientific journals and art enthusiasts. Art experiences help people to develop empathy, cultivate patience and, among others, hone their critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is the ability to resist impulsive judgments, observe a situation patiently, derive from it facts, interpret these facts in different ways and finally arrive at an informed and rationally defensible conclusion. Observing and practicing visual arts allows the observers and practitioners to develop skills of observation and analysis which form the bedrock of critical thinking in human beings. Developing critical thinking skills through art was the principal focus of the Foundation in its workshop at the Government Middle School, Jagti.
The session began with the Founder of the organization Geeta Vaishnavi speaking on the Indian visionaries who inspired the masses during the Indian Independence movement. Among these visionaries, the main focus of discussion was on Abanindranath Tagore. Thereafter, free art kits and print-outs were distributed among the participating students. They were shown ‘Bharat Mata’- arguably the most famous of Tagore’s portraits- and were encouraged to participate in an especially designed thinking routine exercise by observing, thinking and wondering about the portrait. After this exercise, the students were encouraged to write poems or express themselves through visual arts taking inspiration from their observations and conclusions about the portrait of Bharat Mata with a special emphasis on the upcoming Indian Independence Day.
Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore
The session was quite successful. The children who participated were enthusiastic about the exercise they were encouraged to do and were delighted to receive art kits of their own. The faculty of the school was also satisfied with the outcome of the workshop and the positive influence that it had on the students. One of the teachers stated, “This was a completely new experience for the children. I hope many more such activities are conducted as this seemed like a constructive activity to build confidence in children.”