WHAT IF WE TAUGHT OUR CHILDREN ABOUT THE ELEGANCE OF THE ARTS?
Last week Friday, after a long day of incessant blaring of lectures, I dragged my hungry self home. While walking to the hostel, I stumbled into a magnificent sculpture at the Arts Garden in my university. It was a sculpture that depicted hope, capabilities in an obvious incapability, depth, reawakening, mind boggling; a snail with wings (the feature image of this blog post).
So, throughout the weekend, I was stuck, thinking of the vast creative pool of this sculptor whom I did not even know. I am a psuedo-scientist or in a more professional parlance; a social scientist. Studying economics creates a kind of shaky balance between
the world of science and the arts.
Sunday morning; when the faithfuls were back from church, I decided to share the picture of the sculpture with the occupants of a nearby room. A mistake, a great mistake, a bloody great mistake. It happened to be that these roomies were all studying elegant courses such as engineering, pharmacy, medicine and biochemistry. They obviously could not appreciate the sculpture and did not give as much as an ounce of care. Well, everyone is entitled to his opinion and I was not expecting them to fall heads over heels about the sculpture. But what I found, indeed, appalling was when one of them made a cynical comment about how the world of arts could not just stop reproducing a series of rubbish.
Well, I would have played the quintessential social scientist and disassociated myself from this ever present hullabaloo of the most ideal or prestigious between the science and the arts. After all, I was just a hybrid between the two and should not pokenose into an argument of that nature. Yet, I felt an indebtedness to the arts because it is the essence of my life, my writing, my creativity, my being. I decided to teach these fellas the elegance of the arts, how life would be worthless without it. Just like every normal Nigerian undergraduate, they already had this preestablished notion that arts is just about fine arts and acting. It was quite a waste of time to tell them how everything we do revolves around the arts; writing, drawing, thinking, arguments, appreciation, music, communication, speaking. But I would not fault them because they were just victims of a socialization process that tells you how regal, prestigious, honorable and rewarding science is, and how the arts is for the academically impaired, feminine, unserious and lazy.
I might be #Flawless now but not some four years ago when I was wearing my starched lab coats and peering into test tubes. Then I used to have that philosophy about how special studying science was. Although I had this uncommon flair for literature and music, I was never to opt in for the arts. It was a waste of your super intellect studying the arts. So, I would put on an Albert Einstein’s look whenever the arts students walked pass the corridor of our science laboratories. It took me time to learn how misleading and overrated studying science was. Its no news how a whole school could be jolted if a very seriously-minded brilliant boy opted for arts courses; although it might be understandable if the student were a female. I dare say that this is grossly misleading and a large bunch of what my American friends would call poppycock MUST STOP.
I wish, not for only my hostel mates, that every Shoki, Woju and Skelewu would see the equal elegance in the worlds of science and arts. To do this, we must reorient our rigid and preestablished ideologies and teach our children differently. We must teach our children that there is dignity, elegance, job security, social respect regardless of the field of study. We must stamp it on the minds of our younger generation that the arts and sciences are Siamese twins that can only survive mutually. Let us also not forget to tell them that the arts is not necessarily for the less intelligent as there are smart and dumb students in every field of study. We must equally tell our children that not all arts students would end up like Achebe or Meryl Streepe or Adele, the way all science students would not end up like Einstein, John Nash or Philip Emeagwali. This is important so that in future, our children would have surety and confidence to make study choices without the undue influence of stereotypes.
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