By Einar Solbu
The aim of all education is to expand the individual’s capacity to perceive, participate, experience, empathize and excel. On the one hand education should provide learners with the general will and capability to take charge of themselves, and to stand by others. On the other hand it should develop the competencies needed for specialised tasks and provide a basis broad enough for re-specialisation later in life.
In order to fully reach this aim, education should appreciate learners as integrated human beings, with capacities and potentials as intellectual, spiritual, creative, working, social and environmentally aware individuals.
Arts education can contribute profoundly to such general educational aims, a contribution which cannot be replaced by anything else.
In all cultures people express themselves and communicate through a wide range of means, none of which can be replaced by another. What normally is called expressions of art, are unique reports and messages from people who have the ability to - through such means as sounds and rhythms, figures and colours, words and metaphors, movements and images – offering other people glimpses and insights into emotional, intellectual, social and many other aspects of human existence and co-existence. Through arts education learners will obtain tools with the help of which they can interpret and relate actively and critically to such reports. Artists’ works will subsequently become a vital source for people in realising their individual potentials in ways which nurtures humaneness in a society in development. Through arts education learners will also obtain unique tools through which they can express themselves.
Thus, arts education equips the learner with a wide pallet of communication tools. To master well a variety of communication tools is a prerequisite for self-esteem and for taking part in democratic processes.
Art education must also cater to the needs of tomorrow’s artists. Any comprehensive educational concept must contain options for those with special interest in and abilities for specialising in an art form. Such optional programmes should acknowledge the value of diversity in individuals’ cultural backgrounds and artistic interests and abilities, and they should aim at creating new generations of independent, critical and brave heralds in society.