Dina Kirnarskaya

 

ARTS EDUCATION AS A FACTOR OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

 

 

  1. Contemporary society has approached the red line between the two models of its structure and existence: consummerism vs sustainable development. The former is focused on production and consumption of goods and services – the more the better. Consummerism in the role of the society’s ‘raison d’etre’ as history has shown can only exhaust to the utmost all types of resources: natural, economical and financial which inevitably leads to the destruction of social peace and stability. The latter social pattern, based on sustainable development, is focused on a human being, a person bringing to the epitome the whole amount of his/her intellectual and spiritual potential. Within the ‘sustainable development’ model the society’s consumption sticks to the idea of reasonable sufficiency that satisfies all human needs but puts certain limits to the uncontrolled accumulation and usage of material wealth that is so unhealthy both for nature and economy. Social state guarantees to its citizens the adequate supply of a certain share of public wealth due to its constant redistribution. Such social philosophy and practice is based on moral and ideological norms founded on the mutual responsibility of governement, business and civil society which could emerge only in the course of history.
  2. Ironically, modern world is clinging to the slogans of the Soviet past reborn and revisited. Social sciences and society as a whole must invest their resources into his/her education and upbringing. The world is waiting for a new personality type to appear. According to the neat observation of the philosopher Eric Fromm, this ‘Man of new Age’ will no more desire to Have, but to Be giving way to the new drive and purpose for social development. For this supposed “Man of the Future”  it will be only natural to overcome the present crisis of the civilization aroused by massive consumption. That will happen due to the new system of values finding their place not in one’s pocket but in one’s mind and heart being in total harmony with nature and fellow human beings. In other words, the goal for all of us is to find adequate means to foster the creation of  this new ‘Man of the Future’, and one of the key roles in doing so will belong to Education.
  3. Educational environment can be compared to locomotive carrying forward the developing personality and giving direction to its movement. Educational process helps all of us to appropriate skills and values that if added to one another are becoming values and skills of the whole society defining vector of its development. It is clear that today this vector is pointing to the society based on sustainable development rejecting the values of consummerism. This means that we vote for the community aimed at the reasonable sufficiency of its material needs. And this new society will rely on education as the main source of its spiritual and moral convictions. Arts education will be one of the most effective instruments helping the educational system of the future to fulfill its responsible role.
  4. People with highly developed taste for whom dealing with Beauty is the important part of their well being are brought up by arts education. At the same time arts education is a key factor of developing their own creative skills that work not only within the arts but beyond them too. That’s why the key talk of the UNESCO conference on Arts Education in Seoul took the unusual angle of looking at it: the speakers proved and have shown that all Nobel Laureates in all realms of activity from science to politics of the last 100 years were  active and devoted arts’ amateurs.  Such interpretation of the conference’s topic is to bring to the world community an important message: arts education is not only about aesthetic skills and refined taste – arts education is about the development of human personality in a very broad sense of the word. Even more: arts education is to foster and shape certain social stereotypes and patterns of thought and behavior that don’t have anything in common with consumerism. Those patterns are deeply connected with norms and values that are fostering  spirituality and creative atmosphere. The society of sustainable development needs those norms and values to be born and function, and the most adequate place for them to be ripening is the system of arts education.
  5. The most progressive and fast developing field of knowledge and activities in our days is connected with the so called ‘creative industries’ absorbing arts, sciences and computer technologies. Recent United Nations documents and reports pay attention to the qualities and personal traits of the workers that have found their life path in creative industries.  These qualities and personal traits are exactly those that the society of  sustainable developments presupposes and needs; and these specific markers of one’s fitness for creative industries are exactly those that for ages had been supported and cultivated within the system of arts education. They are: the ability to take risks and compete, the readiness to accept one’s own little role in the grand and valuable whole, the skills for team work and the vision for the remote future for which the sacrifice of the moment’s desires is always at hand. People having the experience of artistic work are more stress-resistant, idealistic and directed towards spiritual and important values. Considering all above mentioned the educational policy of the nearest future must include arts education as the key area for its attention and support. Whether we are capable of quick transfer towards the policy of sustainable development depends on our awareness of the role and meaning of arts education to a great extent.