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Leveraging Arts to build emotional capital in children
- Aparna Mathur

May 12, 2010

The world today is in the throes of unprecedented challenges ranging from poverty, terrorism, financial meltdown, global warming and much more. If one were to do a root cause analysis, quite clearly feelings of greed, fear and insecurity seem to have guided actions to snowball into these crises. An emotional inadequacy arising out of poor self esteem, lack of love and safety has unfortunately been the drivers.

The work of social cohesion therefore requires building of emotional capital in addition to political, economic and environmental initiatives. Only a robust integration of multi dimensional efforts will help to attain true and sustained levels of social reconciliation. Given that our children are responsible for shaping the future of our nations and the planet as a whole, we need to focus on their holistic development. Undoubtedly the medium of arts is a powerful force that could help shift the needle significantly in our efforts to build emotional capital in our children. As a potent medium, the arts can have far reaching healing and therapeutic benefits.

Theatre and dance are movement therapies that can help children to free up their body and in turn open up their mind to new possibilities. It helps to unlock the barriers within that may have been caused by societal conditioning, bias and habit. An ability to express themselves freely unfettered by religious and cultural biases can help to nurture creativity and confidence in them. Other art forms such as painting and music and many more can also facilitate the development of a more rounded well balanced personality.

Typically, conventional education focuses on developing a child's powers of logic, reason and analysis. i.e. it leans more towards the left brain development. In the process, the qualities of creativity, compassion, intuition which are sourced from the right brain are to a great extent quelled. An ability to draw equally from both sides of the brain will help an individual to manifest his fullest potential and excellence in his work. As stated by Professor Antonio Damasio, this would help to lessen the divide that currently exists between the cognitive and affective (emotional) capacities of an individual. While developing the powers of synthesis and integration, a child learns to understand and appreciate social structures and the need for a harmonious coexistence of communities. Tolerance and acceptance of different cultures can also be imbibed in children through the medium of arts. A high degree of emotional equity also provides the desired foundation to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit which could facilitate economic independence through self employability.

In times to come, societies that have adequate emotional quotients that build their safety net will be able to break out of their abject conditions towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Aparna is an art and culture enthusiast and has been training in Bharatnatyam for the last decade. With increasing time, her belief in the art forms as a powerful social cohesion and reconciliation medium is only increasing and someday she hopes to work in this arena. She would also like to leverage the art forms in her current work as a coach and trainer for leadership development.

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