Classroom Psychology in Art Appreciation
You are a student engaged in any of the clinical sciences or public health courses or courses in the allied health fields. You are forced to take an Art Appreciation class. You hate the subject but needless to say, you need to study it because it is part of your curriculum. A failing grade is always a failing grade, whether your subject is a major one or a minor one. You sit in class, bored to death, and would rather open your books in your clinical science subjects. You ignore your teacher and your classroom environment. You anxiously wait for your next clinical science subject.
Scenarios like these are repeated throughout the world. Students in the clinical and health sciences and allied health fields like laboratory medical science, public health, respiratory therapy and even domains from nursing to clinical psychology to health statistics are challenged with the thought of enrolling in an Art Appreciation subject or its equivalent in the Humanities. It is challenging because (1) It reduces the time spent to study the major subjects in the clinical sciences and (2) It proves an additional burden of yet another subject that may not be that necessary anymore.
But are Art Appreciation classes or classes in the Humanities no longer relevant in the complex scientific world of the 21st century? This essay would like to explore this question and related paradigms.
All the natural and clinical sciences build the sequential, linear cognitive map of the learner. The emphasis is on structure, sequence, order, accuracy and precision. Quantitative measurement is the key to problem solving as well as the mastery of the inherent hierarchies, procedures, protocols and heuristics that are involved in the respective scientific domains. The learner or student is trained vigorously in the problem solving protocols that have been the hallmark of the natural and clinical sciences since the ascendancy of the scientific method.
On the other hand, Art with its perplexing array of interpretations, movements, viewpoints, paradigms, perspectives and sensibilities may prove to be a peculiar challenge to the cognitive universe of a clinical student. In fact, he/she may come to question the veracity of the artistic fields themselves, and their actual relevance to his clinical science curriculum. The popular idea that “science is objective and art is subjective” may come to the fore here. And it may prove to be a particular thorn in a bed of roses for students accustomed to the exacting rigor of the natural and clinical sciences.
However, many thinkers, psychologists, philosophers and educators have long extolled the power of the liberal arts curriculum as well as Art and Arts Psychology courses to imbue the learner with humanism, versatility, compassion and wisdom and emotional intelligence. And that is one thing that we want our clinical science students to acquire. In their future professions in the clinical sciences someday, we want them to be compassionate, attentive listeners, who will put the total welfare, holistic health and mental harmony of the patient/client as their number one priority. We want our clinical science students to be ardent proponents of humanism and promote the health and wellness of the complete human being. After all, we Filipinos demand so much of our clinical science and health science experts.
The health of every human being is a primordial imperative for human survival. It is so important that it has been enshrined in the Constitution (1948) of the World Health Organization:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States. The achievement of any State in the promotion and protection of health is of value to all.” (Preamble, Constitution of the World Health Organization).
So, the World Health Organization has defined health in very broad and wise terms. Consequently, it is up to us educators at various levels to listen to this moral mandate, a holistic paradigm of health, and execute it to the betterment of our learners. Creativity in classroom management is the key! Make Art Appreciation and Humanities classes enjoyable, cheerful and fun! Unleash those creative juices!