The term Social Education has now taken the place of Adult Education which was primarily concerned with the problem and the need for literacy drive. Social Education is accepted in a wider context than just to give a person a knowledge of the 3R’s, or any other language needed by him to communicate with his fellow beings. Communication is in fact the primary need of every member of society and art becomes a very necessary part of such a communication. Communication is involved in all forms that operate processes of human growth. Verbally, language is only a little developed and full command of it, even on the merely intellectual level, is hardly gained by even a few in any developed culture. It does, of course, provide social intercourse but is quite inadequate in itself. Gestures and expressions through art symbols form a part of the whole-that is needed towards mutual expression in the social environments. Taking for example, early expression of the people in the pre-historic times, we see that language was not so well developed but only visual symbols in arts became their means of communication and provided a channel for their emotional expressions; the remains of which we find in the cave paintings, the rock sculptures and other decorations that they made on the articles for their daily use.
Children like artists are affected by shapes and sounds around them, which they express in the works of art, if they are given the opportunity to do so, thus interpreting the social environment they live in. Similarly, as they grow, they gain awareness about their own individual places in the society and they gain certain amount of perception which gives an impetus to their creative urge that makes them express the gained knowledge into creative forms. The child thus goes on exploring environments and makes efforts in endeavouring to comprehend it, and of himself in relation to it. Through his expanding comprehension he increases his feeling of security in the world which widens every day under his eyes. His expression contains an element of what he feels about situations and persons. The expression of his feelings and thoughts that he brings out about the environments in art symbols evokes social comments which in tum has a bearing on his behaviour in the environments. Thus, through a process of art expression, there is a spirit of self education which is hardly provided by any other mode of education. As has been said, an experience involved in the process of artistic creation is in itself an educative one and that art is therefore an essential instrument in any system of education. In this context, we have taken Social Education to be providing an overall orbit for education for the individual. From this point of view, art is a necessary component of such an education.
Education has a two-fold purpose; to develop the personality and the capacity of the individual, and to effect an understanding between ‘man and man’. It is doubtful if the personality can be fully developed unless the subjective experience can be expressed in creative forms. Slowly, he exerts to do this with skill and exactitude. The aim and purpose of education would remain completely unfulfilled, unless the individual can bring out only such experiences which can be communicated by specific symbols which can be termed as works of art.
Every one of us needs to release himself emotionally and spiritually and this release is helped mainly through creative work in the arts. This emotional release is usually in direct proportion to the intensity with which the individual identifies himself with his immediate environments. It is always of a type in which experiences of the self are expressed. Without such an expression, the individual’s participation in the social environments will not be fully effected for he will remain bottleneck of uncanalised feelings and emotions which need an immediate release and expression. Frustrations and other unsolved problems also need an expression; it is only through art that such feelings are canalised, thus affording the individual to live calmly and peacefully. The artistic expression has been of great interest to the psychologists in knowing the trend of the individual and his feelings towards himself and his environments, and it is, therefore, important that such expressions are ventilated from time to time so that the individual lives like a normal being.
Slowly, the increasing ability of the individual to live cooperatively in a society manifests itself and becomes one of the major factors of a great significance in human development. This can be achieved after the child develops from the very beginning by learning to identify himself and he will then be better able to extend beyond himself and see the needs of others. This is how he gains the Social Consciousness. The inclusion of self and others in his creative work provide him with the identification that his own and needs of others are most important for awakening the social consciousness, for without such a consciousness, cooperation within the community would be difficult to achieve.
It is only through art work that the individual can assert himself and express himself. Art experience provides him the power to be independent and, of course, the art experience related to the environments in which he lives also enables him to be within the orbit of the group and society around him. The individual cannot be regimented because he is free to choose his own symbols of expression in art forms. Thus, he gains an individuality which otherwise might be pushed to the background in the process of learning through the 3R’s. Everyone has an urge to express and it becomes an imperative need of the individual to canalise thoughts, feelings and emotions. From the very beginning, the child takes delight in scribbling, the adult sees the need for expressing the bottled up emotions. Similarly, even in later life, the expression becomes almost a necessity for the vision and memories of the past hunt the mind.
There is a recreational aspect towards the expression in art. It is in play and activity that such expressions come into realities. Every individual needs to recreate while engaging in the learning process.
The desire to create and communicate experiences, to externalise emotions and feelings, had led man to create in a spirit in which they expressed themselves in relationship to their environments through works of art. All the societies that have gone by have left a record of art expressions, through which we make a study of their mode of life, behaviour and their response to the groups and other societies around them.
When an individual has leisure, he may fail to make use of it or may abuse it. Bad habits become his greatest enemy. Adolescence and lethargy are the greatest ills. We must somehow provide an opportunity that such leisure is adequately utlilised—Art enables them to use such spare moments as fruitfully as possible. It also provides a way towards Social cohesion which is essentially needed in our modem society. When people can sit on a common platform, i.e. an art club, and when they express themselves, they learn to create bonds between themselves and thus they remove the prejudices that may exist between them. We can safely minimise if not eradicate the quarrels, hooliganism, litigation, rivalries and factions which have at the base, a need to express-an energy in misuse, which can be channelised towards art expression.
Art provides an opportunity for the people to work in groups. For staging a play, decorations and sets have to be prepared for which individuals sit and think together contributing labour and aesthetic taste to the collective effort that they put up for the audience. Similarly at the time of religious festivals art symbols and forms are made by one and all to add to the gaiety in colour and decoration. The festivals have a social significance and art lends a helping hand towards the enjoyment and observing of such festivals.
What we need is to understand the value of art in our society. We should not divorce it away from life. Art helps us in our living a better life and we should form art clubs where everyone should be enabled to come in order to create and express. People should be helped to revive their folk designs and symbols to add charm and colour to their drab life.
Social Education in Russia as well as cultural missions in Mexico had given the opportunity to people to learn through creative arts. They were taught in museums, galleries and art centres that revived them aesthetically as well as culturally and also contributed a lot to their social education schemes. It is only through Art Education that social education work will become complete.