Primordial acts or arts?

Here we go again. The Ministry of Education is discussing the idea of removing art classes from secondary education. And that’s just one of the changes being proposed.

There are two angles to the story, of course: one being the loss of employment by teachers who have made their talent a profession. I think it’s fair to say the issue of unemployment these days has high stakes and, yes, anyone living with the fear of losing their job has a right to be concerned. But the other angle is as equally disturbing – and perhaps even more deeply rooted. The education of any further generation without art in their curriculum is somewhat reducing a whole educational, philosophical, practice, and encouraging an inward looking approach to a European world which is traditionallly differentiated, country by country, by its cultural and artistic differences.

Surely, we must keep on seeing our educational systems with a globalised, rounded vision, where the importance of a mathematical brain coincides with a visual one, and where the tendency of students to lean towards one subject more than another is one that is defined, dealt with and endured by students themselves and not the leading heads who, for whatever reason, have decided to contemplate the unimaginable. Meanwhile, the Finns are also in the process of changing their educational system. What they want to do is scrap the traditional “teaching by subject” and favour “teaching by topic”, which in a nutshell gives a broader approach to subject matters – yet there is no mention of scrapping any school subjects altogether.

I have to wonder why art is always the first subject to suffer within our educational system. Beyond my casual curiosity, this should also give me a concrete explanation as to why and how a vast majority of people on the island have a belittling notion of what the subject has to offer. I will however remain grounded in my position: a life without music, paintings, theatre, video, sculpting, and fine arts in general should never be subject to negotiation. It’s of vital essence to encourage balanced individuals.

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About Melissa Hekkers

I am freelance journalist and author, who has frequently been featured in mainstream news outlets and other publications in Cyprus. Recently, I've been focusing on developing my writing, promoting my own books and teaching creative writing to children and adults. My most recent publication (2020) - Amir's Blue Elephant- pushes the boundaries of creative non-fiction, and recreates the moments that marked me the most, whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus. In 2018 I published My Capre Greco Mandala which is the third in a series, an interactive colouring book about the biodiversity of the Cape Greco peninsula in Cyprus. My Akamas Mandala, the second in the series, is a colouring book inspired by the variety of endemic plants found on the Akamas Peninsula. In 2016, I published My Nicosia Mandala, the first of the above series, an innovative, interactive colouring book about the historic fortifications of the old town of Nicosia. I also focuses on silenced communities in Cyprus: I writes about migrants and refugees, both as a reporter and a features writer; I profile them and teach them creative writing skills. In 2007, soon after graduating with a Communications degree, I published my first children’s book in both English and Greek entitled Crocodile, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award. In 2012, I launched my second children’s book Flying across Red Skies (in English and Greek), using an experimental approach to literature, for which I was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. My third, similarly well-received children’s book was Pupa (Greek and English), published in 2014. In between the last two books, I published my first free-verse poetry book entitled Come-forth. In 2019 she was contributing author to the anthology Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City, published by Saqi Books, London