ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Pottery of Physics

Why we must question the polarisation of learning into academic and non-academic, curricular and extracurricular.

A distinction many people draw in the field of learning is between “academic” and “non-academic” pursuits.  It seems to be based on a simple classification scheme: subjects such as history, math, language and science are academic, while activities such as carpentry, pottery, music and art are non-academic. Behind this scheme are some assumptions: the academic means verbal, intellectual, rational and analytical, on which we place great importance, whereas non-academic pursuits are non-verbal, creative and spontaneous, allowing for emotional expression, but which can be consigned to the “extracurricular.”

The sense of concern around this question comes at various times from different quarters, depending upon whether one is in a “mainstream” or “alternative” educational space. From a mainstream point of view, schools need to build real skills in students—quantitative, analytical and verbal—that will enable them to succeed in life and in the labour market. Only what is testable is given importance. The “extracurricular” activities are then a luxury in the timetable, and their role is to inject some relaxation into the life of the student. At best, this view aims to produce a “well-rounded personality” and, in a more sophisticated garb, addresses concerns surrounding multiple intelligences. The recently introduced term “co-curricular” makes the same assumption that the heart of education is to be found in the regular academic curriculum. Deeply ingrained in all this is a view of the kind of intelligence that society really values.

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Updated On : 4th Dec, 2017

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