“What do you think of the important role of the teaching of crafts in the school?
The curriculum comprises of what the pupil is supposed to learn and study at the school. As knowledge expands, the curriculum also grows. The aim of education is to prepare the pupil for life such that he or she can settle in life as usual citizens, to themselves and to society at large. In order to be useful one should be trained to use his faculties or talents in the best way possible. The faculties are physical, mental and intellectual. There should be a sort of co-ordination between these faculties and they should be integrated in the courses of education.
The ancient days and even quite recently, education meant only training in the three subjects – reading, writing and arithmetic. But those days are gone. Many other abilities have been built in the child so that he may leave the school prepared to face the challenges of life.
Such abilities include the use of hands as well. Man is not all brain. The curriculum must provide opportunities for motor activities. They can be conveniently called doing activities. These doing activities involve muscular co-ordination.
Man is an aesthetic animal, he can appreciate and admire good and beautiful things. Given the chance and training man imitates nature and creates beautiful things. Man is the only creative animal. What we are today and all that our culture stands for, we owe man’s spirit of creation. Man has created a lot of beautiful artifacts. From the ordinary pin to the much sophisticated supersonic planes and computers, man has shown his ability to create and even to surpass nature. The spirit of creativity involves what is called craft in the school curriculum. Whenever the pupil uses his hands and fingers in doing and creating beautiful pictures or things, it is called art and craft. Art and craft can be learnt for its own sake, or it can be also applied to science and technology.
Craft works pleases the person who practices it. From the child who makes castle in the sand to the designer of complicated machinery, there is the pleasure in creation. Not only from the utility point of view but also from the point of view of pleasure, crafts must find a place in the school curriculum.
Another psychological factor involves the importance of teaching crafts. A normal child is active and wants to use his hand and feet. This is evidenced by many a child activity. This instinct to act is being channeled in useful ways in the teaching of crafts. So crafts can bring about a psychological transformation in the child. In fact, it is the expensive medium for a not too intellectual.
There are many crafts like drawing, painting, carpentry, weaving and bookbinding. Some of these crafts have a profession I value as well as recreational value. Realizing their educational value, Gandhiji introduces his famous craft centered education which he called “Basis Education”. Some of the crafts can be taught in the curriculum of special schools. Crafts have some value later in life for the student. He can practice crafts peculiar to a locality. For grown-up boys crafts with utility value like watch repairing, electric wiring and radio repairing should be taught. This may mean extra work for the staff and additional expense to the society, but it is worth the effect.”