Parents must change mindset towards the arts

The news of a refreshed arts education syllabus that will see all primary school pupils visiting museums is welcome and encouraging (Primary pupils get museum visits as part of art lessons; April 23).

However, a new syllabus that puts greater focus on art is not enough. Parents' mentality towards the arts has to change as well.

Very often, in a competitive society with a well-entrenched "paper chase" culture, a child's performance in a mathematics test or science competition matters more to parents than the child's drawing or music ability.

This takes a toll on the child's interest and development in the arts.

Emphasis in school and support from parents at home are needed to better promote Singapore's arts.

Parents need to be willing to take small, constructive and meaningful steps together with their child.

For example, when a child tells his parents about an interesting artwork he saw in the museum, the parents could display greater interest.

Very often... a child's performance in a mathematics test or science competition matters more to parents than the child's drawing or music ability. This takes a toll on the child's interest and development in the arts.

Additionally, parents could consider taking their child to the museum or theatre during the holidays.

In this way, children will not only grow to appreciate the importance of the arts, but also be provided with the environment to grow their budding interest.

Of course, this is not to say that parents should give greater emphasis to the arts at the expense of other subjects.

Rather, parents should be mindful not to deny their child the necessary space and opportunity to search for and develop an interest or talent.

This change in mentality will not happen overnight.

It does not require fundamental shifts in parents' plans for their child.

It simply requires a more open-minded and encouraging mindset.

Michael Zhou Xizhuang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2018, with the headline 'Parents must change mindset towards the arts'. Print Edition | Subscribe