Education isn’t just about reading, writing, and learning arithmetic. It’s about developing yourself into a full person – with deepened appreciation, more perspective, and a stronger understanding of the world around you. Profugo’s Fine Arts Skills Training (Profast) in Wayanad, India does just that… and probably more.
The Profast program provides middle-school aged students with a chance to practice traditional dance, learn to sing, or play percussion instruments. It’s a fun and interactive experience that provides young students with an outlet to express themselves, while also spending some physical energy in the process. Sreelakshmi P. teaches traditional dance through the Profast program and believes it is an integral part of a balanced community. “Dance gives enjoyment to our eyes, ears, and mind,” Sreelakshmi said. “Dance helps to improve knowledge of the society and leads the world to virtues. Dance is so important to transfer the history of growth, development of a community, and making a society more balanced.”
Apart from fostering a sense of community and deepening the understanding of culture, Sreelakshmi also believes that practicing traditional dance improves a child’s growth and development. “Dance helps to improve our physical capabilities, sharpen our thoughts, and maintain our mental health,” she said. “Dance is so important to the development of a kid’s health, educational, and social activities.” There is no doubt that dance improves physical capabilities of young students, but the idea that it sharpens the mind is actually supported by research from The Brookings Institution (a think tank). In a study aimed at quantifying the impact of an expanded middle school education in the arts, the results found that “treatment school students experienced a 3.6 percentage point reduction in disciplinary infractions, an improvement of 13 percent of a standard deviation in standardized writing scores, and an increase of 8 percent of a standard deviation in their compassion for others.” In a world where people believe art should be practiced “for art’s sake,” there is now evidence that art is much more powerful than that.
Profugo’s Profast program, then, does a lot more than expand the student’s understanding of culture, or improve their physical capabilities. It works to improve other tangible and extremely necessary human qualities or skills – such as compassion for others. And given that compassion is becoming less and less common in our world, perhaps it’s time we all take a few more dance lessons.