T.M.Khrishna, renowned Karnatik vocalist and the son of Mrs.Prema was like a breath of clean air, questioning closely held beliefs and the very class he was born to, the privileged society which indulges in classical music and dance.
He danced around his topic – Art in curbing Violence’ ,- not actually touching centre but raising more and more questions. Curbing or containing violence. Is this a good solution at all? Words can be violent too. Silence as well.
His premise- artists are not specially different from everyone else so then why would we think art can change people? Bringing art to a class room won’t really change the emotions within. Or tame the beast.
But, he acknowledged, the space that art creates within a person – of being acutely alive – that is a feeling that can be enjoyed, encouraged, revered. The inarticulateness one feels after a great concert; when looking at a wonderful monument like the Thanjavur temple, those are emotions that can be experienced while not having words enough to describe the feel.
Question every thought, every cliche or belief that is commonly held, every opinion or generalisation – that is the message Krishna put across.
Dr.Sriram Subramaniam, Professor of Experimental Neurology at Vanderbilt University established Bhuvana Foundation and started Vidya Vanam School at Annaikatty to provide free education for children of the surrounding area.
With the incisiveness of a surgeon, Dr.Sriram brought home to us our inherent biases in judging people, including children based on appearances with a tiny experiment. He showed us a few pictures of children and asked us to judge which one was the smart kid. And then he began to question us on the thoughts that had led us to make a judgement about a kid we had completely no idea about.
Our preferences lead us to biases which get strengthened to strong opinions and beliefs and which are the source of action. And we don’t even realise when we voice strong opinions, what is the base of those opinions!
He explained certain types of bias.
Recall bias based on recently read or heard ideas.
Framing bias – very often how a question is framed, creates a bias. Often used in marketing tactics.
Anchoring bias – Opinions are already framed or anchored and we see actions or the world through this frame.
Biases are formed to help us cope with life so that we react quickly to certain situations. A questioning mind will learn to recognise a bias as it arises or at least after and then pursue the thought.
We have to recognise our biases as far as possible when dealing with people. With children in our classrooms.
Recognise and foster any signs of caring for another in any child was his message.