It’s a really interesting and valid question that keeps popping up on social media from time to time. And some of the rather serious answers people have come up with include how playing the recorder taught us breathing techniques, and that it provided us with a nice break from all the studying.
I have to say that I don’t know what the actual thinking was behind it, nor can I give you any pedagogical reasons (well, apart from the need to trigger the right brain, that is). But probably it was simply to introduce a form of arts appreciation in school.
And this is one area we’ve never been good at. In fact, the ARTS has always been seen as the “less intelligent” stream, and that it could never be as important as the other subjects in school.
As a result, the thinking has been cultivated from young; that arts and culture have little value to real life, and could never be a real career alternative.
This has led to disastrous consequences to society in more ways than one. Without the appreciation of the arts, there’s no appreciation of the artistes. That’s why for so long, we’ve grappled with widespread piracy (cetak rompak). Because the general public simply do not appreciate the creative process.
Even today in the digital world, there is little respect for intellectual property. People think arts and culture are merely “hobbies” and not real work, even for those who depend on it for their livelihoods.
It doesn’t also help that there is no balance in popular media when it comes to entertainment, arts and culture. Sure, we all enjoy some gossip now and then, but the fascination has always been with what artistes do when they’re not working on their craft — you know, the “juicy” stuff. So again, it’s all just “entertainment”, and nothing more.
Even deeper than that, the lack of appreciation for the arts, literature and culture has created a society of binary thinkers. A piece of art can mean different things to different people (there is no right or wrong), but generally our people can’t — and won’t — agree to disagree, because the answer has to always be either black or white.
Everything must be on the nose, subtexts are often ignored, and it leaves us with a society that only judges others from what they see on the surface, and material gains.
Oh how I wish we had learned more than just the recorder…