Teaching arts and sciences together is probably an idea that a lot of people in education may frown upon. As Mae Jemison states “people have this idea that science and the arts are really separate” an idea that she believes has been around for centuries (Ted2002 [screen name], 2002). I, however, would tend to disagree with the people who think that these subject matters should not be intertwined. Not only would I disagree with them but I would fight avidly for the fact that I believe, now more than ever, these subjects should be combined.
Let’s take a look at the way in which education has been delivered for centuries and is still widely delivered throughout the world today. According to the video Changing Education Paradigms most public institutions divide their courses up based on subject matter. Education has had a focus on separating the academics from the non-academics. Education in the past has been focused on building the economy and preparing workers for the industrialized workforce (The RSA, 2010). Is this still the way in which we should educate our children, teenagers, and young adults today? In my opinion, NO.
It is documented that “70% of employers say that university students need to do more to prepare themselves to be effective in the workplace” (Woods, 2011). As an adult educator I feel that it is an essential part of my job to ensure that I am doing everything I can to help prepare these graduates for the workplace. Ways in which I do this is to go beyond just teaching students the subject matter of the courses I teach. I push my students to think outside of the box, to use their previous experiences to help them find solutions to the problems, and above all to be creative in their thinking and reasoning. So why do I think it necessary to teach the arts in conjunction with the sciences? The arts teach you the aspects of creativity that can be applied to scientific theories and processes.
The reason I chose to focus on the Ted talk by Mae Jemison, through which the idea of teaching the arts and sciences together was introduced to me, is because this topic matter resonates with me greatly. When I was in school I excelled in the academic subjects but had a passion and desire to explore the arts. While in elementary school having strong interests in both these areas was not uncommon, most children show an interest in a variety of things they are first being introduced to.
As I grew older, however, I was encouraged by many of my teachers to choose an area in which to focus my interests. For me this was a fairly difficult task, but with the encouragement of many instructors along the way I finally decided to indulge my academic side. This is not to say that I did not continue to take art classes throughout high school, however, the majority of my course load was heavily academic. I had always loved science, as well as caring for other people, so by the end of high school I was determined I would go to university and become a nurse.
I graduated at 17 and went straight to university. While in university I was encouraged to focus on my nursing studies and put my artistic abilities aside. Upon graduation I took a full time position, was married shortly after, and started a family. With all of the above going on I had no time to explore my artistic side. Years went by and eventually I got divorced and was left feeling like a piece of me was missing.
It was at this time that I decided to get back into art to fill up some of my free time. This is when, I believe, a real transformation in me occurred. I started painting and doing stained glass and both of these activities really brought out my creative side that had been somewhat stifled for a long time. The creative ideas that started flowing not only helped me in my arts by in a variety of other aspects in my life as well. I was starting to think more outside of the box and had a sense of enlightenment. I developed a renewed passion for life and for learning new things.
So you may be thinking, well that was a great story but what does all of that have to do with teaching art and science in combination with one another? For me, once I had embraced my artistic side I felt as if I was more of a complete person. I had developed a new way of thinking, of looking at things, and felt as if I was given access to some untapped potential. This is potential that was always inside of me but I had never really embraced it. In my opinion, combining arts into the teaching of science would embrace the creative side of people allowing them to tap into their full potential.
As stated in the video Changing Education Paradigms
the arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you are present in the current moment, when you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you are experiencing, and when you are fully alive. (The RSA, 2010).
When you look at what the above quote says, it is easy to see how beneficial incorporating this kind of experience into scientific teachings could be. People would be encouraged to think outside the box, use their creativity in thinking of new theories and not be bound by the rigidity that is so prominent in scientific teaching today. The video then goes on to state “we should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves” (The RSA, 2010). I am a firm believer that by allowing students to get creative we can encourage them to become better thinkers. By doing this the possibilities really could be limitless.
Due to the fact that I teach within both a nursing and healthcare management program a lot of the courses my students take are very analytical. They are taught ways in which to perform certain skills, have conversations with people and think in very structured manners. Although I already encourage my students to think outside of the box and be creative, I believe that this assignment has made me realize just how important it is to help develop these skills within them.
When you are enrolled within an academic program, such as the ones that I teach within, you are taught to think and act in certain ways. You are often taught not to question the ways in which you are shown something and to do as the instructor does. While these may be acceptable and adopted methods by many instructors, that is not the type of instructor that I am or ever want to be. I take pride in encouraging my students to have original ideas and plan to do so as long as I teach, for who am I to stifle someone’s ability to think outside of the box?
In the video Changing Education Paradigms they define creativity “as the process of having original ideas that have value” (The RSA, 2010). I bet that nobody ever told Einstein or Aristotle not to be creative in their thinking, for if they had we may not have the technological advances and scientific theories that we do today. This is why, now more than ever, creativity and the arts should be incorporated into scientific teachings. As you can see an individual’s creativity needs to be embraced in order for them to excel to their fullest potential in whatever it is they choose to do. If people continue to be taught in a strict fashion where subjects are not allowed to overlap then we are doing an injustice to our futures by stifling creativity, originality and uniqueness.
Ted2002 [screen name]. (2002, Feb.). Teach Arts and Sciences Together . Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/mae_jemison_on_teaching_arts_and_sciences_together
The RSA [screen name]. (2010, Oct. 14). Changing Education Paradigms . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&list=PLD57AB085E6745C43&index= 1
Woods, D. (2011). Employers Dissatisfied With the Levels of Training of Graduates and School Leavers: HR Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article- details/employers-dissatisfied-with-the-levels-of-training-of-graduates-and-school- leavers