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Lesson Plans


Re: Art and Science (part 2)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry (taylorh)
Fri, 11 Oct 1996 10:41:06 -0700 (MST)


On Thu, 10 Oct 1996, Kit Eakle wrote:

> -henry
>
> All that you say may be true. But education is not about art OR science.
> Education is about confronting, understanding about, and engaging the world
> we live in.

Hi Kit!
The more the merrier at this party.

"Education is about confronting..." its a useful frame. It comes from a
teachers point of view I'd say. From the young person's side it is
_Learning_ that is about confrontation... And I would prefer a young person
set out to learn rather than set about myself to educate her; but its
largely a semantic difference.

I agree completely with the last part, when you say that [Education] "is
about confronting, understanding about, and engaging the world..." Its
difficult to "really and truly" confront and engage the world when you
are a student in a system that is attempting to "educate you". But, I
DON'T have a useful answer to that problem, especially not on a system level.

But, I agree. What we need are bold people willing to confront (not
necessarily agressively BTW) to engage, and to attempt to understand the
world. (Despite the fact that the world (universe) is too large and
complex and our minds are too small and slow to actually do anything
close to fully understand anything of the sort.)

> In order to come to terms with that we study things.

Study tends to be a "serious" word. We also play with things in order to
come to terms with them. There are no doubt many approaches to "coming to
terms". (apologies to those who find my equivocational approach tedious)

> Art and Science are NOT things to be studied, but ways of studying them.

Art and Science ARE indeed... "ways of studying" but, nothing prevents
them from being studied, by themselves alone (metacognitively) or by each
other (critically) Art can be about science and science can be about art.
It is such metacognition that brings us things like deliniations of
"scientific method", aesthetics, criticism, art history. Art and science
are both things to be studied. As you say, however, we should not forget
that essentially they are both ways of studying. BTW, that's why I tend to
characterize philosophical aesthetics, criticism and art history as
"peripheral" to art. Perhaps "meta" to art would be a better format.

> If we do NOT bring both to bear on ALL the things we study we are the
> poorer.

Agreed!

> If we see them as mutually exclusive ways of looking at the world
> which must be isolated fom each other, we model the isolation of those who
> see one way as the truth and the other not worthy of our study. This seems
> to me to be precisely the problem in our society and the reason for the
> current marginalization of the arts. We don't solve the problem by
> isolating ourselves.

I agree here as well. I evidently haven't made my point clear to everyone.
My interest is in distinguishing art from science. I see no reason to
understand this discrimination as "exclusive". (I would agree though that
"exclusive" is the knee-jerk response in the 90's to "discrimination" or
by extention to "distinguish") I can distinguish the ham and the cheese
and the bread in the sandwich without any need to be exclusive and eat
each seperately as my son did when he was three.

What I want to avoid is something akin to having a tool that is a hammer,
a screwdriver, a computer, and a filing cabinet all at the same time. Each
is a useful thing but I don't want to make the mistake of trying to fix
the door to my car with the filing cabinet or put my tax returns in the
screwdriver. I don't want to reach out and use the first thing I come
across as a tool for scientific study. I what to know what I have and
to be able to decide if it is appropriate in THIS specific context. A
paintbrush might be precisely what I need!

Hmmm... in my experience similes and metaphors don't go to far today in
explaining things... people don't get it or they understand things
concretely and not abstractly... I don't know if that example helped.

This series of posts is a case in point. I did not fully anticipate my
audience, I chose my approaches and my language with less attention than I
might have. I think I did a good job, but I can see that it was not good
enough. It would have been useful for me to have made finer distinctions
about the words and structures that I used. It would have made my post
longer and more tedious because I'm not really that expert yet with
language. I have much to learn. It could have been worse. I could have
jumped in with a simple subject-verb-object pronouncement and left it at
that. You can easily start a flame war that way.

Basically, I want to know and understand exactly what I'm doing
sometimes. I find it useful. I also find it useful then to have a deep
understanding of the processes and things I'm using to get the job done.
I find it makes for fewer mistakes and for less necessity to go back and
do the job again. I can use science and I can use art and I can use them
both to a greater or lesser degree. Just as (here comes a simile) when I
paint I select from a palette, colors that I am most familiar
with and know the differences between quite well; in the same way art and
science are parts of my "palette", (not just two "colors" but many) I
want to know which one will work best in a specific spot and if I can't
tell them apart I'm not painting any more just guessing. If you want a
specific effect you need to know what your choices are. Do you chose oil
or acrylic, art or science? Is it important to know the difference? Maybe
maybe not, but for me, it usually is important and helpful.

> Both science and art as ways of seeing offer insight into both molecules
> and sculpture. We can't afford to ignore either in any area of study.

I couldn't agree with you more. My apologies for any confusion.

-henry