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Connecting Art, Science, and Design: What Would You Do?

Connecting Art, Science, and Design: What Would You Do?

by Carolie Sly

Carolie Sly: Connecting Art, Science, and Design:  What Would You Do?

On the first day of a new Center for Ecoliteracy seminar on connecting art, science, and design in sustainability education, Fritjof Capra spoke about Leonardo da Vinci, emphasizing that no one before or since the Renaissance great has been more skilled at synthesizing art and science.

This ability to make connections is exactly what we need to address most of today's problems, said Capra, who is a systems thinker, cofounder of the Center for Ecoliteracy, and author of The Science of Leonardo.

"Virtually every serious problem we have today in society, in the university, in politics, or in any other field cannot be limited to a single discipline," he added. "Our main problems are transdisciplinary, so we need transdisciplinary education."

Which raises some questions we'd like to hear your thoughts on, such as:

  • How can we use art, science, and design to help us understand our world today?
  • And how would your school change if you implemented a stronger integration of art, science, and design today?

Tell us what you think! 

 

Comments

28 comments posted

use art, science, and design to help us understand our world

Submitted by selena Wilson (not verified) on Thu, 2010-09-09 12:07.

apologies for the lengthy answer:)For one thing, and I am guilty of this- teachers need to stop modeling the imaginary boundary that has become the un-crossable chasm between the “subjects”. I am not saying that we aren’t all specialists in a field- because we should certainly know well what we teach, but how many times do students need to hear the art teacher say they don’t like math, or the history teacher declare their ineptitude at science? And the math teacher say they can’t draw? Our attitudes and very language draw lines to segregate the subjects further than the structure of our school day already does.
Observation has been discussed, and I agree it is a very obvious and important link between the arts and sciences; but there is also observation of what is happening around us. Observing the intangible; our behaviors and habits, our situations, and how efficiently we do things, or how we do or do not take advantage of our available but largely unobserved resources?
Our problems in our communities and campuses are our gifts! These are where learning meets reality, and in every real situation you find a system of solutions custom made from parts of nearly all, if not all disciplines you can name- and then some. We can create all kinds of lessons to do in our classrooms that integrate disciplines, and it’s even better if teachers and classes can get together literally (but this is so impossible in the current secondary school period system- maybe devise blocks of students instead of subjects and they go through the day with groups of teachers teaching together?),... but this is very limited, and usually the activity is merely theoretical. It can be significant and reveal to students ways of seeing and thinking that go beyond subject barriers, but doesn’t make the lasting impression on their depth of knowing and level of self esteem that working in reality does.
Understanding our world today starts with understanding ourselves, an inward observation that can be developed through structuring time for students to reflect and meditate. The next step involves looking outside. When we look and find that we are not satisfied with what we see happening, it is our big opportunity to do something about it. Students can vote on projects to focus on. Teachers can meet about which aspects they resonate with the most. Together, teachers and students use critical thinking to design a solution. There is almost always math involved, communications (researching, writing, speaking), and art is used in the attention to aesthetics as well as the impact of the “end product”, for example- how does the appearance of this make you feel? What does it communicate to viewers? Engineering, economics, history, science, art, math, psychology, political sciences, language arts and even foreign language have roles to play when it comes to solving the problems of real life. We need to take advantage of these ready-made curriculums to be truly integrative.

art/math

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 2010-11-04 07:02.

Artists are usually very good at math. Just saying.

Art, Science and Design

Submitted by Jessica Lovegrove (not verified) on Fri, 2010-08-27 07:59.

The unity that exists within the disciplines of Art, Science and Design are found at every level of existence. They begin with a keen observation and understanding of the natural world and all of its inhabitants. Children in particular enjoy the discovery of simple wonders. The examination of a snowflake for instance and its divine formation, a perfect five petaled flower flake landed on the coat of a dog I was walking last winter, and rested on her back for many minutes before finally melting away. Or, the story of the Three Sisters, and the reasons why Native communities often plant corn, peas and squash together; to support one another and to protect the roots from excessive sun. Or, the bear that consumes vast amounts of wild bluberries, known to be powerful antioxidants, in order to give birth to healthy cubs in the Spring. Each moment we take to examine life more closely, is an opportunity to gain and ultimatley to share the richness of creation in and of itself.
Degrees in Biomimicry are now being offered at the Art College I graduated from twenty years ago, and undoubtedly, we are able to introduce the concepts, and help to create a very solid foundation for children at a very young age. The result will be a planet of individuals who have tremendous respect for the environment that surrounds them, and an ability to implement the laws of nature into the fabrication and framework of a healty eco conscious society.

Ane Carla Rovetta

Submitted by Nyah gueye (not verified) on Fri, 2010-08-20 07:59.

Carolie, could you remind us when and where Ane Carla's open studio is. I am working on our field trips this year and i really want to go to see her again.

Thank you and all who were apart of the seminar!

Ane Carla Rovetta: Open Studio

Submitted by Alice Lee Tebo (not verified) on Thu, 2010-10-07 09:02.

Hi Nyah,

Here is the information for Ane Carla's Open Studio. Enjoy!

Two Weekends of Open Studio in the Chicken Coop
602 Cleveland Lane
One block WEST of Bodega Ave.
Petaluma, CA

Oct. 8, 9 & 10
Oct. 16 & 17

as part of the 2010 Petaluma Open Studios Event
www.petalumaopenstudios.com

Come and sample Ane Carla's UNIQUE wares: soil paintings, handmade chalks, animal portraits, prints, and notecards.

LIVE MUSIC by PETER BERGEN

We will track down that

Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-20 11:02.

We will track down that information and post it.

Implementation and Change

Submitted by Valerie Gutwirth (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 21:10.

In order to implement a stronger integration of arts, science, and design (which, by choosing to connect around Nature, Environment, and The Arts, we have committed to doing), my school will have to develop stronger systems of cross-classroom, cross-discipline, and cross-grade-level collaboration and articulation. In practice, this means developing frameworks flexible enough to accommodate our multiple styles and perspectives yet strong enough to support our students; opening, tinkering with, and reimagining how, when, and why to use mandated curricula; carefully constructing links to standards; and, hardest of all, giving up some control of our individual spheres. I think our biggest challenges on this path are to look at the benefits of shared teaching and mutual accountability; of developing a six-year program; of placing what are now individual subjects within the cycle of these three ideas, knowing that we can keep track of the individual standards at the same time. I think the way there begins with looking at what we do now -- that's this year's project.

Yes, we have to come up with

Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-20 11:04.

Yes, we have to come up with some ways to share teaching that allows out-of-class time to collaborate. Time is always the biggest obstacle, yet we don't necessarily use it creatively. I like your idea about a six year program. Is is so important and realistic to note that these important endeavors not only need time, but they take time.

Observation

Submitted by Julie Lovie (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 22:05.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this question and realized that art and science are totally connected through observation. Observation is a skill that we are not emphasizing enough in socciety today. Most are into the quick fix , google it! I find myself doing the same thing sometimes. This questions reminded me of the value of just slowing down and looking, really looking at something. Art encourages us to really observe and then recreate our interpretation of what we see this also helps us to make a really connection to the world.

Firstly, I appear to be one

Submitted by Whitney (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 16:01.

Firstly, I appear to be one of the youngest and most inexperienced members of the conference this weekend and I am completely in awe and inspired by everyone's passion for education and drive for change.

I personally connect to art, science, and design, but it was never more apparent as to how much the three are connected until this weekend. As we saw through the lens of Fritjof in Leonardo's work today, water flows through his art and interlinks his ideas of science. For Leonardo it was so natural to draw his observations of fluid dynamics in his study of turbulence. He may not have had the scientific names for what he saw, but the idea is what was important. If we borrow Leonardo's ideas and track human development and our footprint through graphs, pictorial images, and nature (science), to compare the past and the present, we could learn eons of information. In turn, we could make appropriate changes that would lead to a more sustainable life.

Most importantly, if we teach these tactics to our students, they can lead a healthier and more successful future than we perhaps have hopes for. For their minds that aren't quite jaded, this should be easy and natural.

I look forward to tomorrow's schedule of plants and ecology!

Closing questions from yesterday's keynote

Submitted by karen on Tue, 2010-08-17 10:49.

Some of you requested the closing questions from yesterday's keynote. Here they are:

If you were designing your perfect school:

- How would you teach the sciences, and how would you teach the arts?

- Whose work would you honor?

- How would you foster community and collaboration?

- Whose names might you emblazon on the outside of the building? Or would your school have a building at all?

- And how would you integrate art, science, and design? How would you teach those subjects in an interdisciplinary manner in the context of the living and physical environments?

SIr Ken Robinson information you requested

Submitted by karen on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:50.

Hello everyone,

Here are two TED videos of Sir Ken Robinson that contain wonderful insights and the quotes you were interested in:

Do Schools Kill Creativity?
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Bring on the Learning Revolution
http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

Karen

Connecting Art, Science, and Design...

Submitted by Dianne (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:38.

I agree with the need for transdisciplinary education. By connecting the arts and sciences we create a unique synergy that helps us move towards a holistic and synthesizing way to know and be in the world. Such moves us naturally towards an epistemology (way of knowing), and ontology (way of being) and axiology (the morals standards/ codes of behavior that arise from these ways of knowing and being) that embrace and nurture wholeness and synthesis as the primary way of interacting with the natural world as well. I also think that this "shift" will allow us to see the existing tensions between Cartesian-inspired binaries (ie. nature/ culture) in a new light--these, too, will be embraced as necessary (binaries are exemplified throughout nature) and provide us with the possibility of a powerful and healing, dynamic balance and wholeness.

Connecting Art, Science, and Design...

Submitted by Dianne (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:37.

I agree with the need for transdisciplinary education. By connecting the arts and sciences we create a unique synergy that helps us move towards a holistic and synthesizing way to know and be in the world. Such moves us naturally towards an epistemology (way of knowing), and ontology (way of being) and axiology (the morals standards/ codes of behavior that arise from these ways of knowing and being) that embrace and nurture wholeness and synthesis as the primary way of interacting with the natural world as well. I also think that this "shift" will allow us to see the existing tensions between Cartesian-inspired binaries (ie. nature/ culture) in a new light--these, too, will be embraced as necessary (binaries are exemplified throughout nature) and provide us with the possibility of a powerful and healing, dynamic balance and wholeness.

It seems like you have the

Submitted by carolie on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:34.

It seems like you have the ability to work in teams, at least to some extent. Your students would also probably enjoy using other media, such as art and design, to express themselves. Hope we get to keep working with your team to see where this might go!

One of the ways to utilize

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 06:58.

One of the ways to utilize art, science and design in an integrated fashion is thru simple observations.... the art and science come easily by having students observe something in hand using hand lenses if necessary but just by getting in TOUCH with the object, they can begin to describe it in their minds... jotting down words that come to mind (size shape color texture).... then after a period of time asking them to take some piece of it to draw... depending on age level... the more one observes something, the more they see.. and the more clearly one sees something the likelier that they actually begin to see SHAPES instead on preconceived ideas about what a ??? whatever looks like...

the design piece comes in as children see patterns repeated within the objects... the veins on leaves have a cohesive pattern that is discernable when one takes the TIME to actually look closely
drawing that then becomes easier... its the quick and the dirty that one must eliminate if we are to find the time to allow children the space and time to see their world.

oops running late...

I agree, close observation is

Submitted by carolie on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:22.

I agree, close observation is so important, especially these days when we are moving so quickly and are over-stimulated. I find that having kids use a hand lens or jeweler's loupe to look up close and then draw the object is very effective. Then, they are ready to talk about an object's structure and what that may tell us about its function, which brings in design in the natural world. Do you know the Private Eye program? The guidebook is invaluable for just this kind of lesson.

connecting art, science, and design

Submitted by kathy Solomon (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 06:37.

How can we use art, science, and design to help us understand our world today?

This question has complex answers and of course that's why we are here. The world today is bound by technology and I am hoping that this issue will be addressed at this seminar. Our students have never known what it is to NOT be connected. While Viet Nam was the first TV war where we saw disturbing imagery of war and violence, our students see this all the time. As a child growing up in the Viet Nam era, these images were disturbing, ones I will never forget and they motivated me to resist war and violence (against humans and nature) in a concrete manner. Our students see these images all the time and incorporate them in their video games and can google and youtube almost any video they want. Are they less sensitized to the problems of the day, since they are so far removed from nature? So as educators how can we help them connect to art and science and design? Well as an art teacher I try to help students be problem solvers, think outside the box, and use creativity to be innovative. How can we use these skills to help solve the complex issues facing our society today? I wish I could answer this easily and I hope to have better ideas as the seminar unfolds. Collaboration with colleagues and support from school administration are key to fostering these connections.

If we implemented a stronger integration of art, science, and design at my school we would help produce future leaders that would be eager to solve complex problems in our society and planet as a whole. As a philosophy I know my school is behind this concept. However, the reality of scheduling, testing, and other priorities make some of these integrations difficult. However, realizing that hands on activities whether in the arts, sciences, or humanites make real impacts on students makes me think that this is the way to help foster creative and Interdisciplinary learning opportunities.

I am curious about how your

Submitted by carolie on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:46.

I am curious about how your faculty copes with their dedication to integrating art, science, and design AND the requirements to test students and address other top down priorities. Many schools are in this dilemma but don't necessarily share a common vision of integration like your school. It seems like a dialogue about who to meet external requirements through integration could generate some creative solutions.

teaching answers

Submitted by melita (not verified) on Mon, 2010-08-16 22:02.

How can we use art, science, and design to help us understand our world today?

our world is complex, layered - politically, emotionally and physically. i remember dragging the family phone into the closet to get some privacy, twirling the cord around my finger. life has changed a lot in the past 15 years! there is no way that i know to teach my students the answers, because their questions are going to be different when they look at the world around them after high school.

but if they practice the basic skills of observation, curiosity, inquiry, imagination, communication, debate, compassion and experimentation it will eventually lead to the knowing which helps us make informed decisions and solve the layered and complex problems. if i truly was able to develop each of these in my students, i am certain they would go on to find answers for a future that is sustainable and inclusive. art, science and design are keystones in this gateway to a world where we are not making the same historical mistakes. but why stop there? lets include math, foreign language and physical education too.

Your idea about building in

Submitted by carolie on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:41.

Your idea about building in observation, curiosity, inquiry, imagination, communication, debate, compassion and experimentation could become your "filters" for designing lessons/projects, making sure to build in a minimum of X number of these wonderful skills to all.

Art, science and design in schools and in life

Submitted by katyyan (not verified) on Mon, 2010-08-16 21:20.

* How can we use art, science, and design to help us understand our world today?

Art is a great vehicle to convey scientific concepts and global problems with complex interactions among the anthro-, geo-, hydro-, and biospheres. When done well (i.e. simply and elegantly), professional artists can help people understand difficult concepts by presenting them in a new light and in a way that becomes more relatable. Shining a light on the beauty found in scientific research (fractals, geological strata, etc) can also help to demystify the scientific field. In both cases, bringing art and science (back) together for kids and adults alike can help them see their world in a new and deeper way. My largest gray area is the role of design. I see smart design as a way of combining art and science and introducing it to people's everyday lives (a plywood chair, elegant meters for your water or carbon footprint, etc), but are there other ways that design plays into the equation? Are we talking about engineering? About the design of sustainability programs in schools? All of the above?

* And how would your school change if you implemented a stronger integration of art, science, and design today?

Coming from an environmental nonprofit, I see this integration as an effective way of reaching new audiences, and building connections for the people we serve by taping into their cultural heritage. Whether it's working with the Kayapo in Brazil or the Omo River tribes in Ethiopia, each community of people we work with have strong traditions of artistic expression. When they incorporate these traditions into their campaigns, it can send a powerful visual message that's hard to ignore, even by those that would choose to do so.

I think you will especially

Submitted by carolie on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:29.

I think you will especially enjoy tomorrow's presentation by Tom McKeag, on innovative design solutions we can borrow from nature.

What a great idea to incorporate local art into the work International Rivers is doing in other countries! Such a great way to frame messaging about the campaign in that area.

How would my school change if I implemented a stronger integrati

Submitted by Caroline Lehman (not verified) on Mon, 2010-08-16 20:51.

In the elementary school, I think this integration does exist but by high school the focus in each subject is so compartmentalised and the time constraints so intense that interdisciplinary teaching is almost impossible! I say almost because one of my history colleagues and I have done some work together - I taught students about the gas laws and he was having students study original documents concerning the use of hot air balloons in warfare! (Ben Franklin was in Paris when the first hydrogen balloon was successfully launched in 1783 and immediately wrote home indicating their potential military use). The students which we both taught really enjoyed the connection. There are so many directions in which this subject could be extended.. the materials used in the balloons, the public health issues.....
(I had a picture of the ascent but could not figure out how to have it included here)

The connections exist whether we teach students to be cognisant of them or not. The change is that the students would be experiencing them again. Teachers would work in teams and teach the same group of students. This would benefit both teachers and students. Instead of filling up students with facts, it would encourage a much more proactive method of learning, where the students are actively involved in a creative learning process based on guided discovery methods of exploration, concept invention and application. A process which is itself much like the scientific method. It would make for a much more collegial experience and thus a more cohesive school community where interdependance is seen as a strength as well as a solution to solving problems larger than the volume of gas at a given pressure and temperature!

Knowing your school makes me

Submitted by carolie on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:32.

Knowing your school makes me wonder how far away they are from your vision it is, when reading your vision of what a school would look like that integrates curriculum. Very cool integrated project incorporating history and science!

school time: setting the stage for discovery. Improvising.

Submitted by stanley edwards (not verified) on Mon, 2010-08-16 22:33.

Given the current climate of educational funding, we as teachers must always be ready for a new experience. We are designers of what we choose to focus on--- be mentors of. This is not a terrible situation, because there is always something to be learned from what we are presented with. At this point, we are fortunate American citizens. If we are overwhelmed with too many students, we need to learn to mobilize to get assistance. The children of our country/state/county/city--are the clients. We want our clients to understand their needs. So we start in early education (and with proper guidance, children show us the way). And then we --as designers--follow through in elementary school. Standardized tests are our reality. We can find ways to bring everyone onboard by devising educational approaches which take what we know about nature: patterns, exponential growth, deviations from patterns, etc....to create a new, improved public school reality based on NATURE.....a few professional development workshops could cement this no brainer approach...
If we were to adopt a broad range "no child left behind" curriculum------ how about developmental levels k-12: interpretations of nature. VISUAL MAPS....show students human behavior maps...like the cholera water pump situation...and extend this to present day...OUR CHILDREN HAVE ALREADY ABSORBED THE DISASTERS WE AS CHILDREN DID NOT PERCEIVE.. (maybe a skipped generation) we are challenged to set up an opportunity to face our disasters and turn them into learning curves for our children...I will say that we have a long road ahead of us; however, the students I have encountered are stellar...HOPE for the future....

That said,our clients needs may go beyond the traditional school structure. When a child absorbs the sense of frustration , i.e. a family is evivted after a full scale food garden is in place.

How would my school change if

Submitted by Constance Walker (not verified) on Mon, 2010-08-16 17:09.

How would my school change if we implemented a stronger integration of art, science and design?

Our students often ask us, why they need to learn about certain subjects that they do not see as important in their lives. I always strive to connect the topics and lessons to their experience and environment. However, I realize that my students have varied interests and strengths and that if I can work with the other teachers as a team, we may create a more effective pathway to student understanding and learning. Instead of compartmentalized lessons that are not intertwined into the different subjects, we might enhance students' engagement and ultimately understanding through multiple experiences with the topic throughout the day. I think this is critical for the population we serve. Our students are in crisis (are in trouble with the law, most have not been in school on a consistent basis, most suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, chaotic homes, violent neighborhoods, and a cycle of poverty). I hope that we can enable these students to see the potential they have to affect their communities positively; to empower them with the skills to make small changes that will effect greater change. I think it may make us more focused about what we want to accomplish as a team.

I think your team might have

Submitted by carolie on Tue, 2010-08-17 07:55.

I think your team might have the ability to do some team teaching, correct? Also, I can imagine that your students will respond to being able to express their thoughts in a variety of media, including art and design. Keep us posted at CEL.

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