Personal Attributes

What personal attributes do you feel that teachers should possess to integrate both the art and the science of teaching?

Integrating art and science is one of the great challenges of Western Civilization. The world we have made is increasingly lopsided towards science. The guiding principal seems to be “More, better, faster”. Education continues to move towards science over art and is accelerating. The pressure is towards more time on ‘academics’, less time on the expressive arts (including physical activity and play). The pressure is on more time absorbing data, less time learning to creatively problem solve. Education is limiting towards the left-lobed bottleneck of teaching to tests. Thus the first quality a teacher needs to integrate art and science is an appreciation of the wholeness of knowledge.

Our society is reductionist. We don’t eat broccoli, we take pills with the specialized anti-oxidant properties of broccoli. We don’t drink orange juice, we take vitamin C powder to fight colds. We don’t feed our babies mother’s milk, we feed them ‘formula’. There is a strong and completely arrogant belief that everything can be made better by breaking it down into component parts and isolating the ‘important stuff’. Integrating art and science requires moving against this trend, towards wholeness. Thus, teachers seeking to integrate art and science in how they teach (and what they teach) must have or develop the ability to see the ‘whole’. The first whole to be seen is their objective: to fill their students with the love and desire for knowledge. They must start from there and build their days, weeks and year around the skeleton of joyful learning and the core knowledge appropriate for the class or age. The skeleton should be filled out with wholeness containing the essences of the core learning and the excitement and wonder to make that core learning take place in a context of whole knowledge and fun. This is no small thing. It takes the courage to believe children will absorb the core knowledge from the full mass. It takes the knowledge to find whole knowledge that excites the students. And it take skill to present that is such a way as to appeal to all the different kinds of learners and to tease out the core knowledge from the mass. Finally, it takes the energy to go beyond the curriculum, to create a context and world in which the curriculum can become a valuable, instructive element. 

So to summarize, teachers need specific skills regarding teaching and learning, general knowledge of exciting ‘whole’ subjects, specific knowledge of the core curriculum, the energy to weave them together in a way that captivates the learners and transmits the required data, the courage to do this in the face of a reductionist system and the trust that this art of is an equal and essential partner with the science.

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