Responses - Dec 12th

Name: Bridgette
Subject: A critique and a suggestion
Date: 12/12/2011

With all due respect, the artless curriculum that is being promoted here does not quite hit the mark. You state that you seek to create "other great thinkers - not artists," yet it was Albert Einstein who stated that "imagination is more important than knowledge," i.e., that the ability to imagine and create a solution was more important than being able to retain facts. Without art, what would be left to guide the path of science? Who would be able to design the next piece of equipment that moves society? What is the point of having a world-changing idea if one cannot express that idea eloquently or intelligibly?

You reference Magdalena Abakanowicz who said that "Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence." How can a problem be solved if we cannot identify what the problem is? We would waste more time and more money if we had no idea where to begin.

Leonardo da Vinci, (another "great mind") found the balance between art and science and brought to civilization innumerable treasures. He recognized the inherent similarities between multiple sources, which went on to inform his creations. A more modern example, Steve Jobs, spoke at his commencement speech at Stanford University about the importance of, in your words, "frivolous" subjects like a calligraphy course he took in college, on the development of what is now the world's second more successful corporation.

How sad (how embarrassing), that I have met high school graduates who have absolutely no idea who Mozart is, what the colors in the spectrum are, or what was so important about Mary Shelley. It is entirely unacceptable that students are unaware of art, which is a direct cause of a lack of funding in arts education. For these students to graduate and not be able to hold their own in a conversation with a European student five years their junior is not something to be proud of.

I would argue that what our educational system is most in need of is synthesis, not elimination or addition. Students attempt to learn in an overly categorized manner. Mathematics take place in one room, biology in another, art in an entirely different wing. This kind of thinking is what makes people great specialists, but terrible managers they are wonderful in depth for one subject, but totally lacking in the greater understanding and mechanics of a system because they lack the appreciation for the contributions of each small component.

This is what we, as Americans, should be furious about. Our students fall behind because they lack the ability to see where their history course overlaps with their economics class, or how their ability to count music relies on mathematics. We live in a world of wonderful uncertainties and thrilling connections. Let's give our students (and perhaps ourselves) the opportunity to explore those connections between the sciences and the arts and truly become "great minds."