Recently, while having dinner with a dear friend, we got in a bit of a debate about something we heartily disagreed upon. We were discussing education and what we feel is important when it comes to teaching our children. I absolutely adore this person, and I am not argumentative by nature, so it surprised me just how heated this topic made me feel. He was pressing the argument that science and math are the most important things in education, and that other things should take the back seat, specifically music and art. He works in technology in the Silicon Valley, so I can’t really blame him for seeing things the way he does. His whole world is fueled by advances in technology. And I can’t disagree that the world, as we know it, wouldn’t exist without science and math. And yet, the very idea that arts and music were the lesser subjects made my heart race inside my chest and I felt an uprising stirring within me as I pondered the idea. Everything about me embraces the beauty created through an artist’s touch. And as I expressed my feelings on the matter, my tone of voice became more and more fervent and I felt more passion than I have felt in any other discussion I can remember having, because it truly mattered to me- TO THE CORE. The people at the tables around us knew there was a lively discussion at table number 5! In fact, I surprised myself. My total defiance to his idea was very apparent and I just simply WOULD NOT SEE IT HIS WAY! Again, out of character for me; usually so eager to try to understand another person’s point of view.
“But, Kimberly!” he exclaimed. “Technology is everything! Math and science will bring success! If a child doesn’t excel in these fields, they are lost out there in the workplace! Completely lost! They will never make enough money to survive, let alone thrive!”
“What is life…” I shot back, “living as a robot with no feelings and emotions? Our human experience is made beautiful by art and creativity. The very room we are sitting in was designed by a creative soul, and the food we are eating… prepared by an artist.
What would life be without the passion that stirs our souls when we are deeply moved by a thing of beauty; be it a fluid painting that makes us want to dance…
Or a piece of music that transports us to another place and time.
I have never been moved to tears by a math problem… (actually, I have)! But those were tears of frustration! But a wonderful novel… now that has brought me to tears on more than one occasion as my soul was stirred and my eyes opened.
I have been deeply touched by books, movies, art, music, a lightning storm across a dark sky, courtesy of the ultimate creative Being. These things can teach us about ourselves. Who we really are. If we take art and music out of education, we are raising a generation of drones from some science fiction movie! “The conveyor belts are prepared, Admiral! We’ve got another batch of of the offspring coming through. They have been programed to your specifications…” Seriously?
So, back to the debate…
What is more important to humanity and our progress as a civilization, the “brainy” subjects or the “artsy” ones? In the end, my friend and I came to an agreement. And the truth is, they are completely intertwined and I believe there can be little progress if you take any of them away.
It would be foolish of me to belittle the importance of science and math. Truly, they are both so much a part of everything that moves us forward, even in the arts! Any piano teacher will show you how important math is in music composition. And the most beautiful bridges across the globe and the fine architectural wonders that we often consider art are impossible without the greatest minds working equations both in math and science.
The chef at the restaurant… he used math to make his measurement and science was a big part of the recipe, as well. (A+B=C… put C in oven and the heat will turn this liquid into a light and fluffy, and somewhat miraculous confection).
The creative soul who designed the space we were enjoying the night of the debate, used symmetry to invoke a peaceful environment. You see, It has been scientifically proven that symmetry promotes peace. (Not that it worked at our table).
Math, Science, Arts and Music are all equally important! The math and science push us forward, teaching us “how to live”, or “function well”, while the arts and music keep us human, connected to our passions and to each other, giving us greater understanding and, in short, giving us “reason to live” and the ability to “live well”.
The conclusion on the topic of debate was this… we agreed about the importance of arts and music in an education, but not at the expense of leaving science or math out. I can live with that. I totally agree. But let’s not go the other direction!
(note to self… I enjoy a good disagreement). It was exciting to get all stirred up about something that mattered to me! In fact, it made me want to go home and paint something bold and defiant! 🙂
Thanks to the following for photos and art:
The Spanish Dancer by John Singer Sargent
Vengerov plays the 18th variation of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / arr. Kreisler at Moscow Conservatory
Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn USA Visit media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com
Paris Opera Garnier Visit this-is-irene.blogspot.com.au