Monday, January 29, 2018

Design Is An Art/Design Is A Science

"Touch" by Sienna Morris
There is an art to education. The best teaching comes from the heart and its got soul. It has a beat and you can dance to it.

But it's not that easy. Oh, that it were.

The best teaching is a science. It fills needs, checks boxes and crosses any letters it comes across that need to be crossed. It uses data honestly.

It is in the blending of the two that teaching comes alive. That is where we can both reach our kids on an emotional level and an academic one. To ignore one or the other is to cut off an arm and try swimming upstream. To cut off both would just be ridiculous because then you sink to the bottom and get pulled downstream by the current, bouncing off of rocks and fish until washing up on shore only to be found by bewildered fly fishermen days later.

Blending is key. Finding the balance. Too much of the art and things get out of hand in class. Learning becomes a little too unfocused and while that appeals to some freer spirit teachers *raises hand* it doesn't do as much good for the kids as we'd like to say. Too much of the science and things dry out, get stiff and brittle, and shatter the first time they run into a trout. We're all going to ignore that this metaphor requires something to be dry and brittle while bouncing along the bottom of a stream and move forward, nodding and smiling.

The word that we should be focusing on in education then, is the word that best combines science and art. No, not scart. And not arence. That would be as nutty as an education blog about arms falling off and teachers being so much flotsam in a stream.

The word we're all looking for here is DESIGN.

We use design all the time. Lesson design. Classroom design. Assessment design. Curriculum design. Dry stream bed design. Design is the melding of art and science into something that is aesthetically pleasing and evidence-based.

Let us come back to the image at the top of this post. I'll bring it down here so you don't have to scroll. You're welcome.


This piece is by a Portland, OR artist named Sienna Morris and it's called "Touch". If you look closely at it you'll notice that the woman is not made of simple brush strokes, but a seemingly random series of letters and numbers. What you're actually seeing is the chemical formula for Oxytocin written over and over. Oxytocin is responsible for the bonding of partners or children. This is science made art. This is art because of the science.

This is "Heart" by the same artist. Here again she uses science, this time "cardiac equations like stroke volume, ejection fraction, and cardiac output", to make art, and art to bring the science to life.

What she does is what we do. She takes two things that are so often put into silos and joins them in beauty through smart design. These images are what our lessons strive to be. Our projects. Our classrooms. How can we take the numbers and make them fly? How can we take the flights of fancy and make them true and clear?

Teaching and learning, purposeful design of these experiences using art and science, will bring us closer to the universe.

"Universal Propreoception" by Sienna Morris
If you enjoy Sienna's work please throw her follows on all the social medias and if you have some coin to spend on art check her out


If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher.  I am not tumbling armless down a river somewhere.

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