There is a lot of buzz in the business world these days about Design Thinking, which is really just the application of creativity, art, and all of the ambiguity they encompass, to developing practical solutions for real-world problems.
People consider Design Thinking to be a new convergence of the creative and scientific mindsets. What they are missing though, is that the creative and scientific worlds are not mutually exclusive. They never have been. In reality, they are inextricably entwined.
When we understand this. We know, with no doubt, that the arts must be a part of everything we teach.
The Way We Think Matters
Linear thinking is not bad. But it must be balanced with real problem solving skills. There is an appalling lack of the latter in most schools today. By integrating the arts into everything we do at Mizzentop we make sure our children are receiving a fully integrated, balanced education.
As Common Core has gained wider acceptance, a school system that was already focused on teaching convergent thinking skills through drilling, rote memorization and a focus on absolutes, was pushed to the brink. It moved us further away from problem solving toward mindless repetition of facts. It eliminated any need for critical thinking skills and stunted our children’s development in the process.
At the same time this change was occurring, the arts were being pushed out of schools and relegated to secondary or tertiary importance for educators.
It had been the arts that balanced the linear thinking promoted by Common Core advocates, with the practice of divergent thinking. Seeing multiple solutions to a problem and assigning meaning to abstract concepts, are both examples of divergent thinking. At Mizzentop, we believe creativity and the arts are the path toward divergent thinking, without which children can not learn to explore, construct their own questions, and understand critical connections between areas of study.
The arts are not optional.
Everything is art. Artists use math and science. Developing a new pottery glaze requires employing the scientific method. And without developing conceptual skills and the ability to think visually, a surgeon would never be able to visualize a new, life-saving technique.
The truth is evident. You can see it by looking at some of recent history’s greatest artist-scientists including Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Nikola Tesla. Helen Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was a natural scientist and conservationist who studied the reproduction of fungal spores. John James Morton is as well-known as an ornithologist as a painter. And actress Hedy Lamarr designed radio guidance systems for torpedos.
The Arts and Curriculum
Mizzentop teachers collaborate with each other across disciplines to develop project-based arts and science programs that support overall lesson plans. Their creative teaching methods are not about checking boxes. They are not glorified arts and crafts activities. They are engaging, interactive art and science exercises that build each student's ability to think linearly as well as to delve deep into problem solving and ideation.
By understanding the connection between art and science and the importance of both convergent and divergent thought processes, our teachers create programs that help children develop a growth mindset which serves them well after they leave Mizzentop. They become critical thinkers and problem solvers which gives them a better chance at succeeding at whatever they do, personally and professionally.