Thursday, December 27, 2012

art/science, science/art...

The idiocy of modern education is that we know we need kids to understand science, and then we fail to teach them art. It is by doing art that children develop the ability to observe. I am reading a book  called "How to Think Like Leonardo daVinci"by Michael J. Gelb. The arts and sciences are inseparably entwined. The book quotes Jacob Bronowski as follows:
"[Leonardo]... took an artist's vision into science. He understood that science, as much as painting, has to find the design of nature in her detail... he gave science what is most needed, the artist's sense, that the detail of nature is significant. Until science had this sense, no one could care--or could think that it mattered--how fast two unequal masses fall and whether the orbits of planets are accurately circles or ellipses."
As an example of how visual understanding can shape ideas and help to illuminate ideals, the map above shows the per-capita gun deaths by state in 2007. Sadly, my state of Arkansas is clearly in the red, though not as deep red as neighboring Louisiana. The diagonal lines across individual state maps identify states that have enacted at least one piece of legislation to protect children from guns. At this point, it would be interesting to learn whether those states with highest NRA membership benefit by having lower gun deaths, and more legislation put in place to protect kids. With 16.3 gun deaths per 100,000 in population, you are 5 times more likely to die of gunfire in Arkansas than in Massachusetts.

Make, fix and create...


  1. I have over the past several months dipped in and out Leonardo's Notebooks (I also have a couple of Gelb's books). Another aspect of Leonardo that fits into your overall philosophy is that he eschewed pure "book learning" and believed true learning emerged from "doing". Books had a role insofar as they should inform and guide the actual conduct of experiment, building, art, etc. As for gun control, I confess that as a Canadian I don't understand the vitriole of the NRA and the like-minded. We have debates up here as well, but for the most part the issue seems to be largley divided along rural-urban lines, and seems to be less wrapped in rhetoric - to my ears at least. Perhaps because the right to bear arms is not a part of our constition. Not to say we don't have problems with guns - Montreal alone has had three mass shootings at post-secondary institutions since 1989. I hope some sort of sanity prevails in the USA and your childrens' schools are not turned into armed camps. Congratulations to you, Doug, for being so public about your position, which has to be unpopular in your neck of the woods.

  2. Geoff, Guns are such interesting devices. Kids, particularly boys, find them fascinating. In the Clear Spring School wood shop, even with high school students, I always have to inform them that the push stick is not a gun. they can't seem to pick it up without pointing it at someone.

    For these reasons, it appears that guns are deeply rooted in the male psyche, and as symbols of male power and potential for aggression.

    From that experience, I realize that we cannot remove guns from society, no matter how much danger they present. On the other hand, that same depth of symbolism should tell us that they are not to be taken lightly. You can see how the American public lines up in figurative "arms" over the issues. While both sides claim reason, the matter is not really reasonable at all. There are deep seated psychological issues involved. One side of the discussion seems to want to think that AR-15's are nothing more than a tool, and then tell us that we will only remove them from society by prying them from cold, dead hands.

    I live in Eureka Springs which is a mecca for artists and craftsmen, who tend to be more free thinking and better educated than most of Arkansas.

  3. Dear Doug

    I have been around guns all my life and as much as I hate the fact that some people with mental problems use them to do harm and hurt people. I still feel that the right to own a gun be it assault or not is a right granted to us by our founding father. It also gave a the right to not own one as well. The second amendment was put there so people can defend themself for a governemnt that is tring to take away your rights to life liberty and freedom. We as a world will have bad people in it they will use what ever tool they have to do the harm we need to reintroduce the family values we have lost. I say this not as a gun owner but as a free preson in a great country we need to bring back what made us great to start with stop pumping drugs into our childern and stop tring to hide what is danagerous from them but teach them the danagers. Think about when your where a kid what was the first thing wanted to do when you were told you could not touch or do something? like most childern today guns are a mystery and the only time they see then is in movies or video games. all I can say in the light of past events in Pray for the familys to find the peice they so need right now. Thanks

  4. I would argue that the innate fascination with guns is precisely why access to them should be severely restricted. Other jurisdictions have done so. Clearly, though, in the US, greater cultural forces are at play.

    In my teens, I was similarly interested in guns and indeed subscribed to Guns and Ammo and Combat handguns. Then while I was a student in Montreal in 1989, a man killed 14 women at the University of Montreal (an anniversary that was marked exactly one week before the shootings in Newton, incidentally) that forever changed my attitude towards guns. I mean, really, how many newtons, or Virginia Techs or Columbines have to happen before people realize the price of the right to have unfettered access to all manner of firearms is too high?

    I've been following your comments on the argument that assault weapons like the AR 15 are tools and agree that this line of thought is the reddest of herrings. They ARE tools, but their sole purspose is to kill people and kill them in a highly efficient manner.

    In my mind, any handgun or any weapon that has fully or semi-automatic capabilities has no practical use for the civilian population.

    I also marvel at the gun lobby's ability to reconcile the right to keep and bear arms (without going into the contentious debate about what that right means precisely) with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when so many had th latter right violently taken away from them through the exercise of the former right.

  5. person not the tool. Do we talk about banning cars every time someone who has been drinking to much kills a whole family or talk about banning cell phones every time a teem is killed while texting and driving. We can argue the point from both sides and luckily we live in a country that allows us to disagree like civilized people. And there is no good answer we need to look at the people who do these kinds of thing it is known that all of the people that you list had mental problem and since the day of Regan they have not had the treatment they needed. But you do have your right to be leave differently then I do and that is as it should be. I live in Ohio near the town of Chardon, Ohio where 3 young lives were taken by an other teen who had a depression problem. I had a math teacher that was going to Kent State when the national guard shot students. If your going to ban guns then you need to ban them from the government also. For they are human and can't be trusted like the rest of us. trusted like the rest of us.

  6. Steven, yours are the same arguments we hear over and over again. Repetition does not make them right. And arguing in the same vein will not lead to progress.

    At this point, I really want to change the argument away from guns, and back to how we might encourage our children to have many more creative opportunities. I think in that there is something positive that we might all agree upon. and that would benefit all kids and lead to a safer society.

  7. Yes you are right my bad for getting on my soup box. We can agree to disagree on this subject and move forward. In personally feel that we have done our kids a great disservice by cutting funding to our schools. And cutting classes in the arts in general they need to have hands on I find it sad that kids today can't even change a tire on a car. Or even what to try something like wood shop they all want phones and x-boxes.