Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Science or art?
I may not have as many hats as our Monica (who does?), nor are they as eye-catching as hers. But I have a few "career" hats.
Last weekend I donned the one I wore as a scientist. Fordham University, my alma mater, invited me back to the Bronx to be on a panel of physicists during their annual "Communitas" weekend. It was very special to be an honored guest on the campus I loved.
The topics of the weekend included emerging science, science education, and science literacy. These, in great part, make up the content of class I teach now at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
In fact, "science literacy" has been my passion in one form another since I read CP Snow's "Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution" decades ago. Not that I think everyone should major in physics (though that would be nice!) but I do think everyone should be conversant in the sciences, just as we expect scientists to read and to be conversant in the arts.
I have never espoused the "right brain/left brain" theory of intelligence. I think we are "artists" or "scientists" because of parents, teachers, and other influences, and choices we've made as to where we'll put our energy, not because of brain-sidedness.
(Behold a fractal, pictured above, the perfect art/science representation.)
It could be that I'm looking for someone other than myself to blame for my lack of interest and ability in history, for example … for now I'm pinning it on my high school history teacher, who was hired to be the football coach and teach history on the side. My math and science teachers, on the other hand, were dedicated women who also forgot to tell me that girls shouldn't be mathematicians or scientists.
In some quarters, sadly, it's still ok, even fashionable, to say "I can't do math," or "I was never into science." Whereas … most of us look askance at an adult who says "I don't read," or "I was never into books."