Tuesday, December 20, 2016

[Yasmin_discussions] serious discussion of STEAM

Dear Yasminers,

Please critique the following thoughts I am going to share -- at
her invitation -- with Julia Buntaine as she prepares to teach a
brand new STEAM course at Rutgers this coming semester;
and please add your own -- she is going to be in uncharted

1. It would seem to me to be a very useful thing to ask each of
your students, as an initial exercise, to identify one work of art
which really means something to them -- and here I am
assuming a work of visual art, as this seems to be the context
of our efforts, and also because that branch of the arts which
is the most "out there"; and the point being, of course, to
establish that art -- whether or not it can be integrated into
their professional careers -- is an important part of their lives.
This will also give you an opportunity to find out where each of
your students is coming from aesthetically, and there should
be no pressure on them to choose a Picasso or Giacometti;
but you may be shocked to find that some of your students
-- even at Rutgers! -- have never been given the opportunity to
develop an aesthetic sensibility, and to which extent you will
be attempting to fly a kite on a windless day. I.e., the
assumption is that this is NOT a course in "Art Appreciation"
-- that should be a given!!!!! -- but rather a course about
integrating art into one's professional career.

2. I would also establish some formal occasions for a frank
discussion about the extent to which "creativity" as such can
actually be integrated into professions which otherwise require
a great deal of deal of training and effort. An engineer or
designer of course has the opportunity to be creative; but a
career as an airline pilot is an entirely different story! The
current movie "Sully" notwithstanding, the pilot is NOT
expected to be creative, but rather to be able to apply "by the
book" responses which exist -- and in detail! -- for a huge range
of contingencies; and it is no wonder, therefore, that the extent
of depression among airline pilots is now becoming news. And
-- let us be honest -- are not professionals like doctors and
accountants bound to a great extent by the same standards?
I.e., none of us want a "creative" doctor -- we want, rather, a
doctor who can apply the very latest "best practices" as defined
by his or her profession.

3. That having been said, I have been very taken by Dr. Gemma
Anderson's post on "Drawing as a Way of Knowing" -- and I am
realizing that this is a hugely under-appreciated aspect of
artistic talent, i.e., the masterful hand on the OUTPUT side as
a function of the all-seeing and discriminatory eye on the
INPUT side -- and what profession could not benefit from
clearly-delineated views of what is being faced? So, therefore,
it might be an interesting exercise for you to ask your students
to produce a sketch depicting an actual or typical situation with
which they might deal in their respective professions; or -- as
explained to me by a quite astute businessman -- it is critical,
if your organization is to take advantage of a given opportunity,
to be able to step up to a blackboard and depict that opportunity
in a sketch.

And so, Julia, maybe the simple blackboard -- and the line
drawing!!! -- will become the focus of this and future courses!


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