With my STEAM course over, I've uploaded the documentation of the class
While operating under certain constraints (namely time, as well as my
position being part of the women's college, which necessitated a more
narrow, women-focused syllabus), there were particular goals I had with the
class that were met with at least a majority of the students -
Because of the experiential nature of the course I decided to focus on (1)
the opportunity to broaden student's perspectives, (2) to help them
understand how knowing about art can improve their skills in the sciences
(under the larger umbrella of the idea of promoting well-rounded thinking -
these students were primarily STEM students), (3) to question the
pre-conceived notions they had about art and science as a means to
illuminate their complementary nature, (4) to apply critical thinking when
reading or looking (5) to understand that increasingly in most careers
cross-disciplinary thinking is valued (or necessary, depending on your job)
as it boosts innovative and creative thinking (I say this generally)
One of the most revealing activities we did was visit Agnes Martin's
retrospective - most of the students had not a clue as to how to look at
her work (they dug for meaning where there was none) and thus learned a
supremely valuable lesson about abstract/minimalist/conceptual art - I'm
sure we're all familiar with the fact that most lay people today do not
understand abstract art and thus usually don't like it - it's a matter of
knowing how to look at it, and as soon as you know that you're just
supposed to enjoy the interplay of colors, forms, the 'aura' of the piece,
as it were, and let your mind go where it may (rather than digging for
specific narrative meaning) it is usually a quite enjoyable experience. I
believe that the predominance of abstract art in the last half century has
led to a disconnect between art and 'the people'. Most students, in the
end, didn't really *like* the show - but all of them said that they
understood why the work on display was important and interesting.
Another interesting take-away was that students were unaware of the variety
of career choices they could have or didn't realize they could pursue
multiple careers in tandem - this may sound simple, and it is, which makes
it all the more important that 18 year olds know this from the start,
because its easiest to explore multiple potentials while still in school.
There will be a post-course self evaluation the students will fill out,
once a month or two has passed, as I believe for some of these things, it
takes time to sink in. These responses will be added to the website as
well. 90% of the students were college freshman (and 3 sophomores), so the
hope is that this experience positively impacts their academic careers as
well as post-college careers.
I will hopefully get the chance to teach this course again next year -
there are certainly things I would have done a bit differently (hindsight
is 20/20). I welcome your feedback as well as I plan for the next time
On Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 11:40 AM, Julia Buntaine <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To respond to Glenn & Ruth's comments -
> Thank you so much for your input - I look forward to implementing some of
> these ideas! Some more thoughts along the 1-2-3 points....
> 1. I love the idea of coming in the first day with presenting a favorite
> art work. While I do agree with Ruth, that the "A" does not have to stand
> for visual art only, as a classroom exercise choosing one form of art -
> visual since it is my area of expertise - will create a comparative
> situation that could be very intersting to explore. Discussing the choices
> they made, why, the differences between what is presented, etc. should be
> very revealing and helpful groundwork for the course. Ruth, I welcome input
> from you about this! Please feel free to email me directly - my course is
> Jan 3-13th.
> 2. The back and forth about creativity here has really shed light on the
> different definitions of what it means to be creative! No, you don't want a
> doctor getting creative during surgery - but you do want a doctor who may
> come up with creative alternatives to surgery, for example. I think we've
> all experienced the sometimes frustratingly-uncreative side of western
> medicine. I think as its base, creativity speaks to a mindset that can go
> beyond pure training, that can incorporate experience, gained expertise,
> independent findings, perspectives from other fields. There is a great art
> example of this, which is when you learn to draw. Learning to draw is much
> like learning a science - there is a way to shade, a way to draw
> proportionally, with perspective, etc. In a class full of freshman drawing
> students the drawings will all pretty much look the same (to a degree). It
> is only after learning the skill set necessary to depict something that you
> can successfully deviate from that with added 'style'. Of course, as an
> artist or researcher, the room to be creative is much larger than other
> jobs. While each have their limitations on creativity (properties of
> materials, gravity, the scientific method, etc.) really 'great' works of
> art or discoveries in science are borne of creative thinking. Additionally,
> there is the idea that restrictions and set limits (money, time, space,
> etc) actually breed creativity, because if all possibilities were open,
> where would creativity be?
> 3. I am definitely going to have the students draw what they see through a
> multi-media notebook they'll be keeping during the course - something like
> drawing the science they experience, and writing about the art they
> experience, trying to use the descriptive methods of both fields in reverse
> - this will be supplemented by reading parts from John Berger's "ways of
> seeing," where he introduces the idea of understanding what you see and why
> - what contexts you bring into a seeing, or art seeing, situation. My hope
> is to provide a bit of visual training so that students, art students or
> otherwise, can approach their visual world with a critical eye. The lack of
> a critical eye is why so many people may like art, but not feel they can
> have an opinion about it. I find this fascinating, and terribly sad, since
> art is for "the people" above all else, therefore any opinion about it is
> valid - however educated it may be. A critical mind is also essential -
> especially in science, when there are so many contradictory findings every
> day (ex. what is healthy to eat), and I hope to help students develop this
> as well by encouraging them to reach their own informed opinions about art,
> or science. I think that this sort of critical thinking is relevant,
> necessary, in all STEAM fields.
> *Julia Buntaine*
> *Neuroscience-based art: www.JuliaBuntaine.com
> *Innovator-in-Residence at Rutgers UniversityDirector at SciArt Center
> *Editor-in-Chief of SciArt Magazine <http://www.sciartmagazine.com>*
> On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 11:54 AM, ruth <email@example.com> wrote:
>> I would like to respond to Glenn's comments and will provide more
>> information about STEAM after the holidays. I am currently traveling and
>> the air as I write. In addition, Julia, I will contact you as I have done
>> lot of teaching (P-20) using STEAM as the protocol and my ideas may be a
>> bit different than what you plan so far, or at least worth a look to
>> integrate into what you already have. As well, I am excited to learn about
>> what you are doing and what you find to be successful. Please feel free to
>> contact me.
>> I will respond to Glenn's comments through his numbering to simplify.
>> 1. I like the idea of selecting an art work to write about or reflect on
>> a piece of self-identity. I do, however, do not believe that visual art is
>> the only way to implement STEAM or add the arts to STEM, even though the
>> connections through design thinking, sketches to plan or brainstorm design
>> ideas, making, etc., are fairly obvious. I use these protocols all the
>> and have used art work for students to observe, enhance their observation
>> skills (to better scientific observation), and/or recognize patterns. I
>> think it is valuable for a student to connect his or her self and their
>> self expression to a work of art. I do not believe that this is the only
>> way to do this - certainly the same can be said for a piece of music or
>> finding a way to physically manifest something you see or hear (such as
>> dance). Students could also write their own reflection in the form of a
>> play or monologue or integrate all of the vehicles of self-expression. I
>> agree that many students have not had an opportunity to value or invest
>> themselves in any aesthetic thinking. Unfortunately with the focus on
>> Mathematics, Science, AP classes etc. time for this goes too far from the
>> checklist and probably not valued. It may be considered only for those
>> "talent" rather than cultivating discipline, aesthetic thinking or
>> judgment. My son, now a sophomore in college and a computer science major,
>> continually bemoans his lack of liberal arts education and experience and
>> exposure to the arts and humanities, which he believes would greatly
>> enhance his perspective and personal growth. Some of this was his own
>> choice, but guided by the powers that be in an effort to become a national
>> AP scholar and garner merit awards. This exposure to the arts and using
>> arts as a way of doing or understanding and experiencing is a different
>> approach than our test happy public schools generally advocate. Perhaps
>> there needs to be a discussion and promotion as to why this is "value
>> added." So yes, how to integrate the arts into your life for a wide
>> of benefits is well-needed. Also, I must say that this is not a substitute
>> for arts education, each a valid content area on their own.
>> 2. There is a frank need for a discussion about creativity and what it is
>> and what it means as well as a discussion about embedding it in the
>> way-to-do. I believe the ability to be creative is on the top of my
>> personal list. At the same time, most jobs do not allow for creativity, as
>> Glenn suggests, how creative do you want your doctor to be? Or is this
>> about an approach or perspective? Even if valued, including in education,
>> use of creativity or creative thinking has to be appropriate.
>> 3. I am a proponent of "Drawing as a Way of Knowing" and using sketches to
>> either plan or brainstorm work or demonstrate knowledge. Simple sketches
>> can be valuable and we must teach that this is not a work of art but
>> a skill to communicate that all students, like speaking and writing,
>> have. Drawing is integral to STEAM.
>> More to come...I hope this makes sense as there are many distractions.
>> [image: --]
>> Ruth Catchen, M. Music, MA
>> STEM/STEAM Curriculum and Program Development, Teacher Professional
>> [image: http://]
>> "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."
>> Albert Einstein
>> On Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 11:16 PM, Glenn Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> > 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
>> > waters!
>> > 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!
>> > Regards,
>> > Glenn
>> > _______________________________________________
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