Updated: Sep 5, 2019
“Science literacy is the artery through which the solutions of tomorrow's problems flow. “ “Science literacy is an important part of what it is to be an informed citizen of society.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
If I’d describe children’s attitudes toward learning nowadays, I’d use “un”: unchallenged, uncomfortable, and uncreative. This clashes with the great aspirations of adults for students to succeed in international tests. The question is how do we guarantee students’ success at those tests in both science and language arts? We’d have to make learning more meaningful. How about interweaving science and language arts to achieve that?
STEAM education is steaming STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) using Art. That is because the belief is that art is creative, while science is not. So, adding art would make science learning more creative.
The thing is both art and science can be both creative and uncreative. Creativity is coming up with something new and useful: an idea, an invention, or a thought. There is art that is uncreative. Nothing is new about it. On the other hand, science can be very creative leading to technological novelties and new medical treatments.
I believe that the reciprocity of science and art breeds creative and meaningful learning. My paintings and literature were made after thorough scientific research. That way the words and colors touch hearts better. My teaching about science and nature nurtures from my art, helping deliver the scientific facts arising curiosity. And curiosity is key to creativity, because it drives people to produce new things.
Children relate to such learning naturally. Their minds are associative. A thought leads to another. Isn’t it natural for them that a painting or a story would lead to scientific facts?
For 20 years I’ve been developing such materials, working with children using my stories and paintings, refining the materials based on their feedback.
Such materials can be very helpful in teaching both science and language arts. It’s time to interweave them, too. The stories and poems enrich vocabulary and help internalize grammar. They serve as means of learning about the animal world and science, inspiring creative ideas. The children are challenged to express those ideas in writing. Rewriting those raw thoughts, and making them ready to be presented to their peers, students refine their language skills driven by the urge to express their own thinking. There could be some very creative scientific ideas there, and correlating with that some very powerful applications of language.
With such creative teaching strategies students experience learning. What learned that way will be remembered for life.
Let’s change the use of “un” to “in”. Let’s incorporate, interweave, help internalize, to increase ingenuity, and to incline insufficient results toward incredible ones.
For teachers it means stretching their materials and techniques. Yet letting go of the rope, making it flexible like rubber, will create creative learning environments. You don't have to be science teachers to read the students about scientific facts. You just need some background material, which you can find in my Raising Creative Thinkers Guidebook.
For parents it means finding time together to enjoy discovering something surprising about the world. This could be as simple as watching the sky while driving home, and googling "Why is the sky blue"? Then giving the children some colors and asking them to draw about the sky until supper is ready. That way when children will learn science in class, it would be more meaningful. There would be a foundation of curiosity to build on.
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literacy, you’re most welcome to visit my blog. Creatively yours, Michelle Korenfeld