Less Art for More Science?

Few disagree on an urgent need to increase America’s science and math proficiency in order to compete in our fast paced world. But how can a call for less art increase top science capabilities? The opposite is true. Only when you engage both sides of the human brain, can you significantly raise motivation and achievement in both arts and sciences. Consider the brain’s proclivity to integrate, for instance. The idea is  to engage both sides of the brain, to increase innovation.

Sadly however, the arts become an easy target when budgets get slashed. Yet  multi-dimensional advances of art along with empirical rigor of science, both challenge and transform high performing minds. Neuro resaerch finds that art is universal to the human species.  Like two oars advance a boat, if art is pulled from learning programs, science loses its ability to move brainpower forward.

Whether it’s an innovative design for tall ships or treatment of tropical diseases, science offers the mind tools for furnishing a finer world. Art however, dances, paints and harmonizes the process of science into  symmetry. Have you seen the light, gravity and friction of a caring and curious community at work?

Real change away from   industrial age approaches, toward high marks for an innovative era, will come as arts forge with  sciences, across right and left brain. How so? Meld high-performance minds into tools for innovation, and watch progressive solutions to address real world problems.

Together arts and science offer beauty and invention through the mysteries and color of a fast changing world. The world still waiting to be discovered is wider than theater, art, music, drama and film and deeper than measurement, money or math solutions. Hopefully the new innovation era we’ve entered can bridge chasms across fields in our minds, to design integrated wonders in our workplaces! Let’s adopt the mindset that taps right and left brainpower  to design innovation together at the peaks.

It’s time to toss out the biggest barrier that prevents integration across right and left brain. Let’s remind ourselves that the problem of math deficiency cannot be solved by cutting funds from the arts. There – we are out of the gates, and a new journey has begun.  Just as finer sailing doesn’t follow from removing one oar from the boat, arts and sciences advance brainpower. So, while it may be tempting to balance a budget by cutting the arts, their integration will reconfigure your community’s collective intelligence to move forward. Worth reconsidering?

Instead of axing arts, why not fuse art and science to synchronize brainpower that invents solutions for an innovation era?

No community can be excellent without transforming itself artistically and mathematically, and winning communities develop mastery practices from both sides of the brain. How so?

1. Question with two feet so that innovative solutions draw from both arts and sciences. Ask for example:

  • How has technology changed our world and culture? Can you see that innovative solutions might include designing a TV show, for example,  to illustrate how the science of technology changes the art of cultures?

2. Target both arts and sciences to set goals that engage imagination and at the same time draw from numerical data to support outcomes.  For example:

  • Apply solutions to improve and track new research practices at work, and
  • Identify real workplace problems solved with shared ethical solutions.

3. Expect criteria to fuse arts and sciences by listing rubrics that will measure both. You might require your project, for example, to show:

  • Tone that allows all to speak and feel heard.
  • Research contributions from 3 experts in a field.
  • Five multiple intelligences expressed and evident in the outcomes.
  • Opposing views that support hard data on both sides of the issue
  • Illustrations that well respected artists would praise.

4. Move innovative ideas into inventions that draw from multiple intelligences - as these roll out art and science capabilities on both sides of the brain. How so?

  • Human brains work more efficiently when you lead with personal strengths, from both arts and science.
  • When hook new skills onto their existing art and science proclivities, they make innovative connections across both as Einstein did.

Can you see why chopping the arts out of programs cuts off some people who would lead with strengths in the arts, while ignoring science eliminates others? Even gender brain differences suggest an urgent need for both as tools for growth.

5. Reflect on where to from here if a fused arts and science invention much like the video here about a man with two brains, shows both arts and science in action.

Would you agree, that neither arts alone, nor science alone can generate or carry life changing practices from different brain areas?

Integration of art and science is key to MITA Brain Based learning and leading. How so?

We engage smart skills for successful solutions and these tend to fuse together art and science  through multiple segues into different parts of brain. The result? More brainpower across differences in culture, careers and communities.

My lifetime research across many countries and careers, shows how both sides of the human brain engage more through active integration of arts and science. That’s why it saddens me to see art cut from programs, or science neglected in order to trim budgets or save time. Rather than chop either one, why not renew both art and science with the brain in mind. Sound like a possibility to make us all richer?

11 Comments

  1. GenniK says:

    Thanks for such an interesting blog. As an Arts Advocate, it hurts me to see cuts made to programs, especially in schools.
    Thank you for bringing it to the forefront again, so others may give consideration to what we know is so important!!!

  2. eweber says:

    GenniK, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your good work in the arts. When we cater to either budgets or bureaucracy – rather than focus on learner benefits — we all lose out.

    In learners’ brains lie amazing tools to succeed in arts and science — and they deserve to be nurtured and guided in both.

    Hopefully we will hear from more who can help to promote the balance rather than cut one to promote the other.

  3. Gary Patton says:

    Ellen, your’s is a powerful article on a crucial subject in both Canada & the U.S right now. Thank you!

    You make it interesting for all of us …words for lefties & a fantastic video for righties!

    You say: “No community can be excellent without transforming itself artistically and mathematically, and winning communities develop mastery practices from both sides of the brain.” And, unlike many Blog writers, you don’t stop with with a call to action after stating generalities, you give us practical suggestions we might try.

    I’m going to do my best to have your article shared with the 300 odd patrons & friends of the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra on the Board of which I sit in Toronto, Canada. They’ll love it and find it helpful.

    God bless you, Ellen. Keep up the great work!

    Best regards,
    Gary

  4. eweber says:

    What a wonderful encouragement to my day, thanks Gary. It’s always fun to start the day with an friend’s exchanges.

    Last week we had the privilege of leading a conference titled, “The Dynamic Journey of the Human Brain, to 150 leaders in NY. After seeing their talents and brainpower come alive on both left and right sides, it struck me again – what a privilege it is to be fully alive.

    The opposite is also true. Whenever we exclude talents on either side, we short circuit the chemical and electrical brain wiring of entire communities. We cut off the very talents we need to move forward and build stronger communities together. We leave behind some of the brightest people in any group, who’d add value where we lack. Maybe I’m just getting older and soo it clearer …:-) Love the possibilities though:-)

  5. Ellen, your dedication to healthy brains is an inspiration for us all. Thank you, and keep it up. I’m with you on this one – educated as a scientist and with lifelong “hobbies” in various art forms, I feel blessed that I’ve had both available to me. I hope my grandchildren will too. If not only for learning, aesthetics, and enjoyment, but for the creativity the blending of both bring to our world.

  6. eweber says:

    Mary Jo, thanks for your encouraging comments, and thanks also for offering the leadership example of everything this blog states!

    It appeared to me as I read your thoughtful words, that when we develop both sides of our own brains – we begin to see ways to facilitate that in others we lead. Thanks for that insight – because it changes how we go about our day:-)

  7. RalfLippold says:

    Arts is the fine “blank canvas” where science and hightech can learn from. Just experienced that this morning at http://semperoper.de.

    Next weekend they are performing with the ballet company a special act at http://skd.museum (Albertinum). It is much about the “inner voice” that drives us to explore the unexplored.

    Best from Dresden, Ralf

  8. Dan says:

    Hi Ellen!

    I’ve noticed in some of my coaching work with leaders that optimizing potentials involves a design that weaves right and left brain powers together. I’ve asked people to use drawings from time to time to identify the nature of their dilemmas, for example.

    In one case, at a workshop, I gently challenged a participant to examine how she was colluding in the very problems she said she wanted to address. At first she was mildly offended, but during a drawing exercise gained insight from of large scratched blotch in her picture that she identified as her anger, comparing its size to the size of her world and relating it to her chronic back pain. In another case, at a similar workshop, a participant tried to defeat “this silly exercise” by intentionally scribbling random shapes but ended up in tears when he realized he’d inadvertently drawn a picture of his family and his distance from it. In a third case, a client’s drawing led to revelations about how her current frustration with her life, work and employees was related to a promise she’d made seventeen years earlier to her dead son.

    Starting from a left brain question, the right brain seemed to express the nature of each dilemma in a new and powerful way that required interpretation but also released an entirely different kind of emotion and action. Right and left working together seem to create a developmental path for a person — maybe even something of their “destiny.” Ellen, do you sense something like this from your research and your own experiences?

    Best to you
    Dan

  9. eweber says:

    Wow Dan, I am amazed at the overlap in approaches you and I use. Thanks for your generosity in sharing this again, after it got deleted!

    Dan, you are using spatial intelligence wonderfully here, to show the client her issues through another mental lens. “In one case, at a workshop, I gently challenged a participant to examine how she was colluding in the very problems she said she wanted to address.”

    Then she was unable to respond well through what may have been a gap in her intrapersonal intelligence. “At first she was mildly offended, but during a drawing exercise gained insight from of large scratched blotch in her picture that she identified as her anger, comparing its size to the size of her world and relating it to her chronic back pain.”

    Again, it’s hard for the person here to address any weakness when that person has low intrapersonal intelligence, which comes with weakened or missing reflective abilities. “ In another case, at a similar workshop, a participant tried to defeat “this silly exercise” by intentionally scribbling random shapes but ended up in tears when he realized he’d inadvertently drawn a picture of his family and his distance from it.”

    Dan you are using operations on both sides of the brain to strengthen an area that holds that person back at work. Yes, there is research to show how coming at a problem through a personal strength can help to resolve the problem faster and more accurately.

    Not sure exactly what you refer to here, and also unsure of research on this area, Dan. “Starting from a left brain question, the right brain seemed to express the nature of each dilemma in a new and powerful way that required interpretation but also released an entirely different kind of emotion and action.”

    Yes I agree – something of their “destiny.”

    Dan, there is a bigger picture here that I see in your approach. Very often our conflicts come from weaknesses in some brainpower area, and our inability to see or repair, or reconfigure that weakness. I am impressed and humbled by the way you create space for all humans to begin to grow those new neuron pathways they need to move forward.

    One can do that with all intelligences, just as you drew on spatial intelligence and offered the drawing task to illumine issues folks could not otherwise see clearly. You are doing a great deal that works, because you are working with the brain, rather than against it! Our work so dovetails in these areas, and (as we discussed) I think it would be powerful in a joint project! Your approaches leave me humbled and amazed, in how you facilitate the phoenix from ashes with such skill. Love the way you leave folks – “surprised by joy!”

  10. Dan says:

    Ellen, your words are very kind.

    I wanted to clarify that line about “Starting from a left-brain question…” In the seminar I mentioned, and sometimes in my coaching work, I will ask a person first to try to articulate the most basic question they are asking themselves related to their growth. This is not a question about how to lead or manage others, but crafted more about leading and managing self. So instead of asking, for example, “How can I restore others’ faith in my ability to lead, ” it would be, “How can I restore my own faith in my leadership?” With that question in mind, the client can then approach a drawing exercise holding this question. So that’s the left brain question I was mentioning, leading to the use of drawing as an opening for a right brain set of clues. There is an interpretive piece here because the answer may not immediately look like it matches the question. The best environment seems to be one where the exercise is done in a group setting, where everyone has their own self-question and then shares what they see in their drawing. Others can then add ideas, observations, and perspectives a single individual may not yet quite “see” but often triggering discovery and insight. A dozen such drawings placed on the floor within a circle of people is an amazing experience — it can almost take one’s breath away to see the diversity and extraordinary beauty of our inner worlds rather than simply compare our outer appearances and verbal representations of our challenges.

    I loved your phrase, “surprised by joy,” as looking into a collection of drawings, that is a great description. You can see four such drawings here: http://www.bte.unfoldingleadership.com/page9/page9.html

  11. […] Less Art for More Science? ? Brain Leaders and Learners […]

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