catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Scientific or Artistic Education


Mar 25 2005
05:08 pm

I taught 7th grade math for about a year and was frustrated that my students didn’t get as excited as I did about the topics I was presenting. Part of that may have been that I was really more passionate about Shakespeare than Pythagorus and part of it may have been that my students were 7th graders who can only really be expected to get passionate about Sponge Bob and Justin Timberlake (although I’m not sure the difference).

But I did do student teaching with first graders and those kids were passionate about learning. I don’t know exactly why because I was only with them for a few weeks, but I do know that the education system and teachers and the world must do something to them between 1st and 7th grade to have such a dislike and distrust in school. Or may be it’s just part of getting older and certainly it’s not all of them who are so dissaffected, but it certainly seemed like the majority.

I like your thought about the classroom itself stifling passion. I think there are people who love having discussions and learn best discussing things and the classroom is one place where we learn to do that. I am one of those people, but I would much rather be having the discussion over a cup of coffee than in a classroom as long as there is the same diversity of views as in the classroom. But I also think that there are many people who would rather be doing in their learning than theorizing or philosophisizing. And sometimes the classroom does not provide the avenues for doing as an open field or an art studio or whatever.

What evokes passion? That is a question that has individual answers. I remember learning in my classes about learner-centric learning, which allows the individual to find their own way to the information/application and the teacher acts as a guide. Which sounds great, but the trouble came for me when I had 167 individuals and I had no idea how I could guide all of them at the same time. But it would probably work better with fewer students who are at least showing up to class because at some level they want to (ie college).

Certainly more application of theory reinforces the theory and is more interesting and more likely to encourage passion. And art lends itself nicely to application. But allowing students to practice “Christian art-making” begs the question, what is “Christian art-making?” Wouldn’t Francis Schaeffer say that all art reflects the divine because we are His creation, created in His image?