Megan Dowsett is a creative consultant working with museums and galleries, and an illustrator who is finding her voice through personal and local projects.

Through the name Norris and the Flamingo, she shares the sense of adventure that runs through all of life, wherever we are on our journey. A sense of imagination, of possibility and discovery, for children and adults alike.

19 February 2020

The synergy of art and science

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"Mummy ... 

I think when I grow up I want to be an engineer.  

Because I love art and I love fixing things.

... and if I could just use electricity ..."

It staggers me to see the impact of an evolving culture on a creative mind.  30 
(alright, 40) years ago, I loved art and fixing things and it wouldn't, in a thousand years, have occurred to me to be an engineer.  That was an option for my super-intelligent, super-scientific brother.  Now the climate has changed, our nation is desperate for engineers and we are seeing how creativity is intrinsic to science and innovation.  And by the age of 5, my creative daughter knows a completely different application of her creative skills than I did at the same age.

Since the day she could pick up a toy, I have loved watching the way her young mind draws the whole world into each project.  Her two favourite activities are junk modelling and making mixtures.  When she makes a guitar from cereal boxes, is she building or sculpting?  When she makes a mixture from soap, lentils and muesli, is she doing art or chemistry?
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For me by the age of 12, art and science were polar opposites.  Still I identify fundamentally as an artist, and I loathe science with my entire being.  It brings back the dreary impossibility of naming the parts of a plant, learning the formula for calculating forces, or the properties of the periodic table.  It had no real world relevance or application for me.

Feets teaches me otherwise on a daily basis.
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How long can we keep hold of this intrinsic understanding that everything is connected?  Everything I read, and everything I see, tells met that in the Early Years, children don't see the lines between disciplines.  Learning is play-based, child led, exploratory - every activity is an experiment with a sensory and a scientific outcome.

Through Feets, I have first-hand experience of brilliant reception year teaching, in which learning was planned and guided in response to her and other children's interests.

But the National Curriculum of our current government feels at odds with the harmony that can be found between creativity and STEM 
(Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.  As far as I understand, from an early age, the curriculum is so driven towards filling our children with knowledge - the dates of history, an understanding of verbs and adjectives and ... Subjects are more separated in schools than ever.  It feels as though there is a severe contradiction between the National Curriculum and contemporary understanding of how children learn.  

I am wondering how long Feets will be able to see the art that lies within engineering ... will the current influence of the engineering sector win out, or will the school curriculum gradually erase the harmony of these disparate subject areas?*
20200202_150538 *She will probably change her mind next week and decide to be a tree surgeon.