ISSN 2050-5337 - ISSUE 5

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Monday, 28 April 2014 21:46

Arts, Engineering or Science?

Should we see the Arts, Engineering and Science as separate or are they interlinked?

For a start, Engineering can be seen as applied Science. In fact, it is difficult to define where one begins and the other ends. Does it matter anyway? There are many examples where engineering structures and projects have their own artistic beauty (at least to the beholders) such as suspension bridges. Similarly, some find mathematics quite beautiful and analogous to music.

The same applies to the Arts where many forms of art rely heavily upon scientific knowledge and engineering techniques. Jewellery manufacture is a good example.

Science and engineering are often looked down upon by the arts yet most engineers and scientists have a good appreciation of the arts and usually adopt one or more of the arts as hobbies. I wonder if there are many on the arts side that have a similarly broad set of interests. This polarisation has not always been the case. A good example is Borodin who was both a chemist and a composer. Gilbert and Sullivan are also good examples of people with a broad understanding of many aspects of art and science. Sadly this wide understanding of many areas does not seem to have continued across all disciplines.

Many on the science side are put off by artistic objects because they seem to be totally without function and of little beauty or interest. There was an example of this to be seen in the Reception area of one of the large UK electronics firms. It had a large bas relief black design covering most of the wall. It did not reflect the work of the firm and the artist actually had a label stating that it was not meant to be or mean anything?

On the other hand, one only has to look at the complex curves of jet engines compressor blades to appreciate beauty.

Perhaps we should turn the clock back and learn from each other for the benefit of all?

Talent is the foundation for economic growth, and is at the heart of our vibrant engineering and manufacturing sector. Engineering is often the silent 'E' in STEM education so it is vitally important that that we find innovative ways to join up with the existing curriculum and bring engineering to life in in schools.

Despite the fact that three fifths of the general public see a career in engineering a 'good profession/career', 'challenging' and 'well paid', one fifth of teachers believe that engineering is an 'undesirable' career. Just 12% of 12 – 16 year olds know what an engineer does and most see engineering as less well paid than other professions.

Published in Education
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 09:20

Dr David Cropley

David Cropley is Associate Professor of Engineering Innovation, and Deputy Director of the Defence and Systems Institute, at the University of South Australia in Adelaide. David joined the university in 1990 after serving in the United Kingdom's Royal Navy for four years. David's interests in creativity include creativity in an engineering and technological context, the measurement of creativity, the factors that influence creativity and innovation in organisations, and the dark side of creativity.

Published in Authors
Saturday, 01 September 2012 10:18

The English Baccalaureate: An Education Tsunami?

The introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBac) has raised questions about the value of some subjects within the UK’s education system, including Design and Technology. This is the first of two papers responding to the situation. This paper is in two parts. Part One is a short summary, demonstrating that mixed messages from the UK Government are causing leading representatives of Design and Technology to realign the subject with Engineering. Part Two proposes an alternative to their proposal based on findings in a recently awarded PhD (Bradburn: 2010). This part claims that Design and Technology should place the teaching of thinking techniques (in this case creative thinking techniques) at its heart. In making this claim I provide a conceptual framework with the potential to fundamentally change Design and Technology teaching and learning. The second paper gives an account of how the creativity alternative was introduced to teachers and pupils and how it impacted upon pedagogic practice.

Published in Education
Friday, 31 August 2012 11:49

Dr Tom Bradburn

After 11 years in Engineering, Tom qualified as a Craft, Design and Technology teacher in 1976 and as an advocate of lifelong education was awarded a PhD in Education in 2010. Now, as ‘possibly the oldest teacher in Lancashire’, he continues to teach 11 – 18 year olds and claims that he has at least ten more good years to offer.

Having got so much out of teaching, Tom is driven to ‘give something extra back’. Having witnessed the remorseless drive for conformity in education, he intends to help promote a more creative, exciting and rewarding approach. His view is that, despite decades of quality academic research, creativity in schools has had sporadic and limited success. A major reason for this is the lack of a simple practical conceptual framework around which teachers may operate with confidence. In his paper Tom offers his interpretation of such a framework.

Tom’s academic and teaching interests include: creativity theory, design studies, product design, pupil self assessment strategies, developing thinking skills, computer programmes, and student mentoring. Tom’s personal interests and activities include reading, writing (including poetry), art, golf, humour and (yes he still plays) squash. He and his wife, Cathie, have four children and five grandchildren. After them, his main love is for teaching which he still regards as a privilege.

Published in Authors
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