Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hobbling Arts Hobbles Innovation

An article posted today on the Psychology Today blog asserts that the arts have made a lot of scientific and technological innovations possible.  Therefore, as our economy continues to go down the tubes, we should think before cutting art curricula in our schools.  Here's an excerpt of the full article:

In medicine, the stitches that permit a surgeon to correct an aneurysm or carry out a transplant were invented by American Nobel laureate Alexis Carrel, who took his knowledge of lace making into the operating room.  Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic penicillin while gathering beautifully colored microbes for his (rather unusual) hobby of "painting" with microorganisms.  Pacemakers are simple modifications of musical metronomes.  If you have an neurological deficit, your neurologist may employ dance notation to analyze your problem.  Physicians at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and other major medical centers are trained by actors to interact humanely with you as a patient.  These same physicians may learn to observe your symptoms more closely by being taught to draw, paint or photograph, or through art appreciation courses.  Many hospitals employ music to relieve stress in operating rooms and post-operatively.  Painting, drawing, and sculpting are also used to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders...The fact is that the arts foster innovation.  We've just published a study that shows that almost all Nobel laureates in the sciences actively engage in arts as adults...Bottom line: Successful scientists and inventors are artistic people.  Hobble the arts and you hobble innovation.  It's a lesson our legislators need to learn.  So feel free to cut and paste this column into a letter to your senators and congressmen, as well as your school representatives, or simply send them a link to this column.  One way or another, if we as a society wish to cultivate creativity, the arts MUST be part of the equation!


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