Humankind is Both Art and Science

The Art and Science of Learning Disabilities

“It is not enough to judge humankind on scientific principles which historically have often been temporary truths.  Schooling must respect the art of human-ness and so we should design natural learning environments to maximize our children’s innate assets.”

Humankind is Both Art & Science

This series of posts is based on the TEDx talk given on Oct. 1, 2011 at TEDxYMCAAcademy – The Art & Science of Learning Disabilities:

  1. Humankind is Both Art and Science; 2. Limited, and Fooled, by Our Senses; 3. The Trickery of Temporary Truths; 4. Post Gutenberg Parenthesis; 5. Emotional Rescue; 6. Question Authority


Humankind is Both Art and Science

Simon Sinek, in his TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, reminds us that we should first pay attention to the “why” we do things – not jump straight to the ‘what’ and ‘how’.

The ‘why’ will be the focus of this series of posts!

I want us to think about why we should think differently about learning disabilities.

Frustrated Child

Frustrated child

We have a problem.

There are many people, and kids, who are diagnosed with learning disabilities and who are having a heck of a time in school. Some of you might know some of these kids?  🙂




What Needs 'Fixed'?

Square Peg –> Round Hole?

There’s been a lot of progress

But… more needs to be done.

It isn’t always about ‘fixing the child’. The system also needs to be fixed.




Try a Different View

Try A Different View

But I think we need to see the world differently.

We need to see it from a different place of understanding.





The Series of PostsMy Goal

My goal over this series of posts is to encourage you to question, to observe, to think differently, to frame issues in an holistic way – beyond science and research.

I ask you to zoom out – to see the issues from afar, with an historical eye and with an open mind.

I will offer you some things that have worked for me…they may not work for you…but, perhaps thinking differently will lead you to your own discoveries which you can share.

So let’s go!

Are You Art? Or Are You Science?

Humankind is Both Art and Science

Are you art? Or are you science?

Do you measure, count, evaluate numerically, statistically, scientifically?

Or do you have impressions, feelings, ‘gut instincts’?

Likely a mix of both.



Dissonance Leads to Learning

I Question Some of the Science of Learning Disabilities

Here’s a secret! Ok, it’s not a secret if you know me!

I’ve always had difficulty accepting some of the science of learning disabilities and the practice arising from it!

Now, in fairness, you also have to understand that I appreciate, and love, the sciences and what they contribute to our understandings in all fields.

But, we are more than science.

Our current western culture leans towards science. We see this in all fields – including education where high test scores are the holy grail.

“…science provides a very narrow definition of truth”

As Jonah Lehrer would say – science provides a ‘very narrow definition of truth’.

Truth is only that which is measurable, quantifiable.

The problem is, we, in all our humanity, experience the world in ways well beyond that.

Science, as Lehrer reminds us, does not account for how we experience the world.

That’s where art comes in — Art is the expression of our experience.

Each and every one of us experiences the world differently. We have, in fact, different realities – different truths.

Each and every one of us experiences the world differently. We have, in fact, different realities – different truths.

Neuroscience tells us this too.

We, humankind, are made of both art and science.

Artists Predicted the Neuroscience


Check out this book for a great discussion on this! Jonah Lehrer’s book Proust Was a Neuroscientist. (! Walt Whitman, George Eliot, famous chef Auguste Escoffier, Marcel Proust, Stravinsky & Cezanne – Names on slide)

Now, just because I question science does not mean that I am here to knock science! On the contrary, I merely wish to question it!

In fact, how scientific of me! 🙂

I’m pretty excited about the neuroscience and neuroplasticity research.

It continues to redefine the truths.


Read the next post in this series – Limited, and Fooled, By Our Senses