Arts vs Sciences?

Da-Vinci_human-proportionsI just spent a day visiting a school and talking about myself. Spending a day talking about yourself is not as much fun as you might think. Especially if you’re not the most interesting man in the world.

But some of the questions made me think about who I am and how I’m wired. Since I was discussing a possible Computer Science AP position, and my resume has a lot of teaching English and history, I got some puzzled questions. I realized that my career arc isn’t that normal! Not that many people start in the humanities, act as an English chair, teach history, and then transition to computer science. I think I might know one other person like that.

I come by it honestly. My father is an English grad from an Ivy League school and realized he didn’t want to teach. Knowing that seriously limited his options, he went back to school and studied welding, then metallurgy. He became a technical writer and editor for Welding Journal and then Iron Age magazine. I inherited that “both sides of the brain” approach from him.

But it made me think about this huge divide between the arts and sciences. Remember the Renaissance Man? Like Hamlet, he was supposed to be a great fencer, write sonnets, study philosophy and “natural philosophy” (science). There was no thinking that you were either one or the other (an “artsy” or a “techie”). I think it’s a false dichotomy. And I also think we’re at a crucial time in our planet’s history when we desperately need them both.

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