Archive for January 31, 2011
Do you buy this claim, that reasoning is the same cognitive activity as imagining? I don’t. There’s clearly an intersection (e.g., as in manipulating visual imagery, as described in the quote), but it seems to me that reasoning involves a critical component, a requirement to apply discipline, that imagining does not. In fact, exercising imagination (as in brainstorming) might be hindered by too much criticism. But I want my students to be critical reasoners when they are working through their code — I want them to say, “That doesn’t make sense” and “Why should that happen?”
For many years we’ve advocated the notion of teaching as an art (The Art of Teaching Science), and this new NSF initiative offers teachers and researchers an opportunity to look at science teaching through the lens of the arts. In our book, we connected with the views of Jacob Bronowski, in his writings, and his video program (The Ascent of Man), suggesting that artistry in teaching is related to human imagination and creativity, and one’s willingness to expriment and play. Throughout his professional life, Bronowski drew similarities between art and science, and used examples from the history of science to help us understand this. Here, Bronowski offers this pedagogical suggestion:
Many people believe that reasoning, and therefore science, is a different activity from imagining. But this is a fallacy, and you must root it out of your mind. The child that discovers, sometime before the age of ten, that he can make images and move them around in his head has entered a gateway to imagination and to reason. Reasoning is constructed with movable images just as certainly as poetry is. You may have been told, you may still have the feeling that E = mc2 is not an imaginative statement. If so, you are mistaken.