Holistic approach to science and arts teaching

Academic & Curriculum, Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

In a blog for the Independent Schools Council (ISC), Bedales Prep, Dunhurst’s Head of Art Susan McFarlane explains how a celebration of Leonardo da Vinci demonstrated the school’s holistic approach to teaching science and the arts.

Whitehall considers STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) to be the horses to back in terms of skills for employment in the global race. However, researchers recently recommended that the arts and sciences should be taught together around real problems rooted in pupils’ experiences. Such an approach chimes with that taken at Dunhurst which, rather than STEM, favours STEAM – with the A stressing the value of the arts and humanities to the understanding of science, technology, and in fact pretty much everything.

To this end, in 2019 Dunhurst’s art and design department staged a week-long celebration of Leonardo da Vinci. Staff and students recreated his studio, and pupils explored his life and work through the disciplines of history, geography and language. This involved consideration of his love of botany, anatomical and wildlife-inspired observational drawing; designing and making aeroplanes, bridges, buildings and parachutes; and learning about the human body.

Art pupils at Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

TEAM Week then saw artist Roz Hall encourage pupils to make connections between art and science. Stressing how technology has always influenced new artistic developments, Roz drew on work done in art on the scientific discoveries around light and colour that inspired the Impressionists. His iPad work with pupils not only underlined his technological point, but led to them learning how to use Autodesk SketchBook.

Susan McFarlane says: “This was to be one of the last things we were to do together at Dunhurst before schools were closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Through remote learning, we were able to use Autodesk to draw and make animations on iPads – a perfect example of art and technology combining in a way we believe Leonardo da Vinci would have enjoyed, in the midst of the most pressing of ‘real world’ problems.”

The full article can be read on the ISC website here.

Susan McFarlaneDunhurst Art and Design | Dunhurst Science | Times article: Young Leonardos urged to lead education renaissance