“In my top 10 things to be done in Africa is to revolutionize the teaching of Mathematics! At High School I was so bad at maths, I did not even sit the “Mock Exam”. I was brilliant in the languages, and social subjects. Two years later I taught myself maths and went to engineering school. Never allow your child to accept that they are not good at something. More often than not it is the way a subject is taught. Rather try to help them with other teaching methods, and encouragement. Let’s help our African schools build up their capacity to teach maths.”
– Strive Masiyiwa (Founder & Executive Chairman of Econet Wireless Group)
[Last week, I tackled the field of Education at length in the Gate of Education, Science & Techonology -Part 1.]
If you know who Strive Masiyiwa is and what he’s been able to accomplish in the field of telecommunications, then you understand why the fact that he taught himself Maths is a big deal. (If you have no clue, make your way to his Facebook page and camp there for a while.)
There are battles we are born into, grow up in and are somehow expected to keep fighting. If you ask why the battle is, you’re simply told it’s how it’s always been and will always be so you better pick a side and fight.
Those are the kinds of battles where I put whatever weapon has been handed to me down, take a step back and starting asking even harder questions.
I’ve grown up in a society where sciences are taken seriously and arts are laughed out of the room. Sciences are to be done by those who excel academically while arts are to be left to those who are intellectually weak. Sciences are vital to the survival of man but arts are whimsical expressions to help us pass time. Sciences are the backbone of a nation’s economy but arts are evidence of the breakdown of society.
The sciences are often pitted against the arts in a battle of supremacy regarding which is more significant and worthy of esteem than the other.
It’s a nonsensical battle as far as I’m concerned.
The Kingdom of God needs both the arts and sciences expressed to the full extent of their God-given nature.
Our first introduction to the universe and to God in Scripture is the story of creation where we see God incorporating both science and art as He forms the earth and all in it. He is revealed to us as a Creator who is also a Scientist.
So as believers, why would we elevate one above the other, when both are a beautiful expression of our Maker? Are we trying to suggest that those who the God fearfully and wonderfully made as artists and called them good, are somehow less than those He also fearfully and wonderfully made as scientists?
Science needs a level of imagination and creative thinking if innovation is to happen. Art requires the finite disciplines of science to find expression. It is art that enables the language of science to be spoken with beauty that even a child can comprehend.
How we are taught and teach others to look at the relationship between the sciences and the arts needs to radically change. We need to start building bridges between the two fields instead of arrogant walls.
There was a TV Show called Numbers that was on air between 2005-2010 that made me wistfully long for a change in our education of the sciences. The show is centred on the lives of two brothers – one a detective, the other a maths prodigy who works as a professor – and how the latter helps the former solve his cases and catch criminals by applying relevant math theories.
Every time I’d watch an episode I couldn’t help but think that if I was taught Maths that way –with real life contexts – I probably would have enjoyed it more. Heck, I was sorely tempted to vavavoom myself into a mathematical genius who solves crimes in real life. It was abundantly clear why Maths mattered and how it could be important to my everyday life. Not so much, in our theory-filled, cramming-prone, exam-driven classes; (which I talked at length about in The Gate of Education, Science & Technology – Part 1).
Yet, all around me are intersections of art and science not as competitors of one another but as complementary comrades. As a creative, so many of the tools I use to express my art were invented using scientific principles and rely on science to function. So many of the technical aspects of those tools are made aesthetically pleasing using art. My everyday life as a human being is overflowing with the benefits of science and technology.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can have and appreciate both.
Yes, even with the age old myth that art doesn’t pay. Nay. Art can pay. Plenty. But it requires a certain type of vision to run art as a successful business. But that’s a whole other post for another day. (Look out for the post on the Gate of Media, Arts & Entertainment next week.)
My prayer is that we would cease using science and art as weapons against each other and acknowledge the necessity of both in our lives. That we would learn that advocating for one shouldn’t have to be at the expense of the other. There is enough room for scientists and artists to co-exist in this world. If anything, when they thrive peacefully and honorably together, the miracle of creation happens all over again.
Niyi Morakinyo’s book – The 7 Professional Nations: Reconciling Them Back To God – is the genesis of the categorization of the 7 gates as I’m writing about them. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to be fruitful for the Kingdom of God. You can download it from the Joshua Generation Trust website as a free resource. Just click here. 🙂