The art of education? Or, the science of education?

Is education an art or a science?

Societal influences

To me, art is something that represents the culture and the society within which it occurs. In very much the same way, education reflects the cultural values of the society within which it evolves. Any society’s values and ideas about how to educate it’s young people in preparation for adult life will be rooted in a sociocultural context. Hence, education in developed western societies is different from education in other parts of the world.

Scientific method

However, there exists within education in Western societies, a very scientific frame around which the delivery of formal education develops. Much education is underpinned by psychological theory, and psychological theorising happens within a scientific framework. The political influences upon education, such as the National Curriculum in the UK, are underpinned by research and data collected and analysed using the scientific method. Teachers are also required to follow pre-defined procedures (IEPs, Portfolios, IBPs, etc.) behind all of which lies a largely scientific rationale for why and how they are to be used.

Artistic delivery

So the delivery of education is prescribed based upon findings from scientific enquiries. But this does not mean that teachers deliver education in a scientific manner. In fact, I would argue, the most effective teachers are those that use flair, creativity, and spontaneity in their delivery. These are all very ‘artistic’ traits.

The scientific art of education

art of teaching?Education and psychology are interdependent. Psychology offers solutions to the practical problems thrown up by education. In this sense, the delivery of education is informed by science – or at least by the scientific methodology employed by psychologists. So psychology enables the effective delivery of education. Education is not however, a science. Education involves passing from one generation to the next the skills and abilities which that society values in it’s adults. Passing on those features, even if aided by science, is in my opinion, definitely an art.


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6 comments

  1. I wuld submit that psychology is an art, not a science. Each individual can be expected to respond differently to various stimuli. What effectively educates one individual may not be as effective in educating the next. Consequently, astute teachers address the individual needs of students by applying various theories of education practices. Successful results tend to encourage repetition of technique. Similarly, different individuals acquire and retain knowledge at varying rates and in varying ways. Smaller class sizes would facilitate teachers’ ability to more appropriately focus on the needs of individual students in the learning process. Student motivation is critical, as students must actively participate in the learning process. Such individualized motivational tecniques seem to be more art than science.

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  2. We must not believe the many, who say that free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.

    Who is interested in education anyway when the whole idea of it seem to be some kind of profound mistake.

    We have the ability to harness the presence of life and a quest for our originality in the present. To master a true understanding of our creative potential.

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  3. […] Is education, including special education, an art or a science? I would suggest that education is an art. It is artistic in it's delivery and also in it's roots, albeit supported, through it's processes and practice, by scientific enquiry. Societal influences To me, art is something that represents the culture and the society within which it occurs. In very much the same way, education reflects the cultural values of the … Read More […]

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