"Happy Mind, Happy Life."

Blog #9

The surrounding context for this essay refers to the when, where, and who wrote this essay. This essay was written in January of 2014 and published by the World Post, an online news site. The site was introduced during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The essay was written by Yo-Yo Ma, a cellist and songwriter. I found it very interesting that he started performing at age five and has won over seventeen Grammy Awards and produced more than 90 albums since then! He also attended two very profound schools, the Juilliard School and Harvard University.

The imposed context of this essay refers to the purpose I have for reading this. This essay poses some important ideas related to the role of art in this world and the connection between science and art that can be revealed. He discusses that the “elements of empathy provided by artistic endeavors are essential to the kind of balanced thinking needed today.” This relates to the concept of art and science creating an “edge effect,” where equilibrium and global culture are produced. I am very interested in these ideas. The detail about creating “STEAM” instead of “STEM” particularly caught my eye. I fully agree with this concept and feel it is the imposed context. STEAM would mean adding “arts” to STEM, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I believe this should have been done in the first place! The arts are a very important part of this balance and can play in nicely.

The intentional context is the rhetorical situation within the essay. Yo Yo Ma is arguing the need for arts to become a core concept in a student’s learning experience. He feels that the arts are essential to student growth and development, just as any other subject would be. He explains, “the values behind art integration – collaboration, flexible thinking, and disciplined imagination – lead to the capacity to innovate.” He believes that using skills given by the arts, it can allow students to “innovate,” which is a core concept of STEM.  The arts help us to engage with ourselves and dive deeper into discovering who we are. He says that looking at the world through STEM does not allow us to look beneath the surface, which is what STEAM can do for us.

Unfamiliar Concepts 

new consciousness: a new way of thinking; specifically, a new way of thinking about the relationship between science and art.

lascivious: “inclined to lustfulness.” When discussing culture, Yo Yo Ma includes an idea about the dance movement, “the sarabande,” where he states that it was banned in Spain due to being lascivious.

disciplined imagination: the idea that one cannot be carried away by dreams and thoughts, they must remain realistic. Yo Yo Ma discusses this concept when explaining a skilled pianist that is “open to listening to what is around him but knows that, to reach excellence, he needs to filter the imagination through the discipline of knowledge.”



1 Comment

  1. elishaemerson

    Wonderful, Olivia! I enjoy that term “disciplined imagination.” I’m so happy you picked it out to showcase here.

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