Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

"Science" versus "Literary" Mind

ems8140's picture

In the discussion with Professor Dalke on Thursday, we discussed whether or not evolution and social Darwinism should be taught in the same class in high school. We also talked about how a student may be a “science person”, “history person”, “literary person”, etc. Coming into this class as a “science person”, I initially thought that these two topics should absolutely be taught in different classes. Evolution is more objective, whereas social Darwinism and other topics are more subjective and could be allowed for interpretation. However, as our discussion progressed, my mind was changed and I think these two subjects would work well in a class for high school students. It would be great to have these two topics presented in the same course because it could help “blur the line” between the two subjects and help spark the interest of those students who aren’t as interested in science.

A different perspective on evolution and natural selection would be provided and could help expand on the students’ learning. For example, while it is important to teach the main facts about evolution, discussing the opportunity for change and development, even outside the realm of plants and animals could be beneficial. Teaching students that while the world is ever evolving and advancing, they have the same opportunities for themselves to do so as well. Professor Dalke also discussed the psychological term of the “stereoscopic eye”, in which the right eye and the left eye is needed to allow for depth perception. Perhaps, a science mind and a literary mind are both needed to allow for a deeper understanding of evolution.



cwalker's picture


It seems like this is a common topic. I am social science person and my social science/humanities friends and I tend to state how our minds just do not work in a science way, while my science friends have equally as hard of a time with social science/humanities. In my opinion a science mindset tends to find one truth, and findings are solid facts; whereas in social science/humanities there are multiple truths, and what might be true in one situation might not be in another. Science is a step by step in a linear evolutionary process and social science/humanities just seems to flow from one thing to another and it just swims around making shapes and connecting as it pleases.

I really want to say that through this class I have been seeing this differently, but I cannot say that is true, I just feel like I have been proven right. A classmate and I always come to the same conclusion, the science people in the classroom always appear to have one solid argument while the social science/humanities people seem to be comfortable with multiple truths, and the possibility of variety. So while I want to say that the line can be blurred, I really don't think it has, maybe they really are two separate  fields that really cannot be united, I want to be open to flexibility between the two but I just don't think its feasible.

elly's picture

"Science mind and literary mind"

 I am currently enrolled in a history of women in genetics course with Greg Davis, which I believe exemplifies many of the issues mentioned in ems8140's post. Even though the "blurring of the line" between science and humanities in my course is not the exact same situation as teaching evolution and social Darwinism together, it does bring history and biology together in a very intriguing way. On Thursday, we went around the room discussing our previous experiences with science courses, in the sense of biology, chemistry and physics being the typical high school science courses, and how that effected what we decided to major in/study in college. I personally discussed how my science courses were too structured around testing and memorization, without much time for critical thinking, writing and any sort of artistic projects. I believe that if I had been able to take a course that was more about the history of a science, or involved more literary and artistic work, then I may not have been turned off from the hard sciences as quickly as I was. As mentioned above, if I had been exposed to the sciences in tandem with more humanities style thinking, If I could have seen the facts of science from a different perspective and then if something stood out to me, then I perhaps I would have gone on to study that subject. In terms of my understanding of evolution, especially in my history of biology class, I definitely agree with the statement above, "Perhaps, a science mind and a literary mind are both needed to allow for a deeper understanding of evolution."

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
6 + 2 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.