Reading Nature, Observing Science: Examining Material Practices in the Lick Observatory Archives and Kenneth S. Norris Papers

Interdisciplinary Pedagogy and Poetic Science

Norris was an advocate of interdisciplinary pedagogy. His teaching philosophy revolved around a kind of poetic science. This poetic science, which is apparent in both Norris's journal entries and student interviews, is based on the merging of poetic, artistic outlooks with scientific knowledge about the natural world. In other words, Norris did not believe in a firm separation between the arts and sciences, but rather thought that both poetry and science were equally necessary in order to attain a full understanding of the environment and its inhabitants. This belief is quite clear in Norris's oral history biography, as he states, "I've always thought that poetry was a dimension of the wild world that needed to be thought about" (37)

Norris's commitment to interdisciplinary education is perhaps most fully realized in his Natural History Field Quarter courses, which often included poets. In an interview with Randall Jarrell for his oral history biography, Norris recalls purposefully selecting poets when reviewing student applications for the course. He states, "I had a wonderful poet, a really good poet. He was afraid because he was in the middle of all these damn scientists and was inhibited by them. But finally we got him relaxed, and he gave the most marvelous reports over that speaker system on the bus. He emerged as one of the real strengths on the whole trip" (39). Norris's Field Quarter was thus a space that actively practiced poetic science, one where the boundaries between the arts and sciences were effectively removed.  


This page has paths:

Contents of this path: