Artful Science: Rethinking how the young learn

Professor Shirley Brice HeathAnthropologists who study socialization tend to do so in order to compare modes and values of child-rearing or to examine the role of language in child-rearing. Rarely have anthropologists attended to the ways in which children learn to discern, appreciate, and take part in forms of artful representation. Anthropologists have given only slightly more attention to the extent to which children and young people learn key science concepts and representational modes in their own cultural settings. This lecture examine commonalities in the learning of art and science, the role of language in such learning, and the extent to which focused observation has been central to understanding and engaging in both art and science and language learning across cultures.

Shirley Brice Heath arrived at Brown University’s Education Department after two decades at Stanford University - teaching in the Departments of English, Linguistics, and Anthropology, as well as Stanford's Graduate Schools of Education and Business. Central in her current research is later language and multi-media literacy development (for learners between the ages of 8 and 28) and the voluntary engagement of young people in long-term projects that centre in the arts, environmental sustainability, and social justice. Trained as a linguistic anthropologist, she has carried out research in Mexico, Guatemala, South Africa, the United States, England, Germany, and Sweden. Her publications range across four major areas: language socialization, organizational learning, youth culture, and language planning. Beyond academic publications, she is also dedicated to providing research for a wide audience in video and film, photographic exhibitions, and popular journals. She has produced and directed several documentary films, and she writes regularly for youth arts magazines.

Professor Brice Heath was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research in February 2010.

This lecture is available as an audio podcast.

Date & time

Tue 23 Feb 2010, 12.30–2pm


The Finkel Theatre, The John Curtin School of Medical Research


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