In our collective exploration of STEM and play and wonderings in our Learning Pioneers STEM/Play Quest we have been exploring all sorts of ideas and possibilities, including:

  • How can we develop children as learners through play and STEM?
  • How can we develop meaningful Maker Spaces?
  • How can we use books to inspire STEM learning?
  • How can our learning environments enhance and deepen STEM and play learning?
  • What does STEM/play look like in different year groups, including secondary?
  • Should we be discussing STEAM and play rather than STEM and play?

In light of this final wondering, I came across an interesting provocation in the Escher Museum in The Hague that touched upon the links between Art and maths.

What can we learn from artists, philosophers, historians?

I’m always fascinated to go to museums of artists to not only see their art in real life, but to understand a bit more about their lives and their learning processes (for example, one of my faves was going to Fernando Pessoa’s house in Lisbon and discovering he had several Heteronyms and he would write to his wife in the style of these imagined “personalities” – love the imagination here! Imagine being his wife!)

The Escher museum showed the development of his art and what drove him to develop his art. Some key ideas stood out to me as ideas I would love to share with a class of children.

Here are a few:

The Importance of Play

  1. Play and being playful was a key driver for Escher’s work:

 Indeed, when do we ever stop playing? This further fueled my passion for developing play throughout primary and beyond – It’s not just children who thrive and learn through play!

2. The process of learning

The process of learning was so visible in Escher’s art. For example, below, he went from exploring square patterns which tessellated an got ever-smaller; this extended to animals, then to rotations.

This visible learning process was so powerful and something I’d have loved to have shared with my class (see more here on ideas to share the process of learning with children)! 

I thought this would also be really powerful for learning about tessellation, starting with a shape, then what animal can you make that shape into etc. I would have definitely shared this with my Grade 2 class last year and seen what they might have come up with in their play …

3. Links between maths and Art

As I mentioned in the title of this post – the links between Art and maths. Apparently mathematicians used to write to Escher, letting him know how mathematically “correct” his art was and he would respond saying he’d had no mathematical training – interesting!

So, I’m wondering:

  • How can we use experiences and learning outside of school to feed into inspiration in school?
  • Have you ever shared the process of learning of “experts” , discussed this with the children and talked about practice and learning from mistakes? How? What were the results?
  • What links do you see between maths and Art? Have you made this explicit with children and what were the results?

Would love to hear your reflections and experiences!


Leave a Reply