Art to Heart: The Marriage of Science and the Arts | Nicola Conraths | 2 Min Read

Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) are experiencing a level of interest from schools that is unprecedented. I had the good fortune to direct the Comparative Arts (now Interdisciplinary Arts) department at the Interlochen Arts Academy from 2014-2018. We were a small department of 15 students, give or take. I felt like a student as well; 90% of the time I had little or no prior knowledge of the topics we would investigate. Unfamiliar with PBL and SEL, I was inspired by two similar European education models: the Finnish “Teaching by Phenomenon” and the Italian “Reggio Emilia” approach to learning.  

In Heart & Art, the purpose was clear and simple. We wanted to learn about ways of healing the heart. 

How does one do that? 

Collaborating with the biology and physics department, we were able to easily align the academic curriculum with this project. More time-consuming on my part was forging a relationship with the Cardiology unit at our local hospital which allowed us to…

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Nicola Conraths

Nicola Conraths has worked in independent schools for 15 years, serving as Director of Artistic Studies at Walnut Hill School for the Arts and as director of Comparative Arts and dance instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Nicola merges her many interests into projects that connect unlikely topics, people, and places. Recently she has worked with New England Conservatory Prep School, Boston Ballet, YOLA/LA Phil, and SMOC/Headstart schools. Her newest venture, Das Surrealistische Büro, is a consulting capsule for tangential thinking. She lives in Detroit.