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Thinking like Leonardo


Who would have imagined that Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most famous painters who ever lived, did not really think of himself first and foremost as an artist?!   At the age of 30, da Vinci thought he would like to live and work in Milan, so he wrote a letter to the Duke of Milan, asking if there might be a suitable position for him.  Leonardo’s list of skills was impressive; architectural abilities that would enable him to build bridges; as an engineer he explained that he had many ideas for canons and other weapons if ever there was a war; he sent designs for tanks and other military vehicles, and also mentioned that he was an accomplished sculptor.  At the end, by way of a footnote, he says that he could also paint should the Duke wish to commission art works for his palace or churches! 

Leonardo had an almost childlike fascination with the world around him.  It was not enough for him to simply draw pictures of what he saw; he wanted to really understand how things worked.  He accessed mortuaries so that he could understand the inner workings of the human body and as a keen botanist he drew countless plants, flowers and trees. 

I wonder whether Leonardo da Vinci would have flourished and retained his curiosity had he been educated within a ‘national curriculum’.  Curriculums are not inherently limiting as a framework for learning but it is worth remembering that, as with all structures, there is limited scope for exploration beyond the boundaries.  SATS are now in the bag for Year 6 and GCSEs and A Levels will be finished in a couple of weeks.  Perhaps the final part of the summer term is time for us all in schools to look beyond the curriculum and take a journey of discovery.

Posted: 04/06/2019 at 11:28
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