Arts skills are essential
Regarding the Aug. 29 cover story, “Saved by art”: Expanding the arts in education beyond the traditional values of entertainment, cultural enrichment, and creative outlet is a very positive development.
As a scientist by training with a PhD in physics and as an aerospace engineer by profession, I can say with conviction that the arts are a basic skill for business, technology, and science.
Text and speech are linear-string narrow-band modes of communication. The arts combine communication and thinking into two and three dimensions with time as a dynamic variable, bringing clarity to otherwise obscure concepts.
Making things with the hands – paintings, ceramics, sculptures, stage sets – and activities such as shop classes of all sorts and home hobbies that build things from scratch develop tactile awareness and thinking and exercise critical thinking as problems involving cause and effect are confronted.
These skills are essential for personal success and society’s progress.
William H. Cutler
Union City, Calif.
Regarding the Sept. 5 cover story, “Targeting gun suicides”: Thank you for publicizing the little-known fact that almost two-thirds of gun deaths are the result of suicide.
It is appalling that, as you report, “every week [in the United States], 400 people use a gun to take their own lives.”
Would this tragedy be tolerated if it were caused by anything else?
For decades, data have revealed that those who die in firearm-related incidents are more likely to have been killed by their own hand, or by friends or family, than by strangers.
This counters the contention that we need to be armed to protect ourselves from thieves, gang members, and terrorists. Your article is an evenhanded effort to address this national problem.