When science meets culture

I was deeply saddened to read John Wallace's contribution to the educational debate, making a distinction between science as the "servant of ideas and creativity" and the humanities which are "culture" (TESS, June 21). He seems to be advocating the Middle East conflict approach to the curriculum with his attitude of "my subject has been wronged so, given the chance, my first action is to inflict damage on another".

As a scientist, I could say that all the music I learnt in school was useless but, having in the last week enjoyed a touring production of La Traviata, my son's (also a scientist) band playing in a local bar and my school's music concert, I wouldn't dream of doing so. I appreciate the musical education I received for the same reasons John Wallace wants it celebrated - as an introduction to one aspect of human culture.

Isn't it sad that he cannot see science, possibly the twentieth century's major cultural achievement, as a similar expression of the ideas and creativity which enrich and change people's lives?

More importantly, isn't it sad that both music and science as taught in our schools can fail to engage the interest of large minorities of the educated population? More positive and less adversarial contributions to the debate on the two cultures would be welcome.

Lorna M Neill Principal teacher of physics St John's High, Dundee

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