Neil deGrasse Tyson Defends Arts Education in Viral Video

By Stacey Decker — April 19, 2016 1 min read
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“If there is a country without art, that’s not a country I want to live in.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson

A clip from StarTalk, a late-night talk show on the National Geographic Channel hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, has generated buzz lately.

Originally posted to Facebook by the National Geographic Channel this past December, it’s since surpassed 2 million views.

The video, which includes Tyson’s co-hosts Maeve Higgins and guest Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, shows him interviewing musician David Byrne (former frontman of the Talking Heads). The question they answer jointly? “How important is arts education?”

Both argue—very eloquently—that the arts contribute to the betterment of scientific pursuits by encouraging creativity, and that art programs shouldn’t be cut from the school curriculum.

“Bringing different worlds together has definite tangible benefits and to cut one or separate them is to injure them or cripple them,” says Byrne.

Others—like proponents of the effort to add arts to STEM, making it STEAM—have been making similar arguments for years.

What resonates about this clip, though, is that an astrophysicist can make such an impassioned case for protecting the arts. “We measure the success of a civilization by how well they treat their creative people,” says Tyson.

H/T: This was shared with On Air by EdWeek’s Deputy Director of Photo, Swikar Patel.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Air: A Video Blog blog.