I just finished reading a very important article from SLATE writer and Future Tense researcher, Anna Feldman. It is HERE. This article is important as it summarizes my thoughts and addresses STEAM objections in a practical and realistic way, and of course, discusses the importance of adding the arts to STEM. I will forgive her as she quotes my friend and colleague Anne Jolly, from her EdWeek Teacher article on STEAM, a quote that I actually said and am credited with in that article, which is HERE.
The important thing is the needed attention to what adding the arts to STEM education can do. There are objections of course, most notable taking away attention and time from REAL STEM subjects. This fact disregards the integrated nature of STEM and how you must be able to do “other things” as well. In addition, the arts offer a wide range of possibilities making students STEM ready and STEM capable. Perhaps they really are an “on-ramp” for going deeper in STEM subjects. Or perhaps they are an “on-ramp” that goes to a variety of pathways.
We need STEM skilled workers to accelerate progress and ensure we have workers for the future and for jobs for students now in school. There is extensive reporting on how the US has fallen behind and needs STEM workers. At the same time, we are slowly advancing in the number of STEM workers we produce. Some say we have enough. The issue still to solve is equity for underrepresented populations and this issue needs attention. The arts are key to interesting and engaging this group. It is not only the STEM subject matter and the way it is approached, but also the scope and variety that can be a STEM subject.
There is so much art in science and mathematics. Design equipment, new technologies. Be ready for all of the 21st century innovations that include what a robot can do, and what we can code! There are things to make and build. We want to keep the aesthetic value and its importance to learning. Critical thinking and problem solving are enhanced by arts experiences, and encourage taking risks and trial and error. In addition these experiences do positive things for the neural connections in our brain, helping memory and expanding potential. We must encourage a Growth Mindset and Divergent Thinking.
If you are a reader of my blog, none of this is news. I close with a quote from Feldman’s article that clearly states the need for the arts in STEM education:
But the STEAM movement isn’t about spending 20 percent less time on science, technology, engineering, and math to make room for art. It’s about sparking students’ imagination and helping students innovate through hands-on STEM projects. And perhaps most importantly, it’s about applying creative thinking and design skills to these STEM projects so that students can imagine a variety of ways to use STEM skills into adulthood.
Another great article on How the Arts Develop the Young Brain.