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STEM School: STEM Articles & Opinions: What About STEAM Education?


Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

By now, most people with an interest in academics know that S.T.E.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and know what a STEM school is, but the newest buzzword going around in STEM education is STEAM, which is an acronym for the same thing, but with the Arts included.

For the past few years, the STEM program has been heavily promoted and widely accepted since mostly everyone can agree that the need for workers with high tech skills in America is in high demand.  As a result, dialogue about the future of Arts education seemed to become history, along with subjects like Psychology, Sociology, and ironically, History!

Even Republican Governor Rick Scott from Florida called for cutting funding for liberal arts education and degrees that "don't offer a good return on investment," and asked "Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don't think so." Ouch. I wonder if he would be more proud of his daughter, who has a degree in Anthropology, if she studied something a little more "employable".

According to the advocacy group Americans for the Arts, Arts education has undeniable benefits:
  • Stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
  • Has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries.
  • Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
  • Develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting-skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
  • Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
  • Nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints; and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.

All of this is undeniably important, so should all aspects of education get the same attention and priority?

A small group on Twitter seems to think so:

STEAM tweets

What do you think about adding STEAM to STEM?

See also:
STEAM Education Make Arts essential to STEM education
Last reviewed on: 07/17/2013


TomikoAugust 13, 2013
To be successful you need more than good grades in math. You need discipline, dependability, loyalty, and leadership. You need oral communication skills, self-confidence and strategic thinking. In job postings you always see qualifications with buzzwords like "excellent oral communication and negotiation skills", "adaptability and flexibility", "creative problem solving". These skills are not taught in physics class, they are taught in Drama. This is from an article titled WHAT THEATRE MAJORS LEARN: THE ADVANTAGES THEATRE MAJORS HAVE FOR ALL JOBS.

"The executives were particularly interested in hiring people with qualities like discipline, dependability, loyalty, and leadership, qualities that theatre students learn because they must to be effective members of a production team.

One CEO told the group that her company has found that theatre-trained applicants are valuable employees because they're energetic, enthusiastic, and able to work under pressure. She pointed out that they generally have polished communications and human relations skills, and they're experienced at working as members of a team toward a common goal. Most importantly, she said, theatre graduates have a can-do confidence based on their experience of successfully meeting difficult challenges.
HeatherJuly 27, 2013
First and foremost, I'd like to point out that the origins of math, science, and engineering is Philosophy, which is now unfortunately placed on that list of "extras" that people like Rick Scott think are unnecessary. Philosophy should be viewed as the base for all learning, and taught as such. Logic and critical thinking should begin with philosophy. There is a reason university call all PhD's "doctorates in the philosophy" of a field. That's not just fancy language! Learning the philosophy surrounding a field means questioning its foundations and core assumptions to achieve a better understanding of it. We cannot lose this!

Likewise, it is art that drives innovation. 20th century science fiction has become latter 20th century and 21st century technology. Art is also our societal psychology played out in physical medium. Art helps us process our world. We've lost this understanding, and we are broken without it. We need what art provides. It is terribly ignorant to think solely in terms of paycheck and job filling as the criteria for educational pursuits. And frankly, we should be including work for the thinkers and the artists so that we can have a mentally healthy society, not just a profit driven machine.

Education isn't just about incomes! Everyone I meet in the nonprofit and art realms tell me they would do what they do for free because it is WHO THEY ARE even if no one else values it. But, we should value it!
anigeMay 12, 2013
Am I missing something? If we are not teaching "STEAM" then what is being taught in our schools? Maybe the problem is that we have teachers who are educated in "education" but not the subjects they are actually teaching. No one can look at a painting by Raphael and not appreciate his use of geometry or understand that with every step our body takes, it is performing calculus. Or that a pirouette involves angular momentum in addition to balance.
JBApril 16, 2013
STEAM education, to me, is the model of collaboration. The world is connected in so many ways that this allows for the collaboration to work together to solve problems as a model for education. Thinking skills, research, imagination, craftmanship & innovation cross all disciplines. To the Art Teacher, be innovative, visualize where you want to connect and how.
Luann Burlingame
Luann BurlingameMarch 14, 2013
ARTS from 5/26/ wrote exactly what is going on with my school next year and I, too, am the art teacher. Can you update me on how it is going?
Shirley Larry
Shirley LarryNovember 21, 2012
STEAM should be the major acronym! In all that you do in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, you must be able to read, interpret, and express your learning. It takes the additional Arts to teach kids to interpret and correctly express whether verbally or in writing.
smi5219August 1, 2012
The addition of the Arts in STEM to make STEAM is a wonderful idea! I feel the arts is an area that is getting lost in most school districts. There are many opportunities in the arts for students to express many of the STEM principles. Including the arts also provides opportunities for the students to be able to express themselves in a different way.
Reading With The G.
Reading With The G.September 10, 2011
This is more of a request for information than a comment. I am writing a thesis on how collboration between elementary teachers and librarians can help minority students become better math students. Focus and scope will narrow later. Any teacher or librarian willing to share stories, lesson plans, or ideas are more than welcome to respond. Thanks. put math theis in subject area. Glenn
mahlandtJuly 11, 2011
I have a building within my district with 5 classrooms. We have a virtual school as well as an alt Ed run online. I am thinking of creating a stem ....or steam school...any the physical environment important? Can I rotate kids in and out? What are the models?
LindaMarch 22, 2011
STEAM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, AND the ARTS. This is the newest buzzword going around in STEM education. However, being too literal about S-T-E-M is not what STEM education is all about. STEM is not fixed; it is fluid. It is a way of thinking, a skill set of critical and creative thinking skills that is completely interdisciplinary! I teach at an Elementary STEM Magnet school in Georgia and we incorporate STEM thinking and the Engineering Design Process in all curricular strands.
sweeteddyFebruary 27, 2011
Katrina, nothing wrong with music, art and literature. I would agree that every student should get some exposure to to these, or at least have those available. Sports and other extracurricular activities too. But I think education should be proportionate to employment availability and social advancement. I certainly don't want education to be solely a function of training the workplace of tomorrow. On the other hand, an awfully lot of education is ending up being largely useless.
ArtsMay 26, 2010
We are a school in East Nashville, TN. We are an elementary school, and a title 1 school. We want excellence for our students and so are formulating plans for our Stem Magnet School. I was afraid at first that art and music would be left out but our principal is planing on the arts being included we just are going to be thematic and work together on lesson plans. Anybody have any advice for me as the art teacher?
KatarinaApril 11, 2010
What about music and art? What about literature? Are we creating robots?
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