Why is the A in STEAM so important ?

Years of research show that the Arts are closely linked to almost everything that we as educators and parents say we want for our children and demand from our schools.  But how does this link to the reality of our current curriculum needs?

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics to guide inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. The Arts in STEAM is driven through creativity, innovation, design principles and reasoning as well as the concepts of form and function that connect us to everything we touch and feel as we go about our daily lives.  Georgette Yakman emphasises the idea that ‘STEAM Education puts the “Who and Why” of Humanities and Arts into the “What and How” in the field of STEM education’. She maintains that the value of STEAM is not to focus on a subject as a singular discipline but rather to guide learners to ‘adopt a disciplinary fusion of learning’ and the use of ‘interdisciplinary thinking to solve practical problems’.  The idea that the STEM ‘subjects’ be merged with the arts is not new. Leonardo Di Vinci championed this in the Renaissance period saying, ‘Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else’.

The Rhode Island School of Design has more recently been leading the way on validating the importance of arts, creativity and design and the vital role they play in helping us to make deep connections to the world around us as well as see the value of questioning and more specifically asking hard questions that need perseverance and creativity to answer.  John Maeda has confirms that ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – the STEM subjects – alone will not lead to the kind of breathtaking innovation the 21st century demands and that the ‘Arts’ play a significant role in developing the role of STEM in education’. Arts and Sciences do not compete, they are complimentary and the main objective of both Art and Science is discovery. It is through discovery that authentic problem solving, questioning and motivation can lead to a deeper understanding of what, when and how children learn.

In this workshop we will look at innovation and MakerEd through the lens of art and design. Aesthetics and mechanics have become the resultant evolution of adding Arts to STEM. We will develop our understanding of the principles that underpin STEAM education as well as how these can drive innovation, design and inquiry in our learning environments. We will explore hands on problems in a collaborative makerspace environment and reflect on how we can advocate for art as a transdisciplinary link that incorporates STEAM into our own practice.

About Nici Foote

Nici has been living the dream collaborating and creating as an international educator & digital coach in Singapore since 2013. She is an early years practitioner at heart although more recently has made the transition from the classroom to the role of a digital coach.Nici is passionate about inquiry and hands on learning and has a talent for connecting people and ideas. She has three children who describe her as “funny and cool plus a bit weird”! Nici is excited to be truly testing her comfort zone on her Learning2 journey and is looking forward to being inspired in Shanghai.

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