What’s missing from STEM?

Which is more important?

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Tough question right?

 

What about this – if we have to cut the budget which goes first science or art?  Unfortunately we all know the answer to that question.  What we don’t know is where our assumptions about the value of different disciplines come from and more importantly if those assumptions match with reality.

In the era of high stakes testing, arts education has often been put on the backburner, but there’s a hot new movement working to change that.

It’s called STEAM (STEM – science, technology, engineering & math + Art)

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image credit: https://www.being-visual.com/a-favorite-quote-bette-fetterIt’s called STEAM (that’s STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math + art)

 

In Ed Leadership this year, Robert Root-Bernstein and Michele Root-Bernstein  pointed out that the arts are key in scientific thinking.  In fact Nobel Prize winners are 15 to 25 times more likely than the average scientist to engage as adults in painting, sculpting, print making, wood- and metalworking, performance arts, photography, music, creative writing, and poetry. Einstein attributed some of his most important insights to his violin and piano playing.

Why?  As education research and brain-based guru Eric Jensen explains, “The arts enhance the process of learning. The systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities, are, in fact, the driving forces behind all other learning”

What’s more, arts undeniably develop our creativity.  Often in the world of education it seems like creativity is the equivalent of fairy-dust – a gift sprinkled on a few.  In reality, creativity is something that can be honed and developed over time.   As Sir Ken Robinson stated in an interview with ASCD, “Creativity is a disciplined process that requires skill, knowledge, and control. Obviously, it also requires imagination and inspiration. But it’s not simply a question of venting: It’s a disciplined path of daily education. If you look at some of the people we most respect for their creative achievements, it’s because of the extraordinary insights, breakthroughs, and discipline they have brought to their work.”

The arts help us grow and strengthen our creativity.

Innovation requires not only creativity, but also passion, craftsmanship, and observation. That’s where STEAM comes in.  The movement is championed by Rhode Island School of Design whose President John Maeda received the 2013 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award.  A pretty good endorsement if you ask me.

Schools must as Root-Bernsteins writes, “find ways to foster arts education alongside science education – and, even better, finding ways to integrate the two – must become a high priority for any school that wants to produce students capable of creative participation in a science-dominated society like ours.”

To foster innovation, we need arts to be part of the equation of skills students need for the 21st Century.  For as House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated at a recent STEAM event, “As the poet Shelley said: the greatest force for world good is imagination.”

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What to learn more?  Check out – http://stemtosteam.org

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Categories: Stage 4: Disciplinary Thinking

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