What is STEAM?

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Okay, I keep putting off this post because I am not wise in the ways of education, art or otherwise. The thing I am aware of is that kids in public schools are not given nearly enough art and design teaching, and it seems to be lessening by the year.

STEM as an acronym is a fairly new concept to me- I’m not entirely sure of when I first heard it, but it’s catchy and seems to be gaining momentum as a concept for parents and educators to rally behind. Is this a common term that every day parents are aware of, or is it mostly relegated to people in education?

I assume most people have heard of it, but if you haven’t, STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics – 4 areas where there are a shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. There is a push to emphasize these subjects and integrate them together in order to better compete with other countries.

In addition to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics covered by STEM, some people have realized that the arts can be integrated into this whole effort. Now we have the acronym, STEAM. I love these people for taking art under their wings. Poor art is always the underdog, and should it be? Obviously not.

There are a growing number of studies showing the importance of art in the educations of our children. I’ve been compiling them, so look for me to get on my soapbox a whole bunch more as I pull out facts and figures to wow you all.

What is STEAM?

I’m not sure what the point of this post is- it’s maybe just a formal way for me to prepare for chatting about art education here. I’m excited to learn more about it, and I’m excited to be another voice to champion this cause.

So? Any thoughts? Are there any people out there knowledgeable or passionate about this topic who want to add to the conversation? Or maybe you want to learn along with me. I hope so.

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5 Comments

  1. 12/10/2012 / 7:32 pm

    We have STEM here starting in 4th grade. Not STEAM yet but I still think it is great! Love the emphasis on hands on and problem solving (which is creative too). Some parents complain the kids get home from school too late because they just added it on to the day which I guess is an issue. I’d like to learn more about it too. Thanks for bringing it up!

    • 12/10/2012 / 7:48 pm

      Is it a formal thing in your school? Do they do something extra on top of the regular school day? This is so interesting. I really hope all of this (plus the art part) transforms the way kids are educated.

  2. 01/11/2013 / 3:56 pm

    I love this idea! My husband is a 4th grade teacher, and it is frustrating to me seeing that the kids have NO time at all dedicated to art — only the 6th graders have a specific art class at my husband’s school. Teachers are expected to work it into other areas of teaching (creative projects for what they are learning in science, language arts, etc) but that just honestly doesn’t happen for most teachers, and the kids are still missing out on the art exploration part — learning about different styles/periods of art — that was my favorite, even though I am not a particularly talented artist.

    Anyway, the point of my rambling is to say that I absolutely think that art and creativity are a MUST and should definitely be included with the other STEM topics. I was always very good in math and science, but in real-world situations, knowing the theory and how to work the numbers is less important than innovation and creativity. Real solutions to real problems come from the courage to think outside the box to apply that math/science knowledge creatively — and I learned that courage from creative art-type programs. It is far more important, in my opinion, to be able to think creatively about a situation than to be able to do the math to get there. The best engineers, who are creating forward-thinking solutions and products, can both think analytically and creatively.

    • 01/13/2013 / 11:00 pm

      Hi Lorene- Thanks for such a wonderful comment. It makes me so sad hen I hear that some kids get absolutely NO art in school. My 4th grader at least gets some. (Not nearly enough). I completely agree with what you are so eloquently saying about being able to better navigate real-world situations if you’ve learned creative thinking. Why isn’t this so completely obvious to everyone else, I wonder?

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