To answer your question: No. We are not referring to the steam that comes out of your tea kettle when it's that perfect time to whisk it off the stove top. STEAM actually refers to a new trend in education that seeks to prepare students with the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful innovators in a 21st century workforce. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) and is meant to infer that all disciplines can be integrated, as they all involve a creative processes and use skills from other disciplines to better understand or work within another (e.g., engineers use drawing skills from art to express their scientific ideas).
What was STEM?
STEM is old news. It left out the Arts & Humanities bit of education. The addition of the arts to the original STEM framework is important as practices, such as modeling, developing explanations, and engaging in critique, and evaluation (argumentation), have too often been underemphasized in the context of a math & science education.
Why is STEAM so Important?
In today’s world, setting students up for future success means exposing them to a holistic education that will develop their critical thinking skills (see our blog post about classical education to understand this idea in more depth!). STEAM empowers teachers to employ project-based learning that crosses all five disciplines, foster an inclusive learning environment where all students are able to contribute, and exercise both sides of a child's brain at once.
For example, U.S. News article reported that a high school in Andover, MA teaches geometry through the lens of art: “Through a scavenger hunt at a local museum, math and art students come to understand that scale in geometry is the same thing as perspective in art," says Meghan Michaud, a teacher at Andover High.
Even students who don’t choose a career in STEAM can gain skills for their unique paths. Stephen DeAngelis, President of Enterra Solutions and nationally recognized by Esquire and Forbes for innovation, said, “Educating students in STEM subjects (if taught correctly) prepares students for life, regardless of the profession they choose to follow. Those subjects teach students how to think critically and how to solve problems — skills that can be used throughout life to help them get through tough times and take advantage of opportunities whenever they appear.”
The movement toward a STEAM education is crucial. As Naveen Jain, Entrepreneur and Founder of the Innovation Institute said in Schools Out for Summer: Rethinking Education for the 21st Century, “If the children and students of today are our future, this is the type of education we need. This system of standardized, rote learning that teaches to a test is exactly the type of education our children don’t need in this world that is plagued by systemic, pervasive and confounding global challenges. Today’s education system does not focus enough on teaching children to solve real world problems and is not interdisciplinary, nor collaborative enough in its approach.”
Moving from the current, standard approach to teaching towards a holistic, interdisciplinary method only makes sense then for Innovate Academy, if we truly believe our slogan: "Every child a culture maker."