STEM or STEAM Education? In the United States of the 1990s, the concept of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education emerged as an answer to serious questions raised by scholars, who saw US school performance decline and, as a consequence, shortage of qualified professionals for the market. That happened because students were not trained enough to meet the demands of companies in these strategic areas, which threatened US economic leadership in the world.
Therefore, several STEM education initiatives began to emerge in schools, further developing students and encouraging them to pursue careers in these areas. However, in recent years, the methodology has been criticized for assigning a secondary role to the Human Sciences, neglecting that skills such as critical sense, creativity and interpersonal relationships are as important for training a well-prepared professional as knowing how to create technology. Therefore, the arts (“A”) were added in the acronym, forming the STEAM teaching.
Swipe the images to learn 5 reasons to include the arts on STEM education.
More than knowing how to do complex calculations, automating tasks, and prototyping to be well prepared for the job market as well as life, students need to be critical and know how to make everyday decisions, from the simplest to the most complex and involving leadership functions.
The inclusion of art in STEM education as a strategic teaching area strengthens students’ decision-making skills. This is because the artistic processes are full of personal choices in which students decide, through their own evaluation, how they want to go, how they want to express themselves, which elements, materials and references make the most sense for them in each context.
Most obvious benefit of the arts, fostering creativity is also one of the most important in the context of today’s job market, which increasingly demands creative and innovative professionals. These professionals are key players in the quest to ensure companies’ competitiveness in the context of Industry 4.0, and thus their permanence in the market.
Through creative and innovative minds, products and services are refined, other technologies are created that appeal to consumers for their advantages as well as other ways of producing that save natural, financial and personal resources.
In artistic activities such as dance, theater, filmmaking, setting and creating paintings and drawings for art shows, collaboration is essential. Arts promote collaboration among students, strengthening the notion of codependency and fostering teamwork.
This makes the person feel stronger in different areas of life, one of them being professional life, as the ability to work in teams is a skill much sought after by companies. If employees do not understand that they are part of a team and that working together is critical, it will be difficult for the company to grow and gain market share.
As activities that involve a lot of collaboration, arts promote a context in which the relationship between individuals is very important. Throughout the process of cocreation, students learn to relate better, facing conflicts and resolving them, finding differences of opinion and seeking consensus, criticizing with respect and complimenting others’ achievements.
Relationship skills are evident in today’s job market, since most layoffs are caused by conflicts generated by their lack. Also, a bad work environment where people can’t live with each other is not a productive work environment.
Another great advantage of STEAM education is diversity. Art is unique in fostering an environment in which diverse types of personal expression, personalities, and ways of being are respected and valued. In this context, the student gets in touch with many representations, stories and personal reports that show subjectivities of people and life from different points of view. By using this, the student can become more tolerant, respectful and active in combating prejudice and violence.
The STEAM methodology bridges the gap left by STEM education by developing essential skills for 21st century students who are not well-served by the first acronym. Arts also represent the humanities in this strategic teaching approach, showing the essential role of the humanities for the job market and, even more so, for life. If you want to know more about STEM education, download our ebook.