By now, you may or may not have heard about STEM education- meaning that its education based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Within a STEM education, there is more focus on the competition in the technology field.
Don’t get us wrong, those are extremely important areas and are the essential building blocks of the culture we live in today. There are always new advances in technology at such a rate that the competition is through the roof.
But doesn’t t that approach to education seem to be missing something?
In an article that was featured in the Washington Post written by Justin Brady, this topic is tackled and dissected. Even President Obama has been pushing the focus to STEM education with his Educate to Innovate initiative. It’s not just a federal initiative either- this is in combination with non-profits, corporations and other societies.
However, STEM education has a lot of gaps. “It misses the fact that having multiple perspectives are an invaluable aspect of how we learn to become agile, curious human beings,” John Maeda, a graduate from MIT said. “The STEM ‘bundle’ is suitable for building a Vulcan civilization, but misses wonderful irrationalities inherent to living life as a human being and in relation to other human beings.”
While STEM education might be wonderful for making us more efficient, there is close to no room for sparking creativity or imagination. There is very little assistance in encouraging curiosity. Whatever happened to empathy and connecting with other people, other cultures, on an emotional level? These are all things that the arts help to do, especially for children.
Again, it is extremely important that there be technology classes so that those who are growing up in a technologically advanced world will know how to use to tools in front of them, but they will not be able to stand well on their own.
In the Washington Post Article, Sarah Pease, a graduate of Rhode Island School of design is proposing a compromise. Because it is important that children have the building blocks of education in place, she is suggesting not that STEM be done away with, merely that there be a letter added to the acronym- STEAM.
“Our contemporary world craves empathy and understanding in the face of an intensified onset of technological advances and a decline in direct interpersonal communication. Art and design can offer just that,” Pease said.
Children can even score well at their test in math and science, but then find that they don’t know how to give their lessons real-world application. How boring would that be? Using stem to fill the slots of high tech jobs is insufficient. And on the other hand, the arts are far more important than just giving students something to do. To fill in the gaps, you need the arts alongside math and science.
A thorough understanding of math and science is extremely important for all children. But it is also important for policy makers to remember what it was like to be a kid- or student of any age, for that matter. Creativity is crucial for problem solving, those who are learning will never cease to ask questions, and the arts will give the students the empathy they need in order to understand why they are being taught the Pythagorean Theorem in the first place.
At Hunakai Studios, we recognize that these aspects of education have to work in synergy and that they go hand in hand. Please continue to make the arts a constant presence in your life and the life of your students.