I couldn’t agree more that the “A” is important and serves an important role in STEM achievement. I’m sure early childhood research and approaches such as Montessori would enforce the value of art and some unstructured, open learning approaches. I’ve seen the value in my own daughter from the approach taken in her K-6 education. She’s had teachers who’ve done a great job of incorporating Art projects into STEM learning and it’s been successful in giving her a different “default” approach to her more rigorous STEM work in her later years. She uses more creative approaches to problem-solving than my generation ever did (in my early 50’s) and produces more interesting and impactful analysis and understanding than we did. The A is important.
Dr. Gary May, Dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech, is one of my role models. I’ve learned from him on how to broaden participation in computing, what academic leadership looks like, and how to make sure that education gets its due attention, even at a research-intensive university.
He wrote an essay (linked below) critical of the idea of “STEAM” (Science, Technology, the Arts, and Mathematics). I just recently wrote a blog post saying that STEAM was a good idea (see link here). I’m not convinced that I’m at odds with Gary’s point. I suspect that the single acronym, “STEM” or “STEAM,” has too many assumptions built into it. We probably agree on “STEM,” but may have different interpretations of “STEAM.”
The term “STEM” has come to represent an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in schools. A recent Washington Post article critiques exactly that focus:
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