Anyone engaged in education likely knows about STEM. That is, founding a curriculum on these four tenets: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This interdisciplinary approach seeks to instill students with practical skillsets that will be valuable in the working world of tomorrow. In attempting to conform to the future economy, however, STEM misses one vital element: art! Enter STEAM education, a take on STEM that incorporates some much-needed creativity.
Why Incorporate Art into STEM Education?
When considering a child’s career, it’s easy to discount art. After all, many would rather push their kids to be well-fed engineers than starving artists! When considered from a developmental approach, however, it’s clear that art and creativity play very important roles in education, whether or not those educated in it take it on as a career!
While an education founded in STEM gears students for success in their working life, art plays an important part in developing well-rounded individuals. Art studies benefit students by:
- Promoting creativity
- Stimulating and creating diverse neural connections
- Develops fine motor skills
- Improving decision-making and problem-solving
- Encouraging kids to connect with one another
- Music education has massive benefits, so many that we wrote a blog about it!
- Even simple doodling is evidenced to be good for the brain
It seems apparent that art is a boon to education. So why is STEM still so prevalent while STEAM is around? Well, there are several reasons for opposition, but the primary reasons boil down to:
- Adding art to the equation dilutes the deliberate purpose of STEM education: developing robust math and science skills through education in engineering
- Art is inherent in STEM education through product design, communication, social studies, and other incidental forms
- Conflating art with STEM devalues art’s purpose and importance
We’ll let you decide where you fall on the STEM versus STEAM schism. It’s true that STEM is specifically crafted to integrate knowledge of math and science in order to create minds who can solve real-world solutions for real-world problems.
But while art might not seem 100% practical from a career standpoint, it’s important to consider that education’s end goal isn’t just to create a productive worker—it’s to create a well-rounded, well-equipped human being.
STEAM Seems Great! But What Form of Art to Teach?
The easy answer is: all of them! Every facet of art, from music to drawing to sculpting, offers a unique range of benefits to developing minds.
Whether they’re toddlers developing early handwriting skills through scribbling, middle schoolers developing visual learning skills with a brick of clay in their hands, or high schoolers sketching out the abstruse structure of music theory, kids (and adults!) can benefit from education in the arts.
Teachers and parents, where do you fall on the STEM versus. STEAM education debate? Let us know on our Facebook page, or in the comments below!