Arts are Important

What is STEM?

There is so much talk about STEM in education circles these days.

It is the buzzword of the decade.  But what is it?  STEM is simply an acronym for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  The sudden focus on STEM education derives from the arising need to compete in the global economy and be at the forefront of innovation.

The modern world is a rapidly changing place.

Technology is developing at record breaking speed. This is not only making what was once impossible commonplace, it is changing the way we live and look to the future.  A race to the top of new ideas and capabilities has become the hallmark of the tech industry.  So, the educational system has sought ways to supply capable individuals to this phenomenon. Hence, the creation and focus of STEM education.

 

Building A Modern School–Science over Here, Math Down the Hall

With the intense focus on STEM, schools have been building up their science and math programs in an effort to provide a better education. Science lab rooms are under construction, course catalogs overflow with new courses in Engineering, Chemistry, higher level Math, and technology applications.

 

The desire for more and more has turned the liberal arts approach to education upside down.  The requirements for graduation include more science and math courses than ever before.  A new wing of the education system, technology education, has spread beyond just typing or using software to teaching coding and digital citizenship.  Classes upon classes, room upon room, the push for an innovative education has remade the face of schooling around the world.

 

What About the Arts?

Science, Mathematics, anything technology related, these are all children need to know–right? Wrong, just as a bridge cannot stand without a foundation, innovation cannot happen without creativity.  The bedrock of every good education is the arts and humanities.

 

Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing–the four Language Arts–are every bit as critical to engineers as to journalists.  These are the skills that build up a culture and bind us together.  The first two are necessary for collaboration and cohesive team work.  The last two essential to learning and documenting discoveries.

Along with Language Arts, the Visual Arts of design and creativity bring the sciences to life.  Engineering innovates the materials and methods, but art supplies the inspiration and beauty to architecture.  Coding synthesizes the blueprint of an app but visual creativity make it appealing and user friendly. The arts and the sciences need each other.  Without the arts, sciences create a gray, garish world of sci-fi horror stories.  Without sciences, artistic pursuits never get off the page and into history.

 

Welcome to the Real World

Just as the arts are integral to scientific advancement, so is the integration of education.  STEM education was never meant to mean a few more lab rooms and a list of mathematics requirements.  Like eliminating arts, this is missing the overarching goal of the STEM approach.  By integrating the subjects together in real world applications, students are given the roots and wings to soar in the current climate of global, rapid, technology advancement.

The opportunity to learn these skill sets and disciplines is vital to a good education, but should not mean simply tacking on more.  In the world of innovation, working together with people of all disciplines, using the knowledge learned from all coursework is what fuels the advancements of tomorrow. One People, One Planet

How do you build a bridge?  With mutual respect, understanding, and firm foundations of education.

How can you bring the world of education together to lead to a brighter future?

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Hovercraft and Education

Hovercraft and Education

I was recently on Twitter and came across videos of science classes that were racing hovercrafts as part of their lessons. It reminded me of my daughter’s third grade class. Students were divided into small groups and taught how to design a robot. They then got to build the robot and the student groups raced them the last week of school. This was genius! Not only did the children learn about robotics but they had to work as a team and build something.

 

After seeing the Twitter post, I went and looked up more information about students building hovercrafts. I came across a short article in Popular Mechanics.  It is great that a well-known magazine would talk about something (like teaching technology students how to build hovercraft) and a few years later schools from all over are replicating it. Sometimes, we learn better by doing.

 

In some parts of world action is still how students learn the majority of their knowledge. In industrial countries that call to action in the classroom is a key to innovation. Rather than learn about coding software through a book or someone yelling to a student, students get on a computer and code. The difference between these two methods is the first is teacher-centered learning and the second is student-centered. This visual by Paul Curtis offers a better explanation.

 

Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes is created? Who knows if participating in designing or building a hovercraft or robot is going to spark excitement that lasts a student’s lifetime? Who knows if by participating in this learning activity, a future designer for Toyota, Ford or Mercedes? Previous Global Learn Day presenter, Dr. Terrence R. Redding, shared his thoughts about this when talking about “The First Moment of Lasting Excitement”. You can learn more about that here!

 

This is more of what Global Learn Day celebrates! Education opens doors, it excites us and helps us learn who we are and where we belong. Education builds a bridge to a better future. Across the globe, we are a learning people. We share our previous experiences and hopefully, we learn from them. Education, and our thirst for knowledge, is what helps us to unite and become “One People, One Planet”.

What excites you about learning? What incites you to learn more?

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