As an educator, my perspective on STEAM comes from what I’ve found to be a key to student engagement in learning: STEAM gives students a license to create just for the fun of it, for the beauty of it, for the love of creating.
Without art, a STEM education may have students taking on projects that are too focused on reproducing something specific, with a predetermined outcome that a teacher has deemed important. This puts too much emphasis on success, and teaches students to fear failure.
Besides this, it tells students that making is just a means to an end. It’s not. We build and make for the same reasons that we create art-- it’s therapeutic, it’s self-expressive, it gives us purpose. Put simply, we create because we love it.
The A reminds us of this and shows us that the creative process has just as much value as the product, if not more. A budding engineer doesn’t build soapbox cars because they believe it will lay the foundations for a sound knowledge of engineering principles that will help them succeed in the industry once they graduate. To a child, building a soapbox car is pure creation.
It’s about closing your eyes and dreaming. It’s about making something new that no one has ever made before. It might also be about working with a buddy, bonding and building social skills. In my class, this is what STEAM is all about. Letting the inspiration run through your veins, down to your hands and spill out onto the canvas.
That canvas might be a pile of timber, a stack of popsicle sticks, or a computer screen but it’s all art to me.