It frustrates me, perhaps more than it should, when educators still refer to STEM over STEAM, as if art hasn’t quite earned its place as the A in STEAM. For those of you who are new to the term STEAM, the acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and maths-- and there is much debate around the place of A in STEAM. At a recent STEAM event I attended, the hosting educator accidentally let slip a few STEMs in their opening speech, despite the term STEAM being clearly printed on the banner behind the stage. Maybe I should excuse the occasional slip of the tongue, but in some circles the debate still rages on. From this teacher’s perspective, it’s time to move on.
The proponents for STEM over STEAM generally take one of a few basic views:
- The addition of art takes something away from the other subjects.
- Art should stand alone and be allowed to exist independently.
- It forgets the original goal of encouraging students to take on STEM career paths to solve the shortage of workforce in STEM industries.
The problem with these points of view is that they see the shift to STEAM as a radical change in philosophy. It’s not. The addition of the A is recognising something that we simply forgot to include from the beginning.