How the Wave of the Future Begins with STEAM Learning
The job market is enduring rapid change. Technology is advancing so fast, the future of occupation will look vastly different than it does now, similar to how much the market has changed from the previous generation. Many wonder what the future holds for the job market for themselves and their children.
In 2011 when President Obama addressed the country in his State of the Union speech, he called on educators to begin focusing their attention on STEM fields. The original movement placed emphasis on four important fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Recently, the movement has evolved to add an A to the mix: the arts. STEM has now become STEAM. And most industry experts agree that the arts should not be left behind when re-imagining education. Creativity and innovation have never been as important as they are today. And that’s where the arts come in. Gaining momentum over the last several years to meet the needs of the 21st-century student, keep reading to explore how the real wave of the future starts with STEAM learning.
What is STEAM Learning?
The STEAM learning movement is a relatively new approach to education that focuses more time and energy on five relevant disciplines: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The beauty of STEAM learning is that it doesn’t require teachers or students to focus on one area of expertise. They are all interconnected, and they all support each other.
Less about becoming an expert in a specific field, STEAM is about asking important, deep questions and gaining the skills and experience necessary to find new, meaningful answers to these questions. STEAM learning’s main priority is to foster innovation. Innovation can happen in any field of study and is the single thing that propels progress.
Instead of wasting time teaching high school students useless information they will never use in the real world, the foundation of STEAM learning teaches students actionable abilities they can apply towards their careers. The five fields that STEAM education focuses on are the ones that are projected to grow the fastest over the next decade. All five of these important fields require creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It doesn’t involve memorizing textbooks. In STEAM, students analyze information, recognize what’s missing, and create solutions to fill the gaps.
STEM vs STEAM
Up until recently, the four main areas of focus for this educational movement were missing what many experts believe to be a key component: the arts. People who are hanging onto the original STEM layout may argue that the arts are already implemented into STEM programs by nature. But STEAM proponents want to see art welcomed into the mix in a more official way. And for good reason. Art involves the ability to think outside the box.
Engineers are artists. Coders are artists. Every field, even something as seemingly formulaic as accounting has an art to it. So adding the A into STEM learning is an important step in giving the movement the power it needs to establish itself as the norm. While mathematics is a pretty black and white subject, there’s always room for artistic freedom. Geometry, for example, has been effectively taught to students using artistic principles.
Many experts believe that adding the A into STEM helps creators think more freely. When you check your inhibitions at the door, the creative juices are more likely to get going. Being truly creative requires a certain level of freedom. If you fear being wrong, you might not speak up. But in art, there is no wrong answer. And all of the biggest innovators will tell you they got some pretty weird looks to begin with. Every innovative idea sounds crazy at first. But it’s the crazy ideas, the brave ones, that end up shaping the world. Art fosters an out-of-the-box thinking students need to shape the world.
Incorporating STEAM Education
Unfortunately, not many American public schools are adopting this new framework of learning. At the moment, it’s mostly American private schools that are spending their time exploring STEAM programs with their students. The obvious problem is that not every family can afford to send their children to private school. That’s why it’s more important than ever for educators in both the public and private sectors to recognize the importance of STEAM learning.
A study done by Microsoft found that only 1 in 5 college and university students feel they were adequately prepared for their futures. This ratio is simply unacceptable to most parents. With the advancements in artificial intelligence happening at light speed, it won’t be long before automation begins to take over a bevy of jobs and tasks. Students need to equip themselves with the skills that will be required of them once they leave school.
A lot of the jobs that are currently available won’t even exist in a decade. While that might sound scary, it’s not all bad news. The exciting thing is that so many new, challenging, and rewarding jobs will be created in their wake. But if students don’t begin their STEAM education early enough, they will be left behind, unprepared.
Important Aspects of STEAM Learning
Again, it’s not about the subject. It’s about the method of learning. STEAM education teaches students how to ask important questions, experiment, collaborate, communicate, and become entrepreneurs.
The real beauty of STEAM learning is that it’s completely transferrable. Even for students going on to pursue careers outside the five main fields of STEAM, the skills they learn in critical thinking and problem-solving are beneficial in any industry.
The main aspects of STEAM education are that these types of programs teach content that is contextual, and engaging and gives students a chance to learn in a real-world, hands-on setting.
Technology stops for no one. Those who don’t keep up with progress will get left by the wayside. And this should be good news. With the disappearance of mundane, boring work days comes a new wave of work that challenges us and pushes us to our limits. Even if private school isn’t in the budget, there are numerous resources for ongoing learning that can teach these invaluable skills. You just have to be proactive.
Check out our blog to learn more about STEAM learning opportunities in the San Diego area and remember one thing: it’s never too late to learn.