Thursday, November 1, 2018

Don't Forget the A when talking STEM #MakerEd

One of the things that has bothered me over the years has been the dismissal of the Arts as part of an important, well-rounded education. I don't want to think that it has been intentional, but I do know that many schools around the country will cuts the Arts programs before anything else.

With the push for a heavier focus on Science for our students, STEM has become the go to buzzword for educators around the country. We need STEM if we are going to be competitive in the world. We need more time to focus on STEM activities in the class. STEM is the only way we can prepare our students for the world ahead. These are the types of things that are being said. It drives me nuts because everyone seems to forget about the value and need for the Arts. It also seems to be cyclical.

We move away from the Arts, then someone does a study and realizes that the Arts are an important part of the education process. People act completely surprised and Arts teachers nod their head as they read the report telling them something they already know. It does not have to be this way though.

Ditch the idea of STEM and use STEAM. The Arts are an important part of becoming a well rounded learner. I'm tired of hearing, "But not all students are going to be artists, dancers, or musicians." No kidding. Not everyone is going to be a writer, scientist, historian, or mathematician. Yet, we drill these subjects into our students because they have been deemed an important part of becoming a well rounded individual.

We teach Math because it helps students grow problem solving skills. We teach history because it is important to know about the past as we live in the present and consider the future. We teach Science because it is important for students to have a basic understanding of the world around them. We teach these things because they are important. The arts are extremely important. They make students better learners. Here is a study that says so.

For all of the teachers/librarians out there that are thinking about Makerspaces and are hearing about how Makerspaces support STEM learning, push back a little and remind those people that a Makerspace can support all learning when you make it STEAM.