To STEM or to STEAM – is that really the question??
STEM Education – STEAM Education – the need for it – the lack of it – why your child’s future depends on it – all of the places that you can take your kids to experience it……
As a parent it can sometimes be overwhelming to figure out just what will really be important for your child to take part in as they grow up. So, let’s take a bit of a look at this STEM/STEAM phenomenon.
First, what are STEM and STEAM?? STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Math. STEAM – Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math. Very similar really. And, when you really think about it, they are what children should be learning during all those hours that they spend at school each week. Science has always been a part of school curriculums and when offered using hands-on lessons, even kindergarten students can develop a genuine love of the subject. It might not seem important if you think of your child as heading off to study business or the arts, but science is all about thinking, problem solving, creating – in the real world – using situations that children can relate to. Science is the best way to teach kids about problem solving (studies prove it)- a skill that they can apply both in life and in academics (regardless of the subject). Science is a great equalizer – students of wide ranging abilities can do well when it is taught hands-on.
Hands-on science can also play an important role in developing your child’s communication skills, and their ability to work collaboratively as a part of a problem solving team. All, while really having fun.
With the extension of STEM to STEAM, we see the inclusion of the Arts – Creative Arts, Language Arts…yep, those are skills that everyone needs as they head off into their careers!
So, why don’t ALL kids get access to this type of learning in their classrooms? Why do some school boards have Regional Programs where only a few students are chosen to study through the fascinating and engaging process of STEM and STEAM Programs??? That is a good question. We all pay taxes don’t we??
Experts bombard us with information on why kids today will need these thinking, problem solving, creative, and communicative abilities if they hope to make it in our technological world. Education Ministries and Boards of Education – the people who decide what children will learn – simply aren’t embracing this for students across the spectrum. They seem to be reserving it for the few, or if you get a great teacher your child get’s it through sheer luck.
It can be done! Committing to training teachers to deliver STEM and STEAM in the classroom is the first step. ALL teachers, not just a few. Start at the very beginning of teacher training at university and update teachers already in schools. And, don’t make it optional in the classroom – make it mandatory!
The governing bodies who spend our tax dollars need to equip schools with the tools that they require. It doesn’t have to be fancy – there are many great hands-on science projects that cost nothing to deliver. But, where technology is needed – computers, robotics,, chemistry and physics kits – let’s not rely on making individual parent councils or teachers raise money for these tools. Let’s equip ALL schools equally and fairly across the country.
Instead of buying into a system where a few students get great opportunities to learn; parents need to speak up as one voice, demanding this for all children. As the old saying goes ‘Change starts with a squeaky wheel’ – parents and educators need to get that squeaky wheel heard!