The critical importance of STEAM education

Why Use STEAM?

Picture: Museum of Aviation (Flickr)

Picture: Museum of Aviation (Flickr)

Previously referred to as STEM education, STEAM education stands for 'Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics', a term used to describe a method of educational focus on these subjects in schools, colleges and other learning institutions.

This is a term that is becoming more and more popular to the ears of teachers and students alike and, right now in the educational sectors, it seems to be all anyone is talking about. The term is used by educational facilities to empower teachers, allowing them to give their students project-based assignments that cover all of these subjects.

Why Use STEAM?

Science and Technology have, over the last 50 years, become a major part of society and our individual lives. It has single-handedly changed the way we live and has opened up new possibilities for our future as a race that previously deemed impossible. Accompanying these subjects, other subjects such as Engineering and Maths have also become majorly important for private companies who are developing roles to complete certain jobs, some of which do not even exist yet.

STEAM education has been developed, a term coined by the Rhode Island School of Design, to educate students in the practice of critical thinking. With the rapid advances in technology, the standard of education has to keep up with the changing and developing times so that students and young people are able to become qualified to a level in which they can fill jobs to continue this increasingly important sector.

How Does Steam Education Work?

STEAM education, currently introduced to individuals during their college years, is set up to teach students how to thinking critically, enabling them to problem solve effectively and use creative thinking to drive forward and complete projects using new methods, tried and tested solutions and using their own initiatives.

Ed Ballard from Australian Help that holds a PhD in engineering explains, “Critical thinking is a major part of society today that is regularly overlooked, especially in schools and colleges. Everyday society is facing new problems and obstacles that stand in the way of progress and it's so important that the young people of today are developing critical thinking skills that will allow them to tackle these problems head on in an efficient and progressive manner”.

In more recent years, students are being introduced to the STEAM way of learning at primary and secondary learning years, allowing them to grow and develop these essential skills at a much faster rate. This means, as well as learning about the facts on the subject they are learning about, they are also taught to openly ask questions, how to experiment with new ideas and how to channel their creativity into something productive.

Why Is STEAM Learning So Important?

According to the US Department of Education, the total number of STEAM related jobs, in the USA, will increase by 14% over the course of this decade (2010-2020), a figure that is 5-8% higher on average than all the other job sectors.

Referring to the figures today, job roles such as computer programming and other IT related jobs are renowned for being one of the hardest roles for companies to fill and it's a well-known fact that the most popular courses taught in colleges are not STEAM related at all and are only growing in popularity by an average of 0.8% a year.

Creative leads manager, Matt Munoz from Big Assignments exclaims, “Some aspects of STEAM learning, especially critical thinking and problem-solving can pose major issues for some students, typically those in the younger years. There are a lot of factors that go into these issues but it always results in them wanting to follow more traditional routes of learning such as learning new languages and learning about history. Although these paths of learning are vital, it does mean that a lot of students feel like they cannot achieve a STEAM style of learning, another obstacle that will need to be overcome if we, as a society, want to progress”.

This could cause major problems in the future, especially for rapidly expanding and developing companies that will be driving forward and progressing technology in the future. The question remains, how can schools and governments get students, especially children, more involved in STEAM courses that will result in a more rounded, well-educated and empowered workforce in the future?

As mentioned before, STEAM in the past was known as STEM and with the inclusion of the Arts part of the program, governments and learning institutions are hoping that this will be enough to entice new students into becoming part of the program. Younger children love to be engaged in learning, especially through interactive projects that they can really get involved and be hands on with.

Teaching establishments will need to implement technologies such as social media, online platforms such as YouTube and other systems that can make learning more fun and interesting to their students.

If this ongoing project is carried out correctly, the students currently in the system, and future students will effectively be taught the essential roles needed for the workforces of the future which can effectively result in creating and filling vital jobs, growing the economy and progressing the planet.




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Brenda Berg

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