*note that I am aware that my writing isn’t totally clear and hard to understand. I am wrestling with ideas that have been stewing in my brain for years and are just starting to take form. I am burnt out from teaching full time so this isn’t a complete thought. Apologies.
The core of STEM is the interconnection between the four subjects… but the vision for science, tech, engineering, and math as a single subject has never really materialized. First of all, it’s such a challenge to teach in a coherent manner. Sure, you can string a series of projects together and keep students engaged, but creating an experience that influences a student in ‘STEM’ thinking is very challenging. The integrated approach, with just these four subjects, is lacking a mission or goal. Is the goal student engagement, content knowlege, workforce development, or personal development? Look at any curriculum that caters to a STEM classroom and find that they may have wildly different overall objectives. Maybe the goal should be to help a student become a well rounded student.
Enter ‘STEAM’ or even ‘STREAM’ education. Even more integrated and engaging. But even harder to hit all five or six subjects in a coherent way. Still, students can have engaging projects but what is the point of all of this? Why are there just a few subjects that are left off the list at this point?
The reason STEM was invented was to give a more integrated view of how science, math, ect fit together and interplay. That is a fine if narrow vision. The larger vision, the reason that someone invented STREAM (somewhere) is because we want to teach our students an even larger integrated view. This is more like teaching an old school liberal arts education – make them well rounded in important topics.
Let’s stop beating around the bush and just dive into teaching the topics that matter – how to learn, how to manage a large endeavor, how to approach our current condition, and how much we are in control of our own futures. That is what Innovative Arts is being developed to do.
I would love it if STEM were well-defined and helping lots of people use ‘STEM’ thinking. The lack of coherence and diluting of what STEM means is causing to mean nothing. Attempts to recapture that interconnected view find that it is too limiting.
So I say let’s refocus on what does matter, the joy of learning and work down from there.