There is a lot of talk about the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in education. Schools, governments, and businesses are hoping that today’s STEM students can solve tomorrow’s global issues. The importance of a quality education has not been lost on me. I’ve gone from a liberal arts university to some highly-technical professions and back (and forth). This has left me with a well-rounded amount of experience in all the STEM subjects.
But there’s more to education than getting a STEM job. A lot more.
That’s why a new term is gaining *ahem* steam. It’s called STEAM and it’s the idea of incorporating arts into a STEM-based curriculum. In other words, let’s help students think more creatively and better understand the problems they’re already working to solve.
See Also: Why is STEM important in K-12 education?
In an effort to clarify this, check out this visual guide to the difference between STEM and STEAM. It is a dense but pretty thorough description of how the two ideas vary.
The difference between STEM and STEAM
- Students who study arts for 4 years in high school score 98 points higher on the SATs compared to those who study the same for half a year or less.
- Students who took up music appreciation scored 61 points higher on the verbal section and 42 points higher on the math section.
- Of the elementary schools with arts, the most common subjects revolve around music at 94% and visual studies at 83%. Only 3% offer dance instruction while 4% provide theater arts.
- Training in the arts has been shown to improve creativity and innovation. Students learn to approach issues with a critical mind and a positive attitude towards problem solving. Exposure to the arts enhances communication skills, which are essential tools for collaboration. It develops flexibility and adaptability. The government recognizes these and, indeed, 48 states have adopted standards for art instructions.
- 51% of art teachers are unhappy about what they see as the decline in art education brought about by the shift in focus. The difficulty in measuring art’s contribution to academic performance has led to its under appreciation.
Source: The University of Florida