Stem or Steam?
As soon as we made the updates to the Kanot Expansion Project page on our website, the emails started coming in.
You spelled STEM wrong. You added an extra ‘A’.
We patiently explained that the ‘A’ was in fact supposed to be there and stood for the word arts. We then realized that we needed to spell out the words behind these two acronyms (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). I recently learned that there's also now a push for STREAM. Can you guess what the R stands for?
So, does the ‘A’ belong there? There are two schools of thought on this debate. The traditional side says that the focus should remain on the technical skills that are learned in science and math. By teaching these skills, students will be prepped for careers in science, technology, engineering, math, and other related fields. Time should be spent on teaching and cementing these skills and they should not be diluted by focusing on other aspects of education.
The other side says that there are many soft skills that are important in today's job world including creativity, the ability to adapt and communicate with others. So, while there are definitely skills that need to be learned to create and compete in today's global world, the ability to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions and designs are equally important. So, for example, when designing a building, there are certainly scientific principles that need to be followed. However, to come up with unique designs and ways to solve unique situations require creativity and a different set of skills.
Scientists are known to look at problems and then work on ways of coming up with solutions to mitigate these problems in society. This is especially true of scientists in Israel. For example, when dealing with disabilities caused by war and other tensions in the area, they create innovative products to make life easier for those who require these supports.
Numerous studies have shown that students who are involved in creative pursuits and study the various
arts in school, do better in their academic work. When attempts are made to remove these subjects from the curriculum in different school divisions, there is always a huge outcry from supporters of the arts who know the value that they contribute to student success. Art has also proven to be very therapeutic when dealing with trauma. Feelings and emotions can be
released and expressed through the various art forms.
We are incredibly proud of the students in our technological high schools and our program at Kanot Youth Village who have been involved in STEAM learning. Several of the students have placed well in national competitions and one of our students was recognized by a program organized by NASA.
So, which should it be: STEM or STEAM?
We are adding space to our school at Kanot to accommodate more students. Read about the new expansion project here.
Susan is a member of Na'amat Canada Calgary
The views and opinions expressed in this post are the writer’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Na’amat Canada.