What we really need is STEAM

What we really need is STEAM

There has been much talk over the last few years regarding the push, promotion and overall necessity of STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and career advice. As a result there has been a wealth of great information and evidence stating exactly why these subjects and associated skills play such an essential role in the wider economy. All fantastic stuff.

However, some experts fear that this all-out push for STEM might lead to the possible neglect and abandonment of non-STEM subjects and careers – particularly the arts and creatives.

But does that really need to be the case? Does it have to be such a polarised one or the other scenario?

Do STEM subjects and careers exist in a world devoid of creativity and visual thinking? Of course not – the arts and STEM go hand-in-hand.

What we really should be pushing is STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the ARTS, and maths).

Over the pond in the US, they have already been shouting about the benefits of STEAM for some time. There are two great websites and organisations extolling the virtues of including the arts within STEM:

www.Stemtosteam.org

www.steam-notstem.com

The mission statement for steam-notstem paraphrases the supporting argument nicely:

  • Creativity is an essential driver of innovation
  • Innovation itself is a vital driving force behind current and future industry
  • Current and future industry secures our current and future economic wellbeing.

With such a heavy emphasis on STEM subjects alone, the worry is that this founding principle of creativity will not be developed and nurtured – and so lost to a generation entering the workplace.

Let’s look more closely at the shared boundaries.

Artists and scientists both look at the bigger picture and rely on close observation and critical analysis. Designers and engineers work together to find solutions.

In fact it is hard to find examples where science, engineering, technology and maths exist in isolation, separated from creativity. Taking a random and relevant selection of career profiles from our careers guidance product KUDOS, it is not hard to identify how creativity plays a driving role:

  • Aerospace engineer – involvement in the design, development and manufacture of aircraft
  • Automobile engineer – designing, testing and developing automobiles
  • Civil engineer – planning, designing and managing large building projects
  • Biochemist – studying the chemistry of life, and using knowledge and creativity to solve problems in areas like health care, farming, and medicine.
  • Botanist – you will study and monitor the health and distribution of plants. You might be responsible for creating and displaying information
  • Meteorologist – you will collect information and study the atmosphere. You will use creativity to store and display important atmospheric information. You must be able to explain your scientific findings, combining both science and design features.

And I’m sure you can think of many more examples?

Let’s look at the facts:

  1. Art and design helps us to provide real solutions within our everyday lives. Engineering and science combine with creativity to bring these solutions into reality.
  2. Art and design gives scientists and engineers the method of communicating complex scientific information to multiple and broad audiences.
  3. Technology start-ups rely on creativity to help them get off the ground.

The work that has been done supporting STEM has been fantastic – but let’s not forget that vital missing element – and let’s produce STEAM!

Let’s stand up for creativity!

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