Hathaway Mann

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STEM is good, but where's the art? A question of STEM vs STEAM and why it's taking so long for the obvious to be seen.

I recommend watching the two videos listed below if you have not before talking about his question further.
This is the first year of a charter school for my daughter whose focus is on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). As a parent I have never sought to "overload" my kid with too much information (I admit I have talked about Quantum Loading/Fixing and variations of String Theory - thanks TED and Michio Kaku!), but she wants to be a scientist and has for 4 of the past 9 years of her life. STEM has been challenging and rewarding to her and we have worked with her everyday to help her learn, but there has been something critial missing from STEM since we started: the "A" for Art.
The premise of STEAM is that without knowing great art and all it's forms how will we know great design in the future This question is what should have been asked long before STEM was implemented in schools and I forsee a nationwide movement for this additional focus.
My wife and I are designers by trade and have been exposed to all forms of art our whole lives so our kid is often exposed to it. I'm thinking about the other children in the US who are not as fortunate or simply have no outlet for such knowledge, much less encouragement from a teacher or parent to seek out good art and good design.
Texas Instruments just made a $5 million investment in 1 school near Dallas to facilitate this concept. This represents a substantial belief from one of the top chip makers in the world that STEAM is better than STEM and could possibly seperate those adults who were taught otherwise. I suppose the difference is a robot designed in the 50's, all box and red lights and a robot designed today with functionality and good design in mind. Subtle movements and smooth lines; something more like us for instance. What will it look like in the future? An artist might know...then build it.
Thank you for your time.

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    Mar 10 2013: Our education system tries it's best to meet the demands of the society i.e. foster education in STEM fields, to have a better chance of a stable career.
    I agree that STEAM is the way to go...Leonardo da Vinci is a great example.
    Interest in art can be self-cultivated, instead of depending on our education system.
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    Mar 9 2013: Our middle school (Charter) has just begun injecting the Art into STEAM. We are enjoying the children enjoy the new creative outlet!
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    Mar 10 2013: I believe that referencing Ken Robinsons talk was correct in this case as his understanding of what has happened to education vs the postion of current society is in my opinion spot on and the arts were part of his argument, however Mae Jemison was the hammer that hit the nail on the head and I would reference her 2002 talk first.

    TED Lover brings up a very valid point regarding education openly existing to serve the corporations. Education is tailored to create citizenry that will hopefully find a job and contribute to society. As the vast majority of America is no longer agri-based (happy daylight savings time farmers, by the way) it only makes sense for the government to churn out as many ready to work people as possible. Its not cynical, it's just good STANDARD government policy when we are talking about 300 million plus people. Naturally that makes people like me cringe, but thats the reality for public funded schools. There are many things about capitolism and coorporations that I find disagreeable, however I don't believe capitolism is going away but rather it will more likely evolve into something else. Personally as a small business owner I have never seen a corporate position as the ultimate goal of my education as that would be just a bit cynical. I have rather always valued the idea of self-reliance and a simple life but on my own terms.

    The future for our children and therefore society is to ensure that changes to education not only keep up with the times but are not the victim of arbritary cuts such as the arts. Regardless of what happens, I will continue to educate my child beyond what is taught in the classroom, about nature by going to it, about life by experiencing it, and about art by creating and observing it. That too is the future of our children and society.
    Engage engage engage!
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    Gail .

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    Mar 10 2013: I think that Ken Robinson is speaking of changing education far more than just adding art to a STEM program. He is speaking of the way we approach the very idea of education and the way we look at (down on) students. His is probably my favorite TED talk. When we change the fundamentals in a way that serves students (rather than educators), then creativity and the arts will automatically re-emerge as part of education.

    If you are interested in changing educational paradigms, it might help if you conflate this idea that leads to other obvious conclusions:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc (RSAnimate about what motivates people - hint, it's not $$$)

    As our educational paradigm openly exists to "serve" the interests of (mega) corporate profits rather than the individual (see mission statement for the US Dept of Education = it exists to prepare students for global competition), and as our decaying fiscal paradigm is held aloft by those who are programmed/indoctrinated in state-sponsored educations to serve it without question, and as the Internet is introducing people to how too much information is intentionally withheld from their state-sponsored educations, (thus creating invisible prisons) I see the future (after the fall) as very bright for both the individual and humankind (and therefore the entire ecosystem of which we are a part).

    If education is not broad-based, it is unfair to call it education. Today, someone with a Ph.D. in chemistry, as an example, is called "educated". But take that chemist and ask him about actual history (rather than the lies I was taught in public school), and there will be silence. In this context, the chemist is FUNCTIONALLY uneducated.

    I see a future filled with functionally educated people - but only after capitalism fails. Then those torture institutions (schools) that I was subjected to will be gone.

    Ken's talk where he starts the problem with the industrialists starts the problem in the middle.
  • Mar 10 2013: Art is made from the nature.singing,dancing,drawing,playing musical instruments all can nurture children's physical bodies and psychological minds both.The arts nurture children is as important as soil,sun,water,air supports plants growing