TED Conversations

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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