While STEM programs get a ton of attention and accolades (and rightfully so!), STEAM programs are just as important. If your school, or school district, is not incorporating the “A” (Arts) in their STEM programs, here are just a couple of reasons why it is so important to have the arts as part of your curriculum:
- Creativity — “Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in six different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.” – www.washingtonpost.com, “Top 10 Skills children learn from the arts”; Valerie Strauss, January 2013
- Interdisciplinary Approach — “Students are able to view the unique advantages of each discipline. It teaches students that they’re not limited to one particular subject or must pick between a technical or artistic topic; their expertise can be formed through a combination of these. The equal representation of subjects promoted by STEAM makes it a truly well-rounded program that appeals to students’ evolving curiosity and range of interests.” – blog.kadenze.com., “5 Major Benefits of Integrating STEAM Education”; Hazel Romano, July 2018.
- Girl Power! — “Since girls and women are underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, developing STEAM projects helps girls become familiar with these fields at an early age. Early exposure can increase their chances of exploring these fields further as they get older, and high-quality STEAM projects will still benefit boys as well so that all students are able to acquire these 21st century skills.” – education.cu-portland.edu, “The Benefits of Teaching STEAM Lessons”; The Room241 Team, July 2017.
- Problem Solving — “Learning new skills, whether technical or artistic, teaches students to approach new, potentially challenging situations with a positive attitude. Using STEAM, teachers can help students solve problems creatively using a variety of methods.” – www.lesley.edu, “STEAM Learning in Action”
- Focus — “The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.” – www.washingtonpost.com, “Top 10 Skills children learn from the arts”; Valerie Strauss, January 2013
Here are some other statistics about STEAM and its importance**:
- On average, students who study the arts for four 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 percent and visual studies at 83 percent. Only three percent offer dance instruction while four percent 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.
- However, 51 percent 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.
**Statistics from https://elearninginfographics.com/steam-not-just-stem-education-infographic/**
As you can see, the role STEAM plays in education is very vital to the future. The addition of arts curriculum needs, and deserves, heavy emphasis in the classroom and it is up to educators to spearhead this effort in 2019 and beyond.