Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics—Unquestionably, all good things. Certainly, all necessary to help in the advancement and proliferation of modern society. These facts are undisputed.
But, aren’t we missing something?
Perhaps my primary and secondary schooling experience was unusual. While I may gripe from time to time about not having a more well-rounded Arts experience overall, I was still immersed in vocal performance, drama, and—for a very brief time—jazz band. Over the years, music has always managed to maintain a strong presence in my public education experience. However, as we continue to slash school budgets and emphasize the necessity of technology as our only means to “compete in the global economy,” the arts are often the first to go.
As we weigh our options with No Child Left Behind and struggle with an increasingly globalized economy, Americans are at a crossroads. Over and over again, evidence points to connecting the arts with science and technology in order to provide the greatest educational benefit (Root-Bernstein, 2008), yet in our frantic attempts to “compete with the global economy,” we continue to disregard the facts, opting instead for a “Hail Mary” by way of route memorization and math drills.
What is most interesting about this disconnect is that the notions of “science” and “art” are not diametrically opposed; in fact, it’s rather the opposite. For example, in Erik Robelen’s Education Week article (“STEAM: Experts Make Case for Adding Arts to STEM“), elementary students in a Philadelphia school utilized art-making projects to learn complex mathematic concepts (simply put, they created a “Fraction Mural”). From using watercolor paints to illustrate the parts of the cell to discussing the literary concept of “setting” through paintings, there are boundless ways to incorporate imagination and creative endeavors into even the most rigid of standardized curriculum.
The opportunities for implementing academic pursuits through artistic endeavors are literally only limited by one’s imagination.