I have just accepted a job offer in principle to start from September this year. Whilst reading through my ‘about to be signed’ contract, I spotted that the additional responsibility of STEAM Coordinator had been added!
Now, I am familiar with STEM, having previously worked as a STEM Ambassador and I know how its programs and activities are run in school to promote creativities and deriving solutions to problems. But, what on earth is STEAM? Obviously, working internationally in Cairo for the past three years has placed me outside of the loop somewhat.
For those who are not familiar with STEM, this is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, with a combined, problem solving approach. These problem solving paradigms are based on real-world scenarios.
However in recent times, a change is being requested for the inclusion of an ‘A’ for ‘Arts’, therefore turning STEM into STEAM! It is believed that this will enable true innovation and new way of thinking through creativity.
Furthermore, and this is where the confusion starts, schools are now introducing an ‘R’ turning STEAM into STREAM; precipitation? However, although the ‘R’ is deemed to represent ‘Reading’, some schools are including ‘Writing’ (Reading and Writing) and in other cases, particularly in Catholic schools the ‘R’ represents the topic of ‘Religion’.
Based on research conducted in 2010 to 2014 by the Cultural Learning Alliance, the uptake in GCSE DT has fallen by a massive 26% due largely to the omission of Design Technology from the EBACC. Drama, Music and Performing Arts have also seen a significant fall. I felt that the problems with the EBACC and the direction schools have been forced to move in was discussed effectively in the recent Tristram Hunt article which discussed BREXIT and the refocus of Art and Design subjects. I shared this on social media and was overwhelmed with the level of positive response.
The same research ‘STEM + ARTS = STREAM’, shows the interconnectivity between these subjects and draws on history looking at the work of figures including Da Vinci and Galileo, and of course turning students into budding Leonardo’s certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing!
What does the future hold? Do we split ‘ARTS’ further into its sub-groups and have ‘M’ for Music, ‘D’ for Drama and rearrange the letters to create the brand new acronym: MADTERMS (thank you ‘Andy’s Anagram Solver’ for that), or, instead, add ‘P’ for Performance and call it the new ‘TRAPSME’ Initiative. Alternatively we could choose to keep STREAM and change Technology to Creativity!
A cynical view might be, if the last paragraph isn’t cynical enough, that we choose to add the rest of the subjects and call it something like ‘National Curriculum’!