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STEAM or not to STEAM. Art in Science Education

I have been at the forefront of the intersection of Arts and STEM for the last five years. Having worked in this new and constantly evolving education sector I have become all too used to the scepticism associated with Art being used as a platform to talk about, engage or even most radically ‘teach’ science. But I do firmly believe it works.

I am in complete agreement with Jane Bryant from Artsworks when she says; “We need a broad range of learning in our education system which values the relative contributions of many different areas of learning and produces young people who are informed and well-rounded.”

In adult life, regardless of career path we undoubtedly will use a combination of skills simultaneously from the entire spectrum of subjects learnt within formal education. Surely cross-curricular learning supports the ability to combine these skills effectively?

Ana Bernado said; “Through our schooling we often learn how to look at problems from a single perspective or discipline. This strategy of specialisation has helped us develop technology, medicine and more, but could it at the same time be limiting our education?”

Using the Arts within STEM teaching practices not only promotes creative learning; it nurtures ingenuity and provides a platform for artistic genius. It encourages effective teamwork and develops the social skills and confidence required to operate effectively in the work place. It encourages an ability to make connections and a sense of curiosity and enquiry all of which are vital regardless of business sector.

Combined with traditional teaching methods, I believe in a ‘STEAM’ approach to education and that It will improve overall academic performance, focus and motivation of a class. International research into the records of students in several schools indicates that a curriculum that devotes 20% or more of the school day to the arts produces young people with academically superior abilities and participation in structured arts activities improves young people’s cognitive abilities by 19% above non-participants.

I recently spoke at the BSA MARCH conference, about how FLUX enables cross-curricular learning within STEM/STEAM education. The audience, made up of educators and policy makers highlighted the barriers to cross curricular learning is the time, resource and restraints made within current curriculum guidelines.

I hope that in the coming years the benefits of teaching using the arts as a platform for engagement will be embedded into our curriculum and seen as essential to the academic and holistic development of our children and young people.


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