STEAM or STEM education - which is better?
Today we’re going to address the topic of STEAM vs STEM. Both philosophies focus on the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math but the main difference is that STEAM also includes the arts. Here at Twiggle Toys we have decided to follow STEAM education and include the arts in our selection of toys. This was a personal decision and one that we debated before beginning our journey as a STEAM toy store.
Recently in Canada there has been a big push for young children to become more involved in STEM fields. The reason for this is mostly because of the direction the world is going in. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math will become some of the most dominant fields in the job market which makes any acquired skill related to them a huge advantage.
Why did we choose to add the arts and focus on STEAM instead of STEM?
To us, we believe that everything is interconnected. Even within the most structured subjects, you see art. In engineering, there are design concepts and drawing. In Math you see patterns, in science there is creativity. So much of the STEM fields involve art in some way that we felt it a disservice to exclude it as part of what we do. As much as art is involved in STEM, you can also find STEM in art. There’s counting, patterns, problem solving etc. See? You really can’t have one without the other. Art is such an important part of our world that we believe it needs to be included in education and learning, even through STEM.
What is the other side of the story?
Some people believe that because the subjects are interwoven, there is no need to include the arts when the importance should be focused on STEM. Art already exists in these subjects and it will always be there, so there is no need to include the arts in a movement meant to focus on STEM concepts. Children will understand STEM concepts just fine on their own without the need to focus on Art. It’s not like they will hit an obstacle later in life because the engineering related skill they learned as a young person didn’t include colouring.
I can understand this point of view. The whole point of STEM is to get kids understanding and engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Most children have access to many mediums of art on a daily basis from crafts to sewing to painting. Why muddle this specific philosophy where the focus on Art doesn’t really belong? If I want my child to understand STEM, why would they also learn art? The part of STEM that is art will always exist. There is not necessarily a need for it to be added into this philosophy.
This is a tough debate and one that will likely continue as both STEM and STEAM become more prominent in society. What do you think? Is STEM a movement that deserves to be left alone? Or do the arts make STEAM a better option?
- Mikaila Bolzonello