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The 'A' Isn't Silent: Why the Arts Are Essential in STEAM Education

23 September, 2022


          
            The 'A' Isn't Silent: Why the Arts Are Essential in STEAM Education - Inspirely | STEAM Education

We've all heard of STEM, but it's safe to bet that less of us are in the know about STEAM. What separates these two approaches to education is the "A" for arts - but in a STEAM-oriented system, it's a letter with a spot that can't be sacrificed. This article explains why the arts are such a crucial component of STEAM education for children.

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Science, technology, engineering, mathematics - these are the four pillars of education that have long been worshipped by society as the be-all and end-all subjects to prepare children for successful careers. They're the subjects that schools focus on the most, and they're the ones that form the majors, programs, and degrees that almost all aspiring youth are encouraged to enter. They make up the jobs that parents dream of seeing their children go into. They're consistently revelled as the most important subjects to teach young minds. 

Lately, though, a newer system has been on the rise, complete with a brand-new acronym: STEAM. STEAM is a more recent twist on the idea of STEM, adapted as needed for our changing society. Instead of only focusing on the traditional four subjects, STEAM incorporates the arts into its approach to education as well, seamlessly blending the technological and the creative to deliver an engaging, all-inclusive learning experience to challenge young minds.

The result is a unique take on the traditional STEM system that values the presence of art in children's lives. But why place such an emphasis on the arts, especially when society tends to believe that science and math are more than enough for emerging youth to find lucrative careers? This is the question that STEAM seeks to answer for parents, and it's also the question that first formed the basis for its creation. 

What does STEAM education mean, and why is it unique?

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At its core, the STEAM framework focuses on a five-pointed approach to educating children. This, of course, includes the major disciplines that make up its easy-to-remember acronym: the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. 

As you likely already know, the main difference that sets STEM and STEAM apart is the "A" - or rather, the presence of the arts as one of the system's principal subjects. STEAM education is unique in that it doesn't sacrifice the creative aspect of learning when pursuing the logical. Where STEM education concentrates solely on rigorous curriculums and "hard" skills, STEAM education believes in teaching "soft" skills as well through its incorporation of the arts. This would include distinct skills gained through the self-expression and personal development that arts education offers, like communication, innovation, independence, and creative problem-solving. 

So what's unique about STEAM doesn't just boil down to its inclusion of the arts. The ultimate answer lies in the things a STEAM program can teach that are grounded, at least in part, within an education in the arts. Because of its commitment to creativity and imagination, classes geared towards the STEAM framework are focused on providing a learning experience to children that is many times more hands-on, interactive, and vibrant than the average school program. STEAM is special not just because it includes art; it's special because it also delivers on its promise of educating through it. 

What can an education that includes the arts do for your child?

So why, exactly, are the arts important - so important thatGeorgette Yakman, the researcher who first created the framework for STEAM, was inspired to include them among the most crucial core subjects taught to children? To answer this question, thinking about just what learning art can do for young minds is a good way to start.

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Art doesn't only mean scribbling on a piece of paper or slapping digital colours and shapes together on a screen. Art is far more than that; it means writing down your thoughts, bringing your ideas to life, learning about every possible way to think outside the box. It's a way of life and the primary channel of self-expression, and it teaches children to stretch the limits of their imagination to a degree that no other subject can quite achieve. 

When a child is allowed the freedom and space to explore the thoughts inside their head, they are given the resources they need to build a sense of identity. Through expressing themselves through the arts - whether it be through drawing, painting, creative writing, arts and crafts, or music - youth are encouraged to reflect upon themselves, first and foremost. They can connect to their own minds, and they can learn to translate their most special emotions, ideas, and memories into a physical form through a process that will help inspire them to build the self-confidence they need to grow. 

Art isn't only an isolated subject on its own, either. The core idea behind STEAM education is its capacity to link and bridge between its five disciplines to deliver a single all-inclusive learning experience. Your child may very well learn to interpret ideas and concepts rooted in science, technology, and math through their skills gained through the arts. Take engineering a new machine, for example - the sense of creativity and innovation you need for that is taught through art. Or how about when you need to translate your findings in a scientific study into a detailed report? The literacy and communication skills you need are, naturally, formed through a foundation in the arts as well. 

The reason STEAM education is so dedicated to its inclusion of the arts is because it believes in an approach to learning that encompasses all the different areas, skills, and abilities a child needs to succeed on their own, and when it comes to teaching such a thing, STEAM programs know that art is one subject that cannot be sacrificed. 

5 important benefits that the arts offer to children in a STEAM education

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1.)It teaches them creativity and innovation. An education in the arts gives children the chance to push the limits of their imagination and practice their ability to come up with fresh, interesting ideas. This helps them develop the problem-solving skills they need to consistently bring a unique perspective to each situation, something that is absolutely vital for a career in the other four STEAM subjects as well. 

2.)It allows them freedom. Art gives children the room to take risks, develop their minds, and work on their skills in a way that actively engages them in their interests and hobbies. It's a no-pressure mode of learning that focuses on what's inside their own head instead of pushing a slew of new information onto them that can be both restricting and overwhelming. 

3.)It improves their communication and literacy skills. By expressing themselves through the many different forms of art, children can master the ability to visualize, expand, and communicate their thoughts and ideas. This helps them succeed not only in academic areas, but also in social areas - possessing a talent for interacting and engaging with others will always be relevant in any career. 

4.)It creates a safe space for them to express themselves. Art is unique in being a way to learn without boundaries or restrictions, and it's one of the best ways to provide a supportive, kid-friendly experience for young minds. An education in the arts can act as a therapeutic form of stress relief and a crucial way of maintaining and caring for your child's mental health. 

5.)It gives them an imaginative, hands-on learning experience that forms the essence of STEAM. Art isn't only there for either entertainment or education. It combines the best of both worlds in a way that offers a chance fo children to grow and prosper, and it cultivates a learning environment that is creative, encouraging, and dynamic above all else - and that, in the end, is what STEAM education is all about. 

So next time you see the A in STEAM, remember that it isn't silent. It's very much there. It's pronounced loud and clear, and it's just as much of a pillar of childhood education as things like science, technology, and math. The arts may not be the first subject that society associates with intelligence or affluence, but that's a flaw in the system, not in art itself; allowing room for the arts in a STEAM-oriented education for your children will let them flourish and grow into the successful, confident adults that they are always fully capable of becoming. 

All you have to do is inspire in them the imagination they need to dream. The A in STEAM is never for "absent" - it's for "ambition."

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Inspirely | STEAM Education holds the belief that while STEM builds the body and mind, the A for arts is what nurtures the soul. For more parent resources, educational experiences, and kid-friendly STEAM programs, feel free toexplore our website and learn about our commitment to empowering the next generation of youth.

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