- By Wei Xuan
It's not a typo, that's STEAM, not STEM learning we're talking about here.
What is STEAM learning? Another new fancier acronym? You ask.
Well, here's the thing. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Learning was first developed to prepare our children for a workforce that demanded these specialisations. These learning programmes taught our children the technical skills needed to function in the current workforce.
It was, however, lacking in one category that is highly touted today.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. That's STEAM. STEAM Learning builds on what STEM Learning set out to do, then adds an element of the arts to it. With this addition, this new approach aims to help prepare our children for the future. Here are two ways it does that:
STEAM Encourages Creativity
The integration of arts practices and design principles replaces traditional technical top-down pedagogy with exploration, critique, and revision. Like all design principles, it encourages learning as a process, rather than rote memorisation of knowledge. It encourages reflection and improvisation as a way of improving.
In STEAM learning, deviation from traditional methods are encouraged. When children fail while experimenting, they are taught to question why they failed, rather than immediately being taught 'the right way' to complete an activity.
This approach rewards children for their natural curiosity, which makes them more motivated to learn on their own.
Plus, there's no arguing that sometimes experimenting can be really fun to do (my inner kid agrees), and it makes for an enjoyable and enriching experience for your kid. Two birds with one stone!
STEAM Promotes Individuality
Traditional education has long been critiqued for its industry-style approach. Think "square peg, round hole".
STEAM Learning seeks to tackle this problem of robotized students by injecting an element of arts into the learning process. There are two main parts to all forms of art: function, and form.
Function is shaped by design principles and reflection, while form is shaped by personal expression. The experimental approach that STEAM takes encourages children to take the road less travelled, and to explore new and different ways to solve problems, building individuality in the process. In doing so, it also gives our kids a sense of ownership.
When children know that they came up with their own solution to a certain problem, it provides a sense of satisfaction that nothing can really replace, and this goes a long way in building self-confidence in children.
You Can Teach STEAM Yourself!
Here's the beauty of STEAM: you don't need to spend a huge sum of money to send your kid for some STEAM Learning Programme. You can do it on your own, in the comforts of your own home.
Unlike the usual formal classroom settings, most STEAM approach-based activities can be taught using ordinary items. If you want to learn more about the kind of STEAM activities you can do with your child at home, we're working on a new article with a bunch of easy and fun activities. To be notified when the post comes up, simply subscribe to our newsletter below.
Who said learning and fun can't co-exist?