Frequently, educators greet me by announcing, “I’m from a S.T.E.M. school.” I can’t help but wonder what they mean. Did their school not teach math or science last year? Engineering is the only obvious addition to the K-12 curriculum over the past forty years. Since acronyms stop for no man, many schools now seem concerned with S.T.E.A.M.
S.T.E.A.M. must be more than the rhetorical smushing together of neglected, feared, or misunderstood disciplines by virtue of a trendy acronym.
If your school is serious about S.T.E.A.M. learning, it should send teachers to Constructing Modern Knowledge, a professional learning adventure that is the gold standard for steam teaching and learning. At its best, S.T.E.A.M. education shares the following principles embodied by Constructing Modern Knowledge.
Knowledge doesn’t fall neatly into silos
“Knowledge is a consequence of experience” (Jean Piaget)
Learning is social
Learning is a creative act
Progressive education AND timeless craft traditions embrace the centrality of the individual learner
Technology should amplify human expression
Coercion is the enemy of learning
Computing supercharges the range, breadth, and depth of projects
The project should be a teacher’s smallest unit of concern
Aesthetics are not absent from scientific or technical pursuits
Beauty and whimsy are powerful contexts for learning