The importance of inclusivity in STEAM learning
A large part of education relies on experiential learning to develop skills in innovation, logic, problem-solving, research, collaboration, creativity, and other cognitive abilities necessary for the development of students. We believe a deep part of the value of STEAM education (science technology engineering art and math), lies in the opportunity it offers to bring more women into the world of technology. As it stands now, the contributions of women in this sphere of knowledge still remain vastly underutilized.
For many years, STEM has been a predominantly male environment that was built, planned, and staffed to favour men; particularly white, CIS-gendered men. After many glass ceilings have broken and women have consistently demanded entrance to those spaces, we have slowly started to see diversity; but there is still a LOT of work to do.
STEAM integration in the classroom, and at home via parents and caregivers, is typically an easy transition because it is not dependent on student ability levels. An inclusive learning environment promotes STEAM access for all learners. The magic, as ever, lives in the art! As more women come into the sphere of STEAM, equity has taken on a lot more nuance. More women, as they empower themselves, are also empowering others. This is especially true of women in senior positions that enable them to be change makers.
To inspire us towards bringing a greater level of inclusivity into the minds and attitudes of the next generation, we are highlighting two use cases, which are also wonderful examples for our children, from the world of STEAM, across the globe.
Combining STEAM Education with Playful Exploration
Interdisciplinary education is becoming a new ‘buzzword’ to pay attention to. It’s becoming more important to address social needs in education, through the comprehensive integration of knowledge from the several STEAM fields. Taking on the challenge of using science and technology to nurture creativity has become the need of the hour.
Here’s an example: Students at a school in Japan used their time in their handbell club to begin learning about programming with one specific goal in mind – to translate their handbell music into visual animation so that hard-of-hearing youngsters might enjoy the wonderful tones of handbells without relying on sound. With the use of a hearing-support device, these students experimented with programming lights to represent the high and low tones of the music. Intentionally inclusive initiatives like this can offer the kind of environment that encourages innovation.
Harnessing the importance of ‘read-alouds’
Reading aloud to middle and high school students leaves an impression long after they leave the classroom. Parents and caregivers can incorporate read-alouds in a variety of ways into ongoing lessons, and to simplify homework. They can be incorporated into a bigger unit of study about reading or writing or used as a warm-up to set a student up to receive the lesson better.
Students themselves can use read-alouds to go on self-directed reading and writing excursions. Reading aloud helps students build their vocabulary, improve their reading comprehension, foster critical thinking and their ability to discuss and exchange different ideas. If you’d like more detailed resources on further benefits of reading aloud to boost creativity, read this article from Edutopia.
STEAM learning is going mainstream – let’s make the most of it for our youth
A growing number of schools are incorporating STEAM learning methodologies, starting from students as young as three. A lot of this is through creative use of robotics and coding. In the 2020s, coding is starting to be considered a basic skill that students need. With hybrid learning becoming a norm, experts are of the opinion that both online and in-person models will factor in ongoing STEAM learning. Through increased digital adoption during the pandemic, the number of companies offering STEAM education for after-school programming has grown. The upside is that this has resulted in increased competition, better product offering, and cheaper courses for the students ie: the young people in our lives.
We hope deeply that dedicated STEAM courses in schools will gain the mass adoption predicted; because ONLY GOOD CAN COME FROM IT! Teach your children to think like a scientist, and create like an artist. That’s STEAM. Persistent inquisitiveness becomes a way of living rather than simply a way of learning – and that’s when we’ll know we’ve done our job!
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