Putting the Arts into STEM

Photo: istock.com/D-Keine

Schools are embracing the concept of STEAM – putting the arts into science, technology, engineering and maths. Attain's Editor, Matthew Smith, talked to Fionnuala Kennedy and Claire Boyd of Wimbledon High School GDST to find out more.

Most parents will have heard of STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – but not so many will have heard of STEAM. The difference is the addition of the arts into the mix. It might seem a strange partner to put alongside its four peers. This is especially the case for parents today who were at school in the 1990s, when it was quite usual to have to make a choice between going down a science or maths route – or opting for English, modern languages and the humanities. Fast forward thirty years and, on closer inspection, the arts – and creativity – are now obvious partners for the sciences and maths.

'The arts are already there. So I think the notion that STEM is separate from creativity and artistic endeavour is in itself a bit of a false binary,' explains Fionnuala Kennedy, Head of Wimbledon High School GDST. '...what science, technology, engineering and maths are doing is helping to solve problems for and on behalf of humanity. And what the arts are doing is exactly the same thing – they are exploring the problems and ideas behind being human. And so harnessing the two of those things together has to be the best possible way forward – both in terms of children's education but also for our society.'

This approach to subject matter is really an attempt to extend and enhance the learning patterns which begin at an early age. Young children approach learning in an all-inclusive way – without the unhelpful 'silos' of subjects to restrict them. This concept underpins a STEAM approach, with creativity and problem solving at the very heart.

Fionnuala Kennedy and Claire Boyd discuss children's engagement with technology during the pandemic

Matthew Smith is the Editor of Attain.