S.T.E.M. was originally designed to help young women understand and enter the technical fields. S.T.E.M. stands for Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics. It has been very successful by most measures. In fact, there are various lists of essential reading for women in S.T.E.M. However, there are many people (including myself) who believe there are two missing elements to S.T.E.M. Most of my friends who are successful in the technical fields say that the Arts (Music, painting, photography, etc.) play an important piece to their understanding of the beauty of elegant technical designs. S.T.E.A.M. is becoming the more accepted term used through adding Art to the technical areas listed. The United States has led the world in technical development for several generations, but we are slowly losing that status for various reasons. The program’s aim was to produce more female graduates in the technical fields. This is great, but in my own humble opinion this is leaving out half of our population. Young men need to excel in the technical fields just as much as young women need to succeed. I believe that in adding Art to the technical education and making sure all youth have an equal opportunity to excel will give our youth and our country a brighter future.
Please study the many reasons it is important to transform STEM to STEAM. Also, the education system needs passionate teachers, not just teachers who can recite the facts. To succeed in Science-Technology-Engineering-Art-Mathematics, the students need to understand the “Why” behind the “What” and “How”, not just the “boring” facts. The best teachers are the ones who have developed a passion for these fields and can share that passion with their students. Older workers have worked with technology for many decades and have learned to adapt to the many changes in these fields. Unfortunately, many companies believe that younger workers can adapt to new technologies more quickly (and are much cheaper to hire). This is a false economy, but leaves many very capable people available to help the next generation adapt to the rapidly changing future. Simon Sinek gave an excellent TED talk on “How great leaders inspire action” that shows the importance of passion and understanding the why behind any decision or cause.
Anyone can understand the What and How portion of development. In fact, there are so many ways to accomplish tasks that being too concerned about the How to do something may mask your understanding of Why you want to complete that task or project. The How and the accompanying tools will logically flow from the Why you want to accomplish a particular goal. This is one reason why Agile Development (Scrum Methodology) has been so successful. It forces people to think about Why they want to achieve a particular goal. The How to do particular tasks logically fall out of understanding the Why the project is important and how a particular task fits into the entire design.
An excellent example the importance of Why over How or What is Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King had a “Dream” while many of the other Civil Rights leaders had their plans. Plans are great and are eventually always necessary, but it was Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech that inspired a generation to support the Civil Rights movement.
Learning technology is not hard, there will be challenging projects and difficult assignments. However, most people can learn any concept and technology. Teaching the facts and concepts of Science-Technology-Engineering-Art-Mathematics can succeed as long as the students truly understand the Why behind the use of the technologies and the Why behind what they are trying to create. Get all youth involved and use all the resources available to teach the technology and the passion behind the use of the technology to provide a better world for all of us who live here on Earth.