Lots of talk about STEM subjects in the media the other day. This is brilliant but where is the A in all of this? Where’s art?
‘EM’ to me fits snugly in between the E and the M, this insertion of A creates STEAM. We all know steam creates, power, movement, and energy?
By adding a little creativity into science, technology, engineering, and maths, we introduce many elements to enhance learning, thinking, the problem-solving abilities. ‘Thinking outside the box’, is the ability to look at a challenge within science and see the way through using a creative approach.
I posted about this on In Instagram recently and I had many artists reply which you would expect. However, I had two scientists, who replied one said ” I 100% agree, The amount of creative thinking needed in the industry I work in is huge, just knowing the technical parts only gets you so far, I know, I am a scientist” I mean I rest my case.
Then there’s the other advantage of Art, the proven research into it aiding our health and our well-being. In schools, this is paramount in minding our young. There’s enough stress on them, therefore, to have a subject that not just allows but encourages you to colour outside the lines. To explore, experiment, make mistakes but most importantly try again. To change your mind. Another comment on Instagram read “…art practicing the arts are critically essential to the developing mind, the capacity to reason and feel, solve problems, understand trial and error, and keep practicing both through success and failure, take risks, observe with compassion.”
By adding art, STEAM is not about growing more professional artists. It was never about that.
When I was in school, I needed art. I was, I believed, crap at it. Yes, I was. I had no confidence, if there was a rock near by I would like to climb under it. (I still have nightmares about the leaving cert, even just the other night). When it came to any other subject, I loved when I had to draw a diagram or illustrate something, THAT WAS MY HAPPY PLACE, however, the other part of the question would be scraped together.
The expressive aspect of art allowed me to do something I felt I could do, allowed me to get lost, and was the only part of the work I enjoyed. This was never nurtured by any of the teachers, not even the art teacher. I’m talking secondary school here. My religion teacher was the only one who would make a comment of encouragement, but years on an old-school pal commented that my religion copy was brilliant. I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe she remembered.
My school report always said’ Bernadette could do better if she applied herself. This is true, I won’t deny that. The reality was there was lots going on for me as a kid/teenager and I believe I could have done better if someone in authority took a little more interest in what I enjoyed doing and nurtured that. I would not have fit into a STEM system but STEAM would have found a place for me.
Ironically, many years passed, about 30 years actually. I get a call from said school. They came across my website, it looked like I had done well for myself and the teacher was trying to place me, who I was, perhaps stake claim that I went to their school. However, she couldn’t remember me, ‘maybe it was because I had married’, she said. She asked me for my maiden name, but still nothing. I couldn’t be placed. She couldn’t remember me, Well at least I hadn’t been a troublemaker, she would remember me then. I also wasn’t a high achiever or a sportsperson who represented the school in the national games. No, she never could place me, because I fell under the radar.
That’s my tuppence worth as they say on the importance of Art.
I just looked at my school report and as I remembered, Bernadette could do better, Bernadette needs to apply herself, but look at the comment my art teacher gave, see below.
Thanks for reading, 12 year old me.