“Engaging students’ strengths using art activities increases motivation and the probability of STEM success.” – Anne Jolly
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math have definitely been target areas in Education for many years. The next wave of creative thinkers and game changers can be sitting in the class rooms labeled as special education or failing and we wouldn’t even know it. I’m a product of a public school system in a major city. I’ve seen this as a student and teacher. I wasn’t a fan of math, but I learned it best in music. Our band, chorus and orchestra directors taught us counts, metrics, how the measures of music work and connected it to math. They helped us to achieve better in math because they connected the dots for us. We often times don’t put the same energy into the students who fall into racial, sexual orientation, behavior, or special learning categories because we haven’t properly identified their learning style. In order for us to see more innovation in STEMs, we have to look at how can all students be connected. I believe the arts is a great connection to more students finding success. The EduDemic staff highlights the following stats when it comes to the progress graduates are making in STEM:
- By 2018, the United States may be short by as many as three million skilled workers.
- In 2008, only four percent of bachelor’s degrees earned in the United States were in engineering; 31 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in China were in engineering.
- In 2009, only 12 percent of STEM professionals were Black or Hispanic.
The stats highlight the dynamics that I mentioned earlier. I’ve witnessed these things happening in classrooms. I think that there needs to be more innovation with how we carry out partnerships that schools need in order for our children to thrive in the areas of STEAM. See this study on how the working parent is a dynamic to why students aren’t achieving as they should.
How can we support the A in stem based learning? Business and Educational leaders have to not only be innovative but practical about how to help the working parent. Innovation allows creativity to expand itself into greatness and this will help more of our children and families succeed. Companies can partner with local and regional schools to teach children and parents how to build a bike or fix a tire all while implementing formulas learning in math, science and applied technology. More opportunities for students to take field trips with their parents or community members after school and on the weekends. Empowering parents to take their children to opportunities that expose them to the arts, technology, media, engineering, design, etc, in a different way. Everything may not be free but there are some opportunities that are affordable. Helping parents and communities understand that they can connect the arts to what children are learning in their own backyards. Moving full steam ahead is going to require all of us to rethink how we’re protecting our investment; the children.
I am curious to see how we can engage more families who have children or loved ones with special needs and disabilities. This work requires attention to detail, support and resources to ensure action plans are sustainable and successful. There’s a lot of innovation around using music and the arts through technology in finding academic and social breakthroughs in this area. Again, the key to making any of this work is being initial about community engagement in order for family engagement to see success. Beyond this research and practice in classrooms through programs like SEL, CTAE and innovation with gifted, talented and exceptional programs, the arts is just as critical of a need area like math, science, technology and engineering. In fact, the liberal arts are a critical piece to school turn around implementation because it incorporates the other types of learners that may not be strong analytically or numerically as those who are successful in STEM. The A does matter!
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.