STEAMed Magazine January 2016 - Page 39

Therefore, when one considers how to integrate STEAM ed. into schools’ curriculum, it is imperative upon us to reflect on how the top-down approach lost its luster. Simply put, we must not make teachers fear for their job security for not facilitating high student performance on newly created standardized “STEAM exams.” It would simply be yet another example of a well-intentioned education objective that is self-defeating from the get-go. The Bottom-Up Approach to STEAM With jobs in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics among the highest paying and most secure in the workforce, it is no wonder that an increasing number of parents want their children to be better educated in such subjects. Not to mention the fact that these fields teach skills that are both fun to learn and applicable to other disciplines. Accordingly, to spread the benefits of STEAM ed. throughout the world, schools should start asking students to describe their preferences (what a concept) on the sort of STEAM education that they would like to have. By empowering students to choose what they want to explore, educators will ultimately be teaching classes that are individualized to what each child is passionate about, giving students a greater incentive to learn. Kids could pick and choose among hundreds of activities such as creating robots, coding apps, designing building models with 3D printing, using mathematics to understand music, and more. Most importantly, nothing would be set in stone: Once a kid finds something boring, she can simply put it to the side and move on to the next activity. Rather than impose diktats downward from the top of the employment pyramid to teachers, children will provide their feedback upwards to educators who will then know how to continuously improve the STEAM experience. Our Responsibility Will children be the protagonists of their educational journeys? That remains to be seen. STEAM education holds great promise, but repeating past mistakes will simply take us down that familiar road to nowhere. Scott Lininger is the CEO and Co-Founder of Bitsbox, an EdTech startup that teaches children how to code their own apps. STEAMed Magazine 39 January 2016 Edition