Globally, the term STEAM is used to indicate ways in which the Arts or art-practices (and sometimes more broadly the Humanities and Social sciences) engage with the STEM education subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The number of students choosing post-compulsory study of STEM subjects is seen as being critical to a country’s economic success, yet concerns have been expressed about the way those subjects are currently taught, specifically: a lack of creativity; a need to focus on inter and multidisciplinary work; a need for a broader conception of science, and STEM’s marginalisation of concerns for society and the environment.
Populist accounts may argue for having more creatively-minded scientists, and a more scientifically literate wider population. Instead, there is a much richer and complex set of purposes and possibilities for STEAM education. The arguments for the inclusion of the Arts in STEM in education then are wide-ranging, extending from contributing to making science education more appealing, through to seeding development of more embodied, affective, and interdisciplinary models of school education.
Consider the value of STEAM education in encouraging a broader understanding of science and technology, encouraging debate about the wider role of science in society, and seeing the value of science as being more than just its contribution to the economy.
One of the first movers in this field is NES International School in Mumbai, which has started a STEAM Research Lab for students from Junior Kg to Grade 12. The school will throw open the lab for kids from all over the country through special weekend batches, workshops and camps. “With focus on training and innovative methods we intend to create tomorrow’s innovators. We aim to produce innovators, not bookworms,” said Dr. R Varadarajan, Founder President NES SVB group.
STEAM education has an economic aspect, in that it makes clear the role of science and technology in the world of work, but it also has an educational purpose, addressing the problem of having science and technology education that, it is argued, is out of date and irrelevant.