The arts in STEAM education is arguably the most significant feature of the framework. STEAM education, as a concept, emerged from the existing STEM initiative, which was originally designed to emphasize the academic subjects that teach the most important life skills, while also encouraging more integrated lessons. The key difference between STEM and STEAM education is that the latter recognizes the importance of the arts, whereas the former did not.
Read on to learn more about why the arts are so vital to a rounded education or visit our education solutions page for more insights into improving student outcomes.
The idea behind STEAM education is to place a focus on five key areas – science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics – while also encouraging the teaching of those fields to be more engaging and integrated. The idea grew out of a concept known as STEM education, with the key difference being the inclusion of the ‘A’ for the arts.
In truth, as we will cover in the next section, the arts is actually a major addition to this concept, because it is a broad field, which includes a wide range of different subjects. In this article, we will explain in more detail what the arts is, the importance of the arts, and how it can be viewed within a STEAM context.
What is the Arts?
The arts is a collective term, which is used to describe a range of different subject areas that are broadly considered to be artistic or otherwise creative in their nature. When the STEAM concept was originally created, the arts were divided into a number of sub-categories by Georgette Yakman, and these can be briefly summarized as follows:
- Fine Arts – The areas that are commonly covered by traditional art classes and based primarily on aesthetics, with examples including drawing, painting, sculpting, and photography.
- Language Arts – Arts that revolve around the use of language and which are concerned with communication, with some key examples including English, foreign languages, sign language, and creative writing.
- Physical Arts – Subjects and topics focused on physical activity, such as dance and sport.
- Manual Arts – Art-based subjects that are centered around physical skills and the manipulation of objects, with some of the main examples including architecture and landscape design.
- Liberal Arts – The broadest of the five sub-categories, covering some of the more typically academic subjects, with examples like philosophy, ethics, sociology, history, politics, civics, and theology.
The Importance of the Arts
It is worth taking the time to understand the importance of the arts in providing students with a rounded education. The subjects contained within this field are able to teach people the value of creativity, innovation, communication, and contemplation. In addition, the arts can help to provide individuals with a greater appreciation for culture.
The skills developed through the arts are often in high demand within the workforce, where creative solutions to problems may be needed and where different perspectives can be useful. The language arts are also vital for communication and, in the case of things like sign language, can help to provide people with greater accessibility.
In many fields, artistry can be the difference between standing out from competitors or not, and this means those with skills in this area can be enormously beneficial for businesses and other organizations. Ingenuity is also needed across the board, and the skills and confidence to come up with ingenious ideas are often developed through the arts.
The Arts in STEAM Education
While the importance of the arts is clear, one of the big focuses of STEAM education is to facilitate integration. A good way to view this is via a quote from the late CEO and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, who said the following:
“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough – that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing.”
This quote essentially explains STEAM in action. Photography is another good example of an area where the arts clearly crosses over with the field of technology. After all, modern photography relies not only on a camera for capturing the images but also often on a computer and the right monitor for photo editing purposes. Much of photography is also concerned with images of the natural world, and this has a potential link to science and, in particular, biology.
Meanwhile, the manual arts are all about manipulating objects, and this has obvious cross-over potential with engineering, while lessons focused on technical drawing are a good way to combine the arts with mathematics. Once the links between the STEAM fields are understood, teaching in a more integrated way becomes much easier.
STEAM education highlights the arts as one of its five fields and its inclusion is important. After all, the arts can help learners to develop the kind of creativity, ingenuity, communication, and performance skills that will assist them throughout their education, but also with employment opportunities too.
As a field, the arts is extremely broad and diverse, covering everything from painting and photography to dance, history, and architecture. This does, however, help teachers looking to integrate elements of the arts into their lessons.
In this series on STEAM education, we have now covered an introduction to the STEAM framework as well as the importance of science, technology, engineering, and the arts. Please feel free to also visit the ViewSonic education solutions page to read more about creating engaging lessons.