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Why Art and Design Is Just As Important as Science and Math

 The change from STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Math) focussed education is a development that recognizes the relationship between the arts and the sciences. Forbes highlight the importance of the inclusion of the Arts in supporting the 4th industrial revolution – preparing students for future jobs that may not even be recognized or available at the current time. So what part should art and design play in education, and how can learners be encouraged to embrace this?

 What are The Arts anyway?

 ‘Art’ is a broad term which encompasses all areas of creativity, and doesn’t refer simply to visual arts. Written language and storytelling, theater, construction, photography, circus skills and jewelry making are all examples of creative activities providing future business skills and  encompassing cultural significance, and can support children to learn about scientific, societal and historical concepts in addition to developing expression, individuality, understanding and innovation. Whilst science is often considered as fact driven, art and design can provide an opportunity to explore concepts and theories in a more engaging way – merging life learning skills with comprehension of principles and practice. 

The holistic whole

 Creativity has been shown to boost thinking, which is also useful for science. This is known as the neuroscience premise, which states that scientific thinking is stimulated when learners undertake artistic activity – and this is why art is just as important as science when it comes to education. Children who have a preference for scientific subjects will be offered the opportunity to contemplate new ways of understanding, and those who are naturally inclined towards the Arts will benefit from learning about science whilst they pursue an activity they enjoy – both groups will benefit far more from weaving concepts and projects together, in comparison to studying subjects in isolation.

Critical thinking is a key aspect of success in science, but whilst this provides learners will the ability to grow decision making and vertically operated cognitive skills, it does not provide so many benefits in terms of innovation – a rapidly growing concept, particularly in modern industries such as technology, gaming, building, infrastructure and environmental sustainability. Many future jobs will be available in these areas, and so fostering creative thinking skills alongside critical thinking is crucial to allow practical science to be applied in innovative ways, resulting in the development of creative solutions for modern problems using alternative hypotheses, new methods of testing ideas, or analysis of data in new ways.

STEAM leads the way

Using a STEAM based curriculum will offer children the opportunity to experience a whole new world of learning, generating life experiences which they otherwise may never have been a part of. Learning outdoors, for example, may provide an opportunity for children to study photosynthesis and plant cells, though examining their environment and then creating models or pictures of what they have observed, combining creativity and design with scientific principles. Designing and playing a board game will combine storytelling and art with statistics and logic, also developing teamwork, competition, strategy and collaboration skills.

With numerous documented benefits for both adults and children, it’s worth taking the time to develop learning experiences that will inspire kids to get creative. Choose subjects that will interest them, and provide various options for creative interpretation to effectively merge all areas of STEAM to ensure an education that is as rich and relevant to the future as possible. 

Written by Jennifer McLee

Education World Contributor

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