Political STEAM

Researching the STEM to STEAM process I found an interesting political, educational, and economic environment for the development. First, let’s look at some political activity on the subject. House resolution 51 is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Education and the Workforce and by the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. This resolution (H.RES.51.IH) is available online for review and a link can be found at STEMtoSTEAM.org where they also have links to add comments and petition signatures To council members to join the caucus – the now 50 member bipartisan STEAM Caucus. The bill is worth reading both to know what is being proposed and to see the reasons and research involved in this development. Some cited reasons for the proposal include the need for innovation in technology, the need for interdisciplinary problem-solving, artists’ role in manufacturing, artists’ ability to communicate technological data to stakeholders, artists’ role in development of technology, and the combined impact of both art and sciences on everyday lives of people. One component is the designation of STEM to STEAM month, which most of us in the Steampunk world have probably already heard of. It proposes alteration of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to include art and design in the STEM fields. Obviously, this is just a proposal right now and the actual details have not been written or approved, but the discussion is already prompting action nationwide. An article in Economic Development Quarterly (A Young  Picasso or Beethoven Could be the Next Edison) in October showed studies such as one at MSU that found Honors Graduates from 1990-1995 from the traditional STEM programs that now own patents and businesses were those that received up to eight times the exposure to the arts before age 14 than the general public. Compared to the general public average of 34% of populace having had musical training at some point, STEM graduates on the other hand, showed 93% had musical training. There was also higher activity in other arts. This shows a distinct role in arts on those that complete STEM programs and those that really make use of that training to develop business and science. We need business and science development to change the face of business, the economy, and science – something recognized in this proposal. Artistic training fosters the ability to solve complex problems as they discuss. In 2012, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities published a paper on the five roles of arts, culture and design in economic growth and development. No recent data has been released from this committee. There was no 2013 data. The impetus for this development is definitely in the hands of teachers, professors, and parents. The government is slowly moving to change the funding programs to include arts, but the action to combine education seems to be, as I first heard grass roots. The other question related to this legal designation and political designation is how will curriculum regulations and standards be impacted or will they. Will they hamper teachers trying to combine curriculum or will they promote the effort? Will teachers find funding available or continue to see arts programs cut as many schools have thinned them down to cut what is often seen as unnecessary costs. Though one must also wonder how a society that places higher importance and funding on sport programs than any of the education programs in schools expects to prepare students for leadership and business in a global market. Sports may have benefits, but the focus at a school is education and preparing young minds for the future. STEM to STEAM research explores how to more effectively do this in a changing environment with changing needs. You can’t pick a list of data that prepares students if they know it. Life, business, science, and society require skills and the ability to implement, analyze, understand, interpret, communicate, envision, and adapt information that constantly moves and changes. There isn’t a list of formulas to do this, it takes a mind practiced and taught to learn, with the ability to take ideas art and connect it’s parts in new ways to other ideas.

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