For several years now the big push in schools has been to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) – and rightly so. Young Australians need to be prepared to meet the challenges of a brave new world of innovation, discovery and disruptive technologies. Technologies that are changing the way we work, and the way we do business.
But if we place the emphasis solely on STEM, we are at risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and limiting the opportunities for many of our students whose inclination is towards the arts. And let’s face it. There are many successful business people and entrepreneurs out there whose school reports and CVs are light on any STEM!
As teachers, we understand the value of a rounded education, and the necessity of teaching, nurturing and encouraging a broad range of skills – not just technical or practical, but creative, personal and interpersonal. Creative, personal and interpersonal skills are what businesses are calling out for, and what should be in the brief case of any young entrepreneur if they are to survive and thrive.
Industry still seeks the practical skills and knowledge that graduates bring from STEM degrees or vocational courses; but there has been a recent shift in focus. Business today is about more than practical skills. Whether in banking, medical research, engineering or insurance, employers are seeking young adults with the cognitive abilities that are necessary to adapt to the changing nature of the workforce.
These are the abilities that are nurtured and practiced in humanities and the arts.
And it should come as no surprise that all of these traits are prominent in an entrepreneurial mindset.
Yes, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths) is the new STEM!
It makes sense. STEM and The Arts are not mutually exclusive, they crossover and are complimentary. Both deal in ambiguities and require questioning. Where the critical thinking of STEM brings ideas to their logical conclusion, the creative thinking of the arts broadens them to reach further possibilities.
Remember that Leonardo da Vinci shifted effortlessly between art and science, and one informed the other! Our students are just as capable of this shift.
Industry understands this and is willing to employ young people who may not necessarily have the technical skills; but who are up to the challenge of exploring problems, communicating ideas and who actively engage in the creative culture of the workplace.
Businesses recognise the benefit of supporting the diverse interests and ongoing learning of motivated employees, whether formally or at work.
Encouraging students to seek diverse learning opportunities in both STEM and non-STEM subjects will not only broaden their thinking, but also prepare them for a future that will require imagination, adaptability, and will offer countless possibilities. It’s an exciting time indeed!