Potential for Loss
As future educators it is important to recognize the perceptions held regarding the STEAM fields and how we make the curriculum inclusive towards the diverse students we have in our classrooms. The texts, examples and role models we use are what students use to see themselves and mirror their behaviors after. We must work against the feelings of "otherness" or "not for us" that have traditionally been part of Science, Math, Engineering and Technology fields.
How do we change the current curriculum to retain more female student interest? (graph from Girls Who Code)
Continuing to rely on the dominant culture's narrative for STEAM curriculum is a failure unjustly put upon many minoritized groups.
Women and People of Color are underrepresented in our current curriculum and without consciously choosing to supplement the texts and incorporate the achievements of historic fiures it will be hard to see that changing. Educators also need to recognize that creating a classroom where different learners and learning styles are valued is an avenue for reaching and engaging with students who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks in our schools.
Creating a generation that is scientifically literate and numeracy literate is an immeasurably important endeavor and the way that our education system neglects this is creating less knowledgeable, less democratically involved and more easily fooled adults. When we do not teach students the basics of asking questions and knowing how the world works we take away their ability to make knowledgeable decisions and use their democratic rights to the best of their own and the planets self-interest.
Number literacy and the way we teach students to make sense of numbers is especially important when we consider the world and the infinite applications number sense has with in it. Number savvy adults have the power to self-advocate in the way they buy a car or home, to the more daily activities like finding the best deal at the grocery store. Teaching students math should be interesting, and involved. Using interdisciplinary techniques we can make the world of numbers come alive.
When we remove the sense of "otherness" from Science, Math, Technology and Engineering we find a way to interrupt the systemic racist practices that have been part of our education system. We empower students to question, and to know. We give balance and help to restore equity by teaching critical thinking and science literacy.
The Importance of Art
Art is what brings STEAM into an interdisciplinary study, it brings together the other fields and creates bridges between curriculum. Art aids in removing the "otherness" from the hard science fields as well as encourages independent and creative thinking in students. Art is collaborative and through using art students are able to innovate and create.
Engaging in Art as a social practice and incorporating and working across disciplines encourages social justice, environmentally concerned students and participatory community members. Art as a social practice encourages observing, recognizing patters, empathizing and playing, with the goal being a trans-disciplinary approach to STEAM. This is another way that incorporating art and recognizing the importance of science literacy results in a more educated and informed citizenry.
In the classroom, the ability to make STEAM fun and engaging as well as informative for students is the challenge everyday. Creating an environment where diverse role models are featured on classroom walls, and in the examples we use to teach is something every teacher can do. Recognizing that Science does not require a lab, or resources (as not every school has these) and can still be made interesting and create life long askers-of-questions in the process is every teachers responsibility.
Tailoring lesson plans to make them culturally relevant to students, creating relationships with families and keeping communication open so students, parents, and caregivers all feel honored and valued and can see that they have a place in the classroom. Promoting inclusion of people that my students can see as role models both from everyday life as well as more broadly significant. Remove the "otherness" and exclusive stigma attached to STEAM fields and create a new generation of STEAM literate students.