We’re Talking STEAM – The Power of the ARTS in an Age of Innovation

Mar 6, 2017

STEM to STEAM in Education

One of the trends in public education is the idea of STEM schools, steering students toward careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. We want our kids to be well-positioned in a world that is driven by rapid technological growth, and there’s good money to be made by engineers and scientists when many other careers are moving elsewhere.

steamBut here’s what we are also learning: the Arts and creative thinking are as much a factor in student and career success as the ‘harder’ sciences and math. Hence, we see a new trend to expand the acronym to STEAM – including Arts in the curriculum to encourage more rounded educational experiences and to help them excel across the academic spectrum.

We all know that the stereotypical nerdy engineer is just that: a stereotype. One of my most brilliant friends – a teacher of quantum physics at university – is also a master storyteller and poet. I think you need to be a poet to imagine things like string theory and computer software development.

Many studies show both the economic and cognitive value of including rigorous arts education in traditional science and math programs. No longer do we just look at the arts as a sure path to poverty! The creative industries in the U.S. contribute significantly to our GDP.

Students who engage in creative expression through the arts also show increased performance in other subject areas. Our brains come alive in different ways when we engage in creative activities.

But My Child Struggles With Math & Science

I understand that your student may struggle with math and science, and you struggle to figure out how to just get them through high school. Take heart, STEM is not the only path. The Arts are valuable to help our students think more deeply and creatively and they are viable as vocations. We want to affirm the importance of creative expression alongside rigorous academics.

I am a film teacher, so I suppose I’m biased toward the arts. However, one of the reasons I switched college degree paths (from engineering) was that I discovered how much filmmaking was a blend of art and technology – I can tell creative visual stories, using really cool gadgets! That made all the difference to me.

Now, I get to encourage young filmmakers and screenwriters in my online courses, to help them find a kind of sweet spot that makes use of their multiple interests and talents. Let’s take advantage of ideas like STEAM as we pursue this path together.

Here are a couple of links for you if you’re interested in learning more about this:

Azusa Pacific University Magazine (article on pages 7-8 in PDF)

STEM to STEAM website:

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Tom Khazoyan has been teaching online film and screenwriting classes and in-person workshops and seminars since 2010. He began his career on the production side of the film and television business. He’s an award-winning producer, director, cameraman, and editor. He has produced projects ranging from television commercials to documentaries to dramatic films in over 30 countries.