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The Power (and Philosophy) of STEAM Learning, Part 5 – Art

Art is the form that is taken by Technology. 

There are many Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math educators who bristle at the idea of including Art as part of the learning process. For many of us, different school subjects equated to different teachers, locations, times, learning objectives, and even a sense of priority. However, we will include Art as part of the core group of perspectives for examining ideas for a straightforward reason: because children do too.

STEAM - Art

Art is Part of STEAM

Art is the aesthetic of experience. Even John Dewey himself, thought by many to be the father of experiential education, took many years to accept the experience of Art as a valuable and educative pursuit. However, it just takes a bit of examination to realize that function without form is meaningless. In other words, none of the different perspectives on knowing could exist without the creation of something. Everything must have a form, and the decision as to what that form will be is the essence of Art. One might call Art the media through which Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math can occur.

Children intrinsically know this. They spend extra time and effort to make sure that whatever they are creating looks the way that they want it to. Even as adults, if something functions perfectly but has a displeasing form, we feel stressed.

Art is also essential for children as they develop fine and gross motor skills. Based on the definition mentioned above, it is clear that markers, paint, paintbrushes, and paper are all forms of technology. Art exploration allows children to access many different types of technology creatively.

STEAM Blog - Art

Asking Questions, Again

So how then do we encourage students to explore Art? Of course, we can pull out markers, crayons, and paint. Children of all ages, myself included, enjoy drawing. But, if we limit our perception of Art to a drawing, we will also limit that of our children. We can ask them, also, to think about the forms of objects around them. Why do they believe that the design of a plate is important? How about a chair? What could make it more (or less) exciting? How could they make an object better?

A dedicated reader might see some of the above questions and feel a bit of repetition. Don’t they sound an awful lot like the questions mentioned when discussing Engineering, Technology, and Science? Fateful reader, you’re right! The only place in the universe in which the perspectives of STEAM are separate items is in the minds of adults. I encourage everyone to see them as the same process. Children already know that and we could all stand to take a page out of their books.

Happy learning!

– Chris

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