Education Shifts: Why STEAM over STEM is important
Is the path for long-term success in life for students to concentrate on STEM subjects? Is a focus solely on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) what is needed for tomorrow’s world of employment and leadership? It is true that some of the highest paying jobs for recent graduates currently are in STEM.
Or, will the future favor people with a more diverse skill set—one that an additional focus on the arts (STEAM) will provide? Colleges and universities need to adapt to the upcoming changes in educational needs for the workforce of tomorrow or their students will be ill-prepared for the world and careers that will be available. Let’s dive deeper.
The Impact of AI on Employment
Science fiction writers love to imagine that machines will take over virtually all human endeavors. In reality, many jobs requiring minimal skills have already been replaced by computers. According to an article by MIT Digital, artificial intelligence has the potential to eliminate or dramatically change many more human jobs in the next two decades.
One central concern is that employers will find ways to replace the inefficiencies of human workers and their demands for higher pay, vacation time, training, and retirement benefits. And if that happens, what happens to the workers?
What Does the Future Hold?
As companies grow their wealth by implementing technology that eliminates jobs, how will this impact society and the world? The potential exists for the world’s job market to shrink as AI continues to eliminate more jobs. Price Waterhouse Consulting concludes that 38% of jobs will be automated in the next 10-15 years.
With the shrinking job market, what will we do with the unemployed and underemployed? Will we need to initiate basic universal pay or lower the work week from 40 hours to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to work? How will that go over in capitalist societies?
Most important, what is the incentive for future students to go to school if high-tech occupations are hard to come by? What is the role of education in a society of machine-operated companies and services?
What is Missing? The Arts
The arts and humanities teach us to think critically, reason, and be creative. They also teach us one of the most valuable skills going forward: empathy—the key to cultural competency in a world of globalization. Creativity, understanding, and imagination are the underpinnings for collective thinking, business and political solutions, and understanding the world and its myriad of philosophies and cultures.
It can be dangerous to only focus through the microscope of technology. The world is evolving and changing quickly because of technology, but technology may not be the final answer.
Let’s Focus on STEAM
Reintroducing the “A” for Arts into education adds a renewed opportunity for the future of humanity. The arts help us to solve challenges and create solutions by reaching outside of technology’s narrow box of thought processes.
Learning about where music comes from—the rhythm and cadence of a dance—or the discipline and cultural influences of painting can broaden horizons. Exploring cultural influences in the fine arts can improve global relations and bring humanity into a more empathetic and peaceful bearing.
And Consider STREAM?
In this case, “R” is for recess. Recess is the time we break away from the rigors of classroom activity and focused work to let off steam and play. In a world that is seemingly on the brink of continuous conflict, a significant global recess could be just what is needed.
Humans are animals with underlying destructive tendencies. We have a need for physical activity to release stresses and anxiety. It is important that we allow these tendencies to exhaust themselves in activities like recess and school sports instead of coming out in less desirable ways. What if this were given prominence as a mandated role of education instead of subjugating it to a lesser, voluntary participation role?
The Olympic Games are an example of a global recess. They allow world citizens to take a break and see what humans can accomplish simply through personal commitment and will. Look at the positive sentiment, global collaboration, and world cooperation that takes place through such an event.
STEM or STREAM?
As Artificial Intelligence becomes more prominent in our lives, societies must evaluate what is important. How do we wish to live our lives? What are our values as nations and how should they be reflected in everyday life? Should we continue to encourage our youth to focus only on computer science and mathematics? I don’t think so.
Will we sacrifice the fruits of man’s imagination like art, theater, and music? Will we continue to make the mistakes of the past because history’s lessons are forgotten? Let’s hope not.
It is time to reconsider education’s priorities.
I love to go deeper into this subject, it is one of my keynote specialties. Learn more at http://raviunites.com/keynotes-culturalcompetency/.