Turning STEM Into STEAM
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Turning STEM Into STEAM

It's time that we equally encourage the arts in public education.

Turning STEM Into STEAM
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Ever since middle school, I've had a difficult time getting into all of the classes that I wanted and needed to take. It wasn't because of scheduling problems, it was because I was involved in music.

In eighth grade, I was only allowed to be in one band class, either concert band or jazz band. The rest of my schedule was filled up with English, history, science, math, P.E, all of the "important" subjects.

I faced a similar problem in high school. Every single year I was in at least two music classes. I ended up in the Running Start program taking classes at my local community college just so I could fit all of the band classes that I wanted to take into my schedule.

By the end of high school, I had been selected for the Washington All-State Jazz Band, competed in the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival in New York City, competed and placed third in the Swing Central Jazz Festival, recorded for KPLU, and performed at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle three times. Yet, I still had to fight and struggle to fit my music and other performing arts classes into my schedule.

Why did I have to fight so hard to incorporate the arts into my education when I was achieving success in them?

The answer is sadly too clear and simple. The arts have been placed on the educational back burner. With STEM blazing to the forefront of modern education, the arts have been knocked down to the bottom of the educational totem pole.

I don't have any issues with STEM programs, but I do have an issue with the idea that art is any less important than science, technology, engineering or math.Schools shouldn't place any less importance on STEM or stop encouraging and publicizing the program, rather they should incorporate art into them.

We need to turn STEM into STEAM.

Incorporating the arts into a more mainstream educational program would create limitless potential. Think of all of the new classes, clubs, and programming that our education system could create if it placed more salience on the arts.

If you're wondering how the arts could be incorporated into the STEM curriculum, think a little harder (or maybe less) and look for the intersections.

The arts and the sciences have so many intersections that people aren't even aware of. Architecture is the marriage of artistic design and engineering. Music is an expressive form of aural math. Geometry is a huge basis for visual art. When the arts and sciences meet, the result is ingenuity.

Growing up, I was an avid reader, writer and I excelled in math. All of these qualities helped me tremendously as a student, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't also have the qualities that I learned from being a student of the arts.

I'm currently a junior at Washington State University studying communication within the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. I'm a contributing editor, writer, and photographer here at Odyssey, and I also intern at WSU's Museum of Art where I work in public relations and marketing. I wouldn't be doing any of this if it wasn't for the life skills that I learned from the arts.

Art has taught me to be empathetic and kind. Art has taught me how to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. Art has taught me how to work with others and how to truly listen. Art has taught me how to be aware of my surroundings and the world I live in and how I as an individual can make a difference. Art has encouraged me to embrace and celebrate my individuality and to pursue the life that I want to live.

I wouldn't want to live in a world without art or science, and I also wouldn't want to live in a world where one is favorably taught over the other.

We shouldn't be stifling creativity and individuality in our public school system. We should be encouraging it. Why stop drawing with crayons, and playing the recorder in elementary school when you could do it forever? OK, having adults play recorder is a bit much, but you get my point.

We need to encourage the arts in public education.

A STEAM-powered education would be the best kind.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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