This entry offers a critical perspective of the role of the arts within the popular STEAM agenda. Most loosely defined, STEAM can be understood as incorporating the arts into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) acronym for the purpose of introducing a focus on art and design into these four subject areas. This entry first questions what the A in the STEAM acronym actually represents. The entry then argues that a focus on any discrete set of disciplines prioritizes some domains of practice, while overlooking others. The entry goes on to encourage a more distributed approach to pedagogical practice that is less about establishing catchy acronyms that privilege some disciplines over others – and more about supporting young people and adults in becoming multimodal learners capable of making connections between and beyond the disciplines.
This routine encourages students to consider the diverse perspectives that different people within a particular system may have based on their role in the system. This routine fosters perspective taking and can help children generate new questions and/or ideas about the system, how it works, and how it might be improved.
Agency by Designer project Director Shari Tishman introduces the concept of “maker empowerment” as a potential outcome of maker learning experiences.
This tool guides young learners to look closely at a system and explore its complexity by directly experiencing the system and reflecting on that experience. This is particularly helpful when working with very young students who may struggle to conceptualize a complex system without direct experience. In addition, this tool provides suggestions for making student thinking visible by encouraging students to share their ideas and learn from each other.
This routine encourages learners to slow down and look closely at a system. It helps them notice that there are different people who participate in the system and that they participate in different ways. It also encourages students to explore how one change in a system can impact the rest of the system. This thinking routine can help foster curiosity as children notice details, ask questions, make connections, and identify topics for future inquiry. It also helps children practice systems thinking.