Ms. Vineeta Garg
IT Head – SRDAV Public School, New Delhi
Ms. Gunjan Tomar
Activities Coordinator and Learning Support Facilitator – DPS International School, Gurugram
“We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
As the education world explores strategies to equip students with 21st-century skills and make students innovators and creators, there has been a growing emphasis on STEM — the educational discipline that focuses on the application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM, when combined with ‘A’ gives the concept of STEAM a more holistic approach and instantly breaks the stigma of science subjects in students. STEM represents science, technology, engineering, and maths. “STEAM” represents STEM plus the arts – humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. The main difference between STEM and STEAM is that STEM explicitly focuses on scientific concepts whereas STEAM provides opportunities to investigate the same concepts, but does this through inquiry and problem-based learning methods used in the creative process.
While generally, individuals try to slot people’s talents into science or arts, however, Leonardo da Vinci believed that the two genuinely influenced each other. His scientific studies and knowledge allowed him to depict the world in deeply naturalistic ways, while his artist’s eye which was an eye for understanding the details intricately opened up new ways of looking and thinking about that world. For Da Vinci, the inner working of a machine was just as pivotal as Mona Lisa’s smile. It is apparent from the historical pieces of evidence that the holistic approach towards learning has been proved to create a work of excellence then and continues to do so now.
STEM-related skills and knowledge are highly appreciated in our society. However, from Pre-K to high school, distinct groups of kids have had and continue to have unequal opportunities to learn STEM. Many factors contribute to this exclusion, which has resulted in well-documented discrepancies in the pursuit of STEM-related majors and jobs. It is a moral obligation to address these disparities. Here are some of the ways in which the STEAM approach can be used in the classrooms to make classroom learning accessible for all learners.
- Addressing Learning by adopting Universal Design for Learning Methodology: UDL comprises a learning design that addresses diverse learners’ needs in a classroom. It helps learners to be engaged with learning, educators to represent learning according to learners’ needs, provides multiple ways to the learners to express their understanding according to their strengths, and simultaneously helps them to reflect on strengthening their limitations.
- Alignment of Learning concepts with Sustainable Development Goal: As epicenters of learning, schools have a critical role to play in addressing global challenges and achieving the SDGs by 2030. Alignment of learning with SDGs not only makes learning meaningful but helps students with diverse learning needs to establish a connection between classroom learning and its real-world applications. It provides ample opportunities for students to identify and apply their learning to solve real-world problems.
- Learning in classrooms using Education Technology strategies: With classroom learning during COVID times, the virtual learning environment for learners has evolved exponentially and offers various platforms and ways in which student learning can be addressed according to their learning styles. The multimodality of Education Technology makes learning accessible for all learners by offering them the choices to adapt learning according to their needs and abilities.
To make our learners in classrooms future-ready, the need of the hour is to provide ALL students with STEM/STEAM learning experiences. The STEAM approach will help blur the disciplinary stream boundaries and offer a platform to the students to take the subject of their choices and excel in their careers, not confiding them into Science, Arts and Commerce stream. This will also be useful in breaking the stereotypes of science students not thinking creatively or Arts students not understanding Science. This approach will create new forms of learning by making learning accessible for all.
STEM subjects require a diverse workforce, and we must discover strategies to foster inclusive classroom environments and promote diversity in our teaching. Addressing issues of diversity can be difficult and uncomfortable, but minor adjustments in how we engage with students and design our courses could be the difference between a student choosing to study STEM subjects and pursuing a career in science, math or engineering. STEM skilled jobs are increasing 1.5 times faster than any other job sector. Having a diversified workforce contributes to enriching STEM experiences for all learners.