The Modern Classroom – STEM/STEAM

It would be too easy to say that the classroom of today hasn’t changed much, teacher still stand at the front with pupils staring at them with awe and wonder. In 2018 we may have moved away from blackboards and chalk, dare I say some revolutionary teachers may have even ditched the white boards and markers for smart boards.

But when we look at the classroom today how are we preparing our students for life outside of school? We demand that students do not use their technological devices in schools and remain to write in books with pens – highlighting and scribbling as fast as possible.

Even as teachers we have become stuck using PowerPoints, because quite simply it worked back then – so it must work now, the old if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

But the problem is it has broken, we as educators just haven’t caught up yet. Most students in our classes know the latest software’s and hardware’s out, there fluent in digital language, tools and solutions.

STEAM is really making a mark in classrooms, but what is it? STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths. These different disciplines are combined into sessions with students having to utilise their skills in all areas to solve a problem.

As the workplace becomes more and more competitive employers and business owners need a certain amount of skill to adapt their way through the daily challenges, students of STEAM do not necessarily have to become scientists or engineers – but they become problem solvers. Problem solving is a highly sought-after skill in any profession.

Teachers can really benefit from either being involved in delivering or planning STEAM sessions, teachers across departments can work together involving their specialism. Different skills are enhanced and nurtured through STEAM, skills such as analysing, predicting and evaluating. During STEAM sessions students should be able to learn through mistakes instead of being directed or goaded in a certain direction, give learners a chance to become ‘stuck’ and try to become ‘unstuck’.

Imagine a classroom where students are using the cutting-edge technology where Science, Maths and Engineering are integrated. Imagine students being able to use software that allows them to build electronic circuits with different components and build and design chemistry labs. Only when our students are turned into pioneers of learning will their barriers and potentials be truly seen.

With technology shaping our lives and futures, its only right we develop Edtech to properly equip our young people with tools to make them inquisitive about the world. STEM is all about equipping students with skills to come up with solutions to problems and learning through failure.

All of this is possible if we as educators start allowing our students to shape their own learning at their own pace, not when the board needs wiping or the PowerPoint slide needs changing. STEAM breaks the decade old ideology that a silent and sat down student is a learning student. Students through collaborative learning can achieve and be successful in STEAM regardless, what do I mean by this?

Well a collaborative learner knows how to voice their opinion, share ideas, work as part of a team and independently. Collaborative learning is also more fun than your traditional textbook and pen method. These are the key skills that are enhanced during STEAM sessions, not to mention the key skills employers are looking for also.

As teachers we have to prepare the next generation for the ever-changing world and problems they will encounter. STEAM is designed to prepare the student for the modern world issues and problems.

In conclusion STEAM sessions are currently challenging the way that teachers see teaching and how learners view learning. The skills from STEAM are all about preparing the learner for their next stage in life whether that is further study or entering the workplace.

by Michael Scott