STEAM - Why we need a new golden age

Posted on May 15th 2017

In a recent blog for HMC (the Headmasters’ and headmistresses’ Conference), Keith Budge shares his concern that schools risk losing subjects such as art, drama and music, and with them our greatest assets in encouraging creativity in young people.  The solution, he says, lies in STEAM.

In recent times, he says, the educational mood music from Whitehall has been that STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) are the horses to back in terms of skills for employment in the global race. Whilst these subjects are important, Keith identifies an instinct to promote STEM subjects in school at the expense of a wider education.

This has important ramifications. There is compelling evidence that well-developed artistic sensibilities have an important place in science and technological innovation; indeed, the educationalist Bill Lucas has observed that a focus on STEM subjects at school is not sufficient for would-be engineers. Other subjects matter too, argues Professor Lucas, and art and design in particular. It is the arts that provide the ‘A’ in STEAM (adapted from STEM), and they help to facilitate what he proposes are the necessary habits of mind.

Keith explains: “Bill Lucas’ position reinforces what we at Bedales know intuitively to be true – we encourage our students to develop a facility for understanding their subjects, and indeed their worlds, from as many different perspectives and experiences as possible. The crucial factor is the provision of time in which students can explore and join up the different parts of their disciplinary landscapes through doing, listening, talking and thinking.” 

He continues: “Bedales provides an unashamedly arts-rich education. However, whilst many of our students go on to make successful careers for themselves in creative pursuits, many others enter other fields, including engineering, and tell us of the value of their grounding in the arts and humanities to their work.”

The Bedales Difference | HMC blogKeith Budge | Headmaster's blog