Because It Creates a Well-Rounded Student
According to Research in the Arts (RAND), to develop students that are well-equipped for the future, educators and parents must nurture “soft skills” like creativity, persistence, communication and collaboration. Even in Silicon Valley, where companies seek top talent that specialize in various STEM skills, there’s a significant emphasis on attaining applicants who are also proficient writers, bring creative ideas to the table, communicate professionally and are team players.

Just look at Google’s ideal candidate. According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of people operations, in addition to “general cognitive ability,” they want applicants who display “emergent leadership: the idea there being that when you see a problem, you step in and try to address it. Then you step out when you’re no longer needed.” Bock also mentions the importance of being a cultural fit and being able to admit when you’re wrong. In today’s modern workforce, it’s no longer sufficient for computer scientists and engineers to sit behind a computer all day – collaboration with team members is key for success.

In order for today’s younger generations to obtain this type of balance, it’s vital for them to have a well-rounded academic experience in school. The “A” in STEAM doesn’t strictly have to be the arts in this sense–whether it’s joining a sports team, trying their hand at mock trial, or volunteering for community service, extracurricular activities will add another layer to students’ already-vigorous academic work, helping to mold them into ideal job candidates for the future.

Because It Allows for Greater Student Satisfaction

Research shows that just 38 percent of students enjoy learning STEM subjects, so by implanting the arts into the model, the odds increase that more will take interest–and the more interested they are, the better they will perform.

At Boston Arts Academy (BAA), a student who’s a dance major created an “electroluminescent costume” that she designed on her own from start-to-finish using modeling software and a 3D printer. BAA students and teachers alike appreciate the way STEAM education is infused into the school’s learning style, as it allows students to gain skills like electrical engineering, industrial design and architecture through hands-on experiences with modern technologies.

At the same time, the work excites them because they’re building something for an area they’re passionate about.

As educators increasingly use technology to create customized lessons based on individual students’ needs and learning styles, it’s exciting to consider all of the unique ways that the arts will be incorporated into technical learning. Educators’ goals should be to develop a graduating class of well-rounded students who have the tools necessary to thrive in the future workforce, achieved through creative, applied ways in school.

About the Author:

Ricky Ye is the CEO of DFRobot, a robotics and open source hardware provider that is dedicated to creating innovative, user-friendly products that foster a strong community of learning. Ricky and his team are focused on home robotics, technologies and applications.