STEM + ART go hand in hand

Art created by my 11 year old.

The focus on STEM cirriculum (science, technology, engineering and math) is big. Schools are targeting lessons around it. STEM summer camps sell out. Companies promote it. Amazon has a STEM dedicated toy shop.

I get it. We live in an “Internet of things” world, and it’s critical for students to get training in The Big Four. All are super important and the job-related outlook is definitely sunny.

But what about art?

My 11-year-old recently said “it’s not fair we have to do so much math. My favorite subject is art, and we hardly do any of it.” His fifth grade class is so busy learning math and science, there’s little room for creative subjects.

But STEM education and art can go hand in hand. Like this, as reported by NPR: Artists in Residence Give High-Tech Products a Human Touch.

Big companies like Facebook and Apple are employing artists to help them with their products. Technology has made it possible for just about anything to be made, but the roadblock is creative thinking and imagination. That’s where artists come in, because artists bring a different way of thinking.

I like this quote from John Seely Brown, who ran XEROX PARC: “The ability to imagine is the key challenge,” Brown says, “because we have infinitely powerful tools to build whatever we imagine. As a result we’re limited by our imagination. Working with artists really opens our imagination.”

The beauty of a product is just as important as what it does and how it works. STEM students can make the mobile app work, but who is going to make it look nice? STEM students can design an awesome web-based CRM platform, but it’s no good if the userface is clunky and ugly to look at. Who will design the next iPhone? And I’m not talking about how it works, I’m talking about how it looks.

Technology needs artists.

It shouldn’t be STEM curriculum OR art. It be STEM curriculum AND art.

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