The acronyms keep changing. STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – has been touted as what educators need to focus on to prepare students for the challenges they’ll face in the modern workplace. Some have taken STEM to the next level by adding an A for Arts to the acronym to make STEAM. Recent brain research has shown that music education connects the logical left side of the brain to the creative right side of the brain, and that art shapes both architecture and design which are germane to the elements of STEM.
Today, an “R” has become the 6th element of this compound to create STREAM. Catholic schools across the country have advanced the “R” as representing Religion, since faith is an essential component to shape the whole person in the Catholic school experience. The graphic for this article comes from the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Buffalo. Even some public and private schools have also moved forward with STREAM initiatives, but their “R” represents either Reading or Robotics.
Just as the technology continues to change and evolve, the way we talk about it, utilize it, and apply it to student learning will also continue to change, and change rapidly Perhaps we could add several more letters to the acronym – an “E” and an “R” – for “Experience” and “Resiliency,” since those attributes will also be essential for the 21st Century learner.
Or we could add another “S” for “Social Studies,” and include history, geography, communication, sociology, and even psychology. The result? If you consider all the elements of the new STREAMS acronym, you get a typical class schedule…except for one missing element: Phys Ed.
Realizing that, we may have found the real missing element of education. Consider the learning domains – the cognitive, affective and kinesthetic. Much, if not all, of the STREAMS acronym deals with the cognitive domain. Phys Ed would consider the kinesthetic domain to be of primary importance. That leaves the affective domain – the one which deals with feelings, emotions, and “intuitivity.” What courses are taught that deal with that domain? Imagine what could happen if we had some…especially in light of what’s been happening in our nation today, the empathy we need to feel for our those who may not have all that we’ve been blessed with, and the changes wrought by the experience of the CoViD-19 pandemic.
To hearken back to lyrics from songs from the 1960’s, let the words of The Youngbloods, “Get Together” and Glen Campbell’s “Try a Little Kindness” seep into your soul today.