information about STEAM after the holidays. I am currently traveling and in
the air as I write. In addition, Julia, I will contact you as I have done a
lot of teaching (P-20) using STEAM as the protocol and my ideas may be a
bit different than what you plan so far, or at least worth a look to
integrate into what you already have. As well, I am excited to learn about
what you are doing and what you find to be successful. Please feel free to
I will respond to Glenn's comments through his numbering to simplify.
1. I like the idea of selecting an art work to write about or reflect on as
a piece of self-identity. I do, however, do not believe that visual art is
the only way to implement STEAM or add the arts to STEM, even though the
connections through design thinking, sketches to plan or brainstorm design
ideas, making, etc., are fairly obvious. I use these protocols all the time
and have used art work for students to observe, enhance their observation
skills (to better scientific observation), and/or recognize patterns. I
think it is valuable for a student to connect his or her self and their own
self expression to a work of art. I do not believe that this is the only
way to do this - certainly the same can be said for a piece of music or
finding a way to physically manifest something you see or hear (such as
dance). Students could also write their own reflection in the form of a
play or monologue or integrate all of the vehicles of self-expression. I do
agree that many students have not had an opportunity to value or invest
themselves in any aesthetic thinking. Unfortunately with the focus on STEM,
Mathematics, Science, AP classes etc. time for this goes too far from the
checklist and probably not valued. It may be considered only for those with
"talent" rather than cultivating discipline, aesthetic thinking or critical
judgment. My son, now a sophomore in college and a computer science major,
continually bemoans his lack of liberal arts education and experience and
exposure to the arts and humanities, which he believes would greatly
enhance his perspective and personal growth. Some of this was his own
choice, but guided by the powers that be in an effort to become a national
AP scholar and garner merit awards. This exposure to the arts and using the
arts as a way of doing or understanding and experiencing is a different
approach than our test happy public schools generally advocate. Perhaps
there needs to be a discussion and promotion as to why this is "value
added." So yes, how to integrate the arts into your life for a wide variety
of benefits is well-needed. Also, I must say that this is not a substitute
for arts education, each a valid content area on their own.
2. There is a frank need for a discussion about creativity and what it is
and what it means as well as a discussion about embedding it in the
way-to-do. I believe the ability to be creative is on the top of my
personal list. At the same time, most jobs do not allow for creativity, as
Glenn suggests, how creative do you want your doctor to be? Or is this more
about an approach or perspective? Even if valued, including in education,
use of creativity or creative thinking has to be appropriate.
3. I am a proponent of "Drawing as a Way of Knowing" and using sketches to
either plan or brainstorm work or demonstrate knowledge. Simple sketches
can be valuable and we must teach that this is not a work of art but rather
a skill to communicate that all students, like speaking and writing, should
have. Drawing is integral to STEAM.
More to come...I hope this makes sense as there are many distractions.
Ruth Catchen, M. Music, MA
STEM/STEAM Curriculum and Program Development, Teacher Professional
"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."
On Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 11:16 PM, Glenn Smith <email@example.com>
> Dear Yasminers,
> Please critique the following thoughts I am going to share -- at
> her invitation -- with Julia Buntaine as she prepares to teach a
> brand new STEAM course at Rutgers this coming semester;
> and please add your own -- she is going to be in uncharted
> 1. It would seem to me to be a very useful thing to ask each of
> your students, as an initial exercise, to identify one work of art
> which really means something to them -- and here I am
> assuming a work of visual art, as this seems to be the context
> of our efforts, and also because that branch of the arts which
> is the most "out there"; and the point being, of course, to
> establish that art -- whether or not it can be integrated into
> their professional careers -- is an important part of their lives.
> This will also give you an opportunity to find out where each of
> your students is coming from aesthetically, and there should
> be no pressure on them to choose a Picasso or Giacometti;
> but you may be shocked to find that some of your students
> -- even at Rutgers! -- have never been given the opportunity to
> develop an aesthetic sensibility, and to which extent you will
> be attempting to fly a kite on a windless day. I.e., the
> assumption is that this is NOT a course in "Art Appreciation"
> -- that should be a given!!!!! -- but rather a course about
> integrating art into one's professional career.
> 2. I would also establish some formal occasions for a frank
> discussion about the extent to which "creativity" as such can
> actually be integrated into professions which otherwise require
> a great deal of deal of training and effort. An engineer or
> designer of course has the opportunity to be creative; but a
> career as an airline pilot is an entirely different story! The
> current movie "Sully" notwithstanding, the pilot is NOT
> expected to be creative, but rather to be able to apply "by the
> book" responses which exist -- and in detail! -- for a huge range
> of contingencies; and it is no wonder, therefore, that the extent
> of depression among airline pilots is now becoming news. And
> -- let us be honest -- are not professionals like doctors and
> accountants bound to a great extent by the same standards?
> I.e., none of us want a "creative" doctor -- we want, rather, a
> doctor who can apply the very latest "best practices" as defined
> by his or her profession.
> 3. That having been said, I have been very taken by Dr. Gemma
> Anderson's post on "Drawing as a Way of Knowing" -- and I am
> realizing that this is a hugely under-appreciated aspect of
> artistic talent, i.e., the masterful hand on the OUTPUT side as
> a function of the all-seeing and discriminatory eye on the
> INPUT side -- and what profession could not benefit from
> clearly-delineated views of what is being faced? So, therefore,
> it might be an interesting exercise for you to ask your students
> to produce a sketch depicting an actual or typical situation with
> which they might deal in their respective professions; or -- as
> explained to me by a quite astute businessman -- it is critical,
> if your organization is to take advantage of a given opportunity,
> to be able to step up to a blackboard and depict that opportunity
> in a sketch.
> And so, Julia, maybe the simple blackboard -- and the line
> drawing!!! -- will become the focus of this and future courses!
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