Why 21st century learning must go beyond STEAM
As the workplace evolves, the skills for success change as well. It’s no longer enough for students to just learn about science, technology, engineering and math—they must also have the ability to think creatively and adapt their thinking to a fast-changing world. Today, educators talk about STEAM education, which includes teaching children about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. At Whitby School, however, we believe that education needs to go beyond STEAM to truly prepare students for the 21st century.
Why schools must go beyond STEAM
At Whitby, STEAM is not a new idea. The IB program emphasizes teaching students to become knowledgeable across a range of disciplines. And the Montessori education has long taught the value of art in helping students learn to think in creative ways. Yet we also believe STEAM is not enough—especially since it doesn’t include critical subjects such as English and the humanities. Nor do schools teaching STEAM always tie those subjects together in a way that helps students amplify their knowledge by understanding how it applies to the real world.
How we go beyond STEAM at Whitby School
The recent push to have students learn about art in addition to technical subjects is a step in the right direction—but it’s not enough. Students not only need to learn creativity, they need to learn how everything they study is connected. In eighth grade, for example, we use a transdisciplinary unit to help prepare students for the secondary school admissions process. Teachers help students understand what it takes to interview well.
In English class, students study the power of the spoken word by discussing famous speeches and podcasts. In theater they learn how to hold their body and use their voices confidently. Students then create a podcast where they practice speaking their beliefs. As a result, when students head off to their interviews, they are confident and articulate.
Learning for the real world
For true 21st century learning, it’s important for educators to teach students to hold multiple ideas and perspective at once, and encourage students to develop knowledge and understanding about real life issues through a variety of lenses. After all, no one subject exists in a vacuum in the real world.
Visit Whitby School this fall
Whitby was founded 60 years ago on the principle that each child must be seen, valued, and understood for achievement to happen, with heart. Our school has come a long way since then, but that core belief endures. Is your standard for education as high as ours? Come say hello. Visit Whitby this season for a Fall Admissions event – including the annual Open House on November 4, Wednesdays @ Whitby School (second Wednesday of the month), and our Early Childhood Exploration events (October 2 and 18).