Why 21st cen­tury learn­ing must go be­yond STEAM

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - EDUCATION OUTLOOK - By Ni­cole Haver and Si­mone Becker, Ed­u­ca­tors at Whitby School View de­tails and sign up for an event or per­sonal tour at whit­byschool.org.

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).

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