STEM, STEAM, or STREAM? Let’s Just Call it Teaching

Carl Jung referred to “archetypes” as a way to help define his theory of human psyche. Exemplifying that there are universal ideals that make up the collective unconscious of people and represent patterns noticeable in individuals today. As we evolve… so do these archetypes, evoking deeper emotions and painting an even clearer picture of our most fundamental human motifs.

Jung established twelve archetypes, each with its own set of patterns and ideals, personality traits, values, and beliefs, yet sharing a similar driving force. Although one may dominate an individual person’s psyche more than the others, most, if not all people, dabble in multiple archetypes. Take for example one of Jung’s archetypes “the creator”- a combination of artist and scientist, a thinker and builder, whose goal of finding solutions is only limited by their infinite creativity, and boundless curiosity.

This isn’t anything new. Musicians, writers, and even engineers are all individuals who use their creative spirit to develop something beautiful, something functional, and something new. And all are artists in one way or another. It’s with this thinking that we must look at how schools pushing STEM as a single identity need to rethink their approach. This is narrow-minded, focused primarily on the now and not the then. Similar to Jung’s approach to archetypes, the concept of STEM has been created, each part with its own specific “personality” trait (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Unlike Jung, however, we focus our attention to this only. Singling out STEM as the answer to all of our questions (see my past post Searching for the Next Golden Ticket) and leave behind everything else. So STEM labs are created. Pedagogy and content shift. And every once in a while a new personality is added to STEM such as “art” (see: STEAM) and “reading” (see: STREAM). Again, I can’t help but feel like we are going about this the wrong way. Instead, we need to consider STEM/STEAM/STREAM as an umbrella idea, each part working closely together go the greater good, allowing our students opportunities to dabble in them all at once. Instead of adding a new letter each year because we realize we are missing something, why don’t we go back to the basics, back to calling it TEACHing. STEM/STEAM/STREAM shouldn’t be a focus itself. Done well, it just needs to be a part of every subject, immersing itself in the various values, beliefs, and ideals of every classroom that make teaching in general, work.

By default, good teaching should include all of these elements. English teachers incorporating science and music in their classroom. Music teachers embedding reading and technology. Math teachers leaning on engineering and the arts. A potent display of multiple subjects being interwoven throughout the classroom that form into something special. This is what an engaging classroom should look like. This is what many teachers already do. We don’t need to focus our attention solely on STEM, but if all else, focus on teaching our students how to think, and show them how everything they learn can connect in one way or another to various other subjects.

We want them to be “creators”, “rock stars”, and entrepreneurs. But none of these career choices works as a silo. Call it interdisciplinary learning. Call it whatever you’d like. Just make sure that in the end, we recognize this as nothing else- but what makes good TEACHing.

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