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February 19, 2020

STEM, STEAM and Art


Arts should not be grouped with the sciences.

John Carmack makes an interesting argument in the STEM-not-STEAM debate:

Extending STEM in education to STEAM by adding arts to science, technology, engineering, and math is such a blatant and irritating category error.

Engineering is the disciplined production of technology, science allows engineering to extrapolate beyond the results of trial and error, and math forces clarity and test ability in science. There is a thread to tie STEM together.

Art and technology together is a pretty natural grouping, but combining all of them is clearly a poor fit.

I would interpret him to mean this, to which I agree:

  1. It is problematic when the teaching of ‘art’ (which can be arbitrary and unstructured - e.g. abstractionism, performance art, etc) is given as much as weight as, and even grouped together, with the teaching of the sciences. The latter is structured and disciplined, actually advances humanity forward, and should be given more weight.

  2. It’s not wrong to mix up arts and science when it comes to work and things you do/make. It’s problematic however to group them together when teaching, and to consider them equally important. They aren’t, and shouldn’t be.


 

 
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