S-T-E-A-M

Great new ideas come from giant leaps in thought, not a steady stream of incrementally better products.  If this wasn’t the case we’d still be continuing to make better horse drawn carriages…better telegraphs…better quill pens…. Art gives us simplicity…creativity gives us new ideas…critical thought allows us to understand the human experience. – Jim Kalb

Okay, so I definitely just quoted my electronic-engineer dad. He recently wrote a similar article for his own blog, and I thought I would extend the invitation to jump on board the S-T-E-A-M engine!

I first heard about S-T-E-A-M at an informational seminar. An interested, life-long scholar myself with a private education, many homeschooled friends and a Montessoried boyfriend, it’s no wonder I find I have a fierce desire for well-rounded learning.

If only I could have had a personal tutor and gone through the classics, studying the kings and queens of France, reading Plato’s Republic and Thoreau’s Walden Pond. I used to beg my mom to homeschool me, knowing that her knowledge and frequent field trips would be much more suited to my intense desire to understand the world, not just memorize it.

Nowadays, college majors consider this a “liberal arts” education. I would gladly study art, music, philosophy, foreign language, sociology, and history every day, all day. Sign me up, Alexander the Great! Jane Austen, here I come! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S-T-E-M) but I am an artistic person driven by creativity and the sensual world around me. The Arts, turning S-T-E-M into S-T-E-A-M, make all the difference to a “living” education.

Creativity teaches people how to think. It is often necessary in problem solving — whether on a film set or after cooking mushrooms too long. It’s thinking outside the box and using your immediate resources like the paperclip tied to a string to fish out the keys that fell behind your bookcase. It’s patience and excitement, adventure and heartache (that paint spot that won’t dry right, or the dye that seeped into the bleached area).

It’s seeing potential when the senses grasp the bland, it’s anticipating the spontaneous, and grappling with the serendipity. Creativity serves practicality and flirts with transcendence. It both fights and eludes Time as deadline forces a result, sometimes prematurely developed. This is why constant exposure to creativity, and its practice, is a must. Don’t confuse creativity with craftiness, although the latter does employ this great talent.

The Arts tell us to lift our heads from the keyboard, stop trying to calculate long enough to smell the roses, and appreciate that tomorrow the sun may not rise, but we had one last hell-of-a-day!