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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Guest Column: We can move education forward with a little STEAM | Opinion - Valley Courier

Ever since the space race in the late 1950s there has been a concern about American students lagging behind the rest of the developed world in Science and Math, argues Dr. Kerry Hart, Interim President of Trinidad State Junior College.

More recently, there has been a push to emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in order for American students to compete globally. And the value of STEM has been put into monetary incentives. During the Obama administration, former President Obama, speaking at a General Electric gas plant, said, “I promise you folks can make a lot more, potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” While this comment only spoke to the monetary value of post-secondary education in manufacturing and trades, it is in stark contrast to a commentary on education made by our second U.S. President, John Quincy Adams. Adams said, “I must study war and politics so that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy…in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music, [and] architecture.” The educational vision of John Quincy Adams more than 200 years ago, compared to the reality of today’s market value of education and training expressed by Barrack Obama, gives us pause to ponder where we’ve come from and where we’re going with our educational system. Should we forget art history and advise all of our students to go into the trades; or is there a way to integrate knowledge and skills in order to produce productive, creative, and prosperous citizens?

The commonality between the educational ideas expressed by Presidents Obama and Adams is they perceive education and training as compartmentalized. Obama viewed the trades in one category and art history in another. Adams considered the study of war and politics separate from math and philosophy, and those subjects separate from art, music and architecture...

This inquiry started with Leonardo da Vinci in the late Renaissance and went all the way up to the late twentieth century (the present time of the research). I found, with the exception of two inventors, every scientist that made life-changing contributions to western civilization had an arts background. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was as good of an artist as he was an inventor; and Albert Einstein was an accomplished violinist as well as a scientific genius. My conclusion was that without creative problem solving, such as the creative process developed through the arts, scientists are confined to analyzing the inventions of others.
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Source: Valley Courier