Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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September 10, 2012

Putting STEAM in STEM

You may have heard about a push in this nation for schools to strengthen their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs to make US students score higher in these subjects on international standardized tests. The thought is that it will make our nation more globally competitive. However there is a growing movement to put ART into this equation. The STEAM not STEM website explains that their “mission is to have business leaders, arts professionals, educators and others work together to educate governments, the public and the media to the need for returning Arts to the national curricula.”       
They hold that:
* Arts education is a key to creativity       
* Creativity is an essential component of, and spurs innovation
* Innovation is agreed to be necessary to create new industries in the future
* New industries, with their jobs, are the basis of our future economic well-being

Dr. Yong Zhao, researches, writes and speaks internationally on Creative, Entrepreneurial, and Global: 21st Century Education. Zhao argues that high test scores may actually hamper creativity. The nations with the highest test scores, he says, do not produce high levels of entrepreneurial activity. American policymakers were shocked and awed when Shanghai took the top place in the latest PISA ranking, and both President Obama and Secretary Duncan spoke about “our generation’s Sputnik moment.”  But Zhao says we should not be impressed because the Chinese have mastered the art of test-taking, but not the mindset that promotes creativity. (excerpt from Diane Ravitch’s Blog post)


As art teachers we know that creative thinking, innovation, and problem-solving are happening everyday in our classrooms. We need be leaders in education reform. Share your students’ learning with your community, administration, school board, and online for all to see.

I felt so strongly about putting STEAM into STEM that I entered my students’ art and technology classroom project into the McGraw-Hill STEMie Awards last spring. We are currently finalists in this national competition for classroom grant money. Take a look at our entry and (vote if you like it) while you’re thinking of how you want to demonstrate your innovative & creative learning in the art room.

-Tricia Fuglestad


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Toni Wynn

I'm a fan! "Toward a STEM + Arts Curriculum" in this month's (Sept. 2012) Art Education journal promotes Zhao's approach, citing great STEAM work by the sixth grade team at Robious Middle School in VA and many STEM-based visual artists. Check it out!

Tricia Fuglestad

Thank you Toni. I will check them out. Thanks for sharing more resources!

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