STEAM and the frontiers of Art

December 15, 2021by Editorial Team
Confluence is power

STEM learning has been popular and useful till such time it was found that it actually lacked the 'soul', that is Art. Added to STEM, it gets delimited in scope and makes STEAM a sheer power to reckon with. But this scope needs to be understood well and implemented with dexterity.

The implementation of Experiential learning with STEAM integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics using the principles of Design Thinking; and Design thinking has its roots embedded in Empathy. It helps us arrive at a SMART solution to a problem following several stages, that begins with ‘empathizing’ with the problem itself. In fact, it is not feasible to reach a realistic and holistic solution without personalizing it: connecting with the problem at a deeply personal level.

Simultaneously we also need to consider civilization in its current phase of ‘Digitalization’, demarcated as Industry 4.0, steadily cruising towards Industry 5.0- the era of Personalization. Technology is considered to have uplifted the quality of life, having disrupted life itself in the process. It is this mindful application of technology that is a powerful support in one’s learning process, which subsequently becomes a determinator of employability and productivity.

The path

The act of treading this journey effectively and efficiently is akin to that of a tightrope walker, balancing out the path with understanding, skill and poise. This journey can actually be made worthwhile when it starts getting skillfully and compassionately facilitated, initiated at the formation stage of a child in school. This learning process comes alive as a relevant and relatable exercise when the approach is that of problem solving. This involves Heutagogy, or self determined learning, where the learner proceeds the activity with a ‘need to know’ attitude.

The rationale behind school-going

There are multiple layers in a child’s learning experience. Content forms the outermost layer, beneath which are the social, ecological and economic manifestations of the content. The learner needs to relate, connect with and introspect into these layers, without which the outcome of the process remains unrealized. It is unfortunate that the perceived purpose for learning, rather schooling, has remained restricted to the surface layer alone, irreverent of the richer and profounder dimensions lying beneath.

The reasons that reinforce a child’s real need for going to school are his human, social and environmental skills, founded on a bedrock of domain or subject knowledge. Interestingly, there exist several other access options for sourcing, rather outsourcing the ‘subject knowledge’, but not for the layers that lie beneath. Where else but the school can a child get the company of hundreds, or even thousands, belonging to different age groups, sects, social and economic backgrounds, tastes, preferences, all under one roof in a safe and caring environment, for a continued span of 10-12 years? What better place to imbibe skills of collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, curiosity, compassion and commitment towards one’s fellow beings but the school?

The change process

Mankind would choose not to be convinced of these needs at his own peril. To address these, we need to bring forth changes in:

1.Domains of the disciplines: It needs a conscious moving away from Content to Context. Content is available free, with multiple options to source from. However, without the mind’s eye to weigh out the context, content will be rendered irrelevant. For instance, a chapter on Types of Soil is redundant, unless read in conjunction with a child’s experience in train travel across landscapes, people’s lifestyles in different geographical spaces he encounters, industries in such belts, varieties of grains and fresh produce that cover the arduous journey from farm to fork, and various other relatable entities. Remembering or memorizing characteristics of different soil types becomes redundant as those can always be checked up when needed. Forced learning is non-learning as retention is little. This principle applies to most subjects and chapters in school textbooks. Thus arises the inescapable need to relook and redesign syllabuses and curricula that will shift the focus beyond content, thereby enhance the engagement and excitement quotient of learning.

2. The  Learning objective: What enables the child to become an engaged learner is his ability to ‘discover’ the wonders for himself and not cover textbook portions from prescribed syllabuses. This transformational process may be commenced from the Preparatory Stage ( Grade 3-5), which has been indicated by the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) as well.

Unravelling the layers of Art

Education thus, needs a revolution that can only be brought about only through a change process- executable through a rather critical mode. It is multi-layered and dynamic; and can be curated with deftly handled facilitation, as mentioned earlier. It requires a facilitator’s deft execution,  imparting capsules of excitement impregnating research mindedness in the learner, who thereafter imbibes these values for life. These become inseparable elements in his journey of Lifelong learning. In fact, for the first time in human history has Art been given a status that is co-equal with all other disciplines.

One of the pillars of integrated experiential learning is Art, the broad attributes of which are balance, proportion, aestheticism. Not only a balance of form, it also refers to a balance of cost and performance, that can be wrought with conscientious use of available materials and resources. These elements are essential to be integrated in the learning process and developed as a habit. Taken through life, these habits formed early in the learning stage translates to improved and user-friendly designs across different product categories that drive increased customer pull, increased product utility, and improved lifestyles of people.

Coexists in tandem the abstract aspect of Art. This is the aspect that empowers us to synthesize, interconnect, interrelate and juxtapose different facets of experience with empathy, promoting holistic learnings and encouraging solutions which are relevant and appropriate.

Art entails its essential ‘human’ element that inspires us to care, connect and empathize with our environment, fellow beings and the world at large.


Both learning and life experiences become worthwhile when one can express the gamut of all such intangible attributes gained from Art. The effects, however, are certainly tangible, with far reaching benefits for self and society. The challenge lies in the techniques to be adopted for effective dissemination of learning, without which the benefits of the process in building truly holistic individuals will not be realized.

Such a method generates sufficient excitement and curiosity to get engrossed in the activity, while opening doors for research into multiple domains that the problem or activity relates to. This purpose cannot be achieved by a teacher in the classroom, imparting knowledge by narrating textual facts. It requires a facilitator to take the learner for a trail across the landscape of experience, engaging him in a meaningful and mindful dialogue that involves a progression of ideas, directed towards self discovery. A sequence of questions, ordered and executed with planning can inspire the learner to discover the grey terrains and recesses of his mind, exposed by the facilitator with due caution. Repeated action of such a sequence enables the facilitator to evolve into a mentor. Time will bring forth a ripple and cyclic effect that will continue to fuel further curiosity and derive wondrous solutions, by and for evolved human persona down the generations.

Get free advice from Global Experts on how your institution can be Future Ready with Experiential Education through S.T.E.A.M.

Get free advice from Global Experts on how your institution can be Future Ready with Experiential Education through S.T.E.A.M.

Contact us
+91 983 148 0116
Global Presence


© 2020 ISTEAM Research Private Limited | GDPR Privacy Policy | Child Protection Policy

× How can I help you?