As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality are projected to reshape every facet of our lives – including the education system.
Such technological advancements have sparked a hot debate in the realm of academia: should STEM education upgrade to ‘STEAM’ and include the arts?
As demand for highly-trained STEM professionals increases, some fear the arts will be abandoned entirely. After all, what good is teaching students to code if they don’t know how to communicate?
While these fears certainly aren’t unfounded, it’s important to recognise the institutions that place the arts at the heart of their educational philosophies.
Schools like Idyllwild Arts Academy, Tilton School, and the Hockaday School understand the importance of teaching the soft skills that form the core of an all-inclusive arts education, including creative expression, open-mindedness and critical thinking.
Such skills are imperative for students – and the professionals they will eventually become – in all disciplines and industries, STEM most certainly included.
Fostering creativity through arts education is vital, but a well-rounded education also balances arts with academics and athletics, promoting student growth and developing minds and bodies to help them unleash their full potential.
Nestled on a 205-acre campus in California’s inspiring San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild Arts Academy is perfectly situated a short distance from Los Angeles, one of the world’s most celebrated artistic hubs.
Idyllwild Arts Academy places equal emphasis on arts and academics, implementing its core belief that art can solve many of the looming concerns society faces today. Through the school’s Art in Society programme, students can apply their artistic aptitude to addressing those social concerns.
One of the latest Art in Society undertakings was an Upcycle Fashion Show for which students created fashionable, wearable sleeping bags using second-hand vintage clothes and new sleeping bags. The upcycling modelled sustainability and the proceeds supported a local food bank.
The Academy encourages “changing lives through the transformative power of art,” whether a student’s passion is creative writing, dance, music or film and digital media, to name just a few of the art majors on offer.
Idyllwild Arts Academy is the only high school in the US that funds creative endeavours through monetary grants. Student projects funded by the Arts Enterprise Laboratory have included an original dance performance that focused on erasing the stigma associated with mental disorders, and a project to give free music lessons to children at a poor rural school in China.
The Idyllwild Arts Summer Program is a fun way for students to hone their artistic talents outside of term. The atmosphere of a summer camp and instruction by experienced creatives allow for a mix of fun and educational activities. In addition to readings, lectures and exhibitions, students can enjoy potlucks, barbecues and off-campus outings during the beautiful Southern California summer.
In a typical year, Idyllwild Arts awards US$7.5 million in arts grants and scholarships to students. That’s a significant investment that pays for itself. Idyllwild Arts alumni enjoy lucrative careers in the arts from filmmaking and photography to Broadway theatre and primetime television, as well as in the professions from medicine and high-tech entrepreneurship to science and law.
More than half of this global Academy’s student population comes from outside the US. Young artists from three dozen countries make it a premier destination for international students.
The school supports its international student population through a variety of services, including the Accelerated English Programme, scholarships and financial aid.
“We don’t just educate, we ignite!”
That belief welcomes visitors to Tilton School’s website, and it’s one the school puts into practice.
Tilton allows students more control over their academic journeys, promoting ‘self-designed learning’ through independent study initiatives, internships and massive open online courses (MOOCs).
In addition to a comprehensive core curriculum, independent learning opportunities are designed and pitched by the students themselves, allowing them to develop their passion. Past independent study courses include American sign language, EMT training, blogging and geology.
Thanks to the school’s connections with local industries, students can earn some hands-on experience too. Engineering students at Tilton partnered with local architects to design part of Winnipesaukee River Park in Franklin, while English students showcased their creative writing at The Telling Room in Portland, Maine.
Tilton understands that exercising the body is equally as important as exercising the mind. Students can represent the Tilton Rams through a variety of sports, from cross-country and mountain biking to ice hockey and snowboarding.
Find out more about how Tilton supports students on their academic and athletic journeys.
“Hockaday believes in girls.”
Whether students are assisting other local schools with building houses for Habitat for Humanity, or creating snack bags for Dallas’ homeless community, Hockaday equips girls to change the world by fostering leadership and personal development through service-based learning initiatives.
The Four Cornerstones – character, courtesy, scholarship and athletics – form a core part of the Hockaday educational experience. Hockaday girls are well-educated in the tenets of health and wellness from kindergarten all the way to graduation. Because technology is a key component of Hockaday’s physical education programme, students can track their progress throughout their academic journey.
Learners can participate in school sports once they reach middle school. Upper school unlocks more opportunities, from student athletic training and fencing to golf and diving.
When students aren’t in the classroom or on the courts, they can pursue their creative passions. Hockaday offers a variety of artistic opportunities, from arts shows and Broadway musical productions to orchestras and a fun film programme.
The Fine Arts page details the school’s commitment to creativity: “The arts are integral to what we do as a school and to the lives we imagine for our graduates.”
Read more about how Hockaday “awakens the intellectual curiosity of every girl.”
Perhaps the debate about STEM vs. STEAM is a moot one; after all, a comprehensive education involves so much more than classrooms and curricula.
Balancing arts, academics and athletics is the key to producing graduates who are well-equipped to further our technological advancements and solve the world’s problems using creative thinking.
No matter how technologically-advanced our society becomes, there will always be a place for artistic expression and creative thinking. Indeed, the more our technology progresses, the more critical the arts will become.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International