STEAM pedagogies teaches the skills of the future
by Maikki Manninen, Advisory Teacher for ICT Education
I have been a teacher in Finnish schools for almost fifteen years. During that time the Finnish school system and curricula have changed a lot. And it`s good that they have and will! Our pupils who now study in primary education will be in working life still in 2060. What kind of skills do they need then? Of course, we can`t give a specific answer to that, but what we can do is to teach future skills that we think they need during the next decades. STEAM-pedagogy is one potential answer to that.
STEAM comes from the words Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. In STEAM projects these subjects can be combined. How can that be done concretely at a school? What are the most important things to consider when planning a successful STEAM project?
Firstly, teachers` cooperation has to be ensured. When we start to plan a STEAM project, usually we do it together with another class teacher or subject teacher. In elementary school, it`s easier to integrate the approach to daily school life due to a more holistic way of looking at phenomena. But when subjects are taught separately in the subject teacher system on the secondary level, it takes time to change existing structures.
Secondly, participating students in the whole project, starting from the first steps of planning is essential. Through the ages, in many (including the Finnish school system) teachers have planned the topics and projects and pupils have had the role of implementers. In STEAM projects, the topics come from students which guarantees a high level of involvement.
Thirdly, students` cooperation must be guaranteed. Rarely, if ever, do pupils work alone in STEAM projects. Learning is based on teamwork and collaboration. It`s not always easy for every student, but it`s the skill they need to practice.
Fourthly, setting definite goals and making continuous evaluation possible are keys to successful implementation. Always, when we do small or bigger projects or teach and learn in general, everyone is supposed to realize what is done and why. Everyone needs feedback from their work to know if they are going in the right direction and/or if there is something that could be done even better. Also, it is necessary to know what the next steps are when a particular project comes to an end.
At its best, in STEAM projects pupils and teachers can deepen their learning, learn to work together, make mistakes and learn from them, feel motivated and experience the joy of success.
Ms. Maikki Manninen (Advisory Teacher for ICT Education) is both a class teacher and early education and care teacher. Her expertise lies eg. in ICT and STEAM education at the primary and secondary levels.
Her working tasks include training and consultation on ICT especially according to the Finnish core curricula and the local strategies for both ICT and STEAM education.
Ms. Manninen is also experienced in development projects funded by the Finnish National Agency for Education eg. on innovative learning environments.