A few weeks back I already hinted at me delving into the matter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) versus STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) as an educational paradigm.
I have since done some research whcih has gone into the podcast, so please, have a listen!
Special thanks to my friend and now Patron Bonsart Bokel of Radio Retrofuture. Please consider becoming his patron, he is really putting an incredible amount of work into his channel.
This update is just a teaser to a bigger thing that is coming up. It ties in rather nicely with a point I made several blog posts ago concerning Steampunk and education.
My good friend Bonsart Bokel of Radio Retrofuture, who is providing me with a lot of input lately, has pointed my attention towards a debate that has been going on in the science/teaching world, especially in the USA for a while.
In short it is about this:
Should the focus on STEM subjects in school (i.e. Science, Technology, Enineering, Mathematics) be extended by an A for Art, thus, turning STEM into STEAM (Hurray!).
Opinions are not only devided on the matter, as is basically always the case on the ætherweb, there are some rather nasty flame wars going on.
Accusations of Patriarchical Dominace™ and Feminazi Activism™ in various stages of colourful language being flung left and right at the dark end of the conversation.
Since I am rather interested in matters of education, I decided to look into the matter and will present my findings later. As you can probably tell, I also have an opinion on the matter which is different from Bonsart’s from what I gathered but since I am still in the process of collecting material, I will not voice anything just yet.
In any case, this is a fascinating subject! Talk to you soon.
Modern education has often been criticized for being a bit out of touch with reality and every country seems to have a different kind of problem when it comes to education, pupil motivation and so on. What I hear from the United States at the moment is that everything is really focused on testing and this does not help the pupils at all because the teachers teach to the test and not for any greater benefit of the pupils.
In Germany the problem is that school curriculum is way behind the times. It takes between 5 and 10 years for a school text book in Germany from first draft to being used in the first lesson (and even longer than that in Bavaria).
British education suffers from a great divide between so called „public schools“ which are not public at all and only rich kids can go there and regular schools which offer a sinificantly lower standard or education.
Also, modern education is largely too focused on book-learning with endless regurgitation of facts and very little hands-on learning and experiences. Additionally, although it is generally accepted that there should be more cross-learning (i.e. geography lessons being tought in a foreign lannguage, IT supporting biology in a research project etc.), relatively little is happening in that direction.
This is where Steampunk comes in.
Look at this piece of art:
This keyboard requires considerabal skills in the following fields:
Engineering/Metalwork and Art. Since it is a fully functional computer keyboard,a project that aims towards creating such a keyboard could naturally cross over into IT.
So, with one fell swoop, you get pubils interested in metalwork, in art, and in IT all in one room working together. I don’t know what it was like in your stool but those three groups of people interested in those three subjects are usually at odds with one another. So this project would actually increase the harmony in a class.
Here is another example (also by Admiral Ravensdale):
This is a far simpler project but one that can be extended, let me split it up for you:
Biology: Find suitable plants via research (possibly guided by the teacher)
School outing: Go into the woods and collect those plants or their seeds
Metalwork or general crafting: Construct biotope
(optional for older pupils) Use a bigger container like a clear pickle jar for the construction of a more complex biotope
The benefit of the Steampunk mindset in education doesn’t end there.
Apart from the fascinating projects you could introduce to the classroom there’s also the philosophy. You could infect the pupils with the steampunk mindset and by that I mean a general sense of optimism and can-do mentality. From personal experience and I think most of you have had similar experiences in school you get told too often that something is not possible something cannot be done or „There is no place for this here. / You are too young.“ Instead, this should be replaced with „We see what we can do.“.
Additionally steampunk projects teach children that modern technology does not have to be all plastic and aluminum. Instead they are shown that computers, iPhones, and other devices can also have casings made out of wood that modern technology does not have to be run of the mill doesn’t have to be all cold and grey and white but that in fact all technology can be transformed into a piece of art.
Furthermore they can be introduced to the concept of upcycling, that you can go and take something that was discarded, especially technology, and from the discard pile create something new and maybe even something better. This way they may actually also learne that you do not have to throw everything away but that our wasteful society we live in now does not have to be, that everything you disard can be used to create something new, something useful, some piece of art and some piece of art which you can also use.
So, Steampunk offers a lot of potential in education, from cross-subject projects with beautiful results to teaching a mindset that is not focused on consumerism and watse of resources but rather recycling and upcycling. We need more Steampunks in education, that’s for sure!
Just quickly wanted to share this post for all those who do not regularly read the German version of this blog.
A week today, on the 19th of June 2013 I will be giving a guest-lecture on Steampunk at TU Dortmund. This is the official poster for the event, so if any of you can make it, I would be happy to see you there.
If all goes well, the lecture will be recorded and turned into a podcast, the lecture will be in English, so do not worry about not being able to understand it.
It is not only a wonderful tool for early exposure to your favourite subculture and an excellent way to teach very early learning skills, no, as you can see, it is also a beautiful work of art.
Well, what I will do is, I will go through this book with my son every evening. Read it aloud to him, teach him the alphabet and also explain the art and depicted technology to him. Get him interested in very basic science, art, steampunk and learning. All with one book. Splendid!
When I was informed by IndieGoGo they had blocked my account because of unusual activities, I first feared some Taliban-affiliated hacker had tempered with it. My fears were unfounded, luckily. The true reason why my account was blocked and the fundraiser for Malala Yousafzai (please click and take a look) taken offline was:
IndieGoGo wanted to make sure I would not abuse Malala’s name and the situation to simply grab some money for myself. I have since been in regular contact both with IndieGoGo and with representatives of the DIL Trust (the charity the money is intended for). As of this morning, IndieGoGo has lifted the block on the campaign after all the prove of its legitimacy had been delivered. Now, it is open for donations again, so please, chip in, every singe buck helps and you help make this world a better place and give a child a chance of a better future.
OK, it is good if we all send get-well-soon wishes to Malala who is currently treated in the UK, but it is even better if we pick up her torch and see to it that girls in Pakistan get an education.
This is the reason why I created the Steampunks for Malala Yousafzai fundraiser.
Find out more about it here:
The attitude described here by Mr. Keats is so Steampunk:
Be an individual, ask your own questions, do your own projects, inflict them on the world! Allow the word to engage you in return! To be inactive would mean to waste a chance to leave a mark. You do not have to be a professional, you can also be highly skilled as an amateur! Do it! The Steampunk in you wants you to do it.
an amazing initiative. Not only does it support scientific research (something I am a big proponent of), it also connects the science directly with the man and woman and child on the street through crowdfunding.
Thus, every single one of us can become a participant in scientific research. This is such a great idea! Come on everybody, Steampunk, Dieselpunk or whoever you are out there! This is your easy way to make a lot of difference.