A discussion on the future of STEAM Education took center stage at JiaoTong Univerity in Shanghai recently. The topic: “Future Innovation Education: How to use STEAM Education to implement and develop today’s education?”
Experts involved in this discussion included Sharon Feng, founder of NAYTEA; Wei Zhui, Director of the Shanghai International Student Service Center, Secretary of CPC International Education Association-Shanghai, and Principal of the Shanghai Overseas Education Institute; Li Fu, Director of shanghai AI Innovation Research Center of Fudan University and CEO of FanGuo Education Technology Limited; and Yizhong Zhang, Director of Shanghai Cloud Center of STEAM.
The moderator posed this single question for discussion by the panel: Is the current education system ready for cultivating future innovation talent?
Wei Zhu made the following points:
To learn from STEAM educators in other countries, we must be able to select what will most benefit current educational processes in China. This is an ongoing discussion with among Chinese experts and educators.
Government support is an essential component of any process of change, so we need to have a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of anything we would propose.
Parental attitudes must also be considered as well as interests and the long term development of the student if STEAM Education is to become sustainable in China.
Some of the challenges of implementing STEAM education in China reflect the collision between western "seeking a complete understanding" and eastern traditional education "not seeking a complete understanding". Some Chinese teachers have an identity crisis when implementing STEAM education. For this reason, students tend to trust foreign teachers more while maintaining some skepticism about Chinese teachers' STEAM qualifications.
Sharon Feng shared her thoughts:
The 5E Model is a teaching method which has received high attention in the field of science education. The five E’s represent Engage (full emotional engagement), Explore (exploration with full drive and curiosity), Explain (interpretation and application of knowledge in the context of understanding), Elaborate (further improvement based on existing knowledge), and Evaluate (self-reflection and evaluation of one’s own learning achievements).
Integration of the 5E model with STEAM Education provides several ways for project-based learning. In a sense, 5E is for STEAM Education what STEAM Education is for the 5E. The combination of the two prompts students to carry out exploratory, question-based learning. And, the process of active construction, has clear rules to follow which helps students to transform general concepts into scientific concepts.
If the content, operation, and results of educational change go against China's socialist market economy, STEAM Education will be difficult to bring to China.
STEAM Education needs to tap students' motivation to create a dynamic educational atmosphere that inspires learning.
Yizhong Zhang brought the following perspective:
Chinese education ignores systematic ways to train children to solve problems. STEAM Education can help overcome this obstacle.
STEAM helps restore the process of knowledge generation and transfer. Students learn how to solve real-world problems, to think of solving a problem as a way to turn it from a special case into a general case, and this ability can empower students.
Chinese education focuses less on where knowledge comes from and more on standard answers. STEAM Education can help students explore the origins of knowledge and improve students' thinking ability.
STEAM Education in its purest form as employed in the United States cannot be realized in China. The solution is to explore a STEAM Education model that conforms to China's national conditions.
STEAM Education should arouse the natural curiosity of the child allowing the child to drive himself to fully pursue learning and exploration.
Li Fu added these thoughts：
STEAM Education is tailored to local conditions where possible. Adapt the STEAM courses according to the needs of local teachers to ensure the smooth implementation of the courses.
STEAM Education compliments many other curriculum.
STEAM Education inspires students to explore further learning after school. It sows seeds for learning, stimulates students' interests, and helps them broaden their horizons.
STEAM Education serves a useful purpose by arousing students' interest in active knowledge acquisition.
STEAM Education helps students find where their true interests reside as they approach choosing a major for higher education or select a career path.
In responding to the comments of the four panelists, the China Education Online Editor of Shanghai Haowei wrote, “STEM Education not only advances education technology but it is as important is to merge professional teaching ability with the inclusion of humanistic thought so as to maximize the intellectual development of students in multiple STEAM areas."