The Future of STEAM Education

Session: The Future of STEAM Education

Presenter: Flint Christensen

“The purpose of education is to make the world a better place” was the leading premise of Mr Christensen’s presentation to the conference. In collaborative sessions at his own K-12 site in Piedmont, California three broad goals were identified. Current education has utilized the assembly line concept since the industrial revolution to heighten success in preparing students for standardized tests and in instilling respect and responsibility in students. But Mr Christensen’s team has identified these opportunities for STEAM to help transition education models into the 21st century.

First, STEAM education has the opportunity to bring more joy into the student experience. Students may be working diligently in the current model, but joy is rarely either the cause or the result of this hard work.

Second, STEAM education has the opportunity to bring real world relevance to students’ work. Students typically view their K-12 education as a necessary step to entering a desirable college. And they see their college experience as a necessary step to having vocational opportunities to address the world’s problems. This is two layers removed from relevance for most students. STEAM has the potential to bring relevance to what the students are doing in their K-12 work.

Third, STEAM has the chance to go beyond the silo perspective of their individual subject areas such as math, science, language etc. STEAM can utilize the complex problems that current industry often bemoans current graduates are unfamiliar with when they are introduced to the marketplace.

The challenge of STEAM education utilizing problem/project based learning methods is that students are frequently not cohorted and teachers are limited in their time to collaborate. Mr Christensen suggests a model where entire school sites present problems to solve to students at the beginning of the school year. Teachers can provide rubrics that address the key learning objectives for their own subject that students should demonstrate in their final product. Top tier entrants can be highlighted and all student products could be displayed at an end-of-year EXPO event.

Mr Christensen suggests that this could be the framework for STEAM education to fulfill its mission to make the world a better place. He invites your feedback at

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