When I reflect back on my experience as a student during my middle and high school years I don’t have a lot of instances when I can recall real joy or excitement happening during most of my academic classes. I do recall though, being driven to succeed in those courses because I felt like they were a pathway to participation and accomplishment in my artistic endeavors.
This is not to say that I always thrived and/or exceled in those academic spaces but that I recognized them as tied directly to my aspirations, for better or for worse. I’ve been thinking about this tremendously during an era where it seems that the arts are continually excluded from the scope of educational development in schools. Yes, there are co-curricular programs, many of them funded through state and federal grants. But, in truth, when these programs are included as “add-ons” they are relegated to a space of secondary importance. Simultaneously, we forget that at the core of mathematical and scientific discovery is the capacity for abstract thought and the creative translation of this into its physical being.
So, if school systems will continue to devalue artistic pursuits, how will educators develop the practice of creativity in their young people? Risk.
One of the most vital aspects of creating something new is the recognition that, perhaps, it might somehow fail. Perhaps, you might change and so your perspective on your design might change as well. I am prepared to see my design as a reflection of myself. I am prepared to have others examine and find fault. I am prepared to excel and prepared to feel defeated at times.
Inspiration is tied directly to risk and the success or failure of STEM programming is tied inextricably to these both. Are we, as educators, feeling inspired by our STEM objectives? Are we invested in inspiring our students? Do we recognize that this feeling is the drive that carries students to look “beyond the numbers?” Along with all of this, are we willing to take the risk of exploring our own creative humanity in the context of the classroom?
I’m leaving this with a lot of questions which I should continually ask myself.