“As a chemist, I agree that remaining competitive in the sciences is a critical issue. But as an instructor, I also think that if American STEM grads are going to lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts.”
Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes, author of this piece published in the Washington Post last month and professor of chemistry at Rhodes College in Memphis, shares her thoughts on the impact of focusing so much on graduating STEM students from higher education that the liberal arts training is gradually becoming obsolete. As a professor of sciences, she understands the critical nature of educating students in the STEM disciplines but espouses the dangers of downplaying the importance of liberal arts – particularly problem solving skills, creative thinking ability and writing proficiency. She uses two famous men to illustrate the importance of arts infused with STEM – Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs:
“Our culture has drawn an artificial line between art and science, one that did not exist for innovators like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs. Leonardo’s curiosity and passion for painting, writing, engineering and biology helped him triumph in both art and science; his study of anatomy and dissections of corpses enabled his incredible drawings of the human figure. When introducing the iPad 2, Jobs, who dropped out of college but continued to audit calligraphy classes, declared: ‘It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.’”
We share this piece with you today to conclude our series on the STEM to STEAM movement. We hope through these readings that we have gotten you thinking and piqued your curiosity and desire to learn more about the movement and its impact on our children of all ages and our future.
Authored by Jordan Khadam-Hir, Rice University School Literacy and Culture