Arts Integration

More Heart, More Art Through STEAM

Putting the A in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) is often treated as an afterthought. Yet, art has always played a major role in helping us expand and appreciate new science technologies.
A closeup of a young women in a green shirt resting her head on her hand. The background, a coffee shop, is blurred.
Photo credit: mederndepe via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
To develop a complete mind; study the science of art; study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else. -- Leonardo Da Vinci

Art continues to remain marginal in education, and I believe this is why: Despite tremendous growth in technology, STEM industries, and education, we are stuck in a rut in our politics, our economy, and the fight for health and fairness for most people.

Art makes us more human and empathetic. Without art, it is hard to imagine the lives of other people, other creatures, and the possibilities of other realities in general. Because of this deficit in art education, young people have tremendous faith in the coolness and remarkable evolution of their gadgets, but not much faith in themselves and other humans to grow and evolve.

Putting the A for art in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to make STEAM is too often treated as an afterthought. Yet, art has always played a major role in helping us expand and appreciate new science technologies, from the printing press to the smart phone. What would these technologies mean without poetry, movies, music, and smart visual design? Art helps give humans the desire and inspiration to invest great energy and resources into STEM.

Art's relationship to STEM has long been obvious to me. When I first got out of art school one of my first professional jobs was in Silicon Valley. After a stint as an intern at Microsoft and a nine-month contract at Starwave -- a now defunct company started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen -- I was employee number five at a startup near Palo Alto.

This was in the 90s, and back then, one could still have pie-in-the-sky notions about what technology would do for society. My dream was to bring imaginative worlds alive using 3D technology and games. While much of this has come true, I am mostly disillusioned by how militaristic and combat-oriented most major gaming franchises have become, and I think this failure is due to art's second-class status in education.

So, while we watch technology's growth, let's make sure we grow along with it. We do this through our poetry, our dance, our music, our visual art, and our literature. We push the potential for our hearts to grow.

A Call to Action

So, let me propose an amendment to Moore's law. Moore's Law, which was proposed by the co-founder of Intel -- Gordon Moore -- in 1965, said that the power of computer technology will double every year. This has held true until now.

My amendment only proposes that we grow along with it in terms of more compassion, in terms of more imagination, in terms of our desire to do more towards endeavors that are more important than our smart phones. Let's call it the More Amendment.

This is where art education counts. Art grows the heart and the imagination so that our science, technology, engineering, and math will reflect what is best in us. Through art education, Silicon Valley will be the afterthought, and our students will be more excited by the future of themselves.