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Are We #STEM-ing the Flow of Creativity in Learning?

Cross-curricular learning in action in New York City

We've been working with teachers around the world to explore, and in many respects, lead the way in showing how innovative and emerging technologies can light up learning for students of all ages. It is one of our core beliefs that technologies - if used appropriately - can open up opportunities for learning across the whole curriculum. In many of our projects such as our #MinecraftHumanities Refugee Crisis lessons, the learning is cross-curricular bringing in opportunities to embed humanities, science, maths, languages, art, drama and outdoor learning. Recently though, we find ourselves in a place where this is of much less interest in schools. Instead we are being pressed to provide learning content that specifically targets STEM skills and topics. There appears to be a growing demand for projects that are exclusively about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - to the detriment of many other wonderful curricular areas.

This is a trend that we've seen particularly in UK schools, less so in those in other countries we work in. It is a trend that concerns us deeply, after all real life, real-world challenges, and real-world problem solving does not only rely on people who are scientists, engineers and mathematicians! As a small company who greatly value technology and the role it can play in learning - and personally as a scientist and engineer, this concern does not come from a wish to underplay STEM and its importance in shaping the next generation of problem solvers, decision-makers and contributors. It is about valuing the whole, developing all aspects of the learner, and seeing the interconnections that go way beyond disciplinary boundaries.

In a complex, interconnected world that faces future challenges that are, as yet, beyond the scope of our imaginings, perhaps it's time to stand up for approaches that develop holistic, adaptive, agile and resilient learners who are ready for the unimaginable, instead of teaching to the current deficits identified in a corporation's skills gap forecast! In an effort to prepare learners to succeed in an uncertain future world, this is what the 21st Century Curriculum promotes after all.

While global skills agendas will continue to vary as a consequence of market forces and the foreseeable economic climate, what should remain true is our commitment to preparing learners to reach their own potential, follow their passion and utilise their gifts and skills for the betterment of the society in which they will work, live and grow. For me, that requires us to get back to focusing on the learner as the driver of the learning, taking a holistic approach to their growth and development and encouraging them to value their own talents and passions. For educators, it's a call to value the individuals we teach, and to grow their confidence, creativity and tenacity, and open their minds to the myriad of unknown possible futures that lie ahead for them, regardless of the ebbs and flows of the next market forecast.

Catherine is the Education and Outreach Manager at Immersive Minds delivering courses on Problem-Based Learning, Digital Literacy, the 21st Century Curriculum and #STEMplus. To find out more about her work, contact us.

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