In the fall of 2016, I had a chance to speak with 21Toys about the critical intersection of STEM/STEAM and real-world problem-solving. So glad this conversation is up on their community page!
It’s encouraging to see how this recent article in The Atlantic further supports this discussion by highlighting interdisciplinary programs which are a “hybrid of liberal-arts and technical education” and is “what is most needed in training programs to allow workers to better navigate the ambiguity of the future job market.”
In education we generally teach STEM/STEAM to build things, but sometimes we fail to take an interdisciplinary approach. Young people need to be encouraged to leverage STEM/STEAM and making to solve real-world problems, and those problems don’t have to be science or tech-related. In the case of Nairobi Play, youth are applying STEAM and computational thinking to solve issues related to conflict, culture and broader societal issues, in tandem with empathy and other 21st century skills. I don’t think we see this enough because creating programs to teach tech skills is easy, it’s the other stuff that’s more challenging to design for and assess. The “jobs of the future” rhetoric is also hyper-focused on technology and computer programming, which unfortunately ends up devaluing these other skills.
It will be interesting to see how these types of programmatic models continue to evolve and if they really do equip youth with the skills for the future job market. In the meantime, I can settle for motivated and inspired youth who have new learning pathways to discover their voice and tell their stories : )