Full STEAM Ahead (or not)

Herein lies a conversation between myself and a colleague.  Nothing is confidential here but it seems that it is treated as such; that the conversation should be more public than it is.  


A colleague shares what STEAM is (Science, Technology, Engineering, (the) Arts, Math) 

Really good Ted talk that kinda summarizes our STEAM initiative – makes more sense now!! You’ve probably seen it already – but wanted to share. 


Why is it that so many other priorities come before this approach to learning? Where does progress and success in educational pursuits break down? We should be past the point of realizing that this is a good idea and should be a primary focus. There is too much research and best practices to show both qualitative and quantitative data to begin support.

It is not all doom and gloom but there seems to be a slow and steady approach to something that we are getting further and further away from and the emphasis gets diluted. I feel that I can choose to have this mindset and encourage the students I come in contact with to have this mindset (e.g. Innovation) before educators are on board and interested. Watching this I feel the “yes” inside of me agreeing with this approach but then it is a bit bound in reality when the outcome is then placed in context with how the process of attainment and integration occurs.

I like this approach and I like these thoughts but I would also prefer to be right in the middle of it instead of dancing around the integration. Is this a district, school, or personal decision? I feel that I can make the decision but the process become more difficult to connect and gain traction through / with the further from myself the ideas are shared. Should there be a change in focus (e.g. MORE of a change in focus)? In the TED talk, the further away from organized education the more innovative the pursuit becomes. Why? Starting with a school and then moving to the district level … and beyond … seem appropriate.

I know we can change this but also feel that we can do more to make this a priority. Full STEAM ahead! I hope we don’t catch ourselves on a steady incline and realize that we are either out of coal or just plain didn’t stoke the fire. 


You pose some intriguing questions and express frustration with the slow pace of educational change. As an education historian, I have had to learn to take a longer view. In the 1930s, under the auspices of the Progressive Education Association (PEA), an 8 year study of progressive reform in schools took place. In the findings, the students who experienced the progressive education did as well, if not slightly better, than their classically educated peers. In our language, the progressive education caused no harm, but added value. However, for a myriad of reasons including social control, the public education system remains inherently conservative. By conservative, I mean maintaining the status quo. In fact, progressivism is regarded as a 4-letter word in many circles.

I also think it is interesting that you, a media specialist, expresses this frustration. When John Dewey, the philosopher behind the 8 Year Study, designed ideal schools, the media center was the hub of the school and all activities stemmed from it.


Thank you for catching the urgency in my response. The intention was to initiative discussion but, per your response, I feel that the element of change is as you described. The personal connection and responsibility are real and active in the media center at Spring Hill and the stimulus for a response is not to shock but to heal. I wanted to provide a timeline of my journey into STEAM up to a couple of minutes ago.
FCBOE_STEAM Group Learning_June, 2016

  • The summer of 2016 was not long ago for change to happen as quickly as it did.
  • The notes were a stimulus of change and motivation for future thinking.

Cochran Mill / Chattahoochee Hills / SCI & STEAM / 10.10.16

  • The Chattahoochee Hills Charter School in Fulton County was relevant and focused on elements of learning I feel we could integrate.’
  • I wonder why it is so difficult to share elements of an effective program within a public setting? You eluded to that but that can either be an reality or an observation. What will we as a district own as our choice?

Expanding the Maker Movement Locally_Research Proposal_Gregg Lehman_OCT 2016

  • Gregg has since purchased a facility in Hogansville and moved his profession al Makerspace from Peachtree City to this location. The idea is that we have research at our finger tips and avenues of involvement that can drive us forward if we are open to it.  
  • This is why I feel we should make STEAM a greater initiative than it is. Administrators were challenged to flatten the walls of (their) schools by Joe Sanfelippo (Hacking Leadership) earlier this summer. This is a medium to make that happen.

The E in STEAM : How engineering is transforming K-8 classrooms

  • Various models exist but every student should be give an opportunity to be creative, critical, practical, and have a method to explore these areas of thought.  

Student Thank You Letter_Donors Choose_Making Time to Make it Mine_06.29.17

  • I was late sending my thank you letter in due to additional elements of inclusion towards STEAM surrounding the media center.  

Check out the hashtag #futurereadylibs for where the media center is going and how the integration of STEAM is real and active.  

Resources are included here that drive the #makered movement and #futureready concepts shared in the recent webinar with three stellar media specialists. This is worth taking a look at and the concepts are relevant to teachers in all areas. The resource sheet contains all the connections including the webinar link for viewing on YouTube.  

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children PLAY IS SERIOUS LEARNING. Play is really the work of childhood. – Fred Rogers –

Yes, I am disgruntled, but that is a fire in me that is worth stoking … for the students and for the teachers. What works for the kids? Not just the gifted kids but all the kids.  

Let’s keep hacking.  What are the reader’s thoughts? 

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