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The science - art education models of India and the US - A brief study

The science -art education models of India and the US - A study related to science advancement and communication:

They say the grass will always be greener on the other side of the fence. I feel this is true whenever I come across the debate on  STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)  and STEAM ( add arts for A) models of education. Want to know why? Read on....

In recent times science-art promoters in the West, especially in the US, are stressing the need for changing their education models from STEM to STEAM (1, 11). Their argument is :

The innovative practices of art and design play an essential role in improving STEM education and advancing STEM research; art and design provide real solutions for our everyday lives; artists and designers can effectively communicate complex data and scientific information; the tools and methods of design offer new models for creative problem-solving and interdisciplinary partnerships in a changing world; artists and designers are playing an integral role in the development of modern technology; artists and designers are playing a key role in manufacturing ( Let me emphasize here that research to support this claim may be hard to substantiate, if in fact it is at all possible because several factors come into play while deciding what advances scientific research and makes creative technologies possible. It is this ambiguity the STEAM supporters are making use of to push forward their agenda. However, one can study the models that already exists to understand the merits and pitfalls of such models. And I am trying here to do just that.)

When I read these statements of STEAM supporters, the education model of my own country and to some extent that of Asia comes to my mind. Because in India, this STEAM model already exists. So I feel it is important to compare the results of the different education models of the US and India.

In India, especially in my home state Andhra Pradesh, some marks will be allotted to picture presentation of scientific theories, ideas and specimens you see in labs both while studying and writing exams from class one to your PG level. You have to draw pictures or present them in the form of graphs etc. with your own hands. So the education system here knows the importance of presenting scientific material in the form of pictures. The better you present , the higher marks you get. Therefore, we learn how to connect both art ( in the form of science illustration ) and science throughout our education career. In fact because of this system we usually don't see art and science as different subjects. Visualization of scientific data is not at all new to us. Even in our Ph.D. theses and research papers, we show more pictures and  photographs.  Presenting data in the form of graphs etc. derived from our observations and conclusions  is very important here while showing our research results. Till 10th (and sometimes  12th) class, we have drawing, crafts and art and sciences combined syllabus too unlike in the US (  according to my friends  in the US ).  So art and creativity along with science education  (STEAM) become a part of   the student life here. Moreover, some subjects in humanities along with sciences and languages ( we learn at least three languages - our mother tongues, our National language and English in our schools)  form an integral part of school education systems here. The nearly 15 subject courses are becoming a heavy burden on the students here with the result that students who migrate to other parts of the world usually refuse to come back to this difficult system of education. Teachers and parents here say it is not correct to put so much stress on students' minds.

But did this Indian model of science-art combination help in the scientific research? The miniscule amount of contribution of Indian scientists to the world of science tells a very sad story. This despite the evidence  that India has large number of scientifically and technically skilled persons (8,9). Even the well funded research institutions here are not yielding good results. During the discussions on this problem experts here are saying that this situation is due to the result of India not giving importance to applied sciences where scientific creativity plays a major role in the progress and advancement of science and development of societies. However, the fact that Indians are more tolerant towards science and actually respect science than people from other parts of the world tells this art plus science education here helped in better communication than better research! ( I am aware that the success in research and applied sciences are influenced by several other factors too like the availability of funds, equipment, skilled persons (4) , opportunities, business mindedness of the people involved etc. to invent something based on necessities etc. and patent them and these have to be taken into consideration too for a balanced view and it is a complex web on which these assumptions are not based.  Moreover, collaboration between scientists  of various countries have brought several benefits, such as the ability to share different skills and areas of specialist knowledge in sciences. It is thought in the scientific circles that the more countries there are involved in science the more innovations we will have and the better off we shall be (5, 10,12,13).)
 On the contrary, the education system in the US which concentrated on just STEM model till now has an advanced scientific research program with enviable results. In fact the US is one of the most advanced countries in the world in scientific research (6) and applied sciences (5)! But people there are not very tolerant towards science and science education and this is a known fact (2,7)! So it looks like their model didn't help much in science communication!

This is funny.  STEM people think STEAM is better and STEAM people feel STEM is the best system! So which one is actually good? Which side is more greener? I think removing the fence makes one see a good picture.

I want to emphasize  here that the way science-art movement is going in the present times which is not stressing on scientific creativity but is concentrating on on just science illustration type of work ( Indian Model) and artistic creativity which doesn't contribute much to scientific research (3). It only helps in science communication.
However, in recent times, after observing the results in the US, people in India too started using computer generated pictures of science like in the West and stressing the need for going towards applied sciences based on the US STEM model. I don't think this is the right way to go too.

I think placing  importance on the combination of  scientific creativity and applied sciences  and coupling it with better science communication mechanisms are more essential than just blindly following the Indian  or the US models.

 

References:

(1) http://signon.org/sign/support-stem-to-steam-1?source=s.em.mt&r...

(2) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=tennessee-law-will...

(3) http://kkartlab.in/profiles/blogs/what-scientists-should-be-cautiou...

(4) http://www.siliconindia.com/news/general/India-Needs-68-Percent-Mor...

(5) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1371044/China-course...

(6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_top_international_rankings_by_...

(7) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=readers-respond-to...

(8) http://www.bestweboutsourcing.com/page/technically-professionally-s...

(9) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psi-vid/2013/02/26/a-visit-to-a...

(10) http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v8/n3/full/7400913.html

(11) http://www.asklabs.com/blog/13754053/

(12) http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/saying-it-with-science/a...

(13) http://www.sciencecodex.com/the_science_of_collaboration-118291

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Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on September 8, 2014 at 6:45am

Why converting STEM to STEAM is important:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/09/05/stem-...

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on September 12, 2013 at 7:54am

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on September 8, 2013 at 6:14am

http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-stem-crisis-is-a-myth

The STEM Crisis Is a Myth

Forget the dire predictions of a looming shortfall of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians

506

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on August 16, 2013 at 8:46am

http://www.aikenstandard.com/article/20130815/AIK02/130819612/1018/...
Column: Arts should not be lost among math, science

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on August 12, 2013 at 5:39am
Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on August 6, 2013 at 5:58am

http://mariecurielivinghistory.com/acaseforsteam/?goback=.gde_42291...
A Case for STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics

STEAM adds the Arts to STEM. Manya, The Living History of Marie Curie is a model of teaching STEM through the Art of dramatic narrative. Sometimes I am asked why, as an engineer-turned-playwright, I have chosen to teach science through story. Isn’t it more efficient just to present the facts?

Here’s my response: Why bake a cake with flour, sugar, and salt? Isn’t it less work just to eat the ingredients separately? Here, chow down on this cup of flour. Would you like a pinch of salt? Raw egg anyone? From our first birthday cake to any celebratory occasion, we’ve all experienced this well-known fact: Ingredients combined well and baked together taste better than the same ingredients by themselves.

The objectives of the STEAM movement are to:

transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education
influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation

How does theater and storytelling fit within STEAM? Humans depend upon narrative to create meaning out of our existence. In fact, our survival as a species hinges on our ability to tell, share and remember stories, data, and knowledge.

According to Kendall Haven, “For 100,000 years, humans have relied on story structure to archive and to communicate key history, knowledge, facts, beliefs, concepts, and attitudes This has evolutionarily rewired human brains to automatically think, understand, and remember through stories.”

Alternatively one might ask: Why cloud a good storyline with facts about chemistry and physics? Doesn’t that get in the way of the drama?

A well-told science story has all the hooks of a brilliant mystery or whodunit. A question is posed. Facts are revealed in an order that allows the audience to gradually assemble a picture of a whole and, by investing a suitable amount of concentration, follow developments. The context builds anticipation. As listeners/viewers, we get to feel smart, discovering one piece at a time. In the case of science drama, we, the audience, become scientists. As our emotional involvement brings us to care about the main characters, we experience vicariously the rush that comes with discovering something new.

And if questions remain at the closing scene, we walk away charged with a mission. Our lives become a next step in millennia of human discovery.

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on June 27, 2013 at 8:32am

A recent report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences might help bridge the divide. The Heart of the Matter makes an impassioned case for supporting the arts and humanities in addition to STEM. The report finds that all people, even engineers or computer scientists, need a good dose of the arts and humanities to understand the human significance of the work they do.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-rosen/stem-is-a-liberal-art_b_3...

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on June 22, 2013 at 6:57am

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/creat...
Creating space for STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math
School districts plan to use grants to develop interesting places where teens can gather

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on June 20, 2013 at 12:59pm

A broadly based education will teach students to write well, think critically, research creatively, and communicate easily.
http://ideas.time.com/2013/06/19/our-economy-can-still-support-libe...
Critics of the Liberal Arts Are Wrong

Comment by Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa on June 12, 2013 at 8:27am

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-beal/turn-stem-to-steam_b_342...
Turn STEM to STEAM: Why Science Needs the Arts

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