STEM is an acronym used in current education policy and curriculum – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – to address and stimulate a sector of education that is perceived to have been in decline for decades.

The exclusionary premise of STEM’s tech-only focus inspired the rise of the acronym STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics – in an attempt to bring the study of the humanities (art, reading, writing, music, design, etc.) back into the educational spotlight. Websites such as STEM to STEAM ( provide links to resources, press releases and case studies (for example, Sesame Street + STREAM and RSID Foundation Studies) in support of the movement.

The Arts & Science core curriculum has been the backbone of educational institutions and a well-rounded education requires study in both. It is not about choosing “arts or science” or “arts not science” or “science not art” and, although the STEM movement provided a much-needed rallying cry for an improvement in educational standards, perhaps a more inclusionary title might have been better received.

Studying the arts – literature, music, visual arts, etc. – introduces subjectivity (not just objectivity), abductive reasoning (not just deductive reasoning), and integrative thinking (not just linear thinking), and it is these qualities that provide the creative foundation for ‘engineers’ to succeed. The Integrative Thinking methodology inherent in artistic study provides an infrastructure that fosters the creative and analytical thought processes required in all aspects of life. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are developed and honed over time through the repeated application of creative thinking.

This is how study in the arts improves the potential success of study in the sciences.

The STEM versus STEAM argument may just be an exercise in semantics. However, we need both arts and science, and evidence shows that STEAM is best for improving the skills of creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.