Confronted with the multiplicity of environmental and social issues which are exploding around the globe, ideas and practices of scientific research have come under scrutiny. While the complexity of current problems is defying conventional, reductionist approaches, new readings of science and technology are emphasising the embodied and situated nature of knowledge, with greater attention to disciplinary integration, multi-modal communication and dialogue amongst different perspectives. This chapter positions STEAM at the intersection between competing and complementary discourses in science and technology, the descriptive and the performative, operating as part of an extended ecology of material, affective and cognitive relationships.
Adopting a relational and posthumanist ontology, the chapter will discuss scientific and artistic creativities as emerging at the intersection between mind and nature, and thus integral to the ways in which as individuals we “attend to” the world. This position foregrounds ‘aesthetic perception’ – the ‘A’ in STEAM – as a prime form of knowing, entangled with the lives of others, humans and non-humans, and recovers the ethical dimension in science and technology education. Drawing on the experience from a course in science education involving prospective primary teachers, the chapter will illustrate the pedagogical tenets of this approach and its implications for educating to act in a world in ongoing transformation.
This chapter draws upon Arne Naess and Ronald Hepburn to think through some limitations of approaching environment and sustainability education via knowledge from science and technology alone. Naess thought that ecologists instinctively understood what many others struggle to – that the equal right to live and blossom is a normative value that should be granted to all living things and not just humans. Nonetheless, Naess held that ecology is a limited science. It is limited because scientific methods can generate descriptive facts about the world but not values to guide action in the world. For the formation of personal ecological values that guide action, or what Naess calls an “ecosophy”, systematic philosophical thinking about self-realisation and nature is needed. Those who develop their own “ecosophies” recognise that human and non-human life are intrinsically interconnected and that, as such, all of life suffers when humans think and act as if they are not interconnected. Hepburn also saw serious limits to scientific knowledge. For Hepburn, scientific method requires the stripping away of all the embodied experiences that make people human. This chapter argues that from Hepburn and Naess we can learn that a balanced education is not confined to inculcating scientific knowledge or skills. Instead it also involves the exploration of ecological values as well as serious aesthetic appreciation. The chapter concludes by discussing how Ciro Guerra’s film Embrace of the Serpent might be educational. It is claimed that the film offers viewers an opportunity to think about human–environment relations in alternative and more ecophilosophically fruitful and aesthetically serious ways. Embrace of the Serpent illustrates how and why arts and especially film-based educational interventions can come to matter.
Mathematics and science education are still strongly based on the concept of mind–body dualism, in which mind and body are viewed as separate entities. Learning mathematics is most often regarded as a solely intellectual activity, which involves only the brain. The “Maths in Motion” modules described in this chapter were collaboratively written and field tested by experts in dance/movement, educational researchers and mathematics education researchers. neuropsychological research has shown that physical activity correlates positively with cognitive skills. This chapter describes six activities, linking them to theories of multiple intelligences, multiple creativities and multiple embodiment. Each activity presents STEAM-integrated mathematics educational practices, which highlight methods of “embodying” mathematical concepts through physicality and kinaesthetic engagement, imagination and creativity. Our goal is to present outlines of these multidisciplinary and multisensory learning programs, which open up new dimensions for students, teachers and parents by offering the simultaneous experience of structural, spatial, rhythmic and symbolic dimensions of mathematics through body movement. The main body of this chapter describes these modules and some of the theoretical underpinnings of their creation. They represent the results of an international Erasmus+ educational project, called “Maths in Motion”.
This chapter offers an account of a workshop in arts-based learning called “Metamorphoses of Organic Forms”. This detailed description of a particular practice may inform a discussion of ways in which artful approaches, in general, may come to matter in STEAM education, with implications for both educational research and practice. Added to that, the chapter argues that such art-based practices can also be relevant more widely in the context of sustainability education, such as on the theme of climate change. Precisely because the content of the art workshop at hand is not prima facie linked to it, there is an unexpected potential to take up such a tangential theme in an unusual way. Typically, participants feel invigorated to enter new territory – both spatial and mental. On a meta-level, the session can also be seen as a practice in facing complexity, uncertainty, not knowing. The chapter suggests that such artful educational practices have intrinsic merit if we are to equip new generations with skills to live in and endure “post-normal times”.
In the workshop “Metamorphoses of Organic Forms”, participants are invited to imagine how forms in nature might either evolve or disintegrate over time. The workshop lends itself to follow-up lessons in biology and natural history. The outcome is not given. Participants go through a shared process step by step, following a sequence that is outlined for them as they go along. They are encouraged to imagine how natural phenomena might grow or decay in time and they do this in a series of short sessions where they sculpt works in clay. Such a practice in art-based environmental education is arguably a form of “poor pedagogy”. This educational activity is primarily and fundamentally an open-ended process. Rather than requiring an extensive methodology, its practice requires participants to surrender themselves to a process that will be unique each time it is performed. Such a practice is an expression of a view on education that is not centred on the transmission of knowledge but rather looks at attention as education and the education of attention.
STEAM education usually aims to use art and music as tools to enhance learning in the STEM subjects. However, a true merging of the visual arts and music with the STEM subjects presupposes an appreciation of the genuine character and contribution of all the STEAM subjects. This chapter discusses the contribution of musical listening skills to phenomenon-based science education, where the careful investigation of phenomena forms the basis for conceptualisations and theory. Science teacher students are accustomed to using pre-presented concepts to demonstrate or explain phenomena, rather than beginning from lifeworld experiences. Fostering attentive listening, such as through music education, is one way to develop students’ sensitivity to how they perceive, understand and inhabit our everyday world. This chapter draws on Husserl’s critique of modern science, Harvey’s notion of the “ontological reversal”, Heidegger’s ontology of listening, Ingold’s anthropology of the senses and John Cage’s notion of more-than-musical listening to explore how attentive listening can give learners a deepened understanding of sensed phenomena. The chapter also discusses possibilities and constraints when it comes to integrating the arts and music into STEM subjects. It proposes that teachers should develop students’ understanding of the relations between lifeworld phenomena and their scientific representations, fostering the art of paying attention and connecting to their lifeworlds, as well as expanding their scientific knowledge.
Donna Haraway calls us to create new ideas and new ways of thinking, and new kinds of stories to think with, because the old ones are failing to address the most pressing issues of our time. Such a shift relies on different concepts of what these terms mean, and creating new tools, concepts and ways of being with people, materials and environments. This chapter thinks with Haraway to explore how doing research differently in one research project (exploring teaching as an improvisatory act with music student teachers) has enabled the researcher to develop different stories about research, the role of a researcher and ultimately the role of a teacher. It challenges three interrelated assumptions about educational research and practice: the dominance of humanism, the linearity of process and the dominance of the linguistic. In their place, it explores research as improvisation, as making with materials, senses and forms. It considers how we can shift from a humanist, abstracted epistemology to a flattened onto-epistemology which focuses attention on being, on the entanglements of humans and materials, and on a pluralist knowing arising from all the senses.