Photo by Flickr user Matt Brown
The idea that STEM education is more important, more useful, and more worthy of attention and funds than the arts has become so prevalent that the editorial board of Scientific American recently stepped in.
In an editorial from their new October issue, the editors challenge America's recent focus on STEM. The innovations that make our country and our world thrive are based not on technology alone, but on the combination of science and tech with art and the humanities. The editors quote Steve Jobs saying, "It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”
The article focuses mostly on direct, practical uses of arts-based thinking — for example, Apple's aesthetic sensibility that has set them apart from competitors and made products like the iPhone into icons of both technology and design.
But Scientific American also mentions the value of learning and engaging in a variety of disciplines, whether or not they're directly applied to your work. "The student who graduates after four years of pursuing physics plus poetry may, in fact, be just the kind of job candidate sought out by employers," the article explains.
At Connect the Grey, we know that artists — those who devote themselves to music, dance, photography, painting, etc. — offer skills and insights that can deeply inform the work of businesses, scientists, and tech professionals. And we've seen that those businesspeople and scientists can enhance their impact by cross-training their brains with creative activities.
Most importantly, the cross-pollination of arts and sciences can lead to greater strides than either discipline can make alone. As we continue to face major global challenges, the arts and humanities will be essential in providing the empathy, flexibility, and collaborative spirit to succeed. We're glad that Scientific American thinks so, too.