Tag Archives: teaching design

I had a STREAME(L)

I had a STEM, I mean STEAM, I mean STREAM, oh heck, I mean STREAME(L). It’s what happens when innovation meets institutions. We come up with catchy phrases and then glom everything onto it so it’s impossible to figure out (Read: global citizen).


Yes, it was a good move to integrate the arts into the hard sciences. It gave STEM more complexity and makes it sound less “sputniky” and more “21st century(ee). (For you youngins, Sputnik was Russian launching of Earth’s first satellite in 1957 that catapulted America into the space race and gave birth to a generation of engineers and scientists). So, we have evolved to some extent from guys with tape in the middle of their glasses to girls coding with their MacBook Air.

Having said that, schools are still missing the point. Doing more stuff isn’t innovation, it’s annihilation. Of your teachers, your resources, and your time. When are we going to start doing things differently? Is anyone eliminating their science programs altogether and creating a new STEAM platform? Of course not, we’re hiring a coordinator and hoping that he or she can catch up and integrate it into a jam packed IB curriculum (and don’t you dare let those scores drop).

The best schools in the world are creating separate R&D branches that allow the time and space for prototyping STEAM and other initiatives (before they lose steam). It’s a bold move for those with the time and resources to do so. It’s bold because it speaks not only to program development but the entire scope of how we do business, not just creating new positions that will eventually be cut or turned into something else.

But how to integrate those ideas into fixed, existing structures built on high risk/reward (getting high paying clients into the best colleges) is not something for the faint of heart. And in a leadership culture where int’l heads tend to move on average every three years before innovation can take root, therein lies an endemic roadblock to change.

So, it’s not about STEM or STEAM, STREAM, or my favorite STREAME(L). It’s not about institutional fixes (i.e. creating positions) to complex institutional problems. It’s about what the best athletes in the world can do, and that is to slow down the game so that they can see it unfolding before them, then making the move.

Hey, what do you want from me? Nobody Said It Was Easy!