From hacking and spamming to sports betting, cyberbullying and more, cybercrime isn’t just a problem, it’s an epidemic. With no sign of the problem abating any time soon, efforts must be made to curb the damage that online crime can have on the lives of those using the internet — which is nearly everyone these days.
One of the most effective ways we can blunt the work of cybercriminals is by changing our approach to education. This starts at the beginning. Efforts should be made, whether at home or in pre-K, to ensure that children are ready for the intense, information-filled, modern academic world from a young age.
When they enter “big-kid” school, though, the preparation can’t stop. Once in the classroom, teachers must focus more on providing quality education to all students that includes an emphasis on cutting edge subjects like technology, science, and mathematics. For the littles, inspiring a budding interest in STE(A)M topics can be as simple as creating magic with play dough. For older children, teachers might need to translate these activities into more outwardly technical activities like building LEGO buildings, calculating equations, or writing code.
However, we’re not just talking about these subject in their raw, traditionally academic form. The real magic happens when these subjects are combined and applied to real-world problem-solving.
What is STE(A)M?
STE(A)M is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. It has been expanded from its original “STEM” to include an “A” for art, as the general concept has continued to gain momentum in educational circles. But STE(A)M is so much more than a list of school subjects. Each of these topics is a critical component of not just a good education, but of modern life in general and the ability to participate as a fully-functioning member of society.
Why is STE(A)M Important?
The idea behind STE(A)M tends to be more focused on a holistic, student-integrated, real-world application of knowledge, rather than a simple mastering of the subject material. A student who gets straight As on their math tests and yet has no idea how to apply logical thinking or problem-solving in their day-to-day experiences has been given little more than a pat on the shoulder and a shove out the door, where they become sheep among wolves.
It is far more advantageous for a student to be taught more than the formulas themselves. Math, for example, can be used to teach critical thinking, serves as a universal language across the globe, and can teach good habits like persistence, organization, and logic. Technology, as another example, isn’t just embodied in a smartphone or SpaceX launch. It’s also a tool that is constantly evolving and requires both respect and care to use. In this case, management and self-control are as valuable to teach as understanding the tech itself.
A Real-Life Education
By digging into the deeper meanings and applications of these subjects, a STE(A)M approach allows students to learn how to handle very real things like cybertechnology and social media literacy. The benefit of teaching the subjects together is that it enables students to apply them in reality and not just as concepts in the classroom.
If we can teach the younger generations the benefits and risks of things like science, art, and mathematics, it can help equip them to use said knowledge in navigating the ever-evolving dangers of the world that we live in. From keeping their personal information safe to protecting themselves from cyberbullying, interdisciplinary and applicable education at a young age has become an absolute necessity in the modern age.
Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book. Chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.