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History of STEAM Education

The STEM education system, popularly known as STEAM, is an approach used in teaching by combining technology, science, engineering, math, and arts. Currently, the system is widely used in the UK, the US, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia. Understanding the inception of this system in the UK is imperative in elucidating the educational history behind it. Following the Education Reform Act of 1988 in the UK, the kingdom started using the STEAM education system. The system was introduced in all primary and secondary schools in Wales, Northern Ireland, and England. There are diverse reasons the UK is glued to using this education system in their schools. In this thread, the years of development of STEAM, the identity of the person who came up with it, and why the UK education system believes the system helps students become more creative have been captured.

The primary idea behind the development of the STEAM education system in the UK is that students had to be taught to be both creative and analytical instead of one of these. Initially, the education system was called STEM before it was known as the STEAM. Besides the idea of students being both analytical and creative, the lack of highly qualified engineers and scientists who would steer the UK forward in development and research was a fundamental factor in the introduction of STEM. Historically, the development of STEM started when the Chancellor of the Exchequer 2002 requested a respected UK engineer, known as Sir Gareth Roberts, to review science and engineering skills in the UK. Mete (2018) argues that Sir Gareth Roberts was instrumental in transforming the approach to science subjects in the UK like Physics and Biology vis-à-vis research and development. Sir Gareth Roberts compiled a report for the Exchequer Chancellor. The importance of mathematical skills in innovating the economy and a shortage of young people pursuing math, science, and engineering were identified.

After the report was released in 2002, the Higher Education Funding Council convened a meeting in 2005 to identify some STEM subjects deemed strategically significant and vulnerable. The UK Department of Education then mapped out a STEM landscape by identifying up to 470 initiatives for STEM in the year 2004. The council’s concern was that there was a high likelihood that educational institutions would reduce the provision of these subjects to learners because of a decline in their demand. Besides, the council was concerned that there would be a likelihood that these strategically significant and vulnerable subjects would be threatened by the high costs of providing them to learners (Pressick et al., 2018). Finally, the Department of Education established the STEM program nationally to get funding for the system. Thus, Sir Gareth Roberts was instrumental in developing the STEM education system into which the Higher Education Funding Council later incorporated arts turning it into STEAM.

The UK government believes the steam system is instrumental in assisting students to be more creative because it helps them develop soft skills, increases motivation and engagement, and personalizes the learning experience for students. Perhaps the development of soft skills in learners through the STEAM system is the most potent way to develop creativity in students. In this way, it bolsters the potential of learners in research and economic development undertakings. The soft skills attained by learners after adopting the STEAM system of education include creativity, collaboration in learning, and the development of problem-solving approaches. Harris & De Bruin (2018) state that incorporating the STEAM education system in secondary schools has revamped the potential of learners to be creative through exchanges fostered by the system.

Additionally, STEAM has developed learners’ creativity through the lens of increased student engagement and motivation. The STEM framework increases student motivation by incorporating technology into the learning process. It encourages the active engagement of learners, thus improving their motivation for the roles they are undertaking during learning. The involvement of technology entrenched aspects of learning causes learners to concentrate more when being engaged by their teachers because of the longing it creates for them to engage with lesson materials (Prince, Felder & Brent, 2020). Regarding student engagement, STEAM ensures learners experience guided inquiry during class sessions. Simultaneously, it helps them discover new answers, find new creative ways of solving problems, and put what they have learned into practice.

Moreover, STEAM personalizes students’ learning experience because the teachers custom the learning approach to befit each student as dictated by the system. Primarily, STEAM takes into account the unique learning capabilities of a student. These learning capabilities are entrenched in the student’s traits that the teacher or the professor corroborates by tailoring them to estimated capabilities the student can attain. The specific strengths a student demonstrates, their needs, and interests are tailored to the demands identified by the education system to yield robust outcomes through customized classroom learning. In this way, STEAM ensures that the research and economic obligations being pursued by the government are attainable through the educational capabilities being built into learners relentlessly.

The most yielding means through which STEAM empowers and equips learners to be more creative in encouraging the creative learning process. The implication is that the system is such that the concepts adopted by the system are directly involved in identifying real-world problems. By injecting creativity into STEAM, innovation is made possible from what learners do because it engages them with the issues they are likely to face in real life and the need to have those problems solved. In other words, STEAM creates a paradigm for exploiting the creative capabilities of learners vis-à-vis, creating a contact between the learners and the challenges in the real world. When this scenario is excellently executed, the goals of the economy and research are grasped at a faster rate than when STEAM was not invoked in the education system.

Conclusively, this piece has explored the history of the STEAM education system in the UK forum. It has mentioned the significant role played by Sir Gareth Roberts in coming up with the system. It is lucid from this discourse that the STEM system of education yields tremendous results in building students’ creativity. Its dynamics for attaining this are incorporating technology in the learning process, providing resources requisite for innovation, and exposing learners to real-world problems requiring solutions. STEAM encourages a creative education system by personalizing the learning process to the needs, interests, and capabilities of each student. In so doing, STEAM ensures the approach to real world problems is done through the lens of the intellectual capabilities in each student. Future considerations regarding the STEAM education system should involve emerging threats like climate change or external aggression the UK could be facing in the wake of numerous global


Harris, A., & De Bruin, L. R. (2018). Secondary school creativity, teacher practice and STEAM education: An international study. Journal of Educational Change19(2), 153-179.

Mete, P. (2018). A Case Study Of The Problems Faced By 9th-grade The Physics-Chemistry-Biology Teachers In The Course Of Science Education. Necatibey Faculty of Education Electronic Journal of Science & Mathematics Education12(2).

Pressick-Kilborn, K., Pressick, K., Silk, M., & Martin, J (2018). STEM education in K-12 schooling.

Prince, M., Felder, R., & Brent, R. (2020). Active student engagement in online STEM classes: Approaches and recommendations. Advances in Engineering Education8(4), 1-25.


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