Select Page

STEM to STEAM: There’s More Than One Kind of Smart

Last week, my kids celebrated the last day of school. I vacillate between gratitude and sadness. I’m grateful we made it safely through another year, but sadly it all goes so fast.

I regret that I have to focus so much energy on making a living that I’m often not able to make the life for my kids I want them to have. At least once a day, I want to sell my house and buy a place where the Cimarron River meets the Lawrie Stretch. I want to tell the people shoving STEM down my kids’ throats that it’s ok for them to sing, dance, and create art. Even Amazon is pushing STEM.

Click to see their STEM offerings.

What is STEM?

For those of you who don’t know what STEM is, it’s an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. It pops up in political and policy debates. Everyone’s worried the Chinese are going to surpass us. Maybe they’ll even own us.

The notion of STEM is OK I guess. It’s good to expand the reach of so-called gifted and talented programs. But, just like those programs, STEM advocates have gone too far. They’ve undermined the value of pursuing other disciplines within the arts. They’ve contributed to a bias that says the only serious student is the one who excels at math and science.

I was terrible at math and I’ve still had a decent career. When I was 25, I became the only writer on a team of engineers trying to figure out how to tell a story so we could save a military base and 26,000 jobs from Cold War-inspired extinction. My reports made their way to Air Force Times, to Congress. As history recorded, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission spared that installation.

There is more than one kind of smart.

Click to enlarge the chart.

Howard Gardner 9 types of intelligence

Howard Gardner 9 types of intelligence


At least once a week I want to home-school my kids. Abandon rote memorization and ridiculous paperwork. An open field will be our laboratory. We’ll hunt for bugs all day long and sketch the landscape at sunset.

I wish they could learn through failure instead of being diminished by it.

According to blogger Penelope Trunk, there is so much evidence that schools don’t meet the educational needs of kids. (This is one reason I send my kids to a parochial school.) Unstructured play for young children is sorely undervalued. The ACT is a patently unfair way of selecting students for the best colleges.

And, how can a teacher sustain passion-based learning with nearly three-dozen students in her class? I don’t know how public school teachers manage all they are expected to do. I know it must be so hard.

Also, I wonder how long will it be until we figure out that science and math can’t STEM the tide of our failures?


Stem to Steam

Stem to Steam

In 2007, the Rhode Island School of Design began leading the STEM to STEAM effort. They suggested we add an A between the E and M. Cute. A is for ART. The movement honors different kinds of intelligence. Like logic smart and word smart. Nature smart and picture smart. Music smart and body smart and people smart.

Multiple Chart of different kinds of intelligence

Nine Kinds of Intelligence

What kind of smart are you? Do you support the STEM to STEAM movement?

A Book on Stem to Steam

Here’s a great book on stem to steam. Both are available on Amazon. Click the covers to read more about them.


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

Thank you for subscribing. Posts are delivered ONCE A WEEK on Sundays at 6 p.m. You can unsubscribe anytime with one click. Also, we will not share your email address with anyone.
Posted in:


  1. Tammy

    Where can I buy the infographic on Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences? I want to display it in my room.

  2. Alan Bates

    I love STEM to STEAM! Beginning now, that you have told me about it. The problem with STEM is that they have taken the wonder out of science and math. Maybe STEAM is a way of putting the wonder back into education.

Pin It on Pinterest