Long Island Catholic Elementary Schools add the arts and religion to the popular STEM approach.
One of the differentiating factors to a Catholic education has traditionally been the view of the world through the lens of the Catholic faith. Educationally, the concept of STEM, or eliminating the educational ‘silos’ of isolated, individual subjects and viewing them through the real-world application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math place real value on the practical application of knowledge. The intersection of these two concepts create a framework for instruction called STREAM.
Working with St. John’s University School of Education, the Diocese is prototyping a move from the current STEM educational focus, where Science, Technology, Engineering and Math concepts are presented together to something called STREAM, a more evolved version of STEM that additionally incorporates religion and the arts. A simple example would be the inclusion of a ‘deeper dive’ into the ethical and moral implications of slavery in learning units on the Civil War. The Catholic teachings of compassion, forgiveness and social justice provide a yardstick to evaluate historical events through the lens of the Catholic faith.
As one of the early adopters of STEM, and an original participant in Long Island’s original STEM event, Technology Day, the schools of the Diocese of Rockville Centre have long been on the leading edge of instruction that couples rigorous academic concepts with the real-world application of these concepts to build true understanding.
The characteristics of a STREAM of educational framework include the integration Catholic identity into every aspect of the curriculum. Schools manifest this intent through projects based in social justice as well as in-depth experiential instruction in the teachings of the church. By design, STREAM schools provide a challenging learning environment focused on science, technology, math, arts, and the integration of education in the faith that inspires the joy of discovery. STREAM schools also promote a culture of innovation and stress a commitment to ethical behavior.
STREAM is also student-focused, seeking to increase the participation of groups that are under-represented in the sciences, increasing content literacy students who do not pursue technology-related careers and fostering an environment that encourages problem solving, group collaboration and independent research.
As Pope St. John Paul II stated; “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” In the Catholic Elementary Schools of Long Island, the implementation of a STREAM framework for instruction moves us closer to the contemplation of that truth by exploring the relationship between faith and reason.