It’s estimated that 65 percent of today’s primary school–aged children will be working in jobs that don’t yet exist.
That’s a formidable statistic when it comes to teaching marketable job-readiness skills. It’s also why World Learning is expanding its interdisciplinary STEAM approach to learning.
Based on the acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), STEAM is defined as “Science and Technology, interpreted through Engineering and the Arts, all based in Mathematical elements.” By highlighting relationships between subjects, students learn how each discipline relates to the other.
Since 2016, World Learning’s approach to STEAM has been researched and developed extensively at our center in Algeria and has now expanded to other World Learning locations in Latin America and the Middle East, where a spin-off project, NextGen Coders Network, teaches coding and promotes intercultural understanding among students from Iraq, Palestinian Territories, and the U.S.
“When they come back and tell you how our STEAM center helped them achieve that—that’s what success looks like.”
The World Learning approach incorporates “the four Cs: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication,” says Riyadh STEAM Center Director Dr. Mohamed Abdelaziz. These are the skills that are not only required in today’s job markets. They are skills that, within the appropriate STEM learning design, will translate to jobs of the future, he says.
“Our challenge is to equip students with skills in cutting-edge fields to be prepared in areas that are directly responsive to the needs of local employers,” Abdelaziz adds. This is especially important in countries where the formal education systems focus on covering subjects rather than promoting innovation. The approach has proved so successful it has attracted the attention of—and funding from—major corporations like Boeing and Dow.
The approach is rooted in discovery of a learner’s passion in primary, middle, and high school. Children are exposed to different STEAM subjects during exploratory workshops so they can pursue what they’re most interested in and be given the equipment and space to innovate.
World Learning has expanded its STEAM programming with partner organizations in each country by involving parents and other community stakeholders and by providing teacher training at the centers and online. First developed in Algeria by Abdelaziz, the STEAM teaching training course continues to be adapted and delivered in larger STEAM programs in the region.
With support from CISCO, World Learning has also developed The Global STEM Toolkit that educators anywhere in the world may download for free, says German Gomez, director of TESOL education at World Learning. The Toolkit has been downloaded more than 1,200 times, and 762 educators have received training in using it.
So, what does STEAM success look like on the ground?
One example comes from Algeria, where 14-year-old coder and game design enthusiast Yacine joined daily summer activities. At 15 he became a mentor to other students, at 16 he represented Algeria in an international robotics competition in Dubai, and today he has a scholarship to attend American University in Beirut.
Says Abdelaziz: “When they come back and tell you how our STEAM center helped them achieve that—that’s what success looks like.”