South Korean Leadership on STEAM

The Australian Council of Learned Academies, in an effort to build Australia’s STEM workforce and increase international competitiveness, recently commissioned reports on similar efforts in 24 countries, including the Republic of Korea (aka South Korea or Korea) (http://www.acola.org.au/index.php/stem-consultants-reports  – a great resource if you are asked to consider the future of STEM in your own region). This particular report (www.acola.org.au/ACOLA/PDF/SAF02Consultants/Consultant%20Report%20-%20Korea.pdf) was authored by Jae-Eun Jon, Korea University (http://www.korea.edu) and Hae-In Chung, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/index.html).

Banpo Bridge with a rainbow fountain over the Han River in Seoul (Gu Gyobok)

Banpo Bridge with a rainbow fountain over the Han River in Seoul (Gu Gyobok)

Therein they describe the efforts of the Republic of Korea in the area of STEAM. While Korean students have excelled in math and science, and the country has a need for increased numbers of STEM-capable graduates, interest in the STEM disciplines is weak. To remedy this problem and foster creativity, beginning in August 2011 the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology restructured the entire Korean STEM curriculum around the idea of STEAM. The amount of math content was reduced by 20% to allow time for STEAM. There have been many opportunities for associated professional development, and two new STEAM schools for the gifted and talented crowd are scheduled to open by 2016. Additional schools have been selected at STEAM Leader Schools to pilot the full STEAM curriculum, and teacher study groups have been formed. Universities and Colleges of Education are expected to develop curricula that will train future teachers in STEAM and to carry out STEAM research.

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