Our SAM-mys and STEAM-mettes

It is probably not something you think possible again at my age or would want to admit to on linkedin, however I have falling in love all over again…and this time I am out of control.

It happened a few months ago, and the thing is, my new found love is not one man, not one woman, not a gorgeous song or a delectable dish, no, my new found passion is education all over again. I always was fond of it, to be fair, but more of the Arts subjects, the humanities,  where interpretations reigns and different point of views enrich conversations. I have always felt myself comfortable in the chaos of stories, in the inevitabilities of political and social challenges, in the changing landscape of human behaviours, in the depths of psychology or even in the differing interpretations of history and economical models.

This time, I am loving some particular letters in the alphabet more than the others – The S (science), T (Technology) E (Engineering) and M (Mathematics) and I am in love with all the engineers, the mathematicians, the scientist and the technologists. I am in awe with their thought process, their binary thinking, their structured approach to any problem and their creative solutions. I was fortunate to attend the inspirefest in Dublin last week, and my head was spinning with all the amazing ideas, inventions, and wonders these STEAM guru’s bring to the fore. Was I inspired? Yes, to the tune that I nearly wanted to give up my day job and go back to college to embrace this new found love, enrich myself with a new coding language and enhance my humanities background.

A friend of mine, Grainne who organised a STEAM event in a primary school in Cork this week asked me to chair the panel (which I actually did not do as there was organised chaos happening on the day) and I was equally impressed with the speakers at that event. Passionate about their own work, subjects, disciplines, jobs, hobbies, whatever you call it, their enthusiasm was equally matched with the inquisitiveness of the children. It was amazing to see that their creative minds met and grown ups and kids together were conversing on the same level, in the new language. Children now are enabled by all the coderdojo’s, biocoderdojo’s, designdojo’s, mindcraft, scratch, sketchup and so many more apps and opportunities to learn these new universal languages.

I felt disappointed in myself and overwhelmed by the fact that I had closed my mind to this richness of creativity that has for sure enabled the new digital era. I know 5 languages but feel completely inadequate as I do not know the new universal coding language, which transcends frontiers, borders, gender, race, age, color, religion and all limits we currently either experience or self-impose in our day to day live. (That reminds me, if you want to become aware of your conscious and unconscious bias, do the IaT test, courtesy of presentation at Inspirefest of Philip Moynagh, VP, Internet of Things Group, Intel)

I always thought I had an open mind, but I have been proven so wrong over the last few months and again this week when I was questioned by the children in the school. The children have the open minds and I felt strongly that the more I grew up, I closed mine! I had to think back to my own mother, who was afraid of mice and without questioning, I am now afraid of mice! Does that mean that if we are not comfortable with this new world, we will pass this on to our children? Nurture is a funny thing but very powerful never the less. I for one am making my New Year’s resolution early this year, I am going to embrace this new language and immerse myself in it so that I am not afraid of it. So I can understand my children when they get passionate about creating new virtual worlds and coding new games. I look at my 11 year old and think – boy, she can teach me a thing or two about my new found love!

So to the SAM(@senseaboutmaths) programme organisers – go and multiply – inspire the educational community with your passionate plea for fun in maths in primary schools, make them believe that if we don’t make this universal language fun, we might loose bright brainboxes who could be the next Stephen Hawkings or Fred Kavli! Make sure we get more SAM-MYS out of our primary schools and in to secondary schools. Get the funding rounds approved with the SMART companies in Ireland who need more and more STEAM graduates than ever before. Pipeline our SAM-MYS and STEAM-METTES for the future. You are doing stellar work!

To the STEAM thought leaders – continue to be role models in your disciplines for our next generations, keep driving your amazing minds forward to improve our worlds, our knowledge and our day to day lives. STEAM – you are all inclusive, you bring all the disciplines together and enable us all to be part in this new amazing world. I am honoured to be the A in STEAM but know that for the moment, I am loving you all  – S.T.E. and also you M.

To the SAM-MYS and the STEAMMETTES – you rock and I can’t wait to see what marvel grows out of your beautiful minds.

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