Here at the British International STEAM School in Istanbul, we believe that our high quality teaching and learning creates successful students who are committed, lifelong learners. Our main goal is to ensure that they are also capable of adapting and rising to the challenges of an increasingly complex world.
In all honesty, no one can say for sure what the future holds for our students, or what the world will look like when they graduate, but we do know that the most important skills they will need are related to being effective communicators, socially ept, self motivated and independent, as well as being flexible and adaptable thinkers. In short, they will need to be ready for change - confident, emotionally intelligent, and culturally competent communicators. As experience is a powerful teacher, we model this with our students in the way we work together as a STEAM-focused community.
Traditionally, STEAM is seen as an activity based programme integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. To us, it is so much more than activities, it takes the knowledge and skills found in each of these subject strands in relation to the real world connecting them through the major concepts found in each. This focuses us on how we perceive, interact and reflect on the world in different ways and how that shapes our learning. As in the real world, this adds depth and meaning to what we learn and do.
For us, a STEAM-based focus provides opportunities for our students to explore who they are as individuals, as learners and as great thinkers. It means our nurturing environment creates a safe and secure place to take risks and learn from mistakes, and to help students develop the resiliency needed to keep trying.
Over the past few years, the message on social media has been that in a world where we can be anything, be kind. This is a key feature of our mindset for growth and humanity; setting up a sense of community in the school and actively modelling how to interact respectfully with others is a key part of our programme. We see ourselves as caring, empathetic and supportive of each other's needs. We focus our students on becoming successful members of our communities in a global society. Through our Pastoral Care programme, we have a healthy focus on self awareness and emotional intelligence, and believe that knowing who we are and how we learn enables us to interact and learn with others positively. This helps us understand ourselves as part of our community, the global community, and become empowered to help look after it.
As we know from our own lives, life is often considered the best teacher from which we construct our own learning. In STEAM, we extend that idea as the educationalist John Dewey (1859 - 1952), did when he commented that, “We don’t learn from experience itself, we learn from reflecting on the experience”. As part of our learning process, we create time and space to reflect on experiences and explore our own understanding of it. Communication plays a key part in this, and we see ourselves as positive communicators who skillfully use language to relate to others and express our learning in productive, and culturally aware ways.
From our perspective, learning is a way of life and our STEAM-based learning experiences really take on a life of their own. We know learning is a complex and often messy process that needs a clear focus with room to grow and evolve. We believe that everyone is capable of learning. Once in a supportive environment, being a successful learner happens when that capacity is combined with a strong commitment to learn. We celebrate, reflect on and enjoy the many moments of success we share as learners. We find that the process of learning is exciting and engaging as well as challenging. It requires lots of energy, individual determination and teamwork and we see it as a community effort from beginning to end. Gaining a sense of achievement and recognition for a job well done, and the learning journey to get there, is essential for both motivating and maintaining high standards and engagement in learning.
From start to finish, the learning process in STEAM requires a strong individual commitment to the learning process, and a willingness to be part of a strong community. From this, we are always growing in our capacity for and openness to future learning; open to the next opportunity that presents itself. We are evolving in our awareness and understanding of our world, others and ourselves; committed to being responsible global citizens, committed to being open minded and astute learners. If the only constant in life is change, then as the social philosopher and writer Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) eloquently phrased it,” In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
We strive to empower our students to, not only be prepared to face an ever changing world, but to create the change they want to see in it. Our goal is that change will benefit us all.