Gently Down the Scouting STREAM

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One of my Eagle Scouts from years ago posted something on Facebook recently that got my attention. It dealt with the evolution of STEM education, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math and which has been a big area of emphasis in Scouting in recent years. Chris’s post talked about how some people in education circles have added arts and, in faith-based schools, religion to the mix, turning STEM into STEAM and now STREAM. The idea is to create graduates who are well rounded and whose worldviews have an ethical and moral basis.

When you think about it, this is pretty much what Scouting has been doing since day one. It’s the rare Scout who doesn’t earn merit badges related to both the sciences and the arts, and of course duty to God is embedded in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. (Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, once said, “There is no religious side to the movement; the whole of it is based on religion, that is on the realization and service of God.”)

Several years ago, the National Catholic Educational Association began putting a lot of emphasis on STREAM learning. It also created a set of 10 goals of STREAM. Although these goals are specific to parochial education, they align pretty well with what Scouting does, especially these four:

  • To promote a climate of innovation in all areas of instruction
  • To inspire the participation of student populations who are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences and the arts
  • To foster a climate that encourages problem solving, group collaboration, student-directed learning, and independent research
  • To understand that success is defined in multiple ways and can and does occur in many different types of schools and learning environments

So why does what’s going on in schools matter to us as Scout leaders? As I’ve said before on this blog, many families choose youth activities based on what they think their kids will learn from them, not just based on what might be fun for their kids. While you and I might assume people will understand why we do what we do in Scouting, that’s not always the case. Talking about concepts like STEM, STEAM, and STREAM could convince some people to choose, and stick with, Scouting.


Need some great troop program ideas? Check out The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is available in both print and e-book formats at https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.

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One thought on “Gently Down the Scouting STREAM

  1. Let’s add “language” and “social studies”, then we’ll have STREAMLSS and everyone will be happy. In other words, “STREAM” is a silly idea.

    STEM really is different from the humanities. The whole point of promoting STEM is to increase the technical literacy of the US. I’m all for the arts, religion, and humanities, but not lumped in with STEM. They stand on their own.

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