I just returned from California, where I delivered a keynote address to several hundred Jewish early childhood educators at the BJE BEBE Feuerstein Simon Early Childhood Institute. The Institute was titled “Full JSTEAM Ahead.” The term JSTEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math through a Jewish lens. Before I even arrived to deliver my talk on “Spiritual Development: The Power Beneath the Steam,” I had an experience which, for me, morphed the concept of JSTEAM into STREAMS.
In the new rendering, the first S represents the system of spiritual development that exists at birth and requires nurturing in order for all learning to occur. This S comes out of my own research on spiritual development. While I was preparing my talk for the Institute, a family member suggested the R, to represent reading and literacy, as these are also important elements of learning that are not reflected in the STEAM acronym.
Then, as I was driving into Los Angeles, I also realized that STEAM is missing deeper parts of who we are and what we need in order to grow into healthy well functioning adults. Therefore, the R also became a symbol for respect and responsibility that build upon one’s own self awareness. Finally, I added another S for spiritual development and the words “for living and learning” from a book I love called “Designs for Living and Learning” (Curtis & Carter, 2003).
And so a new concept evolved: STREAMS for living and learning. Whereas spiritual development alone may be a force that is capable of pushing us all toward learning, together the system of spiritual development, technology, reading/literacy, respect, responsibility, engineering, art, math, and science become a river that flows throughout one’s lifetime. To me, this is what learning should look like – at this moment in time, until a new idea strikes.