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Learning from MIT on STEAM Education

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Built on Strong Vision & Principles


MIT has long been a global leader in STEAM, driving innovation not only in the fields themselves but also in ways they are designed and delivered. Its success as one of the world’s top universities has much to do with the strong vision and principles that MIT is founded upon since its establishment in 1861.


In the Objects and Plan of an Institute of Technology pamphlet produced in 1860 to advocate for MIT’s creation, William Barton Rogers and other incorporators emphasized the following: “It would be the object to provide a substantial and continuous course of teaching, while imparting a knowledge of the principles, facts and processes connected with the Arts, [and] should cultivate the habits of observation and exact thought, which are so conducive to the progress of invention and the development of intelligent industry.” This reflected an innovative way of imparting knowledge in academia that was distinctly different from the strict lecturing format devoted to classical studies. It also signaled the effort of MIT in integrating arts and humanities with science and engineering.


MIT’s motto, “mens et manus” has also set the stage for a unique culture of hands-on activity and minds-on engagement. The motto translates from Latin to “mind and hand”, and reflects the educational ideals of MIT’s founders who were promoting, above all, education for practical application. It signals the Institutions dedication to “the most earnest cooperation of intelligent culture with industrial pursuits”.


With such clear vision and a deep-seated commitment to making the world a better place, MIT has continued to prosper as a “unique platform where students and faculty immerse in an intense and joyful process of experimenting, tinkering, investigating, and inventing”. Its can-do, problem-solving culture has spawned generations of leaders around the US and beyond.


[To learn more about the intellectual heritage of MIT and the “flow of ideas” about science and education that shaped the Institute as it emerged and that inspires it today, you can read Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT by Julius A. Stratton and Loretta H. Mannix.]


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