17 October 2022

“Emotional touch with creative design” – Inspiration from Korean interdisciplinary approach to education

Author: Marcin Sakowicz,


STEAM education tries to integrate the learning experience, with a focus on connecting the subjects of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts, with a special emphasis on specific themes. The framework integrates learning science with design under the motto of ‘emotional touch with creative design’.

Directions towards the future of education

The vision of Korea is to provide education that brings growth and happiness to all. Since 2013, the national policy of the country has been designed to achieve “People’s Happiness, and New Age with Hope and Promise.” The government is shifting curricula aiming towards a transformation for the future of education. It focuses on shaping a well-rounded, creative, educated and democratic person who considers others and shares with them out of a sense of community. Thus, the new curricula provide an education increasing student’s capacity for responding to future changes. It includes such issues as ecological transformation, democratic citizenship, AI and digital knowledge, among others.

STEAM Education – ‘creating talents in convergence’

Integrated STEAM education in South Korea is an approach to prepare well-rounded and literate citizens for a highly technology-based society by integrating S – science, T- technology, E- engineering, A-arts and M – mathematics in education. STEAM can be defined as education aimed at increasing students’ interest in and understanding of scientific technology and the ability to solve real-world problems[1].

What distinguishes the Korean approach from various other similar initiatives around the world is its emphasis on arts (fine arts, language arts, liberal arts, and physical arts) as an important component of integration. With reference to STEAM education,  a new term has been coined – convergence education. Convergence refers to creating new ideas or products formed by interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary thinking. Thus, the main goal of integrated STEAM education is to develop ‘talents in convergence’.

As a result of STEAM, the former discipline-based school curriculum has been extended to include programs for “creative experience” (CE). These programs, which are designed by teachers, and provide career exploration and club activities,  are expected to promote interdisciplinary knowledge and skills as well as other, affective outcomes. In terms of required course time, the 2015 Revised Korean National Curriculum requires around 10% of total class hours across elementary and secondary schools  to be devoted to CE. 

“Soft” gains from “hard” science

Preliminary results of the application of STEAM in the school environment are positive. In general,  education that considers and explores problems from various angles in order to focus on finding most appropriate solutions promises to produce young people able to face complex, current and future challenges. Integration in STEAM is not a purpose but a means. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the process of accomplishing a goal. From the perspective of learners, STEAM programs in South Korea bring positive long-term effects. The learners mentioned improved ability to communicate and care for team members as well as newfound confidence, a sense of achievement, increased self-esteem and self-directed problem solving[2]. Enabling students to make connections between their learning experiences encourages them to put skills developed in one context  into practice in other contexts.

Momentum for HTT IDS

Korean experiences in STEAM may pave the way for the implementation phase of  HTT – Interdisciplinary Subject. Without doubt, they provide great momentum to explore and practice various methods by which to make learning activities more interdisciplinary. We strongly believe IDS essentials create opportunities for learners to inquire and contribute to problem solving and ensure a bright future of humanity. Global challenges require global solutions that need humankind to work together, listen to one another, create ideas, and take an interdisciplinary  approach.

[1] https://steam.kofac.re.kr/?page_id=11269&langs=eng

[2] Kang, NH. A review of the effect of integrated STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education in South Korea. Asia Pac. Sci. Educ. 5, 6 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41029-019-0034-y