Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Is Education's STEM Focus an Ambiguous Waste of Time

Seemingly out of nowhere, "STEM" has become a popular acronym for fixing all that ails the US economy. Apparently, the problem has been that America is severely lacking in workers skilled in "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math." Thus, schools and education reformers - backed by powerful forces such as the Gates Foundation - have responded with the goal of simply producing more people with diplomas in the STEM areas. But, a closer look from the other side indicates that the "STEM Solution" is certainly no panacea for the needs of the American economy and the alleged "crisis in education." Writer Danielle Kurtzleben investigates the complex problems of aligning ourselves with a "nonsense acronym." There is little doubt that most STEM fields have great potential to produce high-earning individuals who can positively contribute to the economy. Yet, the country is as lacking in highly skilled labor as it is suffering from a shortage of biologists or accountants. And, rather than focus on some ambiguous notion of STEM, perhaps American communities should instead focus on helping businesses align with schools to close the "skills gap."  And that is only true if the goal and purpose of the education system is simply to provide a pipeline of workers for corporate America. Is it?

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