STEM Education: Why All The Fuss?
The odds are very good that every parent and/or educator reading this blog has heard of STEM education. In the last ten years or so, the emphasis on the need for STEM education has been growing steadily. You might ask yourself, “Why all the fuss? Aren’t the arts just as important?” The answer is complicated.
There are several reasons why public schools have promoted STEM education so enthusiastically in recent years.
1. In 2012 the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - a forum in which governments around the world work together to promote economic and social well-being) ranked the US 27th out of 34 in math proficiency . The OECD made the statement that “students in the United States have particular weaknesses in performing mathematics tasks with higher cognitive demands, such as taking real-world situations, translating them into mathematical terms, and interpreting mathematical aspects in real-world problems.”
2. STEM skills aren’t just about playing with engineering manipulatives and reading about nature. STEM education teaches kids specific and valuable skills such as research, analysis, problem solving, and adaptability.
3. Our present is increasingly technology based and our future promises even greater advances in technology. Most kids growing up today will have either STEM based jobs or jobs that require some knowledge of how to use the products of STEM endeavors.
We as a country need to foster innovation in STEM fields in order to stay competitive in the future. We also need to foster analytical and problem solving skills in our children. On the other hand, reading and writing skills are vital as well. Inferencing and other critical thinking skills are acquired through reading. In a world where testing determines the energy and resources put into the teaching of certain subjects, parents and educators become important curators of an individual child’s education. They make decisions about what is best for that child and help guide him/her through the complicated demands our society places on them.