Monday, March 7, 2016

#67 / Cutting Back To The STEM

The California STEM Learning Network defines STEM as follows: 

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. We focus on these areas together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively. STEM is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that is coupled with hands-on, problem-based learning.

This all sounds great. It's important that young people get a good education in science, technology, engineering and math. Let's all applaud efforts to improve and foster STEM learning.

However ....

Let's not confuse STEM learning with education in general. And it seems that might be happening! According to an article in the February 22, 2016 edition of The New York Times, various government officials (mostly Republicans, it appears) are suggesting that no financial assistance whatsoever should be provided to students or schools for any non-STEM educational efforts the students or the institutions might want to pursue. If education doesn't lead directly to a job in the technology sector, it doesn't have any social value at all. So goes the argument! If this approach prevails, we can say goodbye to the humanities and the liberal arts! Those fields include the graphic arts, sculpture, literature, music, theater, poetry, and politics, too. Color me concerned.

If our human existence is to be boiled down to the creation of machines, and the machine-minding that then becomes necessary to take care of them, it's not just "the humanities" that are in danger. 

It's humanity itself. 

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  1. I don't know how you conclude from "more incentives to electrical engineers than French literature majors" that "no financial assistance whatsoever should be provided to students or schools for any non-STEM educational efforts". You've totally mischaracterized the issue of performance funding.

  2. Can you honestly show me one state law that actually allocates *zero* funding for non-STEM classes i.e. the humanities? One state? One county? One city? Please back up your claims with evidence.

  3. I see. So you interpreted "taxpayers should not be expected to pay" as meaning "no financial assistance whatsoever should be provided" which I grant, out of context, makes sense. But you should first read about and understand the context of an issue like performance funding before you blog about it, less you risk mischaracterizing the issue. Which you and Patricia Cohen both did.


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