Oppose the STEM trend in favor of real learning

OlympiaMay 18, 2013 

The much-touted program of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is really about training people for jobs in technology companies. But training is vastly different from education, and STEM is a perversion that everyone who believes in true education should oppose.

Yes, people must understand science — know how the world is constructed and how it works — and must be able to handle basic calculations.

And they must have jobs. But education is far more: about learning to live your life fully, wisely, with grace and depth.

People must learn to express themselves clearly, even eloquently; to analyze and evaluate ideas; to develop their powers of creativity and invention; and to develop strong understandings of their fellow humans, empathy for them, and the ability to develop relationships with others. We learn these primarily through studies in the humanities and social sciences: literature, languages, philosophy, history, anthropology.

Through the creative arts such as theater and music — always the first programs to be cut when school funds are short — we express ourselves most fully and come to understand the human condition.

Largely because the average American is so miserably educated, we can barely operate as a functional democracy, in which people deliberate together to solve common problems. Far too many citizens are simply ignorant of fundamentals of civics, politics, economics, history, and geography (and, yes, natural science), which a strong educational system ought to provide.

Yet the STEM advocates would make all these important subjects secondary to their own.

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