1. Where to begin….

    I started with Source #2, since I wanted to know “Why the focus on STEM?”. Unfortunately, the OECD’s 9th PISA-world-ranked state of Massachusetts’s government website did not answer that question for me. But there is certainly a lot to learn from those sources.

    The infographic is hosted by Microsoft, who has recently taken a huge interest in Education with no small thanks to the MS head honcho and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They list a number of their involvements, which for some reason does not include the Khan Academy. Aside from that, the graphics are heavily stoked in 1960’s look and feel; which in some ways links back to the long history of the OECD which had its roots in the 60’s as well.

    STEM is not the panacea that it is made out to be. I agree that the way our current society is going, and the way the current job market is, technology-related jobs are really really hot. But a Math job? A Science job? Yes, I totally agree, 100%, that the hard-core sciences do indeed open up innovation. For the lucky few who align themselves with the way we “educate” in America (and some do, exceedingly well).

    But our humanity is being stripped away. Sorry, that was overly melodramatic, and maybe I lost some of you on that statement. But take a look at where our lust for technology and “information” has taken us. This thing that most people label as a “digital divide” is growing bigger and bigger, leaving some folks out of the “benefits” of social media, online shopping, online research, and personal entertainment. And now we have a whole new crop of research trying to address that “digital divide”. This “online” segment of society spends less and less time in face-to-face relationships with warm-blooded humans.

    What the heck does that have to do with STEM? Good question. Our core values as a society are trickling down into how we do education. We are now trying to make a business out of it, increasing the level of efficiency and success margins while decreasing the risk factors in an overall attempt to “compete” against other nations. Our government is telling us that we need to have more people in higher paying jobs so we can have more money. Is there any other bottom line?

    Because I hate people who can find nothing better to do than complain, allow me to offer some alternatives. Mind you, I have no degrees in education, business or psychology; these are just the simple thoughts of a parent in a school district. What if we were able to replace the driving motive of everything we do? What if, instead of chasing after the Almighty Buck, we stood up richer core values like Community? What if we said, “No matter what the cost, no matter how much money it takes, we are going to make sure that people are taken care of”? Yes, it will be a very inefficient system, and I know that grates some of you to no end. Yes, it will be a very messy system – we have come so far healthy habits of conflict resolution, genuine active listening and truly, sincerely, caring for others. We need practice. To reduce class size, what if huge segments of the population stepped up to the plate to be in the classrooms, to have a goal of reducing the teacher to student ration to 1:4? What if we as a society placed that as a higher value than having the biggest army, having the largest nuclear arsenal, having the coolest tech gadgets, having the most satellites?

    What if?

Leave a Reply