Published: Tuesday, July 15 2014 6:00 a.m. MDT
STEM is the flavor-of-the-month program in education circles. That's where
the grants and seminars are; and the sports bottles and t-shirts.It is
what the schools say they need so we can compete with students in Japan.But the countries scoring high in math an science don't have STEM
campaigns.The most STEMy of all is Girl STEM. Never mind that more women
are going to college than men these days.I am sick and tired of educators
pitching these rah-rah programs rather than addressing the real issues in our
schools. They always get wrapped up in these programs and a decade later drop
them for the next big thing. No one is ever called to task for programs that
cost a great deal of money and never yielded results.
STEM isn't for all kids and education should not try to push them into it.
Some of them are going to have a passion for other things. But for the ones that
do have talent, the reason that they look elsewhere is because they see family
members of their's and their friends making the effort to get a STEM
education and, if they can even get a job in their field, working for a few
years and then get replaced by an H1B visa holder or their job gets sent
offshore. And that person is back to competing with college student for wait
staff jobs at Applebee's.There is no incentive for our young
people to go to the effort of gaining those skills when it is not going to pay
off for them in the long term.
As a former teacher in Alpine School District, I agree with "Say No to
Bo" that educators are inundated with "flavor-of-the-year" programs.
Just when you've mastered the curriculum for one program in math or
reading, for example, and have all the materials you need, a new, expensive
program pops up. Huge amounts of taxpayer dollars are spent on training,
materials, etc. I remember having an "expert" mentor us in a writing
program that we dropped several years later. Cost to the district? I was told
it was in the six-figure category! My jaw just dropped! I am not
against improvement, but don't keep trying to reinvent the wheel. I
believe that any program a district adopts should last a minimum of 10 years.
This would save the state millions of dollars and give teachers a chance to
prepare lessons instead of working overtime to learn a new program.
Unfortunately, the Federal government is now in charge of what the states have
to do; they control the money. Very sad.
When I was in school, girls took homemaking and us guys took shop. The world has
changed - a bit. Taking the "flavor-of-the-year" concept, I guess the
youth of today need to go back to learning how to plow fields with oxen.
Don't want anyone actually getting excited about the direction of
technology going forward. The STEM programs I have reviewed and actually seen in
operation were not based upon a students gender. They are focused on opening as
many doors as a student has an interest in pursuing. FYI, there are programs
called FabLabs that were developed by MIT (not much credibility but they try)
that STEM is based on. The youth of today have an increased curiosity about
things that were not even heard of 5 years ago, much less 30. Take time to
explore STEM and you may find some good things, rather than denigrate something
that is actually helping our students to catch up with the rest of the world.
Also, one of the reasons that many manufacturers moved out of the US was because
they couldn't find people well enough trained to do the work. Maybe this
program STEMs from that.
Gene Poole wrote "one of the reasons that many manufacturers moved out of
the US was because they couldn't find people well enough trained to do the
work." This is objectively false. Manufaturers have admitted that they moved
operations out of the U.S. in order to reduce their costs. There is no shortage
of talented workers in the United States. The problem is that Americans have
this funny idea that they should be paid a wage or salary that allows them to
actually afford to live in the United States.
J in Az... I am involved with several companies that have told me that they
would rather pay workers in the US if they could find the "talent".
Maybe talent means something else. In my business, I need well trained engineers
who can not only think outside of the box but actually recognize there is no
box. In several disciplines. Maybe I can find 10 or 20 but not hundreds. Our
company needs at least 2500 well trained clear thinking non-entitled thinking
men and women to develop and produce very forward thinking products. Can't
find a state who can get excited to be behind us and people who know and
understand - at a practical level - materials science, nanotechnology,
integrated magnetics and several other steps forward. STEM is great for the next
generation. We don't want to wait 20 years for catchup. We are considering
Switzerland (very expensive but well trained and supportive government), other
countries in Europe, and Asia (cautiously). Why? We've hunted here for four
years now. So your conclusion about my remarks is based on what? Mine is based
I know several people in the STEM fields in their 50's, that were laid off
for foreign exchange students, and ended up training them. With 2
out of three STEM graduates unable to find work, I would hesitate encouraging a
child to pursue a STEM vocation.
This just in: Microsoft lays off 18,000 workers...a week after Gates told the
world we need more tech visas.Hmm.
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