Since the Cold War, United States education has focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. So why is STEM education still so important? Well frankly, we haven’t quite achieved success yet. If we had, millions of tech jobs would not be going unfilled every year, and there would be gender equality in engineering and science universities. The fact of the matter is, education has not quite done what it aimed to yet. What can be done? As educators we can put STEM into our lessons daily, even in a humanities-based classroom. This will help our students be ready for their STEM-filled futures.
What will STEM proficiency actually help our students with?
A myriad of job opportunities to start with. Many jobs in sciences or technology are very high paying, and require little higher education to enter. Students who are exposed earlier to problem-based learning are given the chance to develop logical and analytical skills. They also become technologically literate early, giving them a better chance of filing these positions. As it stands today, many jobs are unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. If schools can help develop these interests and skills in their students it will benefit not only the students themselves but also the entire economy.
The benefits of STEM education for society
As our students become citizens, they will bring with them the skills and knowledge they’ve learned. If we are able to empower our students to think critically, analyze, and explore new horizons, society will benefit. A more STEM-proficient generation can help carry our country forward. New medical discoveries, better infrastructure, more environmentally friendly technology, and many more possibilities await us. Looking at countries like Singapore and Japan with strong STEM education, we can see the advancements they are making, and hopefully it inspires us to help our students create something wonderful too.
Developing STEM skills for life
Not every student will go into a STEM career though. This is good, because as much as the world needs engineers and doctors, we also need musicians, writers, actors, and artists! The skills STEM enables kids to have are skills for life. For example, a stay at home parent needs mathematics knowledge to budget and bookkeep for the family, engineering to know how to fix things when they break, science to ask informed questions and figure out a procedure to get answers. We do our students a great service if we can help them to develop these skills in diverse ways.
It is so important for education to be well rounded. Many educators get stuck in their bubble, and don’t think about interdisciplinary options much. It can help their students so much if they can though. Even in an English language arts class, students can still make hypotheses about the plots of the novels, or calculate the cadence in iambic pentameter. Giving students STEM skills will help them regardless of their future career choice. And if they do choose to enter STEM, you will have given them the skills to help themselves, and the entire country grow and develop.