Last week I read a Washington Post opinions piece touting America’s “Obsession” with STEM education as “Dangerous”.
Obviously, I find STEM education important and quite the opposite of “Dangerous”. But I want to give a little bit of additional information to address the kind of questions that an article like this can bring up.
From STEM to STEAM
The kind of argument that the opinion piece relies on creates a dichotomy between the STEM people who seek to understand how the world works, and the humanities people who seek to understand how humanity works.
This is certainly an unnecessary dichotomy. STEM and Humanities are far from disconnected. In fact, I believe there is a profound connection between STEM and Art (which Scientific American dubbed STEAM in 2012).
STEM-ART and ART-STEM
STEM teaches problem solving, and the problems that are worth solving require looking at the world in new and innovative ways. They require analyzing and considering human interaction. They require a BALANCED approach to education. Those who follow a STEM focused education must have an understanding of art, creativity, and humanities to successfully implement their technical skills, and those that follow a humanities focused education must learn how the world around them works.
Focusing on STEM is not dangerous as long as we recognize how STEM solves problems – through creativity and innovation. Defunding humanities education is a mistake, but blaming STEM enhancements is equally wrong.
Toys and Balance
STEM toys are a fantastic balance between the technical and the humanities fields. What better way to learn about how the world works than by taking turns, sharing, and interacting with people around you while solving STEM type problems.