The constant promotion of STEM education - science, technology, engineering, mathematics -- troubles me. I realize our world today, as well as our economies, rely on technology to a frightening degree (but that is a story to be pondered at another time). I understand that to be competitive in this global economy, we must encourage strong curriculums in the technological sciences, beginning in elementary school. We strive to empower girls to enter these courses of study at a much higher rate than in the past. I also understand this, because for generations many girls were not encouraged to choose a scientific track. We will need highly intelligent, competent STEM graduates as our technological world spins at a faster and faster pace.
However, my worry is that in placing so much emphasis on this area of education, we risk providing a well-rounded education to all of our children. We must be certain that with cuts in school aid and budget constraints, we do not put all of our efforts into STEM education. I have noticed in the past few years, as taxpayers cringe over budget increases, the first program cuts that are discussed are arts and music, and this is not wise. In a world as complicated as ours has become, we need to be sure our children are raised to be competent readers, those who can think and problem-solve, those with imagination; we don't want them to be little robots who can interact with computers, but not other people.
We also need craftsmen, construction workers, teachers, writers, philosophers, artists, and musicians who bring life to our innermost feelings and joy to our souls. In a technological world, we will need good leaders to make the best decisions for our nations -- those with a knowledge of history, the ability to "see the big picture" and analyze situations, and to work well with others. These people need humanities and arts education.
We are each born with particular aptitudes and gifts. Mine did not include math and science. I excelled in basic arithmetic, but hit a wall with algebra. And not only am I totally incompetent in science and technology, I have absolutely no interest in them. When a conversation turns technical, I simply "zone out." But, I am intelligent and competent-- a reader, thinker, writer, and was a highly qualified secretary at one time.
I am not questioning the importance of STEM education, but I do fear that we will make a grave error if we sacrifice the arts and humanities in order to produce more STEM graduates. Not only will the quality of life for our world in general suffer, but we will also be sacrificing millions of our young people with great minds and great talents who do not fit the technological mold. They will feel like failures, when, in fact they are the students who will one day contribute the common sense, color and joy to our world.