“What education has to impart is an intimate sense for the power of ideas, for the beauty of ideas, and for the structure of ideas, together with a particular body of knowledge which has peculiar reference to the life of the being possessing it” –Alfred Whitehead
STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education
Improving STEM education in the U.S. is critical for the following reasons:
1) The cognitive training gained during STEM instruction is required by all employers. If the U.S. is to educate our children to compete in a knowledge-based economy, more STEM graduates are obviously needed, but of equal importance is a population with basic STEM-literacy.
. . . one can readily see how training in STEM aligns with other abilities that also are in demand in and out of STEM jobs — abilities like deductive reasoning, mathematical reasoning and problem sensitivity — those “problem solving” and “analytical skills” that employers are increasingly criticizing our nation’s higher education system for not providing its graduates.
2) STEM education will determine whether the United States will remain a leader among nations and whether we will be able to solve our immense challenges in such areas as energy, health, environmental protection, and national security.
A White House report written by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology clearly states that “…the success of the United States in the 21st century – its wealth and welfare – will depend on the ideas and skills of its population. These have always been the Nation’s most important assets. As the world becomes increasingly technological, the value of these national assets will be determined in no small measure by the effectiveness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States. STEM education will determine whether the United States will remain a leader among nations and whether we will be able to solve immense challenges in such areas as energy, health, environmental protection, and national security. It will help produce the capable and flexible workforce needed to compete in a global marketplace. It will ensure our society continues to make fundamental discoveries and to advance our understanding of ourselves, our planet, and the universe. It will generate the scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians who will create the new ideas, new products, and entirely new industries of the 21st century. It will provide the technical skills and quantitative literacy needed for individuals to earn livable wages and make better decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities. And it will strengthen our democracy by preparing all citizens to make informed choices in an increasingly technological world.”
The report concludes by clearly stating “…that the problem is not just a lack of proficiency among American students; there is also a lack of interest in STEM fields among many students.”