Note: All posts are my own personal views and do not represent the organizations I work for.
The definition of STEM can be found everywhere on the World Wide Web… The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. I don’t want to dwell on the definition here… we have Wikipedia and Google for that… What I’m more fascinated about is its interpretation within the K-12 Education space….
In my attempt to better understand why STEM Education seems to be a hot button in today’s K-12 Education dialogue, I looked to better understand where it originated from. The National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States first started to use the acronym STEM in 2001 (https://www.britannica.com/topic/STEM-education). Interestingly, the acronym used before then was SMET. According to a report by the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Rising Above the Gathering Storm (2005), it was reported that innovation and STEM career pathways will become more critical in order to compete the global economy.
So… what does this mean for Canada? Engineers Canada provides a wealth of information about the Canadian Engineering Profession. In an Engineering Labour Market report from 2015, Engineers Canada makes projections for the number of jobs in Engineering needed across the country by 2025. https://engineerscanada.ca/reports/research
Statistics Canada also continues to question the impact on Canadian economy based on STEM fields.
Based on degree: http://bit.ly/2DrmyTU Based on income: http://bit.ly/2SnwKHH
So.. If the WHY STEM? question emerges from labour markets, and future planning to remain globally competitive, then it seems logical to ensure that HOW we respond in K-12 Education needs to align to this goal. Now, this statement itself can be contentious… I know… I suppose, we might need to pause a moment and consider what is the purpose of public education…
I will be bold here to suggest that in today’s globally connected society, public education has a great responsibility to develop responsible, caring individuals but we must also support the development of employable citizens to ensure that society continues to be prosperous. If we consider that the world has changed at alarming rates and depends more on technological innovations, it seems that we need to ensure that our children are equipped with knowledge and skills that can adapt to change. We are challenged with global problems – just take a look at the UN Sustainable Goals! http://bit.ly/UNSustainableGoals
I don’t want to suggest that STEM will replace the importance of Art, Language, Music, Drama, History, Social Studies and the Humanities. I only suggest here that even within the “traditional norms” of all the subject areas, it may be necessary to think deeply about how these disciplines connect to today’s rapidly changing society…
SO… It now brings us to the WHAT….
What should we do in K-12 Education?
...Stay tuned for what I have tried... ..........What I am working on... ................and what I'm thinking about now...