Friday, February 27, 2015

STEM and Creativity

I put “need for STEM education” into Google, and I got all of these sites. One of them was this page from the US Department of Education, which makes a couple of interesting points:



  • “Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.”

  • “The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects.”


They even put this diagram on the page to show the need for young experts in the STEM fields.




Source: US Department of Education

I bet if you were to ask kids why they aren’t interested in going into careers in these fields, they would say, “It’s too hard! All that math and science and stuff…” And, granted, kids have to have a good foundation in sciences and math before they can hope to understand the material being discussed. But they need something more.


Remember this that I put up on Wednesday?


See, people involved in the STEM areas are just as creative and intuitive as artists and writers. Engineering isn’t just an area where people work with numbers and logic; engineers also dream and design. Same with mathematicians: I was a math major in a previous life, and got into areas of mathematics that don’t deal with numbers or computation. We worked with number systems that don’t involve anything resembling the numbers we use every day. (That’s when I got out.) You could make similar arguments for scientists and technologists. All of the STEM areas are arts as much as sciences.


If we want more mathematicians, engineers, technologists, and scientists, we need to make sure that kids are seeing both sides of the picture. We know that both sides of the brain work together, each side doing what it’s best at and drawing connections between the world of fact and the world of fantasy. I realize that’s an oversimplification, but if a kid’s education doesn’t provide as much focus on creativity and idea formation as it does on math and grammar, what good does it do?


Then again, I could be wrong… What do you think?








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