Do We Over Emphasize STEM?

Do We Over Emphasize STEM?


John J. Miller:
In your lecture, you mentioned an article called the “STEM Crisis is a Myth” by Robert
Charette. Quickly, STEM is an acronym for…? Matt Young:
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. John J. Miller:
Right. Everybody is in an uproar about we aren’t producing enough students in these
fields, they’re not filling the jobs, and they don’t know enough about the STEM fields.
You cited this article, the STEM Crisis is a Myth, suggesting that this is an overreaction.
Could you explain that a little bit? Are we in fact not [over-emphasizing STEM Education]?
Are we overproducing in this area? Matt:
Yeah. I think the central point of the article was that the numbers … Well, it’s hard to
define these things, but basically, if you try to look at the job openings in STEM-related
fields versus the number of available workers looking for jobs, who have degrees in STEM-related
fields, that actually there is not a shortage. There are plenty of people with STEM degrees
that are looking for jobs, and there are [also] [00:06:00] plenty of people with degrees in
STEM-related fields, who end up working in areas not directly related to their degree.
I think the point of the article was that we manufacture this crisis which then create
a kind of boom-bust cycle where we try to push a lot of people into science and engineering
in order to fill a perceived shortage. I think that the idea that you can just tell
someone, “Hey, you can go get a major in one of these subjects and there will be a good
job waiting for you at the other end is misleading to students. The bottom line is that there’s
no magic degree for leading to a job. The students that apply themselves and work hard
and of course, for a lot of jobs, you need to know some science, but it’s students who
have learned that science but also are creative, are critical thinkers, are good speakers,
and clear writers are those are the students that end up getting hired, and those are the
skills that students learn in a liberal arts education.

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