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Pro/Con: Is STEM Over Emphasized in School?

STEM is constantly evolving, and it's a field that improves almost every aspect of our lives. Today's generation of students need to be aware of this subject more than ever.

Human civilization has greatly improved over the past two decades. In 1984, the world’s first Mac came to life. Since then, technology has greatly improved, with Gordon Moore projecting that the processing capability of computers would double every two years. Studies in life sciences have greatly shaped how we’ve perceived ourselves and our behavior. Improvements in medicine have led humanity to eradicate smallpox off the face of the earth. The future holds many wonders, but to do this, the current generation of students must be ready for such a task.

First, some argue that STEM is an overrated topic and that society puts too much emphasis on it. However, with STEM constantly evolving, students need to be equipped with the right knowledge and mindset to handle tomorrow’s advances. Every day, hackers attempt to steal our data. Every day, a new disease is born and lives are at stake. Every day, there’s a new challenge. As diseases, computers, and hackers continue to evolve, so must STEM courses. STEM needs to be emphasized so students are given the right tools and mindset for the future.

In addition, our society also doesn’t put enough emphasis on STEM-related fields. When compared to other developed nations, America is ranked average when it comes to its students’ capabilities in sciences and mathematics. Awareness of STEM in the US is lacking and there’s proof of this across various STEM industries. American companies have a hard time finding Americans that are capable of sciences and mathematics and have an interest in STEM. Therefore, they must turn to immigrant workers to sustain growth and development.

Foreign-born as share of STEM workers, by occupational category, 1990-2015

Occupational category

1990

2000

2010

2015

Managers

N/A*

19.7%

15.3%

17.6%

Computer and math

11.9%

20.6%

23.8%

26.1%

Engineering

11.9%

16.7%

19.0%

20.2%

Life, physical, social sciences

12.5%

16.6%

22.9%

23.5%

Health

9.5%

12.2%

15.0%

15.9%

Foreign born in labor force, all occupations (STEM+non-STEM)

10.0%

14.1%

17.2%

17.9%

Source: American Immigration Council analysis of American Community Survey data.
* The 1990 Census data does not include any of the STEM management occupations.

 

These numbers are growing, and the American STEM industry has been heavily dependent on immigrants. If these immigrants no longer seek STEM-related fields, who will take them up? More awareness through classes and activities aim to close this gap.

Lastly, some argue that overemphasis of STEM prevents other fields from being developed like literature and arts. STEM isn’t just about math and science. It’s a combination of fields from all over the workforce to progress humanity. Engineers and scientist need to know how to write well so they can convey their ideas to others. A stock market mathematician gives a presentation, informing members of Congress about the health of the economy. 3D modelers use art techniques to make monuments that are pleasing to the eye. STEM enables fields like literature and arts to be heard through new mediums. STEM also teaches students skills like teamwork, time and money management, and respect. Working on a project with 20 other individuals isn’t easy, and these skills gained from such environments can be applied in other fields. For instance, the STEM program FIRST Inspires, which hosts robotics competitions for students from K -12, emphasizes that winning isn’t everything. It’s about how one wins and how one treats others. FIRST always emphasizes the term “gracious professionalism” in which teams respect other ones even if there is tension or hatred between them. STEM skills aren’t limited to the lab; they’re applicable everywhere.

STEM is constantly evolving, and it’s a field that improves almost every aspect of our lives. Today’s generation of students need to be aware of this subject more than ever. New threats and challenges are to come, and our nation needs people to be up to the task.

 

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