STEM The Tide Against STEM

Universities are reducing, some eliminating, Liberal Arts programs in lieu of career oriented programs. The mantra of STEM, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics has rendered History English Sociology Art as quaint subjects that we can no longer afford to invest any time or money.

Well, that may be a little harsh. Still, the astronomical cost of a higher education necessitates that graduates encumbered by burdensome student loans focus on their marketability in the pursuit of a job. While there used to be a time that a college degree in any major was valued and respected by potential employers, today’s job seekers must demonstrate that they are prepared, competent and meet the employrer’s immediate needs.

The days of learning on the job are no more or at least the number of days devoted to such training are limited. It’s not good enough to be articulate and well read. It’s better that you can handle a computer and manipulated data and develop logarithms than to be able to wax poetic about Moby Dick.

The trouble is that not studying history or reading the classics has serious consequences for the nation. There used to be a time when Civics was part of an elementary education. Math and Science have taken over as the overreaching concern for educators. Standardized testing emphasizes competence in these subjects and while reading is an important factor in achieving a passing grade, unfortunately it is not the type of reading that translates to reading books.

The shocking lack of the knowledge of history is what truly worries me. It is not uncommon for recent college graduates to mis-identify the century in which the Civil War was fought.

There was a story not too long ago in which it was reported that a WWII veteran was introduced to an elementary school class as a veteran of World War ELEVEN!

Who uses Roman numbers anymore except editors of crossword puzzles? But, the failure to know that we have not had ELEVEN WORLD WARS is a little much to take and bold indictment of our failure as a nation to recognize the value of knowing our history.

Today, John Dean is testifying in Congress regarding Watergate supposedly to enlighten Congressional members what obstruction of justice looks like. One commentator on MSNBC, a member of the written press, declared that this is a bad idea as no one today knows who John Dean is. Most were not alive when he was a key figure in the Nixon investigation.

Alvin Toffler you were right, the Future IS Shocking.

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