American students need to improve in math and science—but not because there's a surplus of jobs in those fields.
19 March 2014
Get ready. Do we really want to hear what we really do not want to hear?
Why is it that articles like this one calling into serious question the attention being given to STEM education, are essentially "off the mainstream radar"?
The article's premise? A quote..
(referring to the belief that the US has a serious shortage of properly STEM educated graduates)
"Such claims are now well established as conventional wisdom. There is almost no debate in the mainstream. They echo from corporate CEO to corporate CEO, from lobbyist to lobbyist, from editorial writer to editorial writer. But what if what everyone knows is wrong? What if this conventional wisdom is just the same claims ricocheting in an echo chamber?
The truth is that there is little credible evidence of the claimed widespread shortages in the U.S. science and engineering workforce. How can the conventional wisdom be so different from the empirical evidence?"
Not far into the article, this "apple cart upsetting" information.
A compelling body of research is now available, from many leading academic researchers and from respected research organizations such as theNational Bureau of Economic Research, the RAND Corporation, and the Urban Institute. No one has been able to find any evidence indicating current widespread labor market shortages or hiring difficulties in science and engineering occupations that require bachelors degrees or higher, although some are forecasting high growth in occupations that require post-high school training but not a bachelors degree.
The article proves the importance of informational reading. while at the same time proving that informational reading is more than reading itself. It's a form of gaining information upon which very opinions are based, that requires a skill set exceeding the information gathering skills of many of those who write informational materials. And if the information we read is "too thinly" gathered and read by massive audiences too thinly able to synthesize that information, then maybe there really is "trouble in River City."
So if our focus in designing a better education system is on preparing our students for college and career, and our unquestioned premise is that STEM education is the key, Then how do informational articles such as this one play into our calculations about how to slice up the educational budget pie?
The article does not discredit the importance of STEM Education. It's intent is to call into question the decisions being driven by a less than well-informed citizenry that does not question the depth and thoroughness of those who provide information to us.
My personal take-away from this article might focus more upon one of the most important skills required for information literacy. And, that is, can we really be information literate if we do not know what the most well-informed people holding opposing views to our own have contributed to the public discourse?
That is, do we or our students practice discerning the reliability of the information from both sides of issues of public concern? Or, do we believe thatcherry-picking evidence in support of what we want to believe or are being told to believe, while paying inadequate attention to the best thinking being done on the other side and the questionable thinking being done on "our side."
Yes! Insist upon defending Literary Reading where you may be among the minority of those with a budget vote. But, do not do so without also recognizing that informational reading is not the "bad guy" in curricular discourse; it is of critical importance and like literary reading, it probably deserves more attention than it is getting too.
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