STEM Is Our New Religion, But It's Probably a False God
If we emphasize STEM too much we may wind up with a generation that know how to do things, but not what to do.
It’s been a long time since students in the United States have come in anywhere near the top of international educational rankings—as of 2014, the U.S. ranks 14th against other countries in the quality of available education.
Aside from wanting the best for our kids, this has resulted in US businesses importing employees from other countries and moving company operations overseas in search of better-educated workers, particularly in math and science—the US hit the Panic button after the 2012 release of a report by the Program for International Student Assessment that ranked the competence of 15-year-olds around the world and found that American kids ranked 27th in math and 20th in science.
This has led us to our current focus on—some might say "obsession with"—STEM, or “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.” (Fun fact: It was originally “SMET,” but “STEM” sounded better.) At all educational levels, schools are throwing everything they have at these areas of study. They’re pulling already-tight funds from everywhere else. K-12 music, arts, and phys-ed programs are under threat, as are humanities departments at the college level.
People are starting to seriously wonder if this may end up producing students who are anything but well-rounded, fully-formed humans: We're investing so much into developing the right side of our brains, we're forgetting that it's only half of what we have to work with.
Are we raising kids who may know how to do things, but who may lack the imagination, depth and wisdom to know what's worth doing. Not to mention what maybe shouldn't be done.
But, really, how serious are Žižek’s concerns? Well, maybe very. Not to get too crazy about this, but researchers have noticed a bizarre thing: An unusually high percentage of terrorists—we’re talking bombers and shooters—are, believe it or not, engineers. (Maybe it's just because they know how to operate the deadly devices, but...)
So even today in our modern, competitive global labor markets, do the arts still matter as much as the sciences? That's what someone asked Bill Nye not too long ago.
Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.
- Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
- Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.
Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.
"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."
- The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
- Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
- Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?
- Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
- Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
- Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.