STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanities

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STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanities

Postby mtbturtle on September 26th, 2016, 3:49 pm 

Scientific American editors make the argument for the humanities

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stem-education-is-vital-but-not-at-the-expense-of-the-humanities/

STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at the Expense of the Humanities

Politicians trying to dump humanities education will hobble our economy

By THE EDITORS | Scientific American October 2016 Issue

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin wants students majoring in electrical engineering to receive state subsidies for their education but doesn’t want to support those who study subjects such as French literature. Bevin is not alone in trying to nudge higher education toward course work that promotes better future job prospects. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a former presidential candidate, put it bluntly last year by calling for more welders and fewer philosophers.

Promoting science and technology education to the exclusion of the humanities may seem like a good idea, but it is deeply misguided. Scientific American has always been an ardent supporter of teaching STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But studying the interaction of genes or engaging in a graduate-level project to develop software for self-driving cars should not edge out majoring in the classics or art history.

The need to teach both music theory and string theory is a necessity for the U.S. economy to continue as the preeminent leader in technological innovation. The unparalleled dynamism of Silicon Valley and Hollywood requires intimate ties that unite what scientist and novelist C. P. Snow called the “two cultures” of the arts and sciences.

Steve Jobs, who reigned for decades as a tech hero, was neither a coder nor a hardware engineer. He stood out among the tech elite because he brought an artistic sensibility to the redesign of clunky mobile phones and desktop computers. Jobs once declared: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”

A seeming link between innovation and the liberal arts now intrigues countries where broad-based education is less prevalent. In most of the world, university curricula still emphasize learning skills oriented toward a specific profession or trade. The ebullience of the U.S. economy, which boasted in 2014 the highest percentage of high-tech outfits among all its public companies—has spurred countries such as Singapore to create schools fashioned after the U.S. liberal arts model.
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby Eclogite on September 27th, 2016, 5:33 am 

Interesting. What is your view on the issue?
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby mtbturtle on September 27th, 2016, 7:23 am 

Eclogite » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:33 am wrote:Interesting. What is your view on the issue?


I'm a humanities gal.
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby Eclogite on September 27th, 2016, 8:27 am 

mtbturtle » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:23 am wrote:
Eclogite » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:33 am wrote:Interesting. What is your view on the issue?


I'm a humanities gal.
I can see that would lead you to be in favour of the proposal because the outcome would be to increase (or at least not decrease) the humanities content of degrees. However, that is not the objective of the argument. Rather it is to improve the quality of science graduates through inclusion of humanities.

The difference between these two positions may or may not seem subtle, but I am wondering what your view is of the Scientific American argument/position. Would the benefit be significant? Incidental? etc.?
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby BioWizard on September 27th, 2016, 8:33 am 

Part of the problem is that this tends to get framed as an either or situation by many (you're either a welder or a philosopher). However, education should be creating well rounded individuals, who have good technical skills as well as good process skills. Not task-machines who can't think beyond an instruction or put two pieces of non-domain information together or figure out how to get along with a coworker, let alone an international coworker. Not every person being exposed to philosophy or psychology or foreign studies needs to be someone aspiring to be a professional in those areas, but I suspect that the majority of human beings will benefit from some exposure to them - particularly in today's globalized economy. Who will research, develop, and teach those subjects if everyone is a welding robot?
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby wolfhnd on September 27th, 2016, 8:37 am 

The question if the Liberal arts are still "liberal" and if liberal arts can't be taught to STEM students.

Danielle Charette: My Top-Notch Illiberal Arts Education

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB100014241 ... 0076663720

The public has a right to demand value for their tax investment in education. Test scores for elementary and secondary students are falling behind reasonable expectations. Part of the blame must naturally be placed on the college's that produce our teachers. The objective standards that characterize STEM education are sadly lacking in many liberal fields today. Liberal arts students could benefit as much from STEM classes as society supposedly benefits from the "moral" and "spiritual" enrichment that the Liberal arts tradition had provided in the past.

Another way that liberal arts fail to meet reasonable objective standards is that they are not subject to market forces. Most STEM students will compete for jobs outside the tax system. The democracy of the market place has little influence in setting the standards expected for non STEM students. There is also the question of supply and demand in so far how many people with a given degree does society actually desire to supplement.

Encouraging students to pursue a STEM education does not seriously restrict their opportunity to give themselves a "liberal" education but I would argue the opposite is much more difficult. There is also the practical issue of it taking more workers than philosophers to build a functioning society.
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby BioWizard on September 27th, 2016, 8:40 am 

Following some of the graduate (PhD) students and post doc activism around getting unionized and receiving above slave wage rates, I've also noticed some disdain from the public towards even STEM students. "Why do we need to pay you anything at all? It was your choice to spend your life learning useless stuff instead of picking up a real skill or doing a real job. And now we have to give you more money just so you can add letters after your name?". Who's going to develop the largely technological economy if not of these individuals? We all become plumbers and fall behind as the world sprints forward?
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby BioWizard on September 27th, 2016, 8:43 am 

Ah I see that wolfhnd has already posted to the point in my previous post (kind of). I disagree with that position and will try to circle back to it later. Also, I think Eclogite's reframing of the question is the practical approach - as I hinted in my first post, so I agree with that.
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby mtbturtle on September 27th, 2016, 9:55 am 

Eclogite » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:27 am wrote:
mtbturtle » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:23 am wrote:
Eclogite » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:33 am wrote:Interesting. What is your view on the issue?


I'm a humanities gal.
I can see that would lead you to be in favour of the proposal because the outcome would be to increase (or at least not decrease) the humanities content of degrees. However, that is not the objective of the argument. Rather it is to improve the quality of science graduates through inclusion of humanities.

The difference between these two positions may or may not seem subtle, but I am wondering what your view is of the Scientific American argument/position. Would the benefit be significant? Incidental? etc.?


dunno.
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby Eclogite on September 27th, 2016, 10:21 am 

I interpret your folksy response to mean you favour the idea purely because it would defend the position of the humanities in academia and are not really interested in any impact, good or bad, it would have on STEM. If you meant something else you will have to help me out with a more specific response.
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby mtbturtle on September 27th, 2016, 10:30 am 

Eclogite » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:21 am wrote:
I interpret your folksy response to mean you favour the idea purely because it would defend the position of the humanities in academia and are not really interested in any impact, good or bad, it would have on STEM. If you meant something else you will have to help me out with a more specific response.


No that is not what I meant. I meant I do not know if " the benefit (would)be significant? Incidental? etc.?" Do you?
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Re: STEM Education Is Vital--but Not at Expense of Humanitie

Postby Eclogite on September 27th, 2016, 10:31 am 

Thank you for the clarification.
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