Overworked teachers and overburdened curriculum makes improving STEM programs a challenge, but there are solutions
Knowledge has become a commodity. We live in a society today were facts are at our fingertips through ready access to the internet and search engines. To keep pace, our educational system needs to focus less on memorization of facts and more on how to use facts and how to ask the right questions.
Regardless of one’s career, success in that field will be governed by the mastery of critical thinking. It’s a challenge for educational systems around the world, but especially in the U.S., somewhat ironically, the birthplace of so much innovation. During the next few decades, those that can master this new challenge will have a competitive advantage, and will be better at preparing students for career opportunities.
The best place for today’s schools to start is with revitalizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, as so many of the skills taught during the study of STEM fields (critical thinking, testing and redesigning, patience, perseverance, team work, etc.) are key to personal growth and perseverance.
The issue goes far beyond creating well-rounded students prepared for higher education. Companies across the U.S. are struggling to find talent to keep up their numbers and sales. If they can’t find the talent here, they will have no choice but to look overseas to find the right candidate. To keep our students competitive, we need high-quality lessons during school educational programs, to prepare and engage students, so that they are ultimately the ones filling these positions.
We need to understand the impact of the decisions we make when and if we de-emphasize science and engineering from the educational system. Companies need this talent or they will move away or bring in overseas talent.
In response to these challenges, many companies in the Unites States are working to revitalize and support impactful STEM programs that can improve student attitudes and aptitudes in this space. One of the best sources of hope in the improvement of STEM education comes from companies acting in their “enlightened self-interest” by investing in initiatives to assist and encourage effective STEM education for future generations.