Yea, that’s right I said it. Allow me to explain myself, but first let’s take a step back…
Can I just say how much I HATE buzz words?! I don’t mind clichés so much, though. They can actually be massively entertaining to mess around with (sometimes). But buzzwords… they just irk me and make my eyes twitch.
I was thinking about the current state of education
when this thought came to mind. I feel like the field of education has been reduced to nothing but
buzzwords. I mean when it becomes such an item of jargon, it eventually loses its meaning. Society uses them to convey a particular thought, but without continual definition and context it becomes used incorrectly. Accuracy matters… and anything otherwise can deter us from the initial goal.
The chief item of current fashion to blame for my musing, as well as volition to vomit, is STEM. For those folks who have been living under a rock, STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. I suppose the reason it frustrates me so much is because of how widely misunderstood it is. So many people that I know, so many parents, and even many educators see it as a discipline where kids learn about computers, electronic devices, and code all day. As if all there is to technology is computers and such. From my observations, it’s almost like they have no clue that STEM is even an acronym at all, and that it’s something that their child MUST be involved in to be anything remotely successful. This idea of success is totally not true. Or, at least, not true in the way these parents perceive it to be.
Really, technology is anything that seeks to make life better. Fire is technology. Band aids, file folders, pens and pencils, and even the Crayola pack with the attached sharpener are all examples of technology. People take for granted many of these little things because they have become such useful tools that they couldn’t imagine better solutions. And that’s fine. Because technology doesn’t have to seek to solve just large-scale problems; it’s all about solving ANY problem to advance our lifestyles. However, it is also only a SINGLE component of STEM. Science (and Math) are really what are at the heart of engineering new technologies. I mean, let’s take a look at the etymology of the word ‘science.’ It is derived from the Latin word ‘sciri’ (hmmm… I wonder if this is where the idea for a certain Apple product’s name came from) which means ‘knowledge.’ There is so incredibly much to ‘know’ about in this world besides the natural things that give the textbook definition of the word.
That having been said, referring to the academic discipline of science, it is what provides us with the knowledge of the characteristic properties that make up Earthly objects that are used to design solutions and manufacture products that make our lives more enjoyable. At the heart of solving problems, we have to know about where to get the materials that will best suit those solutions we seek to find. Science guides us as to which resources to use to best suit our design goals. And THIS is what I wish more people would know about that buzz word. Because you know what? It really is GREAT!
What makes STEM so great is that it really is how science should be taught. It is the missing practical relevance that kids are craving when they say that they hate science or that science is boring. I just really hate the misunderstood ‘buzz word’ aspect, but it actually is a great concept. So let’s let “STEM” die a bloody, horrible death. Make it go away. I call for a revolution! A new way of teachin? Perhaps, simply a name change? My suggestion? Let’s just call it “the correct way to teach science.” Okay, lets’ go!