Over recent years there has been a greater push for students to study STEM subjects at school. This has been in response to identified skills shortages in key sectors. Yet, if we’re not inspiring students to begin related careers, is this increased focus on STEM really going to achieve the required outcomes?
In addition, there is a funding crisis brewing in our schooling system. This has a knock on effect. In it’s simplicity, given the limited money available and the focus on STEM subjects, we are seeing a decrease in Arts and Humanities. Our headteachers have tough decisions to make. Sometimes it comes down to how many teachers they can afford and which subjects to prioritise.
Does this mean that STEM is more important than Arts and Humanities?
Personally, I believe Arts and Humanities are invaluable. They encourage an alternative way of thinking and support creativity. It’s this variety of thought processes that allows individuals to have a broad perspective and to problem solve effectively. In fact, with the technological advances replacing basic tasks, being able to flex your thinking style is a valuable commodity. It’s simply not something that a computer can easily replicate (AI is another story).
Do students really need to study STEM at school?
I think it’s important to have STEM subjects as part of our curriculum. It’s amazing how much we implement these in our lives without thinking. Consider calulating the speed of a car and the probabilty of getting hit before crossing a road (mathematics & statistics). Think about playing a game of pool, which ball you’ll hit next and your approach to this (physics). I’d like to see more focus on the practical applications of these subjects and discussions about how they relate to a variety of careers and everyday life. I also believe that learning can take place out of school or by connecting projects across subjects. An art and computer science project just sounds exciting to me. Imagine being able to write a computer programme that creates pieces of art. Yet we seem to teach subjects in isolation. The world outside school doesn’t operate in silos, so why does our approach to education?
I don’t think we should focus overly on any subject in school education and definitely not to the detriment of another.