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ACM Opinion

STEM Education Needs a Course Correction

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student in STEM lab

Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and science communicator. She has held academic positions at Yale University and MIT, and is the author of The Alchemy of Us (The MIT Press).

After witnessing STEM education evolve over the past eight years, I have come to believe that it requires a course correction. It needs to head in the direction of its core mission, which is now different from what most people think.

STEM touches all parts of our culture, which is why many policy makers will say our nation needs a skilled technical workforce, as the National Science Board claims in its January 2020 report The State of U.S. Science and Engineering. But the function of a STEM education is much more than training people for great jobs. All children need some form of STEM — whether they choose to pursue a career in it or not — so that they can be pilots and not just passengers in this technological age.

A quality education in technical fields nurtures the asking of questions, which will prepare future citizens to navigate societal shifts caused by the technologies that are created. When students are empowered to ask questions, they are able to be more than just cogs in a machine. For this reason, technical training today should not be solely in the business of making better coders but of making better people who will be able to cultivate the future.

From Scientific American
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