In How Many Scientists Does It Take To Save A Nation?, Jennifer Gresham acknowledges that many of the problems of the future will require a multi-disciplinary approach to solve, but "we seem stuck in a paradigm that dictates a group of highly specialized individuals, rather than a group of individuals with a broad range of experience and knowledge."
Needless to say, she mentioned the S.T.E.M. education initiative and how it fails to address our nation's need for skilled learners and thinkers beyond a specialized degree.
Jennifer isn't the only one who fears potential repercussions for focusing our educational resources solely on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. On April 11, 2010, a visitor to this site left a comment asking "What about music and art? What about literature? Are we creating robots?"
Well, are we just creating robots? I don't think so. I believe the U.S. is just trying to maintain a competitive edge in a market that is becoming highly globalized. The United States needs a way to find talented students and help them achieve their maximum potential.
Maybe the STEM education program was made for selfish reasons - to help the United States maintain its superpower status and stay ahead of the curve, but it does (and will) benefit students at the same time by providing an opportunity that might not otherwise exist.
Those with a passion for music, art, and literature will not be shunned from society for having creative interests. The world will always appreciate these disciplines (if history tells us anything).
Ultimately, the debate comes down to how the government should allocate its limited resources.
The way I see it, a writer can practice his or her craft with little or no money, just like musicians can teach themselves a new instrument by using the internet. However, a gifted student with an interest in, let's say, nuclear engineering, may not be able to afford higher education or was never informed about available opportunities and slips between the cracks. All while China is pumping out specialized students at a ratio of 10 to 1 compared to the United States (example scenario). How long would it take for a role reversal to occur where U.S. citizens are used mostly for manual labor to supply the rest of the world with consumer goods because they can no longer keep up with the rapid advancements being made in science and mathematics?
I'd like to know what your thoughts on this are (if you have any). Don't be too shy to leave a comment and let your voice be heard on this issue!
FYI - This blog was created by a college student studying Political Science with an interest in the S.T.E.M. initiative, not by an academic prodigy who uses only the left side of his brain. I think this goes to show how anyone (and everyone) can contribute to a greater cause in their own unique way!