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Teen author Stone Erickson debates STEM program’s usefulness

teen author Stone Erickson (photo credit Adam Higgins)

Teen author Stone Erickson (Photo credit Adam Higgins)

Science. Technology. Engineering. Math. Also known as STEM, it’s a program that concentrates education on science and math in order to ensure that today’s youth will have an ample supply of students who are ready to take on jobs in fields that involve the sciences. The goal is to raise future generations in our country in an environment in which they can successfully compete against the growing mathematical and scientific communities of the world. It is true, after all, that the United States has fallen slightly behind the curve within the last decade in comparison to some Eastern countries like Japan. Overall, the program was created with good intentions. However, through empirical observation we can find that many ideals made with benevolent intentions end up completely ruining the foundations of things we hold dear (e.g., the Bush administration). The problem with the STEM program is that it concentrates too much on math and science and takes away the incentives from the arts. We have almost completely moved away from the world where children can aspire to be painters and writers. In fact, the most popular artistic major is digital art.

Furthermore, the youth of today struggle under the STEM program as it pushes graduating high schoolers to pursue majors involving technology. The problem with this is that technology evolves so sporadically that the knowledge that these aspiring students acquire is outmoded by the time they finish four years of institutional colleges and universities. This leads to an increase in structural unemployment, the process by which people who have graduated from college with degrees end up working in jobs that are beneath their qualification because they cannot find a job that matches their major.

Paradoxically, this makes the nation far less competitive than we were before STEM institutions began to sink their claws into the educational system. It also devalues the other skills that our schools teach, such as literature, history, and other art forms. The society we are creating is somewhat reminiscent of the one presented in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a novel which I can almost invariably promise you will not be valued as much as it should be during this new system. Though I have argued the topic logically, I must admit there is an emotional bias motivating me to pen this article.

Currently, I find that it is a shame that the future generations will not be taught how to analyze a story for its motifs or metaphors and that they will not learn the value of artists such as Picasso who articulated the subtle nuances of emotion during his blue and pink periods. There is an important aesthetic in the art forms and I don’t believe that they should die.