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As technology continues to improve, the demand for a STEM education is becoming more urgent. President Obama recently announced that there was a “desperate need” for more STEM graduates. Although there seems to be no shortage of histrionic STEM headlines in the media, the United States is far behind when it comes to STEM preparedness. Despite these dismal results, schools across the nation are cutting back on the humanities and pushing STEM to the front. In response, many schools have suggested integrating the two. Since STEM and the humanities are so connected, doing so would not only allow the United States to become competitive with other countries but also prepare them for the real world.
However, many were not ready for this shift. Many educators have lashed out claiming that incorporating the two would distract them and create even more confusion. However, critics have failed to realize that the humanities and STEM are already intrinsically connected to each other. No school would have to make any drastic, costly changes. The very nature of these subjects are not about memorizing and regurgitating facts but how to apply them. Science majors will spend most of their careers writing lab reports and endlessly analyzing their results with a critical eye. Peer review and discussion of found results is critical to the scientific process. Logical fallacies, critical thinking skills, and technical writing are all crucial aspects of being a scientist. No one is asking math students to write a ten-page analysis on the social aspects of Pythagoras’s findings, rather, integration means more discussion on the validity of scientific data and knowing how to write a lab report free of opinion bias. To be clear, STEM will in no way become just another English class. Instead, STEM will incorporate it into their curriculum in a way that mimics the way that actual scientists function.
In today’s competitive job market, STEM graduates are being forced to compete with countries with more advanced, well-founded programs. Broadening their skill set will make them stand out on a job application. Integration of elements of philosophy and debate will allow them to convince employees to hire them. Allowing and even encouraging students to broaden their skill sets in college will provide them with unique insight that other students do not possess. People like Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina lended their success to the classes they took outside of STEM. One economic course might be the difference between a student living their life in the IT department or in the CEO’s chair. Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes credits “cross-disciplinary training” for her students’ success in the job market. In this connected, complex world, excellence in just one topic will not cut it.
The same principle applies to the real world as well. Believe it or not, STEM majors have lives outside of the dark corners of their laboratories. In order to increase the popularity of STEM and rid the world of ignorance concerning the subject, they have to know how to communicate their ideas and findings with the average person. Scientists and researchers play a huge role in trying to keep this world safe with their experiments, however, that work is useless if it cannot be conveyed to the average person. The humanities trains their students to do just that, convey their ideas in a clear, concise manner. The disconnect Americans have with STEM is more apparent than ever. Training in the humanities would help eliminate that problem.
Both STEM and the humanities cannot be divorced from each other. It is more apparent, now more than ever, that in order for American students to compete with other countries and survive in today’s competitive job market, people need to meld the two topics together. Doing so would teach young high schoolers what these jobs are really about and get a better understanding of the science itself. With this new focus, the United States can truly propel students into this new, STEM-driven future.
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