Pros and Cons of the STEM Education Initiative

STEM Curriculum

Pros and Cons of the STEM Education Initiative

Definition of STEM Education: NSTA or National Science Teachers Association defines this as: an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.

Let’s look at the pros and cons to this education initiative:

Pros:

  1. Promotes equality in education. It benefits both male and female students equally.
  2. Teaches independent innovation
  3. Allows students to explore subjects at greater depth
  4. Helps students develop critical and creative thinking skills
  5. Allows for an integrated curriculum
  6. Gifted students have high interest in these areas

Cons:

  1. The initiative does not provide clear-cut guidelines for educators to follow.
  2. Few elementary teachers are qualified to teach in the areas of math or science.
  3. No national standards
  4. No teacher certification
  5. Can be costly
  6. Comes at the expense of other subject matter
  7. Most school systems do not teach integrated curriculums, therefore teachers do not know how to integrate

Now let’s look at these lists.

The Pros’ list shows that overall, the STEM Education Initiative is meant to engage all students in learning by allowing investigative and hands-on activities.  The Cons’ list shows that due to lack of teacher expertise, lack of curriculum and money, the STEM Education Initiative falls short.

HMM!  Sound familiar!

Over decades of educational initiatives, most haven’t survived due to the same lists of pros and cons. Many of these initiatives have been recycled over and over.  The names have been changed to mask the obvious.  The STEM Education Initiative is an integrated curriculum that will not survive, just like the integrated curriculum did not survive. We need to address the lists of Cons before change can happen!

Before another initiative is brought to the table that teachers aren’t fully prepared to implement, a need to address the ones that are already here and make them work is called for.

So how can the STEM Education Initiative survive? Here are some ideas:

  1. Schools, school systems, state and federal education departments need to come together to create a template for teachers to use in order to design an integrated unit of study.
  2. Units of study need to be clear.
  3. Well developed and useful teacher in-services need to be conducted to teach educators how to design an integrated curriculum and a classroom management policy.
  4. Individual schools need to provide resources and materials and collaborative planning time.
  5.  Schools need to provide a lab and/or storage area for equipment and materials.

So here is the information. Let’s get planning, designing, and integrating the curriculum based on the STEM Education initiative!

Below you will find a template for designing a STEM lesson, STEM Lessons and other resources.

Lesson Plan Template                   Scientific Method                  Classroom Management Options
STEM Process Sheet                      STEM Activities to Get You Started

 

References:

  1. Debbie Dailey. A Focus on STEM Education, A Response to Pros and Cons of STEM Initiatives for Gifted Learners. http://www.nagc.org/focus-stem-education
  2. Grace Chen. October 19, 2018. The Rising Popularity of STEM: A Crossroads in Public Education or a Passing Trend? https://www.publicschoolreview.com/blog/the-rising-popularity-of-stem-a-crossroads-in-public-education-or-a-passing-trend