Rant coming later...
STEM has become all the rage in the American high school. If it's not science, technology, engineering, or math, it doesn't matter. I don't think I've attended a faculty meeting in the last couple years where the importance of stressing the STEM courses is not mentioned.
I get it. This is the 21st century and we live in a tech driven world in many ways. I also know that the majority of the high paying jobs of the present and future will be in the STEM fields. So to not prepare students for this reality would be negligent.
I asked my students today if any of them had ever been told by a guidance councellor that they needed to take more psychology, sociology, anthropology, or history courses. None of them had, yet they all tell stories of being encouraged to take more rigorous math and science courses.
Last week we had our "Hour of Code" here at Alta where all of us teachers, even us history teachers, were expected to teach the importance of being able to program computers. Needless to say, we've never had an "Hour of History" or an hour of anything social studies related.
I think we are under emphasizing the social studies. We are always reading about how this is the age of globalism and reading Thomas Friedman books like The World is Flat which stress the idea of international markets and the ability to compete on a global scale.
If this is the case, isn't it just as important to have citizens who understand history and other cultures as it is to have people who can write lines of code?
It's probably true that a hundred years ago, what happened in Pakistan had no effect on what happened in the United States. These days that is clearly not the case. I was thinking about the 145 dead teachers and kids in Pakistan today and about the fact that I'm at a loss for answers. Sadly, I feel like these sorts of atrocities are going to happen more frequently in the future. I think it is going to be vital for the U.S. to have people who understand and think about this.
No engineering course is going to help you understand radical Islam or any other form of extremism. Students whose interests run towards history and the social sciences need to be made to feel like their abilities will be just as valuable to the well being of our country and planet as students who prefer math and science.
Sadly, the mega-billionaires who are pumping money into so-called education reform these days are people like Bill Gates and the Walton Foundation (Wal-Mart). I think if their vision of what comprises a good education succeeds, we will have a nation filled with people that don't really understand people.
PM: 1.25 mile warm-up, stretching, 9.25 miles in 60 minutes.