STEM education is one of the latest ideas in the educational sphere, but some people are not sure if the benefits it holds outweigh the potential drawbacks. As with any educational system, you should do your research before deciding on what style of learning is best for your children. STEM education may be perfect for your children if they have an interest in and aptitude for science, technology, engineering, or mathematics - but here are some other factors you should consider as well.
Pros of STEM Education:
Prepares students for college and the workforce.
STEM education focuses on helping students develop critical thinking and innovation skills, which is what they will need to succeed after high school. STEM programs are typically very hands-on and intellectually challenging, and they allow students to develop independence from a young age. A lot of the time, these programs will bring in professionals in different STEM fields so students can be exposed to what these careers are actually like.
Promotes gender equality.
There is currently a wide gap between the number of girls and women majoring and working in STEM-related fields. Only 24% of all STEM workers are female, but STEM education is attempting to bridge that gap. This style of learning provides equal opportunities and encouragement for both genders. Proponents of STEM education realize that to fix this problem, girls need to develop an interest in these fields from a young age, so that’s where this type of education comes in.
Provides good job potential.
There are many different careers that students can choose to pursue, but for a lot of them, there’s no guarantee that those fields will be hiring once the students graduate. If students build a STEM foundation early in their lives, they will have nearly endless job opportunities because those fields will always be growing and hiring. Not only will those STEM-educated students have jobs; those jobs usually also pay above-average salaries.
Cons of STEM Education:
No clear-cut guidelines or standards.
The biggest issue with STEM education is that there are no set guidelines for what students should be learning or how qualified the teachers need to be. Each program at each school is different and focuses on varying topics, so there is a chance that some programs may not be adequately preparing students for college. Also, since there is no qualification requirement for STEM teachers, some teachers may not be very well-versed in the subjects they are trying to teach.
Starts too late in life.
Another problem with the majority of STEM programs is that they start in middle school, which many professionals believe is too late to make a real impact. In order for students to develop a passion for these fields and the motivation to succeed in them, STEM needs to be emphasized while the students are still in elementary school. Otherwise, these students may lack the basic skills necessary to learn more complex ideas in the STEM program.
Under-performing students can get left out.
One criticism of STEM programs is that they can sometimes become rather elitist. Students who are well-prepared and naturally motivated will succeed, but those students who are not tend to get left behind. These programs don’t generally cater to the lower-achieving students, even if those students could reach the same level of success with a little more help.