A Narrative On Of Stem Education: Are We There Yet?

Year: 2015

Author: Howell, Jennifer, Blackley, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Curricula and school systems constantly adjust to changing political, social, economic and global contexts. Over the last decade, this phenomenon has been exemplified by the at times frenzied focus upon Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Since its inception in the late 1990s, STEM has attracted attention and considerable funding in the USA, UK, and Australia, and continues to be highly profiled in political agendas. This paper narrates the development of the STEM movement over the last 15 years, and analyses its rise, subsequent crisis points, and the impasse that has been reached. The pervading rhetoric of “STEM crisis” is considered through a global lens, and is resolved as a geo-political phenomenon. The strident voice of the USA in the STEM narrative is tempered by investigating the approach to STEM in European, Asian, and developing countries. Two perspectives are described in the narrative: the political and the educational. Each perspective has an apparently differing agenda resulting in little success in achieving the desired and much-publicised STEM outcomes of increased numbers of students choosing STEM subjects and improvement in scores for international testing regimes. The paper concludes with a suggestion of two courses of action that would most likely achieve the aspirational outcomes of educators as well as meeting political imperatives: either the education community holds the pedagogical high-ground resulting in integrated STEM education (integration) OR the education community supports the original political agenda by shoring up the discrete school subject areas of science, mathematics, and technology (concentration).