In The Case for STEM Education: Challenges and Opportunities, Rodger Bybee addresses the variations in conceptualizations of STEM that are held by stakeholders at different levels of education. He points out that “the views individuals have of STEM education vary and are a function of their roles in the education system” (Bybee, 2013, p. 1).
Bybee notes that visions of and purposes for STEM education are likely relfective of our personal experiences and values.
Some of us think about the potential for context-based STEM pedagogies to lead to more authentic, relevant learning experiences for children. Others may prioritize the need for students, particularly those from underrepresented populations, to establish and maintain productive relationships with the disciplines of science, engineering, and math through the K-12 pipeline and onto college. Some might consider STEM education reform to be the key to increasing student achievement on global benchmarks like PISA and will help increase America’s academic competitiveness. Still others might value high-quality STEM education for its potential to help America Rise Above the Gathering Storm by increasing the human capital in innovative science and engineering fields that is needed to ensure a bright economic future.
These are just a few of the goals for STEM that help shape our ideas of what STEM education is and it is likely that most of us have overlapping visions that bend and flex depending on context.
Though seemingly ubiquitous, STEM education reform is still in its early stages. I believe that it is crucial for all of us who are touched by education systems, parents, teachers, students, administrators, employers, policy makers,etc., to question and consider our evolving perspectives on STEM.
Bybee’s book has inspired me to reflect on my current ideas of and for STEM by considering the issue in the context of the following question:
I encourage all of you to do the same!