The cultural shift modern technology has brought about is evident from the developments taking place in every field of human thought and endeavor. To sustain the culture that is reliant on technology, a tilt of education towards technology is necessary so much so that at times, it will seem to border on pedagogical favoritism for math, sciences, and engineering.
The need for human resource deft in technology within the industry stands at an unprecedented rate. Now, numbered geniuses who bag Nobel Prizes in physics or medicine and change the epoch would not suffice, we need a better part of a generation educated in sciences and versed in technology and that brings relevance to the topic that we are covering in this article—STEM, which is an acronym for Inter-disciplinary curricular framework designed for the instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Necessitated by the advent of technology as a pervasive entity i.e. something that has acutely infiltrated every viable modern profession, STEM education has been taken up as a policy by the national governments and is being encouraged by the corporations that invest sizable sums in agencies that promote it. There are several societies and think tanks, notably, in North America, Europe, South East Asia and Africa that have committed resources for the development and propagation of STEM approach globally.
Postmodern industries and knowledge economies cannot sustain without a constant influx of highly skilled professionals and technocrats, hence the evident proliferation of novel ways of imparting education in sciences, mathematics engineering, and technology.
What’s new in STEM?
We have expounded on subjects like digitization of education and metamorphosis of the classrooms taking place in the wake of the proliferation of education technology earlier but STEM is a separate discourse in itself.
Education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM signifies an approach where the pedagogically separate disciplines—mathematics and science are taught in cohesion supplied by technology and is ultimately aimed at benefiting it. The marked emphasis of engineering is what makes STEM a redefining approach. By definition, STEM is an inter-disciplinary approach that uses the overlapping of disciplines to induce practicality in the study of all sciences and mathematics and engender an interest in engineering studies. The practicality is made viable through the pedagogical introduction of technology and engineering in the instruction of the scientific disciplines. STEM curriculum departs from general curriculum to a significant degree in that instead of treating the disciplines in isolation, it combines them inventively for parallel development of skills with the theory.
The STEM orientation, it may be misconstrued, comes at the expense of other disciplines. It is not the case, although the acronym does not include the titles of other disciplines including humanities and social sciences, the application of STEM is vast enough to cover all hard and soft sciences i.e. physical sciences and humanities. In fact, if all its variations are taken into account, the scope of STEM spans disciplines as varied as astrophysics and archeology.
STEM and school education
The R&D in STEM introduction in the school education is being supported under CSR initiatives of several corporations. There are dedicated agencies in India, notably those like India STEM foundation that are aiming at popularization of STEM curriculum in schools and reportedly, they have been able to establish an outreach to more than 20,000 institutes. The significant component of the enterprise of bringing a radical shift towards science and technology education includes competitions at national and international level. Some of the notable such competitive events include World Robot Olympiad. There are as many as 150 competitive events that are organized at different forums for the promotion of science, engineering, and technology. The move towards science and technology-intensive education is being supported by state agencies like the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Council of Science Museums (NSCM), the notable international organizations that are supporting the efforts include For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) and World Robot Olympiad Association (WROA). In India, the STEM education is set afoot but it has a long way to go when compared not only to the western countries but that of West and South East Asia.
In addition to that, it must be said that In India the application of STEM is still restricted in scope. It is yet to find authentic expression in the curriculum of the schools. STEM or for that matter any other notable interdisciplinary approach is yet to find a place in the national curriculums. The co-curricular activities that include quizzes and science games and application of Information sciences have contributed a lot as far as kindling of the interest for math, sciences, technology, and engineering is concerned. The needs of the knowledge society that we intend to create cannot be served until approaches like STEM are incorporated in the mainstream education and not remain the preserve of just the gifted students who manage it make it to the math, science and robotics Olympiads.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.