So I’ve recently started at job with a tech not-for-profit working with first generation and low-income students, helping them prepare and get into college, through the Upward Bound program. And I am really loving it. But I’ve noticed in my first month on the job the rhetoric surrounding STEM and its importance, both in the schools, and for my parent-organization. I’ve sat in on numerous meetings and round-tables that have talked directly about the “tech-talent pipeline” and the importance of pushing kids to be interested in STEM and pursue STEM careers.

Outside of the clearly problematic view of the purpose of education (a topic I am pondering and will do a bit more research on for a future post) as a means of job preparation and placement, there is the issue of pushing kids to like things that they may or may not enjoy. STEM is great. STEM careers are growing and profitable. However, not every child enjoys science, technology, mathematics, and engineering and wants to spend the rest of their life doing jobs that fall into those categories. There is no denying that information technologies are playing an increasingly roll in our every day lives, and a basic understanding of those technologies can take a student far, but to push for them to all become programmers and engineers deprives those students from pursing other avenues of interest.

Coming from two years in an intensive humanities masters program, one which directly studies STEM in all its facets throughout history, I find myself slightly troubled by the outlook on the educational future of these students by some of my coworkers. I am considering doing a series which explores the many different types of education which our students can come into contact with, and the many subjects which are often neglected when we focus so intently on STEM education. STEM can still be a part of it without students feeling the pressure to choose a career when they’re 14, in a field they may or may not have really passion. We also run the risk of losing the types of thinkers and people that the humanities and the arts give to society. The type of people who work with their hands, or choose not to go to school. When we elevate one type of learning and education above all others, when we narrow our definition of good careers and educational choices, we run the risk of narrowing our definition of the multitudes that create humanity.