As an educator, I see a need for more meaningful learning in the classroom in general and this includes the concepts that STEM content gives to learners. We have fallen away from teaching children what it means to critically think and problem solve in a way that is in need for this time in society. We are leading to (or are in) a technological renaissance. This indeed affects how successful a person can be in our current and upcoming workforce.
What seems to be missing from the argument is that this kind of thinking also lends itself to creative thinking. No, arts and humanities should not be dismissed as subjects. Balance creates a whole package. Making strong connections across all areas however, can be done. Guiding and not instructing students is the goal. This is to encourage thinking outside the box in order to generate new ideas to age-old problems. While there may be a surplus of “IT workers” to jobs, this is only one part of a much larger field. Engineering and technology applies to many fields and science goes hand in hand with both.
The way students have been taught in general has been flat and disconnected over the years. STEM learning and the Next Generation Standards attempt to help students synthesize and make more meaningful connections across subject matter in general. Much like the concept behind an ecosystem, we want students to see the big picture from different perspectives. This way of thinking is something that can benefit the workforce overall and can grow a new generation of people to be the creative innovators that are needed, people who can help continue to solve systemic challenges in the world.
With regard to the point that there is not enough jobs to fill the amount of people gaining degrees in these areas, I am reminded of the adage, “If you build it, they will come."
Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce
Economic Policy Institute