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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 12, 2014 at 7:15 AM

STEM education: include arts; STEM isn’t right for everyone

NANCY OHANIAN / OP ART

Include arts in STEM learning

Guest columnist Robin Lake makes a compelling argument for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education [“Washington state lags rest of U.S. on STEM education,” Opinion, Feb. 9]. I only wish that she had included the “A” for the arts, making it STEAM instead of STEM. STEAM includes the arts as a vital part of each student’s education.

The data support the economic argument for increasing STEM education. But data need to be interpreted to get a better idea of the big picture. Seventy percent of all new jobs may be in computer-related occupations, but that encompasses a broad category, which covers everything from data entry to designing video games to curing cancer. Which would you rather do and how should you prepare yourself to do it?

Technical proficiency isn’t enough. You will need creative problem solving skills and imagination. Both can be acquired through the arts. The arts are valuable in and of themselves for the meaning, richness, depth and perspective that they add to our lives.

If we want to engage more students, we need to spark their interests and their passions. The arts are a great way to accomplish this. Innovative thinking should prepare our students for fulfilling careers in a variety of fields.

Kristin Austin, Bothell

STEM isn’t right for everyone

Isn’t education reform a fascinating topic. Only ten years ago SLCs (Small Learning Communities, aka “small schools”) were the answer to all of our education problems. Then DLCs (Digital Learning Commons) became the new silver bullet in education. Then “Mainstreaming.”

Now it is STEM education our future depends on. Of course, sciences and math and technology are important job creators but only if we do not outsource the manufacturing process of our inventions.

Shouldn’t education at least equally focus on creating curious minds, helping students realize their potential and their intellectual or artistic essence? That discovery would then become the motor that drives their future interests, STEM or otherwise.

However, not everybody is right for STEM or Advance Placement. I certainly wasn’t. I found my inspiration in literature, in philosophy, in arts and music, something that has enriched my whole life.

The purpose of at least a high-school education should not be to fabricate worker bees to fill technology jobs; it should be to create thinking, curious, creative human beings who can then build upon their potential.

James Behrend, Bainbridge Island

Comments | More in Education | Topics: education, James Behrend, Kristin Austin


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