STEM must include focus on literacy, critical thinking as much as hard skills
- No matter how many extra letters get added to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) acronym, the primary takeaway should be the need for equal consideration of all subjects and the importance of critical thinking and literacy across all areas, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- Noting the recent inclusion of an "R" for reading alongside the "A" for arts (to create "STREAM"), K-12 education strategist Amy Brown writes that literacy's importance is just as much (if not more) about being able to write, speak, analyze arguments and communicate effectively than it is about simply being able to read.
- Additionally, STEM should focus on teaching students to think critically and solve problems, so that they're adaptable to any situation — a trait that will only become more important in an economy where the fields they enter could be disrupted and many of the jobs they'll eventually hold don't even exist yet.
While much of the focus on STEM subjects has been on teaching students hard skills like coding, soft skills in areas like creative and critical thinking, communication and collaboration are much more important when it comes to producing graduates who are lifelong learners, capable of pivoting amid major changes in whatever career field they choose.
A similar argument has been made regarding approaches to ed tech that focus more on a device or a piece of software as a means to an end rather than teaching students how to use them among other tools to solve problems. With the Every Student Succeeds Act additionally focused on the importance of a "well-rounded" education, lawmakers are also recognizing that providing students with skills that benefit them across subject and skill areas is critical for the nation's economic future as well as their own individual futures.
As Muhlenberg College President John Williams put it in 2015, "If you skate to not only where the puck’s going to be, but provide yourself the ability to twist and turn to where the puck is going to move at various points over your life, then you’re best-equipped."
- EdTech: Focus on K-12 Cross-Curricular Critical Thinking Is Integral to STEM Success
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