Our world is changing rapidly. The biggest drivers of this change are by and large different industries and businesses. Changing market trends also bring about a change in nature and desirable skills of the workforce. Changing trends in the education industry can be linked to changing demands of the employers with respect to the skills which they deem valuable in their employees. One such innovation in the field of education is the introduction of STEM education. To define STEM in simple terms- it is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. So, strictly speaking, if one enroll in a physics class at college, they are taking a class that is part of STEM, right? …Not necessarily, as STEM is a lot more than just a snappy way of grouping together the subjects which the acronym represents.
So, what exactly then, do we mean by STEM education? Basically, it represents a teaching paradigm that amalgamates all the four subjects together into a single, inter-disciplinary curriculum that educates students in real-world applications and methods of teaching. Rather than treating all four STEM disciplines as unconnected and discrete subjects, STEM education is focused on the integration of the four subjects into a cohesive and coherent learning methodology targeted towards real-world applications. It involves a cross-disciplinary and applied outlook on education as opposed to a discrete and theoretical one. It is imperative to understand the emphasis on an integrated approach and real-world application, because as discussed above, one could get a degree in physics but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one completed a STEM course, even though physics is a STEM subject. Therefore, without amalgamation of all the disciplines and following real-world teaching methodology, one can not obtain the educational advantages that a STEM degree can provide and why they are so sought after nowadays. At this point in our discussion, it is vital to look at the reasons for the importance of STEM education methodology.
High Demand for Skilled Professionals
We live in a time where professional demand for a highly skilled workforce is skyrocketing. Companies always require the best talent pool to help them in staying competitive and relevant. They can’t hope to survive for long in a highly competitive and globalized economy without employing the most skillful Research and development teams, consultants, web developers, engineers, and other professionals. According to research from PwC, 75% of rapidly-growing professions require STEM skills. Consequently, these companies are investing heavily towards promoting the growth of STEM education globally so that they have adequate quality and quantity of innovative workers in the future.
Inculcates 21st Century Skills in Students
We live in a digital age. Modes of education that make students skilled in digital technology are going to be beneficial. For instance, most students today study online on teaching apps. In fact, in online teaching, India has emerged to be a world leader. Though the use of teaching app was the need of the hour due to the coronavirus lockdown, on the bright side it helped all students become more accustomed to digital technology which will come in handy for them in the future. Likewise, STEM education also helps students develop skills like critical thinking, digital literacy, spatial reasoning, etc., in short skills which are integral for employability in the 21st century.
Helps in Bridging the Gender Gap
In some of the largest tech companies in the world, the gender ratio between employees only gets more skewed as we advance towards executive and leadership roles. This gender gap is most commonly attributed to limited opportunities available for girls to explore and get accustomed to technology at a young age and prevalent gender biases also negatively affect their interest and participation in technical stuff. As more schools adopt STEM education from a young age, this gender gap can be eradicated by providing equal opportunity to each student towards exploring technology through an integrated and interdisciplinary educational approach.
Besides this, STEM programs also encourage students to tackle real-world problems, inculcate logical thinking, improve spatial awareness and reasoning, develop problem-solving skills and promote creativity. Thus, to say that STEM education is a modern marvel in the field of education would not be an overstatement. Various resources which will inform one more about STEM are available across the internet. Be sure to look them up.