Patriot Debate: STEM vs. the humanities
February 24, 2016
STEM prepares students for jobs
The importance of education in STEM is now receiving more and more attention in American schools and for good reason. While the state requires a basic level of study in humanities, further education in significant technical fields emphasized in STEM education will allow our society to progress as a whole.
An education at any school should allow a student to become articulate and well-rounded, but only a good school will give the student the environment to thrive in difficult subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The world needs America to step up and take a more thorough approach to STEM education. It needs a cure for cancer, for AIDS, for heart disease. The world needs action, and STEM education is a plan for action.
With Saudi Arabia and Iran taking control of the oil industry and regulating the prices, the future is bleak for conventional fossil fuels, which indicates an economic need for alternative energy for America and all UN countries. Without a focus on STEM, youth are not pushed towards becoming the world’s future researchers who can develop the skills and interests to pursue a better tomorrow.
As the generation of Baby Boomers becomes older, they will need medical attention. Because of this, and a declining interest in the healthcare field, Dr. Richard Cooper from the University of Pennsylvania estimated a shortage of 200,000 physicians between the years 2020 and 2025.
This is terrifying.
Encouraging studies in humanities from a young age is encouraging students a wider field of knowledge, but the job opportunities for those humanities-focused educations are much more narrow than those with expertise in STEM fields. Thus, it is a no-brainer to encourage students toward a field of opportunity and innovation rather than one of culture.
Not only are the opportunities for STEM majors greater in number, but they are greater in quality. PayScale.com, an organization dedicated to researching and organizing the salaries of careers, puts out a list of the 15 highest paid college majors which all happened to be STEM majors. A STEM education sets up students for financial success.
The opportunities for jobs in the humanities pale in comparison. Mastery of complex language can provide a path to legal professions while studies in history or philosophy often lead to teaching history and philosophy.
The problem is not with the humanities themselves, it is that they are not suited towards most professional careers in America. Humanities should be learned outside of the academic setting and should be an addition to character as opposed to an addition to resumes.
Encouraging STEM education especially for the lower class and lower-middle class students will help to tear down socioeconomic barriers because the young upper-middle class students and upper class students often wander into liberal arts school for a well-rounded education.
While it is clear all knowledge is important and should be pursued, our education system must realize that with the limited time we have on Earth, we must put our effort into meeting our societal needs first and foremost.
America should be pushing STEM fields more than ever. America needs nurses. America needs doctors. America needs alternative energy. America needs STEM.
Joe Kyburz is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.
Humanities create versatile students
Humanities. This word encompasses a broad field of disciplines and can be hard to define, but if we break it down, one word becomes clear: “human.”
It is the role of education to make us into well-rounded human beings, and humanities are an integral part of that. Without them, the “human” aspect is lost.
That is where modern society has gone awry. The current emphasis on STEM is great, but in order to create well-read, understanding, and open-minded global citizens, humanities education must be a large part of the education in America.
According to Stanford University, humanities can be described as “the study of how people process and document the human experience [using] philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history, and language to understand and record our world.” The humanties extend beyond the laboratories and classrooms and into the interactions between people and the real-life application of these scientific discoveries.
In the diverse society we live in today, we are bound to encounter and work with people from all walks of life. While science and math may be considered a “universal” language that would allow us to communicate with others around the world, it doesn’t allow us to connect with them. Science and math lack the “human” aspect that creates strong bonds and foster creativity.
Accord to Tyler Cowen, Holbert C. Harris chair of economics at George Mason University, in today’s high-tech economy, expertise in humanities-related subjects is increasingly vital in order to “synthesize and humanize” new technologies to ensure they are successful and helpful.
The humanities, according to Cowen, is perhaps why Facebook did better than Myspace. “It may have had slightly better technology, but it was more because its [co-founder] Mark Zuckerberg, who majored in psychology, understood the importance of the feed of information, rather than just having a profile,” he said.
To completely disregard the humanities would be a big mistake and would devastate the immense body of knowledge passed down through the generations. Colleges and universities realize this as well, and as a result have implemented “core” classes, or similar systems under other names, that require students to take humanities courses, no matter what their majors are. At the University of Chicago, for example, students must complete six quarters of humanities: civilization studies, the arts, social sciences, and a foreign language.
Aside from places like University of Chicago emphasizing the importance of humanities, the world of science itself has acknowledged its importance. According to Science Magazine, “studying the humanities allows you to become familiar with and use the creative ideas from great minds outside of science.” A prime example of this is Charles Darwin, who admits that his ideas in “On the Origin of Species” came from reading and understanding Thomas Malthus’s theory on population, a theory not strictly bounded within the STEM category.
Obviously, higher institutions see the importance in a humanities education. It not only helps us interact with others around the world and be more well-rounded in our academic pursuits, but it also provides us with the necessary foundation for exploration and decisions in the future. A humanities education enables students to think beyond formulas and equations and into what makes us human to begin with.
Claire Grunewald is the Print Editor in Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.