In the current economic environment, there has been a major push to get people into STEM fields. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This push appears to be aimed at fitting people for jobs in tech and high-end manufacturing. The need for these of jobs has exploded over the last few decades, and looks poised to continue and evolve into the future.
I am not opposed to the idea of people studying STEM fields. In fact, it seems like a great idea for many people in the current economic environment. However, I am opposed to nationally pushed policies or agendas for education, even if it seems like a good idea at the time.
First, I believe the utility of formal education needs to be questioned. Not everyone needs to go college and learn the mathematics and concepts for a coding job in tech. Allowing people to study their fields of interests, try different types of work, and explore life would suit many students who are currently shoe horned into majors at state Universities.
Then there is the problem of too much “same-ness” across what people are pushed study, a better way of putting it is that there is not enough variance across peoples education under national policies and agendas.
This is important because no one knows what the future economy will look like. The types of jobs that are in high-demand currently could be lost over the next 15 years, no one can predict it. Therefore, making education and the ambitions for education more uniform across the country could be more harmful then beneficial( even for STEM), because if the national policies and agenda fail, then the nation will suffer muchmore than allowing local and private interests to drive peoples education decisions.
In my attempt to follow Nassim Talebs writings about localism, allowing people to make education agenda at the local and familial level would allow for a variety of education approaches to be tested. Local level education policy will be very different across cities, states, and even ethnicities, it would foster a more diverse education and economic environment, and let people learn from the successful approaches. Local level education also reduces the risk of systemic failures in education. For example, if in the 1980’s the federal government passed education requirements for everyone to learn Russian, by 1991 many people would have wasted valuable time pursuing a badly forecasted agenda. However, int he 1980’s it would have been very logical to push for more people to learn Russian.
To bring this back to reality, if society is guided by national agenda into certain fields of study based on current utility, society runs the risk of over preparing too many people for the wrong type of work in the future. It is much more difficult to fix a nationwide system problem caused by bad education policies than to correct the policies on a local and individual level.