Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

Careers In Math And The Sciences? Juggle Deadly Chemicals and Electricity? Rubbish!

SMW, March 24, 2010 9:58 AM


ASQ not what Bowling can do for you,
ASQ what you can do for Bowling - with apologies.

By Dr. D. Rigour                                                                                                          (Humor)
Thought Leader Extraordinaire

Frustrating is not the word. I just took time out from my busy day to read up on STEM, as advised by a worthy but misguided junior "colleague". High time, I believe, to bring back the old Common Room rule that addressing senior academic staff except in writing is the polite way to communicate with one's elders and betters. Let Adjunct Professors debate day-to-day trivialities amongst themselves and leave those deemed worthy of tenure to contemplate pressing matters of import, such as improving one's US News and World Report ranking with some new on-campus tea shops.

Anyway, my interest was piqued as I presumed I was about to enter the fray debating whether sociopathic, liberal high schools should be allowed to breed their own stem cells, only to find that STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. Why on earth use one misleading word when four will do?

It turns out that the fine folk at ASQ (American Society for Quality) have commissioned research to work out whether teachers were inspiring their charges sufficiently to make them want to become food scientists, telephone hygienists and computer hackers. The sample they worked with will be referred in future by me as SIGHS! or Selected Ignorami at High Schools. Basically, the research showed (surprise, surprise) that teachers were not selling their SIGHS! compellingly on a career in the sciences. What a waste of time, money and effort!

Three obvious points leap out from this that are completely ignored 1) if a SIGH! is too dull to realize that the 300 texts he sends a day are not the result of a scientist in action then he/she should not be allowed to go on in life to juggle with deadly chemicals or electricity; 2) I don't remember it ever being in my remit to tell my SIGHS! how to waste the rest of their lives - they are capable of doing that all by themselves; and finally 3) a teacher would be breaking his or her "Hippocratic" oath to the profession by implying that there exists a higher calling than teaching! Teachers are not employed to be career counselors - that is the role of all those who graduated from minor liberal arts colleges, which have no grand tradition of academe.

And while we are on the subject, what on earth is a Human Development Department, as reported to exist at Binghamton University? Apparently, subjects such as Bowling and Theories of Softball can be studied there!!!!!! If they had had traditional departments like Classics, Law and Mathematics there would have never been a problem with their basketball players getting soft grades!! But I digress - the only sensible thing that came out of the research was Maurice Ghysels', chair of ASQ's EAC (Education Advisory Council. Eek!), distillation "We believe that as students get older and begin to diversify their studies and become more aware of the wide range of available career opportunities, they start to think that math and science aren't necessarily critical to their job hunt". Here! Here! The time is ripe to bring back compulsory Greek and Latin. 

Cheers!  Dr. D.

(Note from TDR:  The excellent article which prompted Dr. D.'s riff is titled, "Survey: Educators Aren't Discussing STEM Careers With Students" by E-School News with the link here.   It is a recommended read and contrary to Dr. D's "high" opinion, the article reports teachers would like more opportunites to make real-world career connections to STEM, but are limited due to time constraints.  The article continues to stress the importance of parental and community influence to inspire and educate STEM's importance).

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