A Critique of — Preparing Students for STEM Careers (9-10)

Preparing Students for STEM Careers (9-10)
Angela Traurig and Rich Feller




“The growth paradigm that has driven our economy for the past generation is exhausted” (Palley, 2008, p. B10). Yet the demand for skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is closely linked to global competitiveness. How can counselors (and those advising students) inspire students to solve problems in the frontiers of alternative energy, climate change [not much can be done here], nanotechnology [there is not much need for this anymore] and space exploration, [DOA] while promoting STEM careers…that is a key question in career development. Friedman (2008) suggests that energy technologies (ET) can solve worldwide environmental issues [Not so sure about this one either.] and create the economic stimulus needed to rebuild America. [This has been tried and did not work.] Yet, the lack of gender and ethnic diversity of students entering STEM educational programs and career fields present additional challenges. [Diversity is not needed. You are talking about minds and yet you worry about race and sex?] Using creativity and innovation to address these challenges is critical to providing career development. [We have had technology since the mid-1800s. Eli Whitney Cotton Gin, Robert Fulton’s steam engine, telegraph and telephones, light bulb, etc. Did we need to train all of our young on these things? No. In fact prior to 1910 only about 10% graduated high school.]

What Is the Fuss about STEM?
The National Academies (National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, 2007), noted the rapid erosion in the U.S’s competitiveness in science and technology—and thus in the U. S. as a global economic leader. They cautioned that the U.S. position as a global leader may be (is being) abruptly lost without a greatly expanded commitment to achieving success in advanced education in science, technology, math, and engineering. The National Science Foundation state:
In the 21st century, [you do of course realize that this is purely some piece of paper—a calendar, and that it is year 4000 – 5000+ in the Chinese and Jewish calendars? So, it is the 40th to 50th century plus and it is not on the nose, so for them it is meaningless.] scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, all students [Wrong assumption here. Not all. Especially right now we have 6 engineers applying for every engineering job out there. Therefore, we have a glut of engineers. China just has a glut of college graduates.] need to develop their capabilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past. (p.1) [Wrong as I have already stated.] Not enough young people are being educating or inspired about interest in advanced math, science, technology, and engineering or gaining the skills for informed citizenry. [OMG. Do you ever look at the Myers-Briggs personality type. INTJs are the most likely to be good at math and science and make up only about 2% of the population. Forcing more math and science will NOT make more STEM college graduates. Forcing more science in high school will only frustrate the majority who cannot handle it and over-joy the nerds, which are an extreme minority.]

“The education in American junior high schools, in particular, seems to be a black hole that is sapping the interest of young people, particularly young women, [Again, INTJ women make up only 0.5% of the population. This is also where the concepts start to become too hard to understand and they just get harder in high school and particularly in college. It takes a high IQ and personality type to make a living at math and science, both of which are in short supply in the world, relatively speaking.] when it comes to the sciences”. (Friedman, 2005, p.351)

Technology is pervasive in almost every aspect of daily life, and as the workplace changes, STEM knowledge and skills grow in importance for a variety of workers (not just for mathematicians and scientists) (The Center for Education Policy Analysis, 2008). [This is a all to common misconception. We have never educated our children for the technology out there. Meaning we did not need school to teach us how to use technology, phone, car, radio, television, etc. We do NOT need to understand the inner workings of electronics to be able to use a computer. It is getting easier to use one.]

In addition to STEM knowledge, the ways in which problems are approached and solved in these subjects are increasingly necessary for workers (The Center for Education Policy Analysis, 2008). [This I have to see.]

Rising Above the Gathering Storm (2007), the seminal report about STEM, is of great value to career practitioners and policy makers. It recommends the need to (1) increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education; (2) sustain and strengthen the nation’s commitment to long-term basic research; (3) develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from both the U.S. and abroad; and (4) ensure that the U.S. is the premier place in the world for innovation.

Historically, the U.S. has been a leader in these areas. [The US has never been number one in math or science. We were once number 10 in one of them back in the 1990s. I am talking about PISA and TIMSS tests.] Now only 15% of U.S. graduates are attaining degrees in the natural sciences and engineering, compared to 50% in China (Freeman, 2008). [Again, it not percentages. It is sheer numbers. Again, China has a big glut of college graduates in all areas, I think.] Large numbers of doctoral degrees in the natural sciences and engineering in the U.S. are being awarded to international students (Freeman, 2006). It is estimated that the U.S. will need 1.75 million more engineers, a 20% increase, by the year 2010 (Gasbarra & Johnson, 2008). Demand for engineers is increasing at three times the rate of other professions (Gasbarra & Johnson, 2008).
[Again, there are 6 engineers for every opening. This is proven wrong.]

Diversity Challenges
Helping under-represented populations pursue STEM careers is an additional challenge. Women, although traditionally under-represented, are in high demand in these fields (Gasbarra & Johnson, 2008). Stereotypes about women’s abilities and their role in the family often keep women from pursuing math and science careers. [It is not stereotypes. It is fact. Again, only 0.5% of INTJs are female. 2-3% of males are INTJs. OR 4-6 times the number of females.] Furthermore, the atmosphere in these male-dominated fields is often challenging, if not inhospitable, to women (Gasbarra & Johnson, 2008). [Many of these men are lacking the social skills and do not feel comfortable around other people especially women.]

Hispanics, who are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States, are largely under-represented [Here is a misnomer. There is no such thing as under-represented, unless you think that every category of human absolutely needs to the same percentage –quotas.] in STEM fields (Gasbarra & Johnson, 2008), and face hurdles in trying to achieve academically. [Why do they? They should have assimilated into the English society decades ago. Why are they still having problems?] Hispanic students are disproportionately represented in poor, [So are blacks. They need to learn to speak only English, then they improve their lot in life.] urban schools with lower quality of education [The education is adequate or would be better if they assimilated into our society.] and poor bilingual programs (Gasbarra & Johnson, 2008). [Again, they need to learn to speak English from birth. Bilingual education should not be allowed. We have people from all over they world here. Why is it you think that only two languages should be taught?] Poverty, language barriers, and family commitments are often obstacles to success. Because few Hispanic parents have attended [Just because a parent went to college does not make it any more affordable, or make it affordable at all. A language barrier after more than 150 years is no excuse.] college, they may have little familial support for attending college, much less for studying science or engineering. With the growing need for more engineers, [Really, where is the need?] American businesses and Hispanic communities could both benefit from more Hispanic students being encouraged and supported in pursuing STEM careers (Gasbarra & Johnson, 2008). [Even if there is a growing need it is Non-sequitur that more Hispanics are needed, just more people are needed.]

The reasons for limited diversity [Diversity is not needed. Anytime you base something on some physical attribute, such as race or sex, it is wrong. Diversity make may be good in nature but that is differences of species. The human being is only one species. Diversity is NOT even possible in the human race. If you use the definition that diversity just means different then we are all different. We are all unique and should not be put into a category.] in the STEM fields are broad and will not be addressed overnight. However, career practitioners can better encourage and support students, especially those in under-represented populations, to enter high-demand STEM fields.

1) Connect students with role models in STEM fields, especially women and ethnic minorities in non-traditional programs and careers. [True scientists and mathematicians do not need role models. They do not consider themselves role models or models of any kind.] If there are few professionals available in these consider inviting college students working towards STEM degrees. [Again, not needed.]

2) Promote STEM in tangible and real-life oriented ways. [Do not promote anything. Tell kids what is available but outside of that let it be their decision and not coerced into a STEM career that they may regret later. Most natural STEM people love to learn for the sake on knowing things.] Connecting with career and technical education (CTE) programs, such as teaching geometry through [Again, these should not even exist. Most people in STEM hate sales and marketing.] construction (The Center for Education Policy Analysis, 2008). Students are often motivated to learn if they understand the real world applications of what they are learning. [No. They are motivated because the are called to it, they are good at it. They like it. Theoretical stuff oft times has little or no real world applications. So they spend time on applications and not on the theory itself, as much?]

3) Promote fun ways to explore STEM interests through Space Camp
(www.spacecamp.com), Camp Kennedy’s Space Center
(http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/educatorsParents/camp.asp), NASA’s Kid’s Club (http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/index.html) and local STEM career fairs within educational settings. [Space is dead. Even the shuttle program is dead. If we were planning on colonizing Mars then maybe.]

4) Explore materials that offer insights about STEM such as NASA’s
(http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/index.html) and
http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/core/home/index.html , The Gender Clip Project Project http://www.genderchip.org the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center http://www.careercornerstone.org/diversity.htm and the Real Game 2.0 at http://www.realgameonline.ca

5) Visit http://www.stemcareer.com a clearinghouse for those seeking and promoting STEM Careers. [What is the need to promote, especially when we have a glut of STEM people that can’t get jobs?]


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