STEM Education: Proceed with caution

Prof John Williams
2011, Vol. 16, No. 1,

Abstract


Proposals for science, technology, engineering and mathematics to be presented in the secondary curriculum in an integrated way have been developed in some countries for at least three decades now, but are recently becoming more common and more significant. Some proposals are now being delivered with high level political clout, for example President Obama’s November 2009 announcement of a range of STEM initiatives, and the UK appointment of a National STEM Director followed by a range of similar initiatives to promote the STEM agenda. In other countries this grouping of subjects is promoted as a coalition but not necessarily as a school curriculum organiser, for example SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) in South Africa (National Science and Technology Forum).

The rationales for the agenda are various but limited, and related mainly to vocational and economic goals, rationales not uncommon in the justification of Technology Education, though more recently marginalised as Technology Education has established its place more securely as a component of general education. In many countries, traditional technology education had a strong vocational emphasis and consequently the link with workforce needs and the economy was quite explicit. Technology as a component of general education has a less direct link with economic development, but nevertheless it remains a
rationale which is often invoked.

Keywords


STEM; vocational; technological literacy; engineering

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