Saturday, January 11, 2014

About The STEM Crisis...

Did you see Stephen Krashen's letter in the WSJ? I saw it over at Ohanian's, which sounds like a pub, doesn't it?

Ms. Stotsky thinks that all high-school students should be required to take trigonometry and precalculus to be ready for the brave new world of science, technology, engineering and math.

Even if the STEM crisis were real, this is not a good idea. Of course, advanced math classes should be offered, but there is no reason to require them of everybody. Michael Handel of Northeastern University has concluded that only about 10% of the workforce uses math beyond algebra II.

Also, it is not clear that the crisis is real. It is not clear that there is a compelling need for more STEM workers. Some studies conclude that there are too many qualified candidates. Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman has reported that there are approximately three qualified graduates annually for each science or technology opening, and recent studies have also shown that the U.S. is producing more Ph.D.s in science than the market can absorb. 
— Stephen Krashen

I couldn't agree more on the one-size-fits-all thing. Illinois recently ratcheted up the minutes-spent-enduring math classes for EVERYONE, which sounds like a great idea if you're angry at young people. But if you're interested in developing everyone's skills in the fields they're interested in, it's actually just a huge waste. 17 year-olds sitting through another mandatory math class instead of pursuing an actual interest probably aren't really learning math with any sincerity.

My impression was that the community college groups were complaining about all the math remediation they have to do, so now everyone has to take another year of math, which in fact won't reduce the "remediation" one iota. It possibly might not have occurred to the community colleges, and all colleges, that they're allowed to set a minimum standard for admission rather than accepting people that bother them so much.

But the mindset now is that you just keep increasing the enrollment no matter what that means.

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