Is STEM as important as we once thought?

In an article by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post, we might need to rethink what we’re telling our students and children about the skills they need to be successful in the future.

The conventional wisdom about 21st century skills holds that students need to master the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — and learn to code as well because that’s where the jobs are. It turns out that is a gross simplification of what students need to know and be able to do, and some proof for that comes from a surprising source: Google.

Out of seven characteristics of success at Google, STEM expertise comes in at the very bottom of the list

In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization who writes…

It’s far past time that Michigan policymakers and business leaders stop telling our kids if they don’t get a STEM related degree they are better off not getting a four-year degree. It simply is not accurate. (Not to mention that many of their kids are getting non-STEM related four-year degrees.) And instead begin to tell all kids what is accurate that the foundation skills––as Google found out––are not narrow occupation-specific skills, but rather are broad skills related to the ability to work with others, think critically and be a lifelong learner. The kind of skills that are best built with a broad liberal arts education.

Do yourself a favor and read the full post at the Washington Post. They hit the nail on the head.

February 27, 2017

Kids need more than STEM skills to be successful, according to Google

My phone exploded with text messages from friends wanting me to read an article written by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post. “Steve… STEM isn’t important?” was the theme of most of the messages. If I’ve captured your attention and you’re at all interested, read the article. If you’re still not sure, here are a few excerpts, but read through to the bottom before you send the firing squad my way.

The conventional wisdom about 21st century skills holds that students need to master the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — and learn to code as well because that’s where the jobs are. It turns out that is a gross simplification of what students need to know and be able to do, and some proof for that comes from a surprising source: Google.

“The conventional wisdom about 21st century skills holds that students need to master the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — and learn to code as well because that’s where the jobs are. It turns out that is a gross simplification of what students need to know and be able to do, and some proof for that comes from a surprising source: Google.”

Out of seven characteristics of success at Google, STEM expertise comes in at the very bottom of the list

In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

“In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.”

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization who writes…

It’s far past time that Michigan policymakers and business leaders stop telling our kids if they don’t get a STEM related degree they are better off not getting a four-year degree. It simply is not accurate. (Not to mention that many of their kids are getting non-STEM related four-year degrees.) And instead begin to tell all kids what is accurate that the foundation skills––as Google found out––are not narrow occupation-specific skills, but rather are broad skills related to the ability to work with others, think critically and be a lifelong learner. The kind of skills that are best built with a broad liberal arts education.

“It’s far past time that Michigan policymakers and business leaders stop telling our kids if they don’t get a STEM related degree they are better off not getting a four-year degree. It simply is not accurate. (Not to mention that many of their kids are getting non-STEM related four-year degrees.) And instead begin to tell all kids what is accurate that the foundation skills––as Google found out––are not narrow occupation-specific skills, but rather are broad skills related to the ability to work with others, think critically and be a lifelong learner. The kind of skills that are best built with a broad liberal arts education.”

Why do I like this article? Because the points raised by the author stimulate conversation, and great conversation is the genesis of new ideas. I like the person who said, “The greatest take away is, surprise, the most successful people in life, tech or otherwise, are those that have a BALANCE of skills. They can not only solve a problem, but they can understand the needs of others, adapt the solution to diverse needs and communicate both the problem and solution to others. Maybe those social skills that are no longer taught in kindergarten (to make room for reading and math skills that most 5 years olds aren’t ready for) should be returned to the curriculum.”
In my way of thinking, STEM is all about inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. In education, STEM is a call to action. STEM as we know it today didn’t exist 15 years ago. Prior to STEM, we were using the terms scientific inquiry or hands-on science or inquiry-based learning or whatever. STEM
Do yourself a favor and read the full post at the Washington Post. They hit the nail on the head.

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