Difference between revisions of ""STEM" sucks"

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Latest revision as of 11:50, 12 September 2019

Yet, after decades of trying, it is clear that injecting more tech­nology into education turns out to be a massive waste of time and resources, even according to its proponents’ own criteria. The massively subsidized rush to convert schools into Apple stores only diminishes students’ capacity for “creativity” and “innovation.” Technology, even in the narrowest commercial sense, depends on the liberal arts—pursuits that are subject neither to the practical demands of society nor to its untrained desires—to provide the higher ends that technology serves, as well as the new thinking on which it is based. The blatant commercial wastefulness and impracticality of number theory, not to mention literature or playing the violin, offers hints that those pursuits are priceless rather than worthless.

The sciences and mathematics have a historic place in the cur­riculum, and technology does not, for the simple reason that the latter is not inherently “about” anything. Absent human contributions on specific topics, cut off from the subject matter of academic work, technology is nothing—an electron microscope without any samples, darkened VR goggles, an empty spreadsheet. Specializing in techne as such means trying to teach people to be good at “making” without having any idea of what to make, or why to make it.

How did we get here? The American public education system, a rusted-out 1976 mustard sedan whose “check engine” light is always on, is driven by a psychopath who wants, by turns, to crash it for the insurance, to insist that cars can be submarines, and to spend hilarious sums on unnecessary parts.

Libertarians with their vouchers would rather send the vehicle over a cliff, cash the insurance payout, and save themselves. Progressives want to replace the curriculum with pamphlets based on social theories invented five minutes ago, submerging the institution in an absurd soup. “Sober-minded centrists” promote coding, gadgets, and the Taylorization of the classroom, the equivalent of gleaming cus­tom chrome rims on such a tired auto: pointless, expensive, embarrassing, distracting enough to cause an accident, and no help what­soever for the corrosion happening inside the engine block.

- Jared Woodard, Rotten STEM: How Technology Corrupts Education