Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - April 12, 2015

Brian Gongol

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Why it's STEM, not STEAM

People have barely begun to recognize the acronym STEM (for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and there's already a movement afloat to change it to STEAM (adding "Arts" to the bunch). I object wholeheartedly.

The reason there is an emphasis on STEM is that they are not popular, and we need more of them. And while I have no objection whatsoever to the arts (having earned a liberal-arts major myself), there's no shortage of people who want to get into the arts. In fact, judging from what people get paid in anything related to the arts, there's quite a surplus.

Diluting STEM by adding "arts" to the mix harms the very important need to focus on those first four sectors, all of which are needed -- badly -- in America today. There's no shortage of civilization-building work to be done in those four areas. And while it's very important that people with training in those fields also have a knowledge of and appreciation for the arts, it's not essential. For a very simple example, our radio station could be on the air with or without trained personalities. We think it's better with us around, but there are plenty of automated stations with little or no human presence. But there is no way to have a station on the air without a broadcast engineer. It's plainly binary. No engineers? No station. Period. STEM is a necessary precondition to enjoying the arts. The arts are important -- maybe even vital. But we have no shortage of people who desire to be in the arts. We have a serious shortage, though, of the technical types who make the STEM sectors go.

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