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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Beware the cult of tech education | Opinion - The Australian Financial Review

We should resist the urge to hero worship leaders of any one profession over another, any one skill over another, as The Australian Financial Review reports.

Google found the best new ideas came from B teams comprised of employees who don't always have to be the smartest in the room.
Photo: techno

In a speech this month dedicated to the critical importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in driving Australia's future economy, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham invoked the works of Sir Francis Bacon and Alvin Toffler as inspiration.

He topped it with a timely reference to the Thai cave rescue and how the "feats of science, technology and engineering made such a rescue possible".

Birmingham's audience was the Australian Science Teachers Federation, so he may have been preaching to the converted.

Faddish obsession
But I'm sure many knew that Sir Francis, a true enlightenment-era genius, was as gifted in philosophy and law as he was in science; that Toffler, the author of the 1970 best seller Future Shock, was a writer not a scientist; and the Thai cave rescue success had as much to do with the physical skill and resilience of the divers as it did engineering.

And this is the problem with politicians' new-found obsession with STEM education: it comes across as too simplistic and at times, faddish.

There is no argument that Australia needs more and appropriately qualified science and maths teachers and that STEM skills are vital for the new world of work and in solving the myriad wicked problems in an ever more complex and connected world.

Source: The Australian Financial Review