Revisiting STEM Reflections

Have you seen the March 2010 survey results on under-represented minorities in STEM? Last week, in The Power of Enthusiasm, I wrote the following:

Everywhere I turned, there were phDs in mathematics and science. In fact, at my table, I had the opportunity to listen to math professors, one of which bemoaned the state of public education and how poorly our children were being prepared by our public school system. I can certainly say, I had a marked lack of enthusiasm for participating in the event after having to listen to such a perspective...

So, in considering the STEM issue, I don't think the problem is that our high schools are poorly preparing students for college math courses...that our students arrive so behind in math skills that they fail. I'd rather believe that math professors at universities have a lack of enthusiasm in teaching the children that come to them, instead preferring as one of the presenters at the Summit put it, to focus their attentions on those who come to them "prepared."

Apparently, I was wrong. So much for belief. I couldn't believe that the skepticism among our local university professors was on target. Then, I read the May, 2010 issue of eSchoolNews print publication, wherein the following appears:

The survey found that the K-12 education system fell short as well, with respondents giving it a "D" for the job it does to encourage minorities to study STEM subjects and a "D+" for girls.
Source: Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV Survey

Worse, the Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey--which polled 1200 females, black Hispanic, and American Indian chemists and chemical engineers--quoted above also supported another assertion one mathematics phD had made, perhaps completing "slaying" the idea that I knew what the heck I was talking about in STEM. Long Sigh.

The assertion the surveyed chemists and chemical engineers were making included this point:
Sixty percent say college is the leading place they are discouraged...U.S. colleges were cited as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens, with 44 percent saying college professors were the individuals most likely to discourage.

This, of course, supports the assertion of one speaker who stated something along the lines that such discourage happens exactly because math professors don't want to spend the time encouraging students who are too far behind. Better to out-source the math/science talent.

No conclusions here from me...except that I intend to encourage my kids to go math/science.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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