An interesting Op-Ed by Kerry Hart
Ever since the space race in the late 1950s there has been a concern about American students lagging behind the rest of the developed world in Science and Math. More recently, there has been a push to emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in order for American students to compete globally. And the value of STEM has been put into monetary incentives. During the Obama administration, former President Obama, speaking at a General Electric gas plant, said, “I promise you folks can make a lot more, potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” While this comment only spoke to the monetary value of post-secondary education our second U.S. President, John Quincy Adams. Adams said, “I must study war and politics so that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy…in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music, [and] architecture.” The educational vision of John Quincy Adams more than 200 years ago, compared to the reality of today’s market value of education and training expressed by Barrack Obama, gives us pause to ponder where we’ve come from and where we’re going with our educational system.
Even in some of the traditional vocational programs that have evolved into what are called Career-Tech Education programs, students seeking degrees and certificates find an integration of the curriculum that requires creative thinking. It has been with considerable thought that students are required to complete courses in general education that balance out the strict skill-development of the vocational courses. Required painting courses, for example, are common for students pursuing a degree in auto collision repair. Creative thinking is not just a talent, but also a learned skill.
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