For America’s high schools students, the bloom is off the STEM.
Everyone knows by now that the good jobs today and tomorrow are in fields like science, technology, engineering and math. Add on health care jobs and you have a good indication of where high school students should be directing their efforts.
Last year, the message got through. This year, high school students are showing markedly less interest in studies that would lead them to STEM or health care careers.
NBC News reported the findings:
A national sample of teenagers ages 14 to 18 found a 17 percent drop off in interest in jobs in the STEM or medical fields, the study co-sponsored by non-profit youth organization Junior Achievement found.
Of the 1,025 teens surveyed, 30 percent of the boys and 16 percent of the girls indicated some interest in STEM careers. A year ago, 41 percent of the boys and 21 percent of the girls were on board. Medical-related jobs (including doctor, nurse, dental hygienist and other jobs) also took a hit dropping to 13 percent from 30 percent a year ago.
Employers are worried. If young Americans are not prepared for the jobs of the future, more and more of those jobs will travel to countries where people are capable of doing them.
Worse yet, these children have no real interest in overcoming their deficiencies.
More and more of them lack any sense of purpose. They are so mired in the here and now that they do not know what they want to do when they grow up.
How to explain the drop off?
Sophisticated educators believe that the message hasn’t gotten through to America’s high school students. They recommend hiring more administrators and having more assemblies.
Yet, these children do have parents. Every responsible parent knows where the future jobs are. Every responsible parent explains it to his or her children.
Besides, if these children knew about STEM subjects and health care job opportunities last year, why has there been such a significant drop off in interest in these fields?
I suspect that the reason lies in the difference between talking and talk and walking the walk. It’s easy enough to gin up an adolescent’s enthusiasm for subjects like math and physics. But then, when these students take a few advanced math and science classes, they discover that these subjects require hard work. Math and science courses have right and wrong answers. You cannot get by on self-esteem.
The same has happened in colleges across America. Freshmen take a few math courses and discover that their GPA is not what they wished. They feel that the only way they can overcome their narcissistic injury is to find a friendly humanities course where grade inflation will guarantee them an A+.
Sad to say, too many of America’s young people reject hard work and discipline. They seem to be suffering from the sin of sloth. Some college teachers have remarked that young people entering college today are notably lazy.
Perhaps, the students do not want to do what they have to do in order to compete. They have left the field open to Asian-American students, the ones who have Tiger Moms.
In New York’s Stuyvesant High School, an institution where admission is based almost entirely on test scores, the entering class is over 70% Asian.
Of course, it is also possible that America’s high school teachers are simply not very good at teaching math and science. They might be turning off their students.
Either way, these young people are neither seizing the day nor preparing for the future.