Monday, August 26, 2019

How to Lose the STEM Wars

The battleground for future world dominance lies in what are called STEM fields. Or so we have been told. STEM courses have replaced stem cells as the indicator of future civilizational success. And we know, clearly enough, that America is falling behind China in producing STEM graduates.

And that is only part of the story. How many STEM graduates at America’s best universities are Asian or Asian American? How many Ph.D. candidates in America’s best universities are Asian or Asian American? How many of them will finish their education here and move to Asia?

I suggest that the vast majority of the best and the brightest STEM students are Asian. In particular, most of them are Asian males. So, statistics that limit themselves to numbers can deceive us.

Writing on Safehaven blog, Fred Dunkley offers an overview:

America won’t win the technology battle with a trade war, or by curtailing the number of Chinese students that get to study in the United States. 

America will only win this battle through education, and by creating a situation in which the country does not depend almost entirely on foreign minds for sweeping technological advances. 

And that means a stronger push for STEM education. 

He continues:

It’s not that America lacks colleges and universities that are teaching students in the STEM fields--quite the contrary. The problem is that there aren’t enough American students following this path. Instead, foreign students are benefitting from this education. 

Which means, precisely, that the root cause cannot be found in immigration or fair trade; the problem is in instilling the importance of STEM in America’s youth and following that up with hard-core STEM education in America’s elementary schools. 

Now, STEM courses demand excellence. You cannot excuse bad engineering by claiming that it's all a social construction. Either the numbers work or they do not. Either the design is safe or it is not. Whereas in the world of ideas and even creative enterprise it is possible to skew the results to favor certain groups, you cannot do that while dealing with a math equation. 

It is not just about any old STEM graduates. It is about highly qualified STEM graduates, the best and the brightest competing against all comers. In short, an educational system that is increasingly obsessed with diversity will never succeed in producing the best STEM graduates. Because it barely values excellence. In fact, I suspect that when universities mandate diversity quotas they divided the campus into two tracks, the superachievers who gravitate toward STEM courses and the underachievers who take courses in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Now, Stanford University has found a problem that it can address. It does not seem to care for excellence. It wants to promote diversity in physics. Having discovered that students chosen to fulfill diversity quotas cannot succeed at basic physics, Stanford has introduced remedial physics courses.

The students who take these courses will immediately be seen as inferior, incapable of taking real physics courses. And everyone will know it, thus placing a stigma on their efforts. America needs more, better scientists. It does not need a more diverse group that can barely do science.

Celine Ryan reports at Campus Reform:

Stanford University is pushing a separate physics course for minorities in hopes that it will result in more diversity among physics majors.

A 2016 survey revealed Stanford’s physics department to be one of the “least diverse” departments within the institution, and the university has since embarked on a mission to resolve that supposed concern, according to a university news release.

One step Stanford has taken is promoting a modified version of the standard Mechanics course, a requirement for physics majors, boasting “added support.”

Stanford’s alternate version of this course, Physics 41E, boasts additional class time, as well as “learning assistants,” individuals with a “passion” for “education equity,” who are paid by the university to guide students through the difficult course.

The university says this modified course helps to increase diversity in the field because “students from underrepresented groups often don’t have the same level of preparation from high school as their majority peers.”

As I said, remedial physics. But, ask yourself this: how many more qualified students were refused admission because they had the wrong ethnicity. Might it not be that diversity quotas are excluding students who might excel in favor of students who need remedial work... and who will never be physics majors anyway?

But, that’s not all. It gets worse. The university is also offering social justice courses that contain passing references to physics:

Other courses offered to bridge the supposed diversity problem at Stanford include two one-unit physics courses that address not physics itself, but rather concepts of diversity within the discipline.

“Physics 94SI: Diverse Perspectives in Physics” is a seminar course in which “physics faculty members from diverse backgrounds share the story of their lives and careers.” 

Physics majors can earn academic credit by learning “what it is like to be a female professor” or “a faculty member raised first-generation/low income.” The course takes place “over lunch” and consists of a discussion of the “lives and career trajectories” of various “diverse” professors.

A similar course, titled “Physics 93SI: Beyond the Laboratory: Physics, Identity and Society,” is led by students, rather than professors. In this course, physics majors can earn academic credit by generally exploring “issues of diversity and culture in physics,” by applying concepts such as “critical race theory.” An optional extension of the class allows students to receive additional credit for developing a workshop to teach high school students about “inclusion in science.”

Yes, indeed. Chinese students are studying physics and other STEM subjects, rigorously. They are not being coddled with idiocies about critical race theory.

If our social justice warriors enter the high tech world to compete against Asian students who have not suffered this level of indoctrination, why do you think is going to win?


ga6 said...

Also look up Purdue (you know Boilermakers). Purdue now has a Department of Engineering Education, lead by an AA female hire. I guess this is going to be Engineering for Education Majors. Ridicules..

trigger warning said...

I found the textbook for PHYSICS 41E:

Anonymous said...

The American media is slowly turning into a 21st Century Der Stürmer!

Threats to ethnically cleanse Europe of Jewry have commenced! Why aren't people marching against the threat of anti-Semitism?

David Foster said...

Science/math education isn't only important for those who will actually pursue professions in STEM fields; it is also important for citizens to know something about science. What does the typical voter...or politician....or journalist...imagine when he hears the term "mathematical model"? Something like a crystal ball operated by highly credible witches?

I've observed that in articles discussing "renewables" and energy storage, the author rarely grasps the fact that 'kilowatt' and 'kilowatt-hour" are two entirely different things. Measuring the capacity of an energy storage system by citing kilowatts or megawatts or gigawatts is like measuring the capacity of your car's gas tank in horsepower.

This failing is prevalent in business journalists as well as general journalists.

Unknown said...

Exactly, this is it. As the competition with China heats up, the quest must be for excellence. Insisting on diversity will be fatal.

Sam L. said...

I was a Physics major; B.S.'65. Clearly, these fools are using "Physics For Dummies".

whitney said...

I have a BS and an MS and I had to fulfill my physics requirements as an undergrad. Physics for Dummies then was physics without calculus. I don't know how you can make it dumber than that

And it does look like all the humanities have descended into autoethnographic theses which is essentially a diary. So pathetic

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

David Foster: “Something like a crystal ball operated by highly credible witches?”

In the case of computer models and Anthropogenic Global Climate Change, the answer is yes. But don’t be sexist... warlocks are in on this, too.

Most of the true Climate Change believers don’t know anything about the subject. It’s way too complex. But et they persist, because in the end, it’s not science, it’s politics.

So yes, credible witches and warlocks will suffice.

Sam L. said...

I was greatly amused to read that the Hockey-Stick man lost his case against Mark Steyn because he wouldn't/couldn't "show his work".