Pushing STEM on students is killing the arts

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In recent years, the U.S. government has made a push for younger generations to abandon the arts and move toward STEM careers.

STEM is the acronym used to discuss careers pertaining to science technology, engineering and mathematics. Whereas countries such as Korea and Mexico are within the top 10 countries with the most science-educated population, the U.S. is found far lower on the list, ranking at 39 out of 40 countries according to the Organization for economic co-operation and development(OECD) online library.

I fear this is a race we can never win, and that’s okay. I don’t want to be a part of the most science-based society in the world; I am perfectly content with the wonderful mixing bowl of mathematics, visual art, music, sciences and more.

The U.S. has always been competitive, striving to keep its “better than thou” mentality and stature in every sense of the phrase, but having dropped so low in core subjects has caused fear to build in the pit of every politician’s stomach. Fear makes people, especially those in power, do very short-sighted things.

While the department of education continues to pump standardized testing down the gullet of every teacher across the nation, counselors are left to lead as many students as they can down the path of STEM-centered careers. Passionate painters are soon replaced with physics professors, and quiet writers are shoved out of the limelight by quantum mechanical engineers.

It doesn’t sound too ominous until you consider the idea that each culture is built on the arts. Language, visual arts and music all built the world each person lives in and created an identity for each generation, each nation and—in the case of the U.S.—each state.

At the moment, instead of creating a nation of creative, critical thinkers, we are creating a mindless mass who can memorize and calculate quadratic equations but when a problem arises, they have no coping skills. This can be seen through the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, programs that are more than happy to “prepare students for college” but only in the academic sense, and only partially so. Schools aren’t getting students excited about college and they definitely aren’t putting as much emphasis on the arts as they should be.

I took so many A.P. classes in high school, I lost count. My senior year I was cornered into taking more than I wanted to by my counselor.  

If I hadn’t already had an idea of what college was really like, I know that my first couple of semesters would have been a whirlwind of confusion and misery. A.P. does not prepare students for college.

A.P. does just the opposite when attempting to prepare students for college by not introducing coping skills failing to get students excited about learning. 

In these programs, personal wellness, creativity and coping skills are thrown into the wind, replaced by this fear of failure and the need to “just pass.” The arts offer students the ability to creatively solve problems within their own lives and allows students an outlet to express themselves and their emotions. 

In these classes, passing does not equate to a college credit. If students want that college credit they were promised, they must pass a standardized test.

Standardized testing, required by A.P. classes, are killing high school students and limiting college students, and the government’s interference in education is unwanted, unnecessary and unhelpful. 

Reintroduce creativity to the classroom and stop cutting funding for music, art and theater programs. STEM is important, but not more or less important than the sanity and health of our students and society.