Tuesday, September 20, 2011

STEM Careers

Tonight at our Honors Forum Dr. Thomas J. Calhoun, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, spoke to us about STEM careers- STEM being Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. He began by asking us, "How do you choose the best door for you?" and telling us never to be too proud to take advantage of all the opportunities we are given to succeed in life. He especially stressed, like our previous speaker, the great advantage of studying abroad.

He then progressed to STEM, and how the number of STEM degrees being awarded each year are shockingly low, hovering around 20%. This number was not particularly surprising to me, as it should not be to anyone who walks into Best Buy and looks around. Who is making all our electronics? The Japanese! I drive a 21-year-old Honda Accord. The Japanese cell phones and computers last longer than most American-made ones (cough, cough, Dell, cough, cough). It should be obvious that the Asians have set out to succeed in the field of science, and that they are succeeding.

We Americans, on the other hand... Dr. Calhoun seemed to think that most of the blame for our lack of science rests on poor K-12 education. He may be right, too. Goodness knows teachers in public schools DO have their hands completely tied with rules and regulations. It also doesn't help that so much focus is placed on scoring well in standardized testing that the kids learn how to do those tests and never actually learn how to learn, how to think, how to study. Let me tell you, if you can think well, if you know how to learn, you will go farther than someone who can take a test. Because if you can think well, you can solve problems. Common sense and a clear head work wonders. And knowing how to learn is the key to many doors. As long as you know how to learn, the possibilities are endless.

Another reason why I am proud to be a product of homeschooling! I went to a private school through 4th grade before being homeschooled, and I never looked back.

Back to public education, however, it also certainly does not help that students are growing up in dysfunctional families, they are hyped up on cokes, candy, and all sorts of genetically-modified food (but that's a rant for another day), and often doped on Ritalin and other things that are not particularly necessary, and cannot thus sit still long enough to listen to the teacher. It does not help that there is a general lack of respect for anyone and anything now. If the children do not respect the teacher, there will be no success. Respect is not confined to saying, "Please," and, "Thank you," either. Respect means a great deal more. Even if the person in authority is a complete moron, respect should be shown to his position. And the children- college kids included- should show respect to their teachers. This includes paying attention, showing up, not texting under their desks, doing their homework, not whispering to other classmates while the professor is talking, and more.

I regret to say that I do not plan to major in a STEM field. However, I do feel gratified that I am taking Calculus 1 and that I like it very well. (Dr. Stovall is a good teacher, too.) Moreover, I come from a family of engineers! My dad is a mechanical engineer, as are two of his brothers; the other is a chemical engineer, and so is one of their sisters. I have a cousin-in-law who is a civil engineer, another cousin who is I believe a mechanical engineer, and another who is the family computer expert. (Even if he does like Macs. I abhor Macs. * adopts sarcastic tone of voice * "They're user-friendly," said friendly users.)

Sorry. I grew up on a PC, now own a PC, and love PC's. Even if Windows 7 is a headache in comparison to the logically laid out Windows XP (I took Logic 1, Logic 2, and Material Logic in high school; I appreciate well-laid out things) and I despise Internet Explorer 9 (which Windows foisted on me without my knowledge. However, I shall not resort to Google Chrome or Mozila Firefox, either, so pity me), I can still play around on my parents' Mac and gawk at the complete incomprehensibility of it. Even down to the red x button being in the top left corner. So weird. Of course, I also do not own an iPad, iPhone, or iPod (GASP! I DON'T OWN AN IPOD! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO? ...It's called a piano, people.) so I have little experience with Apple to begin with. Meh.

In Pace Christi,


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