Liberal Arts or S T E M

Posted: July 20, 2012 in Education

When I was in the 6th grade, Mrs. Long had an expression she used when she was about to institute an innovative approach to learning. Her “funnywonder” phrase seemed funny to those of us who questioned her teaching creds… probably because she spoke with this foreign accent – from the south. I seem to remember looking at my classmate across the aisle from me and we smiled incredulously to each other. I don’t think I need to expand on the results of my reflections further as I’ve pretty much covered the fact that I now consider probably one of the best I had. When my grandmother took me to visit her years later Mrs. Long had kept a copy of a newspaper I wrote and published while I was in her class. But I digress.

All these years later I think of her special talents when I consider education and the deeper elements of it.

To the point: the last time I thought about it I always considered Math a liberal arts pursuit. So it gets lumped together with science, technology, and engineering in these highfalutin approaches that would improve our science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Apparently the process of including it with the other three branches of education denies its liberal arts status. Yes, there is applied math as a course of study in our schools. I thought applying math was smart to get students interest that might not be there if you tried to teach it as a purely academic course. My awareness of that fact was made when someone derided the course as something substandard among the curricula in secondary schools.

According to an article in today’s Kitsap Sun on page 4A of the print edition, “Liberal arts pushback blooming in state”, there is a local effort to create, yet another, better approach to educating our young people. I believe this is an essential process in raising the level of the dialog about education.


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