Via this article in Science, I see that we now have two new acronyms: STEMM (just like STEM, but the second M stands for Medicine) and HACD (Humanities, Arts, Crafts, and Design). There are now official reports saying that we'll get better science if scientists are broadly educated.
Since I support the ideal of broad education, I suppose I should be glad of this. But I'm not, for three reasons. First and foremost, it's the same old Important People, releasing a report on Best Practices and sounding important. Also, I don't think that the measure of arts and crafts and whatever else is the extent to which they benefit STEM, it's the extent to which they benefit people in whatever endeavors. I don't know that unicycling and juggling and volunteer work in grad school helped me as a scientist, per se, but they kept me sane while I happened to be doing science. I don't know that writing science fiction makes me a better scientist, but as a person who works with people I enjoy writing about people.
Finally, as much as I will defend breadth, I will also defend STEM as such. STEM is broad in its own right. So what if a scientist gets their relaxation from math puzzles, or tinkering with their car, instead of painting or rock climbing? So what if a molecular biologist also loves to go on nature hikes and collect interesting rocks or insects? People should pursue their breadth wherever it is most fulfilling to them, and if that's both STEM and humanities, great, but if it's two different things within STEM, that's also great.
Everybody is searching for some magical formula, some perfect balance between the STEM...I mean, STEMM, on the pedestal and whatever else is currently in favor.
Thursday, July 5, 2018
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
I have an article at Inside Higher Ed titled "Some Questions for Assessophiles." The comments are not entirely favorable, as you might expect. I have since been pointed to this most interesting blog critiquing assessment, and this most interesting interview with Molly Worthen.