STEM Careers: Why Real-World Learning Begins in the Classroom
With a strong development of jobs that require STEM education and training in recent years, more teachers are needed for these subjects. Additionally, more students should be shown the merits of these careers and what they can do with a STEM education in the future. With teachers focusing more strongly in these areas, there is also a growing interest in how the subjects are taught and how they can be tailored for use in ways that will work both now and in the future.
So what do STEM careers offer to learners, and how can teachers prepare them for these future positions? Both of those questions have answers that look toward the development of technological, medical, and scientific advances among others areas of interest.
STEM is not for everyone, of course, but many more learners are showing interest in the career areas related to STEM than they did in the past. With teachers to help them plan their future and understand their full potential, they can do more than they ever thought possible. That includes careers that provide extreme value to the people in them and the public at the same time, and STEM is the beginning of that.
What STEM Offers to Learners Today
The STEM teachings of today focus on two things:
- What is taking place today when it comes to careers
- What is expected to take place in the future in those same types of careers
While some of that future discussion is speculation, and has to be by its very nature, some of it is also based on what is taking place now and how careers that fall under STEM curriculum and teaching are anticipated to evolve in the coming years. In short, people who take on STEM careers today will need the skills for what those careers currently need and what they might also be needing in the future. The STEM curriculum offers a great deal to students today, and the more students see the value of it, the more they will want to learn and grow in the STEM areas.
Teachers who want to encourage their learners to focus on STEM careers will want to ensure that these kids truly understand what they can receive from that knowledge. Such learners also need to know how much benefit they can get from learning science, technology, engineering, and math that can be applied to the real world when they graduate. There are already a shortage of people in many of these fields, and women and minorities are definitely underrepresented. With that in mind, teachers who encourage learners to get involved in STEM are helping them find careers that are in demand, where jobs are currently open and companies are actively seeking people to work for them.
Future STEM Careers Need to be Filled
It is not just the current careers that are in demand when it comes to STEM, however. There are many future careers that will have to be filled. These include careers that build on the opportunities that are currently offered, and careers that may have not even been thought of yet. So how does a teacher prepare students for careers that don’t even exist? How can educators know what to teach, when they aren’t sure what the student will need to know?
Overall, the best way to help students fill future STEM careers is to give them the best foundation and grounding now. There are many STEM career paths that can lead to bigger and better things. When learners start down those paths, they can keep going in the future as things evolve, grow, and change.
In other words, teaching STEM not only teaches important facts and skills, but it teaches learners how to learn and what they should consider as they develop and grow intellectually in the future. Learners will want to look toward careers that might expand and evolve, and career paths that they can create for themselves based on what they know and what they have learned.
No matter which aspect of STEM they focus on the most, they are being taught how to learn as well as what to learn. By thinking critically and putting a focus on learning and developing, learners can move into future careers as those careers develop, instead of feeling unprepared for what they need to do as the future unfolds.
How Teachers Can Help Students Prepare
There are many things teachers can do to help students prepare for current and future STEM careers. However, the most important aspect is to show students that they must not just learn what the books tell them, but they must understand why they are learning these things. Learning what, why, and how to learn helps students develop critical thinking skills that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
The STEM careers that are offered today, and most likely the careers that are offered in the future, will focus largely on development, research, and creation. That all requires people to think carefully about what they are doing and why they are doing it, along with what will provide the best option for the largest number of people.
Teachers who demonstrate that there is much more to be learned beyond books are doing their learners a great service and helping them see that there is far more to the STEM curriculum and careers than they ever thought possible. By keeping that in the forefront of their minds, today’s teachers can help learners be their best, learn as much as possible, and understand the true value of everything that STEM has to offer to people in the future. Students who focus on STEM careers truly do have the opportunity to change the world, and teachers can be a big part of that.
STEM is a Highly Important Curriculum Choice
With so many options for learning today, why should learners choose STEM careers? Above all, it has to do with the ability to excel at subjects like science and technology help them remain on the cutting edge of changes to the world. The same is true with engineering and math. These are the core fundamentals of what the world needs and what types of careers will be the most in-demand and popular in the future. Overall, students who focus on the STEM curriculum will be the ones who are able to get into careers that can change their lives.
Although important to consider, income should not be the main focus—that being said, for many learners STEM careers will pay them more highly than other types of careers will. While not the only reason to choose a career, this ability to make a good living can, does, and should matter to many students.
Not everyone feels that STEM will be right for them, and for some people this can be true. It can be a difficult curriculum in some ways, and does require a critical mind, strong thinking skills, and much more. But many more people can get involved in STEM than may realize it. There are many ways to learn things, and there are many teachers who are dedicated to helping their learners succeed in the career path they have chosen. If students are interested in STEM and willing to work hard for a career in that area, the vast majority of those students can be successful and go on to work in a field that matters to them.
Teaching STEM Matters Well Beyond the School Years
Those who study STEM subjects can move forward with their careers and their lives in ways that their non-STEM counterparts may not be able to. That’s not to say that there is no merit to other careers, but only that STEM careers have the opportunity to become much more than just a job that someone does for years and then retires from. These kinds of careers have the opportunity to change lives, save lives, and even create lives. New ideas can be discovered, new options can be created, and cures can be developed.
There is so much about life that falls under the aspects of STEM careers that the opportunities there are nearly endless. Focusing on and understanding this can take both learners and teachers to areas of knowledge and development that they never thought possible in the past, and truly affect what the world has to offer its citizens.
- ASCD: Teaching and Learning Resources for STEM Education
- NEA.org: STEM Resources
- Edutopia: Resources and Downloads for STEM
- Science Buddies: Hands-on STEM for Your Classroom