The Importance of STEM Education

A member of World ORT’s Academic Advisory Council has welcomed the decision by leading science publication Nature to devote its latest edition to exploring Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

“The fact that the world’s premiere scientific journal has done this highlights the importance of education and encouraging  people to become more interested in science and to do good science,” said Sidney Strauss, Branco Weiss Professor of Research in Child Development and Education (Emeritus) at Tel Aviv University’s School of Education.

“The topics presented there are among those discussed by World ORT’s people in the field, those in executive positions and members of the Academic Advisory Committee because at the heart of the organisation’s mission is the fostering of STEM through high quality education,” he added. “For teachers and administrators who are very involved in their work and don’t have the time to keep up with what’s going on in the academic world, here’s a wonderful opportunity to read about what is being done around STEM. It provides a big picture which I think will be of interest to people who work for World ORT or support its mission.”
Nature’s special issue looks at the promises and challenges of bringing STEM education in line with decades of education research and in so doing reminds us of why teaching STEM is so important.
“Not everyone studying STEM will become a scientist,” said Professor Strauss, a former Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Education, who currently teaches at the Centre for Academic Studies in Or Yehuda. “But it is important that everyone be taught STEM: the latest issue of Nature shares success stories of schools that teach STEM to children from a broad swath of social and income levels; they seem to break the classic correlation between children’s socio-economic levels, and their school and life achievements.”
Such education is not limited to obvious content such as biological evolution but can also embrace so-called 21st century skills such as inter-personal ethics, the balancing of leadership with cooperation, critical thinking, problem solving, ‘thinking outside the box’, and written and oral communication skills.
“This special edition attempts to address what the goals of STEM might be.  If you know what they are then you have a place to go and can think about what the paths are to achieve those goals. If you know what the goals and paths are, you then have the possibility of evaluating how close you have come to the goals you have set yourself,” he said, adding that World ORT was “definitely on the right track”.
The Chair of World ORT’s Board of Trustees, Dr Jean de Gunzburg, himself a scientist as well as an entrepreneur, agrees with Professor Strauss.
“STEM forms the basis of a solid education that enables those who benefit from it to enjoy those benefits throughout their life,” Dr de Gunzburg said. “Those benefits include being able to keep up personally and professionally with the tremendous and transformative developments that science and technology are bringing to our societies. Good STEM education helps students to find jobs and develop interesting careers.”