My Photo

March 2017

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

BlogStats


« Sandbox - 1aug14 | Main | Rumblings of the Great Divide »

01 August 2014

Comments

Russ Steele

Bill Gates did not spend much time in art class, he spent over 10,000 hours learning to program and write complex computer code. Bill Joy who wrote the current version of Unix did not spend much time, if any in art class, he spent more than 10,000 hours in the computer lab learning to write complex computer code. If the Bills had spend 10,000 hours in art class we would not have Unix or XP today. Art has a place in society, but not in STEM.

Michael R. Kesti

To me, with more than 30 years of computer programming experience, writing complex computer code is as much art as it is science and math.

What really matters in computer programming is perseverance. One must be willing to put in many hours of sometimes maddeningly frustrating work.

But neither engineering nor art should be easy.

Gregory

STEAM isn't the first corruption of the term. Science, Technology, Engineering, Math... what "Technology" in academia isn't engineering? If you want to be a purist, call it SEM.

I'm a firm believer in the liberal arts, which classically included science and math. It's a tragedy that "liberal arts" as a term has come to mean everything but science and math to most people.

So, yes, reject "STEAM". Then reject "STEM", it's almost as useless a term. It's math, science and engineering, probably in that order.

Gregory

"These same people often find an ‘extra-curricular outlet’ in the Arts that has a distinct motivation from their work in STEM."

George, you got that so very wrong. Math, science and engineering types active in the Arts have generally been active in the arts all along, probably longer than they've been active in math, science and engineering. Arts aren't "extra-curricular", they are a key part of the curriculum.

Historically, there were the manual arts for slaves and working classes, liberal arts for free men. I get the feeling that the "STEM" only crowd are trying to mold "STEM" into a more stratified manual art.

Brad Croul

There is nothing wrong with a little STEAM.

http://mindresearch.net/programs/

"MIND’s original research showed that music training improved spatial-temporal reasoning, the cognitive skill used by the ST Math software to teach and illustrate math principles. In combination, the music training and the instructional software have achieved even greater gains in test scores. Music has a mathematical architecture, and as young students learn music they are also learning to recognize patterns and symmetries, and experiencing and hearing the concepts of counting and fractions."

Gregory

Brad C... a description of the education toy being sold from the link you supplied: "Integrating with classroom instruction, ST Math incorporates the latest research in learning and the brain and promotes mastery-based learning and mathematical understanding."

What you have there is one more Bright, Shiny Object for the math education reform types that have driven real math education into the dirt over the past quarter century.

"[T]he latest research in learning and the brain" is math ed reform mythology.

George Rebane

MichaelK 1152pm – I understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately, English is not yet precise enough to allow us to easily distinguish when we mean to use ‘art’ in the sense of doing something ‘artfully’. Yes, STEM work as in many other endeavors cannot be algorized (reduced to the execution of a communicable algorithm). In that sense we need to cobble together the formalism that we learned in an artful manner to solve a problem, and most likely have to repeat the process as we converge on a solution. The (sometimes frustrating) joy of the hunt is what requires perseverance, as you correctly point out.

But ‘studying/doing art’ in the sense used by Dayton, Catterrall, and others is an endeavor, as commonly understood, that has an end product which we call ‘art’, usually in a form that endures and/or can be replicated (as in performance art). What people variously agree to label as ‘art’ is another subject altogether. Over the years I have some very interesting and stimulating discussions with people at all levels about ‘what is art?’; you can read my thoughts about it here - http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2010/12/what-is-art.html

Gregory 942am – Can't recall requiring the study/practice/enjoyment of art and STEM to occur in any given order, so I don’t know what I have gotten “so very wrong.” And I used ‘extra-curricular’ in the sense of being outside the purposive structure of STEM study and ensuing STEM work. I have no idea about what STEM curriculum Arts are a “key part”. They were not key parts for me, nor my fellow STEM students, nor any of my STEM colleagues over the decades.

BradC 943am – I believe you have given us an excellent example of a commercial outfit creating ‘research lite’ from some cited work at a legitimate academy that did not make any of the claims it (aptly calling itself ‘Mind Research Institute’) does to attract customers. In the process they sell the confusion of correlation with causation. Thanks.

Gregory

Not "STEM curriculum", George. Curriculum. You really are reducing math, science and engineering as vocational study. Just another industrial art.

Patents are for inventions that are not obvious to one 'skilled in the art'.

K-12 should have all of the liberal arts represented, including math and science. "STEM" is a buzzword that should be put out to pasture. Say "math and science" instead.

George Rebane

Gregory 1036am - OK, then you are revisiting a bygone tautology in your reprise of the more comprehensive curricula which today's mismanaged economies and budgets no longer support. Recall that my commentary established its propositions within the constraints of today's world, not what we all would like them to be.

Your citing of 'arts' in terms of patents just underlines my 1021am remarks about art.

And regarding your desiderata that includes "all of the liberal arts" in K-12 curricula, all I can say is 'from your mouth to God's ear', to which I add my small voice.

Gregory

"OK, then you are revisiting a bygone tautology in your reprise of the more comprehensive curricula which today's mismanaged economies and budgets no longer support."

Not at all, and far from a bygone, currently, according to William Bennett, the #1 college in terms of return on investment is a liberal arts college of math, science and engineering which still requires a third of all the coursework in the humanities and the budding young scientist (ahead of MIT when it comes to their fraction of alumni with PhD's) is required to take a minor in one of the humanities.

By objective measures, the US already awards more "STEM" degrees than there are "STEM" jobs, year after year. That the Gates of the country want more young grunts willing to work cheap has more to do with the current cachet of working at Microsoft, who, by the way, are beginning a new wave of layoffs.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2014/07/20/microsoft-layoffs-also-impact-thousands-of-contractors/

George Rebane

Gregory 1114am - an anecdotal citing of a private college that has cracked the ROI code with a comprehensive STEM/liberal arts curriculum does not a government controlled and/or subsidized national academe make.

And yes, the supply/demand question of STEM work in the country is much clouded by an educational industry that seeks to paint itself as having properly and sufficiently served our society in order to keep the money rolling in. While at the other end small entrepreneurial companies are having a hell of a time finding qualified STEM workers (my own current involvement with such a company corroborates this, and we talk with our peers). As we know, not all STEM degrees are created equal.

(Microsoft's current travails are a matter of mismanagement of a very large enterprise, the problems of such - whether private or public - have been hashed and rehashed in these pages.)

Brad Croul

Perhaps George and Gregory missed the point? Tell me, what is wrong with this statement/idea, "Music has a mathematical architecture, and as young students learn music they are also learning to recognize patterns and symmetries, and experiencing and hearing the concepts of counting and fractions."

Both your arguments against this are that it is a "toy" to attract customers.

Is music not considered an art form? Yet, it is dismissed by the STEM-cell proponents it even though it has a mathematical architecture and could be useful to those who might not have been born into the master race of "chosen ones", those, "self-select(ed) bright people, people who have the appropriate cultural, character, and genetic attributes/backgrounds that enable their successful study and subsequent work habits", but might want to learn science and math just the same.
You did say we need less kids who are averse to STEM, didn't you?

George Rebane

BradC 1157am - Well, at least one of us missed a point here and there.

No one has claimed that music does not have a "mathematical structure", or that its study will not aid in "learning to recognize patterns and symmetries", as I might add, so would being a framing carpenter in a housing project or high school shop class (I was both). Please reread my post. All I am saying is that STEM is already sufficient onto itself in teaching its students and workers mathematical structures and recognition of patterns and symmetries.

Were arts such as music a no cost add-on in a school's curriculum that included a course of STEM study, then by all means include such arts. But do not abridge and/or extend the STEM studies by wedging in arts, especially if the costs for such are to be borne out of budgets originally intended for STEM. Include arts on their own merits and at their own costs, STEM does not **need** arts.

(BTW, if it feels we are circling the barn again, please refer to my 437pm comment in the most recent sandbox.)

Gregory

"...an anecdotal citing of a private college that has cracked the ROI code with a comprehensive STEM/liberal arts curriculum does not a government controlled and/or subsidized national academe make"

It also cracked the "how to produce math, science and engineering PhD's at a rate almost that of CalTech and exceeding MIT" nut, and the role of K-12 is not to create the maximum number of math, science and engineering practitioners. The market gives copious signals to our young and old alike, and stagnant salaries and short careers speak far more loudly than Gates et al. demanding visas for cheap labor.

"While at the other end small entrepreneurial companies are having a hell of a time finding qualified STEM workers"-- George, if Riskalyze is having a hard time filling that one programming slot, I suggest more money and stock.

https://www.riskalyze.com/careers

Brad, there's not enough right in your 11:57 to just be wrong, full of less-than half-truths and straw men. The whole reason for the breakout of "STEM" for K-12 is that elementary and secondary educators have been so lousy at teaching it. The reasons for that are an object of heated discussion, but many have concluded it's because the inmates are running the asylum. Before singing the praises of a toy du jour, you might want to actually see the data they used to determine its effectiveness; that one has all the earmarks of an education magic bullet that allows a teacher to do something else while a remedial student is quietly at their table playing the games and the school is pretending they are learning.

I'd love to know what the average SAT M+V is for both the teachers (by school) and administrators (by district); my expectation is we'd all have a better idea where our K-12 problems lie were that bit of knowledge to make the light of day.

George Rebane

Gregory 1249pm - I think Riskalyze management is smart enough for such a solution, were that the problem. The company has doubled in size in less than a year and continues to grow. We don't advertise on a platoon basis to fill office bays. At this stage of growth there is no room for slack or slackers, the gems are carefully culled one at a time. This approach is classical and shared by all young companies husbanding their cash so as not to dilute ownership or become beholden to creditors. I have done it several times and conclude that were it easy, everyone would be doing it.

Gregory

"I think Riskalyze management is smart enough for such a solution, were that the problem." -GR

Time will tell. There's also location, location, location, not to mention the people you'd be working with, and for; abilities, experience and personalities.

"Perhaps George and Gregory missed the point? Tell me, what is wrong with this statement/idea, "Music has a..." -Brad C

Brad, if a kid in high school is in danger of not passing a watered down algebra class, it's almost certainly because they never grokked the arithmetic of fractions, perhaps the #1 readiness factor for a real 8th grade algebra, not to mention a 12th grade 'last chance to pass something called Algebra' Algebra. It isn't because no one handed them a recorder (the flute-like thing) or a drum in K-6, and a computer game masquerading as an instructional automaton isn't going to be a major help. However, it will keep them busy and keep the monkey off a teacher's back for a time.

Walt

Now come on Brad, I took a few semesters in band class, and it didn't help me one bit in the real world. Years of piano lessons was a waste of money. To this day I can't play a note.
Now put me behind the controls of a backhoe or excavator, I could just about tune that piano, without breaking a string, or scratching the finish.

The last time I played a piano was long ago at Secession days in R&R. I was used as target practice on an hourly basis. Even the dogs howled out back..." MAKE IT STOP!"

On the otherhand, there are plenty of drama queens that show up on job sites. Liberal arts like that have no place on a construction site.

Walt

On second thought, there in one job where the rhythm of music just might come into play.
Three men swinging hammers on drill steal.

Gregory

Rather than argue about STEM vs STEAM, how about making it simpler...

Math and science. Engineering is applied science and applied math. Technology is applied engineering or applied computer science. Math and science completely covers the focus that is generally lacking in K-12, and adding "technology" and "engineering" allows the focus to wander.

M&S. Not STEM, not STEAM.

George Rebane

Part of the overall STEM education debate has been a disagreement about whether there is a shortage of STEM workers in the American workforce. Since the shoreline of STEM knowledge and skills is long and very convoluted, the short answer is ‘yes, there is a shortage of the kinds of STEM workers that industry wants’. Along these lines we look at the continued shortage of computer programmers, the ‘T’ part of STEM.

Some people are suggesting that computer programming should be looked at as a trade similar to welding or nursing. As such it is a skill set that can be picked up in a few months through appropriate training to a level that makes the person employable. I happen to agree that you don’t need a computer science degree or even a college degree to be a viable computer programmer and develop, say, 80% of the kinds of software currently in demand. Agreeing and responding to this view of programming is a new clatch of for-profit programming schools that have sprung up. These may serve as templates for other skill teaching schools that help fill out the shortage of T-workers who don’t need a full college degree, but will need to go back periodically to update or add to their skill sets as the job markets roil during these pre-Singularity years. Here’s more –
http://online.wsj.com/articles/computer-programming-is-a-trade-lets-act-like-it-1407109947?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories

Bill Tozer

Good input. Concerning Mr. Gregory's 11:52pm post, why not call it S&M. Might attract more students and it has a nice ring to it.

Gregory

"Part of the overall STEM education debate has been a disagreement about whether there is a shortage of STEM workers in the American workforce."

How would a von Mises, a Hayek or a Friedman approach the question? While that's being formulated, here's yet another datum:
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9245494/What_STEM_shortage_Electrical_engineering_lost_35_000_jobs_last_year

Gregory

"I happen to agree that you don’t need a computer science degree or even a college degree to be a viable computer programmer and develop, say, 80% of the kinds of software currently in demand."

I agree, but the need to be literate, have some knowledge of the problem space (probably including math and science) and an IQ of 120 or above kind of limits the pool of candidates.

George Rebane

Gregory 1235pm - I'm afraid that most of those 35K were "electrical" engineers involved in manufacturing and facilities maintenance, and not the developmental engineers (mostly in electronics vs electrical) that employers are still scrambling for. Automation and off-shoring has indeed taken its toll there.

Gregory 1238pm - Agreed. But then, looking at some of today's website designs, one wonders whether even those criteria were approached let alone applied.

Gregory

George, that appears to be "electrical" as the catchall for electrical and electronic. The IEEE doesn't spend a lot of time on guys doing lighting.

Similarly, most all of those desperately needed software techs for the likes of Microsoft (before the major layoffs), filled by H-1B's, are low skilled IT grunts.

Again, how about some evidence that any Austrian or Chicago School economist would look at and agree, yes, there is a shortage?

Now, I have no problem with encouraging kids with a science bent to enter a math or science field, which includes engineering and computer science, not to mention theoretical chemical physics, but the motivation shouldn't be to get one of those jobs going unfilled for high pay and a great career.

George Rebane

Some thoughts on STEM employment -
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/378334/what-stem-shortage-steven-camarota/page/0/1
http://www.cato.org/blog/there-stem-worker-shortage
http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/01/report-claims-huge-shortage-of-stem-workers/

I guess I will have to stand with the position that the STEM field is sufficiently broad and complex that simple counting of 'STEM jobs' and the availability of 'STEM workers' is not the proper way to evaluate whether there is a shortage of STEM workers with industry required skill sets.

And all employers say that their applicants are incapable of basic math skills as expanded on in this McClatchy report -
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/04/03/187626/math-problems-are-a-problem-for.html

Wouldn't all those out-of-work STEM job seekers make this argument moot? And how are STEM graduates (in physics, engineering, math, computer science) working in the financial industry skunk works counted? Are they also 'out of their fields'? Tough to keep all those numbers and definitions straight.

Gregory

George, it seems the straws you are lunging for are anecdotal.

"... simple counting of 'STEM jobs' and the availability of 'STEM workers' is not the proper way to evaluate whether there is a shortage of STEM workers with industry required skill sets"

Please, some evidence that an Austrian or one of the Chicago boys would look at and say, yes, there is a shortage of tech workers. Extra credit for an argument the same economists would agree with that tech workers are a special case, and importing large numbers of minimally qualified young H1B workers would not depress US wages.

The McClatchy article you link is unintentionally funny... it is pushing the NCTM vision of how math should be taught, the same vision that caused Grass Valley School District math achievement to tank from 1994 to 2004. Math education mythology keeps getting repeated.

No, George, people with math and science degrees tend not to apply for factory production jobs.

Gregory

Too late... I went to a GVSD board meeting tonight, and chatting with a principal afterwards... they are fully on board with "STEAM". Why?

If they say they are "STEM", the ed types ask why they got rid of music and art.

They have also been using that Spatial-Temporal Math for years now, have something like 500 iPads for the kids to use, and were completely ignorant of the recent peer reviewed, randomized research I linked here that shows ST Math to be useless.
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19345747.2013.856978#tabModule

Hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain, not to mention thousands of wasted instructional hours.

George Rebane

Gregory 1135pm - Keep up the good work Greg, and thanks.

Gregory

BTW in an exchange with my son who is earning his academic Union Card in theoretical chemical physics (after BS Chem and MA Physics) while being a paid member of the University Choir and frequent Gilbert & Sullivan performer, he responded,
"I had heard about the A being added [STEM to STEAM]: it's so dumb. At what point do we revert to just calling it education again?"

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad