Nothing is more important to every nation’s future than STEM education. With the bureaucratically impressive title “Preparing Students for STEM Careers (9-10),” a recent STEM document forcefully begins:
“The growth paradigm that has driven our economy for the past generation is exhausted” (Palley, 2008, p. B10). … as the workplace changes, STEM knowledge and skills grow in importance for a variety of workers (not just for mathematicians and scientists) (The Center for Education Policy Analysis, 2008).
The opening authoritative quotation and the impressive document citations make the stated facts perfectly clear. All students, without exception, need more STEM education to prepare for STEM careers.
Not enough students, especially women and minorities, are sitting through lectures in computer science. Students are not scoring high enough on easily graded multiple choose examinations in digital-systems engineering. Students are not putting enough effort into technical projects that educators formulate for them to do to learn how to do projects that leaders formulate for them to do. These projects, of course, have no real-world use. They’re meant to be educational. Imagine the value of millions of energetic young persons engaged in arbitrary and duplicative programming projects all across the nation. That’s part of the future promise of STEM education.
But STEM education is more fundamental than programming. STEM stands for fundamental, vital skills for the modern workforce: Sitting, Talking, Editing, and Meetings. Parents can help give their children a headstart in developing these skills by sitting their children in front of a television. Encourage the children to talk to the television. That will help them develop the type of communications skills that they will use as adults in the workforce.
Fostering editing skills is merely a matter of continually making small corrections to whatever the children do. The children will naturally respond. “Chloe, don’t throw the leaf of arugula that you didn’t eat into the mixed-stream recycling bin. That goes into the digital organic compactor.” “Why do you keep giving me arugula? I hate it!” “You know what the rules are. Stop complaining, or I’m going to take away your iPhone.” “You’re mean to me!” In this way, parental editing of the details of children’s behavior leads to wide-ranging discussions that lead to formal family meetings to discuss members’ roles and responsibilities. Editing, if done consistently and persistently, provides a strong foundation for meetings.
STEM education for older children is similar to STEM education for juveniles. Ensuring that seats are the primary ordering structure in the physical institutions of education helps to advance sitting skills. The school day should be structured as a series of meetings scheduled across the day. Penalize highly any student who skips a meeting. As long as students are not moving or not doing anything, talking is productive. Nonetheless, educational leaders should work diligently to establish procedures to edit the contents of students’ conversations, in accordance with established speech regulations.
Much progress have been made in advancing STEM education. But much more work remains to be done.
In other bureaucratic issues this month, the Kremlin is turning to mechanical typewriters to ensure the secrecy of documents. Forward-thinking bureaucracies never stopped using mechanical typewriters.
Linus Torvalds, a rogue programmer without an official position, has led a fundamental challenge to bureaucratic programming around the world. Unrepentant, he recently declared:
Because if you want me to “act professional”, I can tell you that I’m not interested. I’m sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The same way I’m not going to start wearing ties, I’m *also* not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because THAT is what “acting professionally” results in: people resort to all kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their normal urges in unnatural ways.
Linus Torvalds should be regarded as incorrigible. All professional bureaucrats should shun him.
Thomas Benton shows lack of appreciation for the value of bureaucracy in a column about the life of the mind and graduate school. Benton describes a common tale across humanities graduate students:
She was the best student her adviser had ever seen (or so he said); it seemed like a dream when she was admitted to a distinguished doctoral program; she worked so hard for so long; she won almost every prize; she published several essays; she became fully identified with the academic life; even distancing herself from her less educated family. For all of those reasons, she continues as an adjunct who qualifies for food stamps, increasingly isolating herself to avoid feelings of being judged.
At least such persons, while living on food stamps, have the satisfaction of knowing that they have “published several essays” in journals that make such essays virtually inaccessible to almost all persons around the world. Nonetheless, leading humanities academic work is priceless. Personal sacrifices must be made to support academic bureaucracies.
That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats. Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here. Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.