NSW education minister’s (very early) warning: STEM isn’t everything in education

If Rob Stokes tires of being NSW minister for education he should be snapped up by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. His speech last week on the fadification of STEM and the enduring power of the humanities was on-song with the Ramsay message that the western canon counts.

Mr Stokes deplored the focus on STEM saying, “it has become an educational fad that places academic disciplines into silos – pitting the sciences against the arts in a self-defeating zero-sum game of intellectual snobbery.”

But he can relax, for now, total university enrolments show the humanities (the feds define as “society and culture” and creative arts fields) are not losing their appeal.

Total university STEM and arts enrolments for each of the five years from 2012 are: (2012) STEM: 241 000, arts: 364 000, (2013) STEM: 256 000, arts: 380 000, (2014) STEM: 270 000, arts: 389 000. (2015) STEM: 280 000, arts: 397 000. (2016) STEM: 249 000, arts: 322 000.

However things might change in 15 years. Yesterday federal education minister Simon Birmingham announced funding for interactive apps to teach 4000 pre-schoolers about STEM. “This program will be a launch pad for a life-long interest in STEM for thousands of pre-schoolers,” Minister Birmingham said.


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