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PostDo Today's Kids Want to Learn Carpentry and Cooking? (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 12/20/21 3:29 am)
Regarding the important issue of reversing the trend in the United States of marginalizing courses in art, music, carpentry, and cooking in favor of STEM courses, we seem to think that a president, a few Congress members, and/or high-level educators can meaningfully change the tide. I don't believe so because such choices are deeply embedded in the national culture. American youth culture (individualistic, narcissistic, self-indulgent, etc.) has widely and strongly polluted other cultures. But cultural changes in the other direction is much less prevalent. I suppose that is a natural result from US hegemony for several decades. All humans want to be apparent winners. Presently, for example, how can we change American culture into Finnish culture and the corresponding realities on education? That is the enormity of the challenge.
So-called vocational technical subjects like carpentry, plumbing, welding, etc. are relatively well paid but not very glamorous. We must have STEM because that is how we develop new technology for innovations and grow high-tech companies, new weapons, and make more billionaires. American universities are schizophrenic in some ways. They all pay heavily to have sports programs to keep alumni excited but take money away from arts and humanities.
I really don't know much about this critical topic but want to fuel the discussion.
JE comments: My nephew, a mechanical engineer by training, taught himself to weld on YouTube. He has become very good at it, and the art of welding is greatly informed by a prior knowledge of mathematics, chemistry, and physics. The Finnish model as I understand it does not sacrifice STEM in favor of "soft" subjects, but rather teaches the STEMy skills through practical application. And doesn't knowing how to do something truly useful bolster one's self-esteem?
A bigger topic perhaps concerns today's youth. Are they as narcissistic and self-indulgent as we old-timers assume? Hasn't every generation had similar complaints about youngsters? In any case, it's not the kids who decide what is taught and how; that is up to parents and policymakers.