A tough balancing act
Knowing how best to establish an education platform and direction that equips society to deal with opportunities and pitfalls of everyday life must be one of the hardest assignments for any government.
So much is at stake. Get it completely right and everyone’s a winner. Get it completely wrong and the impact can cripple a country. Get it somewhere in between and it’s probably the norm.
Education platforms represent a balancing act in finding the best possible formulas to exploit the potential of the majority while promoting appropriate pathways and support for both high and low achievers.
One of the great dangers in establishing any targeted direction in education, where providing more attention to a specific field of study than another, presents a danger of potentially ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’.
We assume our national and state education leaders have their heads well and truly around this obvious observation.
Read anything about primary and secondary education at the moment and the
push is all about supporting, promoting and making sure our next generations excel at science, technology, engineering and mathematics – collectively known as STEM.
STEM seems to have almost become a catch-cry of contemporary education literature.
Pushing our youngest and brightest in this broad direction makes a lot of sense for all sorts of reasons.
It stands to reason that if we want to be a smart nation full of smart people we need to be able to kick all sorts of goals in the science and technology department – it’s logical and something we whole-heartedly support.
But education direction must be based on an unblinkered approach and involve clear recognition that we, in understanding about what makes us human, can’t afford to throw other important fields of study onto the sacrificial pyre.
Sure, we have to draw a line in the sand about what subjects are the most important in the classroom. Often this comes down to something as simple as finding a future job.
But we still have to communicate well, reflect on history to gain general knowledge, understand law, business and people and how teams work, be fit and healthy and be able to let emotional expression off the leash.
It is no coincidence that throughout the centuries the most successful and technologically advanced of cultures emerged amid a backdrop where the arts as well as science flourished.
In truth, many cultures considered and still consider science and art one and the same.
Again, we support the national push for Australia to become a STEM benchmark instead of an also-ran – but not at the expense of other areas of learning.