Objectivating STEM Education – The UCSD Guardian Online

by | May 1, 2022 | Education

STEM education in the U.S. has become embroiled in politics, far from the objective nature of STEM. Florida, a conservative state, recently rejected 54 math textbooks, citing reasons including “references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics.” On the other hand, many colleges, mostly liberal, have made standardized testing optional, or even omitting them, such as the UC system. As a STEM student, my first thought was that while social justice is important, it should belong in social studies and history classes; it should be kept separate from math, which is purely objective. And since STEM is objective and critical for the economy and progress, we should simply set a high national standard and objectively hold students accountable through standardized testing. However, as I do more research and reflect on my experience as a student, the more uncertainties arise about the realities of implementing education.
One of the examples of “problematic elements” provided by the Florida Department of Education shows an exercise in polynomial modeling that uses data associating bias with age and political identification from the Implicit Association Test, which is a method not without controversies. When used for a brief math exercise, much context of how the data is collected is taken out. For example, how was data collected and how are the scores calculated? Without this context, students may develop inaccurate biases that certain age groups or political affiliations are more or less racist, which may lead to ageism and political discrimination. In addition, STEM is a difficult subject for many, and having students grapple with the …

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