David Zandvliet


In response to society’s expanding uses of technology, it is clear that the goals and contexts of schooling have, and are continuing to undergo a major redefinition. The continued and pervasive increase in the use of science and technology within our broader society has increased the perceived need to implement an increasingly technological perspective in schools and in curricula. This general trend towards incorporating more technology is evidenced by current STEM Initiatives seen worldwide. In this paper, using techniques such as narrative, analogy and metaphor, I will offer the beginnings of a socio-cultural and environmental critique to the current STEM movement. I will begin by examining ‘the roots’ of STEM and then follow this storyline with some of the more recent critiques and reforms aimed at broadening STEM perspectives (eg. STEAM and STREAM). I will then assert that students exposed to the STEM model of science education are being asked to understand environmental and technological issues only within prescribed or predetermined (political) limits. I argue that without the inclusion of an important socio-cultural critique, education of this nature works only to maintain and promote hegemonic beliefs and values while failing to address the collateral problems relating to our scientific and/or technological epistemologies. This paper goes on to describe an expanded and alternative framework that might define a more complex undertaking for education: one that involves a consideration of scientific, economic, ethical and aesthetic perspectives alongside each other. This modified ecological framework which I describe as ‘STEM and LEAF’ is then described with the intent of furthering an enhanced discussion and critique on the efficacy and suitability of the current STEM movement worldwide.

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