President Obama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other influential Americans have been pushing educators for more emphasis on STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in schools. After all, in our educational heyday (back in the space race days), America was leading the world in these fields.
Since then, we’ve fallen behind many countries in performance in these fields–both in k-12 education and college education. We’ve also seen huge amounts of jobs being outsourced to India and China. These jobs are no longer just for American Express call centers or cheap manufacturing jobs. Hoards of web developers and tech-savvy grads are pouring out of Indian and Chinese Universities eager to work, often at a fraction of the salary of their U.S. counterparts.
Anya Kamenetz from Fast Company interviewed a CEO of and Indian outsourcing company to discuss what edge, if any, Americans still hold in today’s competitive job market.
[Murthy] believes American education is by far the best in the world. “The U.S. education system is much more geared to innovation and practical application,” says Murthy. “It’s really good from high school onward.” To compete long term, we need more brainstorming, not memorization; more individuality, not standardization.
In short, while STEM learning is clearly lacking in U.S. schools, we can’t lose focus of what makes American education great: our student’s ability to innovate and think creatively. Science and math won’t improve U.S. job prospects. But creativity will.