Better Education for Innovation?

I suggest that people take a look at the new report out from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation entitled
“Refueling the U.S. Innovation Economy: Fresh Approaches to STEM Education.”   I’m not sure I agree with everything in the report, but it’s very interesting. The authors, Rob Atkinson and Merrilea Mayo argue against the idea that everyone needs a little bit of science/math etc, and in favor of the idea of more targetted science/math/engineering education for the students who are really motivated: 

This report lays out a blueprint that transforms a weak “Some STEM for All” approach into a more powerful, less costly, and more socially equitable “All STEM for Some” approach. It is based on working to actively recruit those students who are most interested in and capable of doing well in STEM (including currently under-represented groups) and providing them with the kind of educational experiences they need to make it through the educational pipeline and come out able and willing to contribute to growing the U.S. innovation economy.

Worth taking a look.


  1. Just skimmed it, excellent report that has some fantastic recommendations like customizing curricula more and how there are many paths to interest, including video games. I was just telling my roommate earlier this year that simply playing video games can create a sort of logical/rational mindset in many kids, because they are spending time in a computer environment with very well-defined rules. However, while the authors are certainly thinking ahead and not spouting the kind of “mainstream consensus” blather one gets from most reports of this type, they are not being radical enough, in continuing to talk about needing more STEM students or restructuring colleges and the research grant process.

    The truth is that online learning is about to destroy the university, there won’t be any left in a couple decades, just as the recorded music business is almost gone now and many towns don’t have newspapers or much talk radio these days. The internet destroys information businesses and TV and schooling are next. Also, even their more limited focus on STEM is fundamentally misguided because you only need very few STEM people and it’s questionable if you can ever “make” or shape them much, they make themselves (an interesting sidenote was their mention that genetic influence was much larger in STEM careers). You only need a handful of STEM people to write Microsoft Excel or some CAD or GUI design software, then you need thousands of non-STEM people who have the computer literacy and basic reasoning skills to manipulate that software to produce something.

    The quasi-market of education today that is highly govt funded is about to be destroyed by an online free-for-all of online learning and certifications. I’m confident that new online market will adaptively get a lot more focus on the right areas, through the time-honored pricing information of the market, than any attempts to reform the old broken system.

  2. I have only read the executive summary – but in the spirit of the internet I won’t let a lack of full information prevent me from commenting. Reading the summary I had some yes and no thoughts. I agree that a move away from fact based learning to depth exploration learning makes sense on the face of it. Facts are important but facts in context must be easier to learn. That being said the idea of creating STEM schools seems to risk creating a “scientist class”. My feeling is that science and the humanities need to interact constantly – and to deny talented STEM students access to first class humanities education seems a wrong.

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