The multidisciplinary approach that
underpins professor David Christian’s
Big History Project ( www.bighistory
project.com/home) offers an example
of how STEM and the humanities can
be blended together to explore the full
breadth and depth of a subject. Instead
of treating historical facts from the
sciences and the arts as disconnected
pieces of some fuzzy puzzle, the Big
History Project tries to show students
how the ideas in these subjects are
interconnected and inseparable.
Although not without its own pedagogical and objectivity issues (for
example, the project is underwritten
by Bill Gates, and questions have been
raised as to whether its funding source
biases its content), the Big History
Project does demonstrate how STEM
and the humanities and arts can be
taught in a holistic manner (Sorkin,
The Real Skill Shortage
If we truly want students who can
think critically, solve problems, and
communicate their thoughts clearly,
then some kind of systematic, cross-disciplinary instruction is required.
An integration of STEM with the arts
and humanities will help students
learn how to learn—which is, in my
opinion, the actual skill shortage we
chemist, poet, and essayist Samuel
Morison Brown wrote that the scien-
tific and engineering discoveries that
were revolutionizing the society of his
time demanded that schools teach all
students “not mathematics, but a
mathematical way of thinking, not
natural history, but a classic way of
thinking, and not natural philosophy,
but an inductive way of thinking”
(quoted in Swinton, 1860, p. 2).
If we want to move from STEM nonsense to STEM sense, we would be
wise to follow Brown’s advice and
create STEM literacy in all our
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We don’t need to raise an army
of STEM saviors to protect the
American way of life from destruction.