This is a brief post today. I have written several times about “robot” workers replacing human workers. You can find these here, here and here. Many of the jobs that will be replaced will be lower level jobs. Unfortunately I fear more than that will be replaced if we do not do something about math and science education in the US.
US Teens slipping in education
A report released in early December shows that US teens are falling behind in math and science education. Not a surprise, there has been a lot of talk about STEM education, but this report just reaffirms our problem. You can see the report here. According to Daniel Arkin at NBC News “The numbers are even more sobering when compared among only the 34 OECD countries. The United States ranked 26th in math — trailing nations such as the Slovakia, Portugal and Russia. What’s more, American high school students dropped to 21st in science (from 17th in 2009) and slipped to 17th in reading (from 14th in 2009), according to the results.” The results are worse compared to Asian countries.
Does this bother you?
Does this news bother you? It should! These are your future employees. Worse these are your kids! Without proper education these are the “replaceable” people in our economy. As a company you will have to more sophisticated equipment to do your work and you may have a difficult time finding people to even work on the equipment. As parents you will not see your children fare better than you. As a nation we will slide further and further behind.
What can be done?
I have long been an advocate of businesses being involved with schools. I am not talking about just the standard “partners-in-education” activities. I mean being involved in helping the school systems understand the importance of the STEM curriculum. Help them understand what skill sets YOUR business needs to have from the students that are graduating. This will give them a realistic base of understanding of why things need to be taught. Perhaps you can offer some of your internal experts to teach teachers. Whatever it is there needs to be an effort made.
The future question
This leads me to the question I started with. Will we control technology or will technology control us. I would like it to be the former, but given the dystopian mood this report has put me in I am afraid it may be the latter.
Help me feel better. Tell me a story in the comment section about the efforts your company is undertaking to help improve science and math education in your local school system. Let us know there is hope.