I’d like to add my two cents about STEM careers: Many of these are problem solving fields whose skill sets can be applied for the good of society to things like energy efficiency, clean water, better recycling, etc. — not just to greedy corporate ‘needs’.
I’ve come to realize that bad teaching practices made me think math and science were the hardest things in the world and that I was inherently bad at both. Now I know I was probably meant to be a scientist who writes, not a writer who wishes she had made it through school and had the credentials to ask hard questions and systematically search for helpful answers. I think the new emphasis on things like STEM careers is also about giving kids more details so if they feel an affinity for one or the other, they’ll know they can find support for their interests, instead of the discouragement that stopped me in my tracks.
My grown up daughter just began tutoring me in math to prove that it isn’t as soul-suckingly hard as I was led to believe. She’s proving her point. I’m so proud of her.
And also, about teaching kids life skills and emotional skills and self awareness skills in school: I value these things too, but society has a hard time agreeing on what the healthy versions of these studies would look like. The glaring divisions so evident from the last election, make me scared of what would ‘win’ in terms of that kind of cirriculum. We can wish for healthy life skills teaching in schools, but it might be best to focus on supporting healthy parenting skills in their parents instead, to be on the safe side.
On the whole, I agree that our public schools are too geared toward turning out complacent, compliant workers. It’s such an awful state of affairs that it makes everything look suspect these days, even enthusiasm for giving kids more choices and support for them.