Guest Article: STEM Without H

(The following is a student piece written by 9th Grader Joshua Frankenfield, in response to two days of discussion concerning the nature of technology, devices, and their positive and negative effects on all of us.  All students were asked to write their thoughts in the style of a blog article, and Joshua’s was selected to be published on this site.  Enjoy, leave your encouraging comments, and be grateful for our deeply thoughtful students!)

STEM Without H

STEM is an acronym that many schools have begun to use to describe their academic program. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. However, if these are the main four focuses in today’s education, there is a cause for concern. As a student myself, I would recommend adding in an H for humanities, because I believe that we’d be able to learn skills that may benefit us more later in life.

The main problem is that schools today are overly interested in teaching people how to use technology. Don’t get me wrong—technology can be useful in many ways—but there is a difference, according to Andy Crouch, an author and an educator, between the technology of devices and the technology of tools. The difference that he proposes is that tools make you work and become more skilled while devices do the work for you. If schools mainly teach on how to use devices, then the students would be prone to relying too heavily on devices in a manner where they end up not being able to grow in their skill sets. Schools that put an emphasis on devices aren’t putting as many challenges on the students. The students will end up using those devices to make those things easier when, in reality, we grow our heart, soul, mind, and strength if we challenge ourselves. Focusing on devices will diminish how well students are able to handle their own difficulties, whether it be academic, athletic, or social. Focusing on technology has another problem: to what ends will learning STEM go? STEM may eventually be focused on to the point where humanities is severely diminished.

Humanities has two parts to it: literature and history. Literature is important is because it has been a part of culture since the Epic of Gilgamesh. If we let literature slide into an area where it isn’t as important as it was before, then our culture won’t be as complete. This is shown in the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, where a world like this is described, and in it, people have esteemed literature as unimportant. The literature was being burned, and people were much less sophisticated because they had no basis of their culture. Plus, destroying literature made only one job (firemen that burned any place books were found), but it lost at least two jobs in the story: the librarian and the novelist. If we neglect literature, then this world would be less creative and less inspiring. Also, literature gives us an idea what the culture values and what concerns them. When we have an idea as to what cultures value, then we are able to connect more readily with other people groups. When connections between cultures occur, trading becomes easier due to less argument.

The other part of humanities is history. History, like literature, is a foundational part of culture. It helps us understand other and ourselves better. According to Providence’s high school Humanities teacher, Mr. Rottman, the reason we need to understand culture is so that we, as Christians, will be able to help people more in their time of need. If we don’t understand their history, then how can we understand the kinds of things the people are going through? We wouldn’t, and technology wouldn’t be able to help them either. Technology on its own is useless because it has no compassion or sympathy. History, therefore, builds up our skill in being able to show empathy for other people.

STEM without H is a horrible idea. I encourage all students and parents everywhere to take a closer look at their school. Does it focus solely on STEM and what it stands for or does it also add in the humanities aspect? If it mainly focuses on STEM, then what can you do to help emphasize the need for humanities? If it adds in the H, then what can you do to keep it that way?

Joshua Frankenfield is a freshman
at Providence, and a proud
member of the Providence
Engineering Academy
630 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, USA

3 Replies to “Guest Article: STEM Without H”

  1. Joshua, This isyour Grandpa Dave's sister in Alaska. I have followed your life journey through your Grandpa and I am so proud of the young man you are becoming. What I have just read is a testimonial that you "get" the direction of where our society is heading and the importance of keeping "H" as our main guide in life. The rest is irrelevant without it. Keep up the great work! Congratulations on your amazing insight. :o)

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