Where STEM binds, and ST(eee)EM flows: A case for where in STEM discourse and practice
AbstractSTEM may encounter issues of educational relevance as the concept (STEM) proliferates, generalizes, and becomes disconnected with its own climate and the climate of our times (educationally and societally). Most commonly, STEM is assessed (beholden/sustained) by two criteria: economy and quality. This results in linear movement between these two. This work suggests that complex movement exists within the concept STEM (as it does within all life and atmospheric weather) that can be understood from the perspective of STEM’s climate. By reconceiving STEM as STeeeEM, through the infusion of three additional e’s (environment, ecology, and ethics), movement infuses into the concept STEM, illustrating complex, non-linearity as integral to STEM, in what may be described as STEM weather. Over time, STEM weather may be observed (through patterns) as STEM climate. It is suggested that STEM weather may be explored as complexity, via considerations of three variables: 1) environment, 2) ecology, and 3) ethics, and how these three move in relation to where STEM education happens. These three illustrate complex movements of STEM, provoking question of need for a third criterion through which to assess STEM. Usefulness, outlined as a) health/wellbeing, b) environmental/sustainable ethics and practices, and c) learning stickiness, is posited as a third STEM criterion, in addition to economy and quality. By way of the development of a concept of the where of education, as a unique ontological category separate from (yet connected to) curriculum and pedagogy, distinct where usefulness is reflected upon, with particular discussion of outdoor where and STEM. Outdoor where and time spent outdoors (TSO) are proposed as particularly useful to STEM. STeeeEMing STEM, by blending in a third criterion (useful), along with movement noticed through interactions of the three “e’s”, responds to STEM conceptual reification. In situating STEM learning experiences in relation to where’s climate, STEM presents revived educational relevance as a concept.
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