Friday, September 9, 2016

Tentative Parenting : Steaming over STEM!

I  don't like this tug of war between what is more important the Sciences or Arts.  What is important is that every human being deserves to learn about the arts & humanities, just as each person should be cognizant of the sciences.

I am mother to a 9 year old boy and most of the conversations happening in the past year have been all around empowering girls (and boys) in the area of STEM - and the reality is I haven't been comfortable with this propaganda. I have been encouraging my mathematically inclined son to explore nature, arts & literature and drama.

I come from a culture where STEM was over-emphasized. In India, there were only two  education options available to kids from the  ambitious middle class families in the early 90's (there I have dated myself)  - Medicine or Engineering. Imagine my mother's horror, shock and disappointment when I went into a totally obscure  and unheard of humanities field. I remember the societal pressure to follow a certain course - I remember the sympathetic looks my mother's friends gave her and the pangs of inadequacy I felt when I caught those looks. I will never forget the statement my mother made on my first day of college - well B.A. in Arts means you are getting ready to get married, so you better learn to make Rotis (Indian Bread) True Fact - I haven't made a Roti till date but then we are digressing ;-)

My sincere hope is that we don't add in one alphabet to STEM and say let's focus on STEAM  and believe that it solves a multitude of issues...the reality is every child is born with a unique set of skills, aptitude and inclination - it is super important that we nurture and help them blossom into confident, socially adept human beings who are secure in their place in this society. What I see happening more and more is this focus on Brilliance, Killer Drive and Genius and the things that seem to be falling on the wayside are - social and life skills, generosity and kindness - the ability to get along, get things done together, solve problems together (vs. just being the sole heroes). 

Dr. Seuss was seriously onto something when he said  the quote below AND this is a quote that I keep repeating to my boy when he asks me - Ma what do you want me to become :)  - You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go. 

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