Teachers of STEM subjects are looking to find ways to make them more appealing following a study which showed that those who are studying maths and science-based subjects find them ‘dull’.
Over 1500 students were interviewed in the 14-18 year old age group and 44% said that they felt that STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) were ‘uninteresting’ (The Independent).However, to balance this feeling, the same group felt that the subjects would be seen as more popular if there were more TV role models who were passionate about these areas of study and made them more culturally exciting career paths.
STEM subjects are vital to the growth of economy and teachers are looking to find ways to raise interest levels through interactive and socially relevant classroom activities.
Pupils said they find these areas much more difficult to study than arts based subjects and there is a difficult to break perceptions that choosing STEM subjects can ever be thought of as ‘fun’.
Another element which emerged is the perception of the type of student who was either suited to STEM subjects or would choose them as they are seen as those which only the most intellectual can understand and one in five felt that only a ‘geek’ could follow a career path which centred around STEM.
The study was carried about by the Mondelez International and found that – as has been the situation for many years now – that girls found a STEM-route through school an unlikely choice as only 19% said they would ever consider entering engineering compared to 51% of boys. The female respondents also felt that careers advice was not proactive enough to help girls to consider STEM subjects and that gender stereotyping was engendered from an early age.
However, it seems that there is about to be a turn of the tide after the NUT called for mentors in schools to guide girls into the STEM-subject direction. Add to that is the fact that TV celebrities are already helping to persuade teenagers that a science-related career is one to seriously consider.
With the current global popularity of The Big Bang Theory and 48% of young people who say they watch it regularly, it is slowly leading to more interest being shown in the subjects. Combine this with the current interest in British TV scientist Brian Cox and the ever popular Gadget Show, this could be the jolt needed by teenagers when looking to make choices which will influence their future.
With the UK keen to ensure that they become and stay part of the global invention and engineering innovation race, it is felt that there needs to be a campaign to raise the profile of these subjects and to show that they are fun, can be incredibly creative and lead to inspiring changes which can make the world a better place.
With a number of companies across the UK offering fantastic career opportunities with the necessary training provided in the technical aspects of the job, the combination of new ways of thinking in the classroom combined with a targeted careers advice campaign and the utilising of popular culture to help prove that STEM subjects are now the cool areas to be choosing as opposed to the number of years where media and humanities have led the race in popularity, it may not be long before further studies show a marked change in subject take up and perception.