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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Don't Keep All Your Eggs in a STEM Basket

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Art, civics, and English are critically important.

While the Entertainment Software Association (the ESA), the videogame industry's lobbying group in North America, is applauding President Donald John Trump's decision to have the Department of Education invest in a STEM initiative... I'm nervous about that prospect. This is a reversal from the Administration's proposed budget to cut Career and Technical Education State Grants by $166 million. (See Section C. Career, Technical, and Adult Education)

The President is instructing the Department of Education to spend $200 million every year in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiatives to promote knowledge and career development among people, for the purpose of having more Americans in higher-paying jobs. The purpose of education, after all, is to prepare people for the future, and the future is digital.

Tech companies, of course, want to lobby for limitless federal dollars to be spent training their future workforce. Those tech companies include Microsoft, so you can bet your tax dollars that videogame companies will see benefit out of this. Those tech companies are ponying up some of their own cash, however (probably due to the president's negotiation ability), numbering in the collective hundreds of millions.

Unlike the rest of the gaming industry, however, I'm opposed to throwing more money at STEM education — and not just because I think the Department of Education is unconstitutional to begin with.

I am the owner of this website. I do a lot of writing on a daily basis for KoopaTV. I also read a lot of material to do research on what is happening in the world and the gaming industry, and I read a lot of player comments and thoughts so I know what I should be addressing. ...I also read every comment that we get on this website, and I evaluate all of the non-anonymous ones for the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program, which encourages you to make quality, non-anonymous comments in exchange for generous prizes. Through all of my research and activities, I have come to some conclusions.

There is a widespread epidemic of people having no idea how to engage in critical thinking. There is a widespread epidemic of people not knowing how to write and express themselves. There is a widespread epidemic of people not knowing anything about what is going on in their own country, or how it even works. Hell, people don't even know how to freaking read anymore.

STEM Education needs foundational basis in English civics writing reading art
...I'm a writer, not an artist.
If you can think of a civics/art/English/writing backronym for SEED, I'll give your comment accolades.

That's why a gaming website like this one has to write a big guide about how to turn your brain on and identify if what you're reading is FAKE NEWS. We shouldn't have to do that. But we did, because you people need help. Your education system has failed you. Alternatively, you have failed yourself because you're totally unfocused and have to become a slave to a fidget spinner. Maybe you're on some serious attention-deficit medication. I don't know what your problem is, but I just know that in your current state, there is no way you're going to become a computer programmer.

If you can't read and write in English, how the hell are you going to read and write in a computer language? Unlike English and other for-people languages, when you screw one little thing up in a computer language, the program glitches and nothing works. If you screw up your English grammar, all that happens is that people laugh at and lose respect for you. Your message, for the most part, still gets across.

Thanks (ironically enough) to the digital age and videogames, people are becoming horrendously sloppy with their reading habits (skimming), writing habits (chat-speak), attention spans (people demand instant gratification), and critical thinking (the proliferation of FAKE NEWS). You don't get those things back to the good ol’ days by federal education spending into science, technology, engineering, and math. You need to invest in English (reading, writing) and civics.

The President and his daughter, Ivanka, visited Detroit to make their announcement. In Detroit, they already spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year in their public schooling system (nearly $15,000 per pupil) and all they have to show for it is that 93% of students are not proficient in English, and 96% are not proficient in math. That is not a good foundation, and tossing millions of more dollars into STEM isn't going to do a damn thing without fundamental structural reforms in how education is administered.

Videogame companies are applauding the decision, but as I argued two years ago as a Team Art member, art is equally as significant as science is in videogame development, and arguably more important in terms of differentiating a game in the marketplace. Videogame industry-supported STEM-focused education tries to put that to the wayside. I don't think that's good in the long-term.

Ludwig has wanted to write about how STEM-focused education is a bad idea for years now, and figured this was the night to do it. Ludwig doesn't actually have any solutions on how to fix the education system, just complaints. His only suggestion is to privatise the entire thing and abolish public education.

Don't get Ludwig wrong — KoopaTV supports people learning how to code and how to program... and we promoted the Hour of Code!
Another point about the mandatory-coding education some of the tech execs want: Coding is not easy and is not for everyone, contrary to what Justin Trudeau thinks. (But he proves the point.)
Ludwig doesn't mean to trash programmers with this article.


  1. I saw a recent survey that showed nearly half of participants did not know that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. I believe that this could be used as a justification for why we need a greater emphasis on teaching civics in schools. Too many people do not know how the government is run or simple facts about the nation's history.

    1. The STEM people would counter that, hey, you don't need to know anything about Puerto Rico in order to get a high-paying job as a computer programmer or electrical engineer or biologist or something.

      They reduce knowledge and pride of their country to mere trivia, mere factoids. No patriotism or love at all. A country to STEMmers is just a place you happen to be born and live in, not something to embrace the identity of or care about.

      They can be made into useful idiots that are easily manipulated, while having a scientific authority about them.


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