First things first … back to basics


Some interesting discussions with academia took me back to an important foundational question … what is STEM?

The letters in the acronym STEM tell us part of the story – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. However, the 21st century skills that our children need are something more than just this simplistic view of STEM.

Mobile application from the cloudLet’s take an example scenario: my daughter is painting. Implicit in the word painting is that my daughter is using some paint. What’s not implicit is that there is a paper or some object (say, canvas) that she is painting. Whether or not we explicitly mention it, the canvas is there.

Likewise, the basic components of STEM are the colors that work their magic on a canvas. I define that canvas as 4 Cs. Per Dr. Tony Wagner from Harvard University and a leader in inspiring educational change in the USA, 3Cs are required to bridge the achievement gap in our education system. These 4Cs are Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity and Collaboration.

So, implicit in the word STEM is the canvas of the 4 Cs needed to make a real impact …

While you think about STEM and its canvas, let’s turn our attention to the painter … the person who is working with STEM on the canvas of 4Cs. There are some character traits needed in this person for him/her to be effective.

Turning to Stephen Covey, the renowned author of the bestselling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, for these character traits. Covey’s 3 habits for personal victory are the important habits for our painter –   Put first things first (prioritize), be proactive (make right choices) and begin with the end in mind (envision the goal and work towards it).

Alright… what does this all mean for our children in the 21st century? Our children need to:

  1. be effective,
  1. proficient in 4Cs and
  1. know the core skills.

Put differently …

STEM = core skills + 4Cs + 3 habits

More on this in my next musing. Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

By: Moni Singh, Founder and CEO,  STEM for Kids