STEM-ming the Slide of Our Educational System

By Henry I. Miller, MS, MD — Nov 12, 2019
How's education in the U.S. right now? According to ACSH advisor Dr. Henry Miller and co-author Andrew I. Fillat, not so great. They explain why, in this excerpt of an article they wrote for the website, American Greatness.

STEM-ming the Slide of Our Educational System

ACSH science board advisor Dr. Henry Miller and Andrew I. Fillat, a Harvard MBA and technology venture capitalist recently wrote a piece that appeared on the American Greatness website. The title says all:

STEM-ming the Slide of Our Educational System

The shortfall of reasoning and filtering skills in the current educational environment has cost us dearly in time, money, and productivity.

Miller and Fillat question what is now being taught in schools, wondering if it will "result [in] less resilient, less capable adults" because of the inability of educational institutions to promote the critical thinking required to properly evaluate data, perform accurate risk assessments and to effectively communicate their findings:

"Recently we ran across several fascinating articles about civicsliberal arts, and climate hysteria that raise basic questions about the content taught at too many of our educational institutions: Has our society lost sight of the fundamental purpose of education, and is the result less resilient, less capable adults?

While there is no doubt that a significant aspect of schooling is still about learning the “three-Rs,” the ultimate goal must be that of teaching people how to reason, critically evaluate data, perform accurate risk assessments, and communicate effectively. Sadly, few of these critical skills are being imparted by today’s secondary and post-secondary institutions. Instead, young people are often confused or diverted by questionable social media sources with many agendas, but that is a subject for another day.

The authors also argue that overindulgence of students, for example, it is no longer feasible to require research students to research or write on topics that might disturb them.

It is no longer feasible to demand research or essays on topics that might disturb the student. It is as if the courts conjured up a new universal right: the right not to be offended. And ideological balance among teachers and professors is but a distant memory, which deprives students of the perspective and skills that they will need to become high-functioning adults in much of the “real world."

The rest of this fascinating but disturbing essay can be found here. We suggest that you take a few minutes and give it a good read. 


Henry I. Miller, MS, MD

Henry I. Miller, MS, MD, is the Glenn Swogger Distinguished Fellow at the American Council on Science and Health. His research focuses on public policy toward science, technology, and medicine, encompassing a number of areas, including pharmaceutical development, genetic engineering, models for regulatory reform, precision medicine, and the emergence of new viral diseases. Dr. Miller served for fifteen years at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a number of posts, including as the founding director of the Office of Biotechnology.

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