Many people view the renewed emphasis on STEM as part of a concentrated effort to focus attention on science, technology, engineering and math education. A recent commentary in Education Week by Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz points out the fallacy in this argument and the need to use STEM as a way to broaden the curriculum.
Within the confines of an existing curriculum, where the focus is on the changes brought on by Common Core, a new emphasis on STEM often means that it is implemented in the form of afterschool programs, events and enrichment programs. However, a full immersion is often not popular because the belief is that STEM implementation is done at the expense of other topics - including reading and writing. The argument is that creativity arises from these topics and not from STEM.
However Myers and Berkowicz argue that STEM offers an opportunity to broaden those learnings in support of critical thinking and storytelling. STEM education is not exclusively in preparation for careers - a belief that somehow school would be transitioning to a "vocational" school. It is in support of interdisciplinary education; teaching a child how a machine works (engineering) supports creative problem solving; the study of a food cycle is storytelling. It all depends on how it is taught.
Which leads to what they call The STEM Shift. Myers and Berkowicz argue that instead of focusing on STEM in high school, education needs to be re imagined from K-12 to be comprehensive in order to support the development of inquiry, problem-solving, collaboration and creativity. It's essential to make sure that it is properly implemented and that educators get the professional development they need to make them able to comfortably integrate the content.
STEM does not exist in a silo. When properly developed, STEM education can help to support development of other subjects and skills that create well rounded students.
To learn more about the evolution of STEM education, check out The STEM Shift by Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz.