Deconstructing STEM: A Reading Through The Postmodern Condition

Majd Zouda


Since the beginning of the new millennium, educational research and policy making have increasingly involved integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (i.e. STEM). Integration of the four disciplines is argued to provide students with contextualized learning experiences that resemble real-life work in STEM fields, along with solutions to interdisciplinary problems that human face. In the U.S., the STEM movement has been boosted by global economic-based competition and associated fears, in terms of STEM graduates, when compared with other nations. However, many critiques question the nature and goals of this competition, as well as, the possibilities to improve STEM talents through the current conceptualizations and practices of STEM education. Through Lyotard’s (1984) conceptions of knowledge in the postmodern society, this paper analyzes some aspects of the STEM educational movement. It explores the construction of STEM discourse within competitive frames that place prime value on high performativity. There seem to be two characteristics of current STEM education that support performativity; these are an increased focus on technological and engineering designs, and a tendency for interdisciplinary education/curriculum integration. At the same time, the eagerness for performativity and competition seems to drag STEM education into selectiveness, thereby jeopardizing its possible benefits. Recommendations for educators are finally discussed.

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