There’s a huge push in the U.S. these days for STEM – Science Technology Engineering Math – education, as if the only thing you need to be a successful human being is the ability to program, build a bridge, or solve the quadratic equation.
One thing that is good about this push is the emphasis on science. We need more science in a country that has a Creation Museum that posits with no irony whatsoever the idea that dinosaurs and homo sapiens lived simultaneously. The bad thing, though, about this devotion to science is that there’s too much science in it.
A key component of science is the experimental method:
- Try something
- See what the outcome is
- Judge the outcome as desirable or not desirable
- Note the conditions under which you tried something
- Repeat if necessary adjusting and noting the conditions you adjusted until you achieve a desirable outcome
- Once a desirable outcome is achieved, attempt to replicate those conditions every time you do that something.
The thing about this method is it works across every thing you do in life, even things like cooking and team sports that don’t meet the strict -ology definition that characterizes science. The harm in restricting the experimental method to things that are strictly science is how it shackles us to the idea of perfection.
I’m skipping my first curling team this year and it’s a huge learning experience. The first thing my Vice, who has been playing three times as long as I have, asked me was if I knew the best way to learn. By failing. The experimental method takes the stigma out of that failing and lets failing become learning, something we also need more of to be successful human beings.