Into the future or living in the past?

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Written by Barry Johnson on 20 November 2018

I expect you have heard of STEM. Just in case, STEM stands for learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. What is important is it is being taught in an interdisciplinary and applied approach, not as separate and discrete subjects but as a cohesive learning approach encompassing real-world applications based on the reality of real operational functions.

So why should we care? Is this just another bunch of educators doing their own thing? One hopes not because the shift into the fourth industrial revolution requires this STEM form of thinking. I would go further.

This is not just about those using their brains and fingers installing, servicing, maintaining and working the advancing technology that is growing in modern industry but also the other roles, for example those in the HR function and in the finance function and in the..have you got the message?

Let us just step back and think. We used to have engineers doing engineering, and technologists doing technological things and fitters fitting and maintainers maintaining, and perhaps, you are shifting your thinking. Now we have sophisticated machines in integrated communication with other machines and for some that has generated fear – the robots are coming.

For others, excitement as they watch and participate in this revolution and, not unusually, become frustrated by people who not only don’t understand the revolution but don’t want to understand the revolution.

Then there are those that have never got grease under their fingernails or traced a fault in an electrical or electronic system moving political and administration decisions because of history and regard themselves as superior ignoring their ignorance or are just seeking power.

Now we have sophisticated machines in integrated communication with other machines and for some that has generated fear – the robots are coming.

So why am I flagging this? Is it because I come from a science and technology background? Perhaps.

Or, are we are recognising that all the functions in a modern advancing manufacturing and production environment need some understanding of the shifting base of our vital organisations and the core of that understanding sits with STEM-based education and STEM-based training, so STEM-based thinking pervades and enlightens those who want to change elements of society.

But there are those using modern technology as an excuse without understanding it because their thinking is entrenched in some early industrial or political revolution and they have not advanced. Yes, I have read some of the nonsense exuded by some backward thinkers to jack themselves up in power using the ignorance of the uneducated.

Oh, enough of our frustration. 

Let us ask the question about the learning facilitation that we participate in and have enough STEM background to apply our examples to the modern shifts in our organisations, so we can truly advance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Has the author of his article been there or is he just another dreamer? Well, I was a licensed aircraft engineer during the time of inertial navigation that eliminated navigators and the self-testing and built-in redundancy that eliminated the need for the flight engineers. But that is history.

This advance is a change that is blinding in its extent and requires an understanding of STEM in roles such as management and psychology and economics and functions such as those need MPE in education and for industrial learning facilitation. So, an N for neuroscience is also needed. 


About the author

Barry Johnson BA, CMCIPD, MCMI, is a non-executive director at Learning Partners Ltd.

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