Educators Seek New Ways to Steer Kids Toward Technical Fields

I see this headline in the latest ACM TechNews:
Educators Seek New Ways to Steer Kids Toward Technical Fields

In general, it's not hard to see why a kid paying attention would not particularly want to work in science and technology. Normally performing sales guys and business development guys generally make a lot more money than normally performing engineers. Even for the top jobs, a science and engineering background is often not a strength, as the skills most important at those levels are people relations and presentation.

Looking at the US congress, a body of about 500 of our top Federal leaders, only 11 come from a science and technology background. The rest are heavily focused in areas such as law, finance and politics.

Looking at where the big money is going, you never hear "US congress authorizing $700 billion to rescue and modernize electricity generation and delivery system" -- even though that same system is probably as important as Wall Street, and already collapsed on us once. (Remember that? It was less than 20 years ago)

Top it off with executive bonuses, bank bonuses and hedge fund manager fees, plus the media's relentless exposure of playboys, artists and actors, and you find very little in the way of telling kids that science and technology matter. Nevermind that it's underlying several of the biggest exports from the US (computer games, movies, music and entertainment.) Everybody knows who James Cameron is. Nobody knows who Peter Pike-Sloan is.

But it gets worse!

If, among our leaders, science and technology is "someone else's problem," then there isn't just going to be an under-investment in important growth factors for the future. After all, you can't feed the hungry with speech and arguments. Inside Washington, something much worse has happened: the common understanding is that everything is negotiable. Facts do not exist -- or, worst case, they can be hidden, concealed or twisted, until you can negotiate for your own agenda, rather than taking a step back, looking at what we, as a society, know with a high degree of certainty, and making decisions based on that.

Science-based decisions made at a slow and steady pace will generally drive society in the direction of growing the pie for everyone, and will reduce actual human suffering. In areas as widespread as air pollution, sex ed, psychological stress, incarceration, global warming education and health care, we have lots of good science collected over the last 50-100 years, which predicts that certain not very expensive changes would put us on a much better path for the future. However, because science is considered "negotiable" by leaders who don't come from a sci/tech background, even the simplest of changes are impossible due to dogma, fear mongering and dogma.

Because I love pointing fingers, I think I'll start with the prison workers' union, the teachers' union, trial lawyers' organization, the religiously dogmatic and the financial industry. But it's like shooting fish in a barrel -- anyone with representation in Washington has to play this game. Which means almost everyone has to do it.

Fall of the Roman Empire predicted.