Early STEM Concepts

I bought this toy for Klara because she loves horsies and little dollies that she can clutch in her tiny fist. But I almost didn’t buy it because on the back of the packaging it’s advertised as introducing toddlers “to early STEM concepts.” I hate how everything should be about STEM right now. This is a toy for 2-year-olds. It’s a dolly on a horsie and the horsie makes clop-clop noises. It’s not about STEM, which is perfectly fine, because toddlers don’t need STEM. They need to play, run, and laugh at funny clop-clop sounds. 

At least, they are not claiming the toy will help her start coding at the ripe old age of 22 months. 

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23 thoughts on “Early STEM Concepts”

  1. I love science. I hate the STEM craze. They want to drag every warm body into the field, kicking and screaming if necessary, and scold me about anyone who doesn’t earn a degree in it.

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      1. I only half-agree. I think it’s a multi-faceted thing. Some of the people jumping on this STEM craze are so versed in social justice jargon that I’m a bit mystified why they aren’t majoring in hyphenated-identity studies.

        More seriously, some of the people running with the STEM craze spend a lot of time scolding STEM majors about the need to be more people-oriented, work on communication skills, etc. And, yes, all of these things are important in STEM (and any other field) but it’s definitely a call for us to emphasize things that the humanities and social science portions of the GE curricula are often stronger on than the STEM portion.

        But, yes, disdain for humanities is definitely part of it. Another part of it is dislike for STEM as it is, and a desire to remake STEM into something else.

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    1. I love science. Science rules. But can we leave toddlers at least out of the obsession with STEM? If she wants to be a dcieo, she has a ton of time to figure that out without anybody pushing in that direction.

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      1. Honestly, there’s plenty of stuff in STEM for kids to love: Making stuff, cool dinosaurs, plants, animals, planets, space, all that stuff. But why can’t kids just be kids and be shown these things as fun things that they may or may not gravitate to, rather than hitting them with “Studies have shown that this is good for you so we will saturate you with it while hitting all the key buzzwords!”?

        Just let her play with toys and if she likes animals, great, and if she likes making stuff, great, and if she likes stories that’s great too. Whatever. No need to be all “Ah, based on these early childhood dispositions we can conclude that she is showing proclivities for such-and-such track…”

        She’s a kid, not a social program.

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  2. You know all of this is middle class to upper middle class anxiety about the uncertain hyper-competitive future and parents stepping in where public schools and the community used to (to some extent).

    If it weren’t STEM it would be some crap about Baby Mozart or Baby Picasso or Baby Kumon or baby ballet. You didn’t think dance class for toddlers was about giving the parents a break, did you?

    Roughly
    “My baby is a smart baby and I know it and here’s proof from the mason jar baby rocket science growth lab that the daycare posted on the Daycare Instagram that I saw on Baby Shark Tank. Also he will study hard, because I’m a Tiger Mom– to a six month old.”

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    1. I also forgot — posturing.

      “My baby plays with pots and pans.”

      “Oh yeah, well my Krayleighd just wrote a baby sonata. It’s deconstructed of course.”

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      1. “My baby just dropped food on the floor– again.”
        “My baby is a natural scientist discovering the scientific method before she can chew. She just reconfirmed the existence of gravity.”

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    2. There’s also a belief that we can solve our alleged STEM Pipeline Problem(TM) if we start kids on “STEM Concepts” early. Everything will be better if we just get kids started on STEM. We’ll have more STEM majors instead of limp-wristed useless librul arts majors (per the wishes of the right), we’ll have a more diverse STEM workforce (per the wishes of the left), we’ll have a stronger, more American STEM workforce to make us more globally competitive without those dirty foreigners filling up our labs (per the wishes of the right, but also a few who claim to be lefty), and we’ll have everyone’s kids working at standing desks in futuristic-looking shared workspaces were they all work in the Clean Energy Jobs Of Tomorrow and eat vegan take-out from the food truck outside the workspace in the hip, walkable neighborhoods that these jobs will be in (per the wishes of the left).

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        1. Left unsaid is who will work in the vegan food truck outside the shared office space with the big windows and standing desks. I suppose that the daycare center at the shared workspace will be staffed by people who wrote master’s theses on Best Practices for teaching STEM to small children. And all of this will be funded by the profits from the Clean Energy Solutions that all of these STEM geniuses will be developing.

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    3. To me, Klara’s dance class is definitely to give me a break. Because it’s after I teach 3 1,5 hour classes one after another and a break is what I richly deserve. Neither have I put her on a productivity schedule yet.

      Scary people abound.

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  3. It’s just a marketing tool, really. A pretty ridiculous marketing tool, for all the reasons stated in your post and in this thread.

    It’s a cute toy, though. I hope she has a lot of fun with it. 🙂

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  4. There is no faster way to stamp out your child’s interest in almost anything than by droning on about how educational it is and how one day, if they’re willing to commit, and put in a lot hard work, it will make a satisfactory career

    Liked by 1 person

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