Many of the common arguments that STEM education advocates are currently using don’t help advance people’s thinking about STEM learning and why it matters. Some of our suggestions may seem counter-intuitive, but framing is a process of making choices about what to emphasize – and what to leave unsaid. Here's a quick tour of themes to avoid, compared with alternatives to advance. Download the PDF.
Spell it out and say "science, technology, engineering, and math." Let people know what subjects make up STEM skills and learning.
"Programs that meet after school, on the weekends, or during the summer"
"To build our shared prosperity…"
"To remain competitive in a global economy…"
"Innovation drives the economy."
"STEM degrees lead to high-paying careers."
"The sector is growing – let's grow with it."
"The U.S. can't fill STEM jobs, so they go overseas."
"STEM builds the skills our society needs for a complex future."
"Kids learn to solve problems and think critically."
"Exploratory, supportive, and flexible settings let kids learn in a different way."
"Afterschool keeps the academic clock ticking."
Talk about making access to STEM learning opportunities more fair, equitable, and available to all kids.
"Afterschool and summer STEM work to end race and gender inequities in education and the workforce."
Talk about the community, contexts, or collective actions that help students succeed. Explain how STEM improves outcomes by giving examples of programs that are improving outcomes for all children.
"Let me tell you this inspiring story about Erik…"
Focus your communications time on highlighting important aspects that are in need of explanation; namely, why STEM learning is important, how learning in non-school settings work, and how these programs improve STEM skills.
"Afterschool providers tend to have great relationships with families, and frankly, are an essential support for many working families."