Article on Fuzzy vs Techie courses at Academies

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by raimius, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Interesting article. Everything is wrong if taken too far though.
     
  3. BigBear

    BigBear Class of 2015

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    I think this is spot on. I can't speak for the Air Force or Navy, but I'd imagine more jobs there have a direct need for a solid STEM foundation.

    For reference- as a USMA cadet, I have been required to take (outside of my major/electives):
    3xArt/Philosophy/Literature (+1 validated)
    2xIT
    3xLanguage
    4xMath (+ Econ, if that counts as math)
    6xPE (half semester, so 3 really)
    2xScience (+2 validated)
    2xPsychology
    2xGovernment/IR
    3xTactics
    3xEngineering
    1xGeography/Geology (not sure how to classify the Dirt course here)
    3xHistory (+1 validated)
    1xLaw
    1xOfficership

    Despite having courses in Counterinsurgency, Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, Community Development, History of Irregular Warfare, Counterterrorism, and Military Communications (strategic messaging, not radios) available, we are forced to put an emphasis on STEM. I have taken more math classes than Tactics classes. The refrain is that we'll learn everything we need to know at BOLC. Why are we waiting for that? You've got us all here, use the time to teach us!

    *As a DSS major, I have taken all of those classes listed above, but if I remember correctly there are about 25 of us, so that's only about 2.5% of the class.
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    As long as there aren't classes on Furries.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Oh, but as a CGA government major.... I do like where this article is going... :thumb:
     
  6. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I was a history major at USNA. Since then I have earned a MA in Criminal Justice and will soon have a MS in Systems Engineering and an MBA. Yeah talk about all over the map. But I would say that all of them have served me very well so far in my career. I think a mix of STEM and humanities has helped me in my military service and as a civilian. I was in a fairly technical MOS in the USMC, the engineering aspects did help me in my MOS. I think the trouble shooting and problem solving aspects really helped me while in and out of uniform. I think there was a post on here a month or so ago talking about the number of officers at one of the war colleges that needed remedial writing. Unfortunately, I know that happens I think at most service career schools. I am a half way decent writer and never had issues with evals or award citation writing. This has carried over into my civilian career, not an issue. IMPO, too much of STEM or humanities is probably not the right call. An officer really needs to understand problem solving, critical thinking, communication and writing. I think the push for STEM is for follow on assignment from the operating forces to help fill billets such as acquisition, test, R&D type needs.
     
  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Ah, yes, the old cadet exhortation that somehow WP is supposed to be a tactical school. First and foremost, let's consider that your spend your summers learning the rudiments of small unit tactics, a fact for which your rubric of classes did not account.

    More importantly, the refrain is correct. You will learn all the base tactics you need at BOLC. Why not at WP? Well, for one, when exactly would you do this? random Thursday field problems? Tactics in a classroom is largely useless. Your BOLC will be the most intensive tactics course of your life. Months upon months of nothing but. But the real learning comes at your unit.

    As for STEM, the idea that STEM produces linear, structured thinkers is bunk. STEM courses are excellent for fostering creative thinking that nests within how the military writ large thinks. Framing a problem, working within boundaries, adhering to rules or knowingly violating them to achieve a goal, etc. I am no less thankful for my mech engineering courses than for my humanities courses (I was not a STEM major).

    The Academies are not getting it wrong. The backlash against STEM is a rather laughable offshoot of the insecurity that comes from a degree that produces no tangible outputs (I know all too well).
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    You're still in the Army, right? You WILL know all too well... but not yet. :biggrin:

    Here's the thing about STEM v. non-stem. STEM degrees are fairly linear in their employment opportunities.

    Joe Blow: I was a civil engineering major. Now I'm an engineer at a civil enginnering firm. My degree took me there.

    Well, sure.

    LITS: I was a government major. Now I do communications at a regulator in DC for good money.

    But LITS, that's not because of your humanities degree... is it?


    Engineering: 1 Humanities: 0?

    I don't think so. My best friend and roommate was a civil engineering major at CGA. I was a government major. He was smart. I was smart. I took my honors Chemistry classes, and Physics and Biology and engineering and static design and introduction to electrical engineering.

    Not only that... but I know science and math are my strengths and I like to find patterns.

    To me, those sciences are very linear. OK, I know, we've already said that. STEM is straight forward. Rules, process and conclusions. Flooding here... tools here.... sea state hear..... decide what to do. Need a second flood to support this much weight, across this area... how do you support it.

    The problems we face in this world aren't very linear. And a linear approach can cause just as much pain as not approaching them at all.

    The great side effect of my government courses was thinking in a cloud. A linear approach made for very short conversations... with no conclusions. It was frustrating to discuss or debate my engineering friends who said "Well this... then this.... then this...." usually ending in "well that's just dumb!"

    Often, in providing support for STEM, it's just assumed that all of the positives that apply to STEM majors have no place in the humanities. "STEM produces great thinkers, therefore humanities doesn't." That's pretty linear thinking.... doesn't mean it's correct.

    I've taken enough science and math classes, done well on enough tests and been in enough situations to understand how helpful my "humanities approach" has been in my life.
     
  9. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    But that's the whole myth...that STEM uniformly produces linear thinking. It does not. Both have their place, and teach creative and meaningful thinking. For some reason, the proponents of each side think they have a monopoly on it. I'm glad to have taken a ton of both disciplines. Makes things like the GMAT a breeze.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
  10. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I actually went the opposite direction than LITS...super strong in writing/history/social sciences/English, but weak in mathematics. So naturally, as a Government major, I switched to Electrical Engineering. :eek:

    I really stretched myself to be able to do that, and I'm thankful that I had such amazing classmates and professors, because I would've failed otherwise. But those long nights and weekends spent in Mac hall, working out fourier transforms and differential equations, programming databases and setting up computer networks, taught me so much about our modern world and how to think differently. Having these two ways of thinking helps me to analyze and understand a current event (I love current events) from multiple perspectives. i.e. "The Interview" fiasco going on right now. Can Hackactivists do what they say? How is the client-server architecture set up? What are the political, economic, cultural and societal costs at stake?

    I won't get my masters degree in EE, but I've realized that earning my undergraduate in it has opened many, many doors for me, both inside and outside of the military. Everyone is different, and gaining the harder STEM degree vice sticking with my natural talents has made me a more flexible thinkier
     

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