The stems of Dexter

If you’re reading this chances are you used to love watching Dexter’s Lab when you were a kid. Or, even better, you dreamed of being a paleontologist when you were gonna grow up cause nothing was cooler than dinosaurs. Or at the very least you liked to fiddle with all sorts of funny jars with insects and spiders, cooking up all sorts of experiments. You had it in you to be a scientist. You even begged your folks to get you a telescope for Christmas.  But as time passed you grew up, realised being an astronaut isn’t all that cool (or all that feasible either) so you took to a more sensible path; one that would preferably actually get you a monthly paycheck, benefits and the like. That’s basically how most of us ended up training as bankers. And it’s the same reason why few of us are actually working as bankers after graduation.

The problem is that none of us actually grew up to fiddle with science for a living. We all took sensible jobs, to pay for sensible cars that’ll get us to work at a sensibly polluting rate. No one grew up to be Dexter. And the problem with that is gonna be visible a bit too late for us to do much about it. There have been reports and articles warning of low levels of STEM graduates (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) but the problem is still being treated lightly all throughout Europe. Not only are fewer and fewer of them (see here) but the quality seems to be dropping too (most visible and most researched in the UK here). So what are we to do?

Compulsory education is hard pressed to make a comeback on its own let along higher education centred on sciences. The few things we can do are to

  • pay more attention to the actual demand on the labour market (let’s face it, turning everyone into a paleontologist can hardly be productive).
  • put effort into lobbying so that governments and politicians take note of the problem and take steps to address it
  • Most important – make sure that something like this is not just a dust covered report on somebody’s bookstand.

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