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Why do Some People Dislike STEM Subjects?

By Clare Schinzel


It is common in any class of kids to get at least a few students who proclaim that they hate math. So much so that anything involving the subject receives a sour glare from these students. In the more extreme cases, students will cry, get angry, and foster negative self-talk. This is known as math anxiety––a problem that affects almost half of all elementary school students. It commonly establishes a hatred for math early on and leads to low performance throughout the school years.


Unfortunately, math isn’t the only subject that students tend to avoid. Many STEM classes that involve math are not welcomed by anxious students. Coming into the classroom with this stigma, students can’t work to their full potential and are further turned off from other subjects that relate to math.


Math anxiety––and further problems because of it––are a plague in every classroom. One of the reasons that students develop this is because they are not willing to fail. Many students and parents strive for perfection that is unobtainable in STEM careers that rely on trial and error. When confronted with sudden failure, it can be hard for students to embrace a subject or career in STEM.


Although math anxiety is a barrier for younger students, it isn’t the main obstacle in the way of a STEM career. According to the Pew Research Center, many young people don't pursue degrees in STEM because they don’t think it will help them in their future careers. This is yet another shortcoming in STEM education: the lack of real-world issues involved in learning. Students can only gain so much from memorizing formulas or reading textbooks. They need to experience problems and apply them to the real world. It allows students to see a future and make connections to the everyday world about how they could impact it.


One of the most common reasons students also avoid degrees in STEM is the cost. Degrees in careers like engineering can be between $65,000 and $80,000. Other careers––such as medicine––can soar to an upwards of $100,000. Most students can’t afford the luxury of a thorough education, leaving STEM careers out of their financial reach even if it is within their intelligence capabilities.


The most common excuse that other generations give for why young people don’t embrace STEM mostly boils down to one reason: it is too hard or boring. According to the Pew Research Center, this is not the case. Breaking that stereotype, only 12% of students cited boredom as the reason for them not pursuing a career in STEM. These students usually find work in the humanities instead.


STEM careers can often have a daunting presence: lots of schooling, money, and time are required to make it work. However, there is still hope. STEM scholarships have been on the rise in the 21st century and will most likely continue to grow with all of the careers in technology being created in recent years. But even before college, students must be encouraged by their teachers to break through the anxious barriers surrounding STEM. Hopefully, then, more students can get a chance to find passion in the growing field of STEM.



Works Cited

Kennedy, B., Hefferon, M., & Funk, C. (2018, January 17). Half of Americans think young

people don’t pursue STEM because it is too hard. Pew Research Center; Pew Research

Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/17/half-of-americans-

think-young-people-dont-pursue-stem-because-it-is-too-hard/

Picha, G. (2018, May 17). Recognizing and Alleviating Math Anxiety. Edutopia; George Lucas

Educational Foundation. https://www.edutopia.org/article/recognizing-and-

alleviating-math-anxiety

Wanchoo, R. (2021, July 28). Why So Many Young People Hate STEM Courses. Scientific

American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-so-many-young-

people-hate-stem-courses/



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