STEM Education vs. Traditional Education: 2,000+ Words About Popular Question

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STEM Education vs. Traditional Education is an increasingly popular topic of interest these days. STEM education is our vote as the better approach. STEM education is more hands-on, experience-based, and collaborative than traditional education. Plus, students in STEM education programs are more likely to learn real-world skills and knowledge to prepare them for careers and life than traditional education.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The term STEM education refers to curriculum that focuses on these distinct but related technical fields and that has plenty of opportunities for hands-on making, building, researching, and applying knowledge.

In contrast, traditional education is not so focused on STEM topics or hands-on experience-based learning. Instead, traditional education includes topics that go beyond STEM, like general history, humanities, sociology, and other non-STEM topics that are not so focused on the scientific method and thinking like an engineer, and is more focused on reading, listening, and memorizing.

STEM education is a particular type of education that is becoming more popular because of the mental and physical benefits they provide. Plus, STEM education can lead to promising careers, valuable skillsets, and a fun and rewarding way of thinking no matter what you are doing.

Despite the growing popularity of STEM education, traditional education is more prevalent in today’s schools. In this article about STEM Education vs. Traditional Education, we compare STEM education vs. traditional education and see what they both entail.

Comparison Chart

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STEM Education vs. Traditional Education: The Main Differences

Let’s take a closer look at the main differences when comparing STEM Education vs. Traditional Education. For the most part, as you will see, STEM education involves aspects of traditional education and much more.

Plus, STEM education does not mean that kids do not learn how to read and write or that kids do not learn about history and other important topics.

A STEM education can be a very well-rounded education. The big difference with STEM education is putting a big focus on STEM topics so that kids can know how to do STEM, the history of the STEM topics, how to read and write about STEM, and so much more.

By the way, the history and stories of development and discovery in science, technology, engineering, and math is fascinating!

When considering STEM Education vs. Traditional Education, a STEM education does not mean you are going to be a scientist or engineer.

You can have any job, and at almost every job it will benefit you to have a STEM background. For instance, you can be a doctor, entertainer, writer, teacher, investigator, policy maker, lawyer, or anything you want.

Plenty of successful people in those professions come from a STEM background.

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Application of Knowledge vs. Retention of Knowledge: STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

One significant difference between STEM education vs. traditional education is knowledge itself. Specifically, this difference concerns the way knowledge is used and applied. For the most part, in traditional learning, education is more about memorizing facts than anything else. In contrast, with STEM education, kids learn more by doing than in traditional education.

In traditional education, teachers bombard their students with facts and expect them to remember them. Children must then regurgitate those facts when tested. This trains memory and recall, but not much more than that.

Without applying that knowledge in real-life scenarios, children will likely forget those facts as soon as test time is over.

However, although knowledge retention is necessary in STEM education, the application of that knowledge is stressed more in STEM education. Children must remember the knowledge and then apply it to real-life scenarios.

This makes children more likely to remember all those facts. Moreover, it trains children to use their knowledge in real-life scenarios. Finally, applying knowledge helps develop creativity, problem-solving skills, logical thought, deduction skills, and more.

In STEM education, children also learn about the scientific method, how to build things, and other ways of thinking like a maker and researcher that will help them in their every day life no mater what they are doing.

Interactive Learning by Doing vs Learning By Reading and Listening: STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

When considering STEM Education vs. Traditional Education, traditional learning is not very interactive. For the most part, it simply involves reading and listening.

Kids have to read articles, textbooks, listen to lectures and, more recently, online sources. Reading and listening are excellent for many reasons, but the are not the be-all and end-all of education.

Some kids can easily retain facts by reading and listening, but this only goes so far. Cramming countless facts in a limited amount of time doesn’t always go very well.

Moreover, reading textbooks and listening to lectures can become dull and tedious; most children don’t want to read texts and sit for hours listening to boring lectures.

This is not to say that STEM education does not involve reading and textbooks to a certain degree. However, the emphasis in STEM education is more about learning by doing.

This often involves various hands-on approaches, with basic scientific experiments at the forefront. Many kids have difficulty learning by reading and may hold onto information when their education is hands-on. Learning by doing, not just by reading, increases factual retention.

In addition, learning by doing is more fun than learning by reading alone. Being hands-on helps pass the time; it’s fun and generally more educational. In addition, kids are more willing to pay attention when learning in an interactive element.

Many STEM education programs include lab courses where kids make, build, and explore with their hands in class. Sometimes the kids group together in pairs or small groups to work together. Or work on projects at home over long periods.

In-Depth Subject Learning vs. Skimming the Surface: STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

Comparing how deeply kids learn a topic, the level of depth of material is greater in STEM Education vs. Traditional Education.

In traditional education, your children will learn the basics of math, various sciences, history, and more; it’s not a bad approach for getting a sense for what the landscape of learning is.

But it’s not ideal for kids who want to pursue an education that gets deeper into STEM topics. Instead of creating young experts in various fields, traditional learning skims over the basics, teaching children a bit of everything.

For instance, knowing the basics of chemistry is great, but it’s hard to apply basic knowledge in a real-life scenario.

So to become familiar and confident on a specific topic, the material needs to be covered in detail.

When comparing STEM Education vs. Traditional Education, STEM education does better at going deeper into topics.

This is the case for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM education covers these topics in great detail and provides your children with more information than traditional learning.

Moreover, STEM education dives deeper into this kind of education and also teaches children how to apply it in real life. It has more to do with applying knowledge than simple memorization and regurgitation.

STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

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Integrated vs. Individual Topics: STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

When looking at STEM Education vs. Traditional Education, one issue many people have with traditional learning approaches is that subjects are treated as being exclusive.

For example, kids learn about math, sciences, etc. However, those subjects aren’t really integrated into each other. Nobody tells kids how those subjects relate to one another.

Math, physics, and chemistry are related; they contain aspects of each other. However, traditional learning does not emphasize this. This can make applying this knowledge in real-life difficult, especially for combined subjects.

STEM education is very different because it aims to educate children on various topics and how they relate to each other.

STEM education features a much more cohesive approach that connects multiple topics. As a result, the educational value is greater with STEM than traditional education.

Independent Thinking and Discovery vs Regurgitation of Facts: STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

Another difference when comparing STEM Education vs. Traditional Education concerns how facts are treated. In traditional education, knowledge is presented as a set of proven or known facts. It’s all about replicating information that students have to read and memorize.

It’s not very interactive or fun, and many students have problems learning this way. It’s also not very independent. Traditional education doesn’t encourage students to problem-solve or think for themselves, and thinking for yourself is very important in the real world.

On the other hand, STEM education focuses on individual learning and discovery. Yes, students are often presented with facts, but it’s so much more than that. STEM education is about thinking, asking questions, developing problem-solving skills, logical thought, and deduction.

STEM education teaches students to think for themselves. This is better for developing critical thought, creativity, and problem-solving skills than traditional education.

Engaged Learning vs Monotony: STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

Another fundamental difference is that traditional education can be monotonous. This is in large part due to all the passive learning and all the unnecessary tediousness.

Simply put, traditional education can be boring and tedious and cause students to lose focus. In contrast, STEM learning oftentimes requires more hands-on activities, projects, and other occasions where the students are active and learning.

In traditional education, the boredom and monotony is why students may often fall asleep or simply not pay attention in class.

Unfortunately, this also means that children who are part of the traditional education system generally don’t participate much in class and don’t learn as much. It is not necessarily a failure of the student. It is a failure of the environment for that student.

STEM education is more interactive and based on experiments and hands-on learning. This in itself is more engaging and fun. Plus, hands-on learning requires more critical thinking, problem solving, and independence than does reading or listening to a lecture.

Hands-on learning and activities are not nearly as monotonous or redundant as traditional education. This helps students focus, stay engaged in the learning, retain information, grow as a student and as a person, and pay attention much better.

In addition, students are more willing to learn when the educational process is fun and engaging. They want to go to school.

Teamwork vs Individuality: STEM Education vs. Traditional Education

Yet another difference in comaring STEM Education vs. Traditional Education concerns individuality and teamwork. In traditional learning, the focus is individuality; there’s not much collaboration or communication between students.

There may be partner or group projects from time to time, but most learning is designed for the individual. The students read on their own, take tests on their own, and get their results on their own.

On the other hand, STEM education is more focused on teamwork and group activities. This is beneficial because it teaches children how to work and deal with other people.

It concerns learning language and communication skills. People who know how to work in teams are generally more successful than those who don’t.


Now that we’ve looked at some of the differences between STEM Education vs. Traditional Education, let’s take a look at STEAM. What is it?

STEAM is simply an extension of STEM; it adds arts into the mix. So instead of focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math, STEAM focuses on those subjects plus arts.

STEAM is a great way to get children interested in the arts while still providing them with a well-rounded education. The arts are important for developing creativity, imagination, and critical thinking skills.

One of the benefits of STEAM is that it’s interdisciplinary; it encourages children to think about how various subjects relate to each other. This is better than traditional education, which often teaches subjects in isolation.

The Bottom Line

When considering STEM Education vs. Traditional Education, STEM education is generally more effective at teaching children than traditional learning.

STEM education is more focused on doing and applying than traditional education is.

Plus, STEM education requires and encourages more problem-solving, independence, and critical thinking than does traditional education.

Plus, as the world becomes increasingly more technologically advanced and as jobs and careers demand more advanced technical skills, STEM Education vs. Traditional Education becomes an important question to consider.

Will students with STEM educations have a career advantages over those who do not?

We are not saying that traditional learning doesn’t have a place in today’s world. However, when it comes to teaching your child the various skills they need to succeed in life, STEM learning is the better of the two.

Consider our articles about STEM learning for kids of various ages.

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