We all remember the story of the little race between the tortoise and the rabbit. It ends with a very inspiring moral of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. However recently, if you’ve been active on the social media platforms, a new version of that story is running viral with a totally different, yet wonderful moral for each one of us to realize.

It starts with the same old race but here the rabbit realized his mistake and challenges the tortoise again. This time he wins because nobody in most likelihood would like to repeat the same mistake. The story goes on with the tortoise realizing that he can’t beat the rabbit at speed but there is one thing the rabbit can’t do, that is swim. So he challenges the rabbit to race on his kind of route which requires one to cross a river. After this one race, it is certain that both rabbit and tortoise have a forte different from another. In the next race they both work together and the first half the rabbit carries the tortoise on ground and the second half is for the tortoise to carry the rabbit across the river. Win-win for both!

This story introduces the value of team work against competition. Yet there is one salient message that is hard to miss, the story revolves around the theory of multiple intelligence. While this differential is settled in terms of looks and psychology, a lot of people overlook this when it comes to intellect. The dictionary meaning of multiple intelligence goes like: “The theory of multiple intelligence is a theory of intelligence that differentiates it into specific (primarily sensory) ‘modalities’, rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability”. According to Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University, these ‘modalities’ are eight in number, all different from each other. Now imagine running a combination of these modalities to make up for a pattern of multiple intelligence! Which proves that no two children are the same.

Now, the idea of STEM education is to cater to all these different modalities and foster creative-analytical thinking in the children. While they will learn how to experiment and create new things using their theoretical knowledge, they would learn to do it using their potential. Each child has a different potential and STEM education would focus on helping the child realize his.

It is safe to say that theory and marks are not the only things what define a person; people are more than just a number on the paper. STEM Education is an initiative that realizes the difference in potential and caters to multiple intelligence in students. STEM is an intricate part of our lives and each of these talents can prove themselves as equally important in terms of function. One of the reasons students in India fail to understand this and suffer from depression is because there is no proper emphasis on this very important aspect. They are all competing to fit in one shoe while they have a bigger foot.

The best thing about practical experience is that there is no set rule or ‘the right way’ to do it. One can experiment and discover a new phenomena which can be responsible for a new theory altogether. The basic idea is to formulate a sense of responsibility in the children at a very young age so that all their theoretical knowledge can be united with their practical approach to life.

One thing we need to make sure is that the child is well guided in his experiments so that his efforts are not futile. Nothing comes out of digging water and STEM education is an organised initiative that will take charge of shaping and coordinating the cognitive and practical aspects of a student’s life. They will learn to indulge in their intelligence according to their choosing and not be forced to pursue something that they feel they have no interest or potential in. They will be helped and guided throughout to come up with theories of utility which will empower them and help them realize the actual importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It is to actually create and not just rote learn how to create.

We all have a potential and STEM is all inclusive, there is not one field that functions independent of these. Hence the idea is to encourage students to realize their potential and foster a scientific approach so that their grey cells keep busy while they explore the area of their interest.

Reference: Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence