Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What is Missing in STEM Education?

Here's the deal: I walk into a classroom and it is decorated with the latest in technology, curriculum, and gadgets that would make one believe that someone in your child's class is about to become the next Elon or Bill Gates. Your child comes home with passwords from websites and information on applications written by people who have spent less than 8 hours with a child that has the same learning disposition and/or attention span as your child. Rubrics are passed around to tell you what to do to complete an assignment in each of their STEM classes but there is one thing that is missing in the fundamental success of each and every teacher preparation program and student evaluation rubric: How to give proper (and adequate) feedback.

Today children are left to their own (personal devices) to learn and the expectation is that we can teach children through an app or a workbook. We've replaced education with a series of discrete trials that have been used on monkeys and testing groups and wonder why children are failing. What surprises me the most is the mere fact that many students in this country have succumbed to a phenomena also known as "learned helplessness" and expect that when they cannot do something or if their parents are unable to do something that will allow them to feel confident - they do not bother trying.

The fact is really simple, in more ways that can be counted, students need to learn how to take feedback and criticism as a way to build character and their own sense of self-determination. Never before have I seen students fearful of failing when they never learned how to ask a question or became intimidated to look through the answers to a test where they could have received more credit if they had only informed the teacher that the answer they presented was correct.

Parents in this day and age have learned to argue with teachers and not look at themselves on how to become role models in what they want their children to be. They have tossed the book aside on how to raise a human being and have replaced it with "How to Overnurture Your Child" .

I would love to see the day where parents teach their children life lessons on how to work hard and to look at your mistakes as opportunities of learning and understanding instead of grades. Or when a child comes home to complain about problems they are having at school - parents can step in and share what their family stance is on how to treat other people instead of attending some class on "how we all need to parent children in the 21st century".

When I spent some time with my father-in-law, I rummaged through some old school records that he had kept from when my husband was in elementary school. Somehow, I came across a letter that might have been written in response to a teacher that perhaps, thought my husband was unfocused (that's surprising - what most professionals call "unfocused" I call, "it's called being a bored boy?"). The letter (albeit written in a different language) was a beautifully written letter that gave my husband some life lessons on being a good student. It put into perspective that even though your parents are not there with you everyday, it is important to communicate what it is that you want your children to be, otherwise they will have to walk that journey alone.

STEM Education comes with it a whole set of standards that are great - but it is important that children learn to take into account the importance of receiving feedback, whether good or bad - to reach a final product that they would be happy to call their own.

If you would like more information about Learning Ridge STEM Programs or if you would like to have our STEM workshops at your facility, community center, club house, feel free to contact Christine at 404-964-8533 or you can email me at .

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