Monday, September 16, 2013

Learning what works?

A special issue of the Science Times published int he New York Times, that came out on Sept. 3 is "Learning What Works" and is about STEM education and education reform in the US as it applies to  teaching science and math. A friend had given a copy of this to my daughter since she is interested in science education, and when I saw it, I asked, "Oh, is this for me?" "No, its about STEM," she replied. I answered, "Didn't you know that STEM is what I teach, what I write about, and didn't you know that wood shop is about building a relationship with all those things that create an understanding through which science, technology, engineering and math are integrated into a student's understanding?" I guess not.

Young folks are always discovering the world on their own, thinking it is new.

I mentioned Sloyd to an educator the other day, and the response, was, oh, that's nice. And the first time I heard the word STEM, I was presenting an online seminar and was asked about it. Awkward, but they keep inventing acronyms for things faster than you can keep up.

In any case, when folks, of whatever age are looking at the real world and attempting to put together an educational process based on how things really are, they tend to get things right, even if they are pumped up on the notion that they've discovered something new but that other folks have known all along.

In the New York Times publication, Mitzi Montoya, Dean of the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University said,
"If I could change one thing about engineering education--well, actually, all education--it would be to center it around solving real problems and making things. In other words, we ought to be creating innovators and inventors at our engineering schools. They need to be able to do something more than solve theoretical problems when they leave us. In other words, they should learn how to be an applied problem solver, which is not the same thing as being a fantastic book-based equation solver."
I know what it is like to discover something new in the wood shop. One thing I've discovered is that much of what I discover is not actually new. Those interested in STEM education, or just plain everyday education for each child would benefit an examination of the history of manual arts. I know the idea was that those were no longer of value. There are those who think they need to completely reinvent the wheel. It irks me that we have to contend with such.

Today, my 4th, fifth and sixth grade students learned all kinds of things. Including how to make things from wood.

make, fix and create.

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