Education should teach students to convert information to intelligence, said Jaime Casap, Google’s Global Education Evangelist. Casap was speaking at a recent kick-off event for the Arizona SciTech Festival in Scottsdale.
“The tools are all here and we do not need any further information. All we need is to convert this information into intelligence and do it well.”
Are our schools equipped to do that? Are teachers making efforts to teach a young generation to selectively use data, learn to interpret it well and actually use it in real life situations?
Education, according to Jaime needs to go through a radical design. “While we know that children learn in different ways, how do we make this happen?”
On a typical day, 1000 teachers quit the teaching profession in this country. There is a constant turnover of instructional leaders in middle schools and there is a crisis in educational leadership.
States like Arizona must “grow their own farms” to attract more high-tech industries, says Casap. “To do this we need to support incubators, offer tax breaks and interest rates for folks who want to stay here.”
“A quality workforce is what we need, not quantity,” he added. In the U.S. only 14 percent of students are graduating in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields. In China it is 42 percent while in Korea it is 32 percent.
We have only two options: either radically design education to fit the needs of the individual learner or stay with the factory model of the 1950s.
The choice is ours but time is not on our side.
As America struggles to find talent in technical careers, we’ve done a poor job of telling stories on why more women should take up science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. At a recent panel discussion on the role of women in STEM careers, women said they felt a sense of isolation that grew from being underrepresented in technical careers.
STEM careers offered less social acceptance as they grew up. One panel member said that she had to purposely fail a math course to find acceptance in her social circles that had a distaste towards STEM careers. Another felt she always struggled to have a sense of acceptance among her peers.
Women are leading the jobs sector in multiple areas. But STEM fields are male dominated and less diverse. Why should a girl interested in robotics at high school face social stigma if she wants to become an engineer? Here are a few ways we can make systemic change:
- Ask a professor in engineering to link dry equations and mechanical stuff to how they really change the world.
- Make simple changes in curriculum so that every science course adds a “make a difference” component. Value story telling.
- Fathers have an important role in nurturing young girls to enter STEM careers.
- Provide middle school students with diverse role models in STEM careers. Make sure that they are fun to relate to.
- Add mentoring and value-added internships at the high school level. Give this opportunity to students from all public schools, not just students from prep schools and élite private schools.
- Make sure that teachers teach science and math with passion. Unfortunately, our education system enjoys lengthy “common core standards.” This drains teachers’ time in adapting to standards. Make sure that bureaucratic standards do not take away the joy and passion of learning math and science.