Education Week - September 23, 2015 - (Page 18)

COMMENTARY STEM Doesn't Narrow the Curriculum " A STEM shift encourages the reimagination of schools, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, including the way curriculum is designed, organized, and delivered." ONLINE S By Ann Myers & Jill Berkowicz ning in elementary school, and others starting in middle or high school. Many, we found, have plans to grow from their beginning point to the other grade levTEM education creates an increased focus on science, technology, els over time. Nothing, however, takes the place of becoming a confident reader, engineering, and mathematics, but it shouldn't be that alone. The writer, thinker, problem-solver, mathematician, scientist, artist, musician, and foundation of a true STEM education is using all that is known historian in the early years. It is more possible when the environment is based about how learning takes place, and that certainly should encom- on STEM learning foundations. pass and embrace the liberal arts. An assumption that schools What we call a STEM shift-a movement toward comprehensive and fully based on the principles of STEM diminish the focus on subjects integrated STEM education throughout a school or district-is the first real and other than those four is a critical misunderstanding. Perhaps the promising development with the potential to re-envision educational orientation from the bottom up. A STEM shift encourages the reimagination of schools, name itself is a starting point for confusion. from kindergarten through the 12th grade, including the way curBy calling this kind of education STEM-or STEAM, as some now refer to it, with the addition of the arts-we have pulled our riculum is designed, organized, and delivered. Done well, this 20th-century mindset toward the subjects central to adincludes the learning processes of inquiry, imagination, vancement in the new century. It may be natural that questioning, problem-solving, creativity, invention, some schools have begun their programs with the and collaboration-and certainly learning, thinknarrow interpretation of STEM as an emphaing, and writing. sis almost solely on science, technology, engiThe attention that STEM education brings neering, and math. Some have even limited to public schools includes that of business, STEM education to the higher grades, or health care, and higher education. Partto enrichment classes, extracurricular nerships are essential in this area. As clubs, or special events. But teaching curriculum moves to include more apand learning in these subjects, and plication, the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary nature of teaching developing the abilities and qualirequires learning on the part of the ties of mind to master them, holds the promise of engaging all students teachers and leaders. and closing the gaps that exist beTime and money are the barriers tween those who enter schools exschools face in making the STEM ceptionally prepared for success and shift. Adequate time is needed for those who do not. pursuing professional development, The misunderstanding about learning new methods, and planning STEM and the potential for a transnew ways of working with others. forming shift from 20th- to 21st-cenEnough money to make the space for tury school design goes beyond the this to happen will be required. Partboundaries of schools. In his recent book nerships and support from outside the school walls, including from communities, In Defense of Liberal Education, the journalist Fareed Zakaria exposes the public's offer a solution for providing the needed narrow view of STEM, writing that the move talent, time, and money. Partnerships also intoward this educational emphasis on science, vite the world of work and application into the technology, engineering, and math is motivated classroom. Connections and choices can be made, by arguments stressing the need for more vocational as students interact not just with information, but also preparation. That may be true, in part. But, as Zakaria with the professionals who apply that information in their Getty points out, learning how to write clearly, express yourself condaily work. vincingly, and think analytically is a byproduct of the liberal arts. CreSTEM education is a new and exciting concept. But if we are not careativity, lateral thinking, design, communication, and storytelling, he says, all flow ful, the baby may be thrown out with the bathwater. STEM holds the potential from development of the capacity to continuously learn and enjoy learning, which for creating 21st-century learning environments for the students who are with is a hallmark of the liberal arts. us now. Implemented with clarity and understanding, it will engage teachers All of these capacities are the foundations of a true STEM learning environ- and students in new ways. But it is not a narrow focus on four subjects. Rather, ment. All of them. As Zakaria notes, a long list of America's pioneering tech it is an integration of subjects and perspectives. Arthur I. Miller, in his book Colleaders-Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg among them-have had liding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Redefining Contemporary Art, offers liberal-education backgrounds. How many successors to Jobs, Gates, and Zuck- examples of how, in this century and the last, science and art have been intererberg are sitting in today's public school classrooms? How many more can be related. Yet, without the kind of STEM mindset we suggest, it is unlikely that developed? That is the crux of the issue. Understanding the strengths and weak- discovering this relationship would be part of a public school student's journey nesses of our public schools, the burdens of the poking and prodding they have toward graduation. been subject to over the past half-century, and the new vision of possibility for all When used as the lever for systemic change, STEM offers a new environment students is the key. in which all educators and all students are part of a more engaging, all-inclusive, STEM offers a broadening of possibilities for learning. The schools and leaders and invigorating learning experience. Who wouldn't want that? n we learned from while doing research for our book The STEM Shift were not creating a narrower focus. They were expanding the possibilities for all students ANN MYERS is a professor emerita in educational leadership at the Sage Colleges, Esteves School to reach beyond, break ceilings, and meet with successes unimagined. Their focus of Education. JILL BERKOWICZ, a former curriculum director, is currently an adjunct professor in was to use all the potential that springs from a STEM learning environment to the educational leadership program at the State University of New York at New Paltz. They are the narrow the achievement gap, with some offering a STEM environment begin- co-authors of the Leadership 360 blog on and the book The STEM Shift (Corwin, 2015). BLOGS The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled that the state's charter school law is unconstitutional. In response to the "puzzling" decision, Rick Hess says the rationale behind the ruling is rife with problems. | WEB COMMENT | TEACHER VOICES A recent op-ed in The New York Times suggests that testing aspiring teachers will improve teacher-prep programs. Dave Powell, offering a different approach to determine what works, considers the solution to be too narrow. 18 | EDUCATION WEEK | September 23, 2015 | In the debate over charter vs. neighborhood schools, has the discussion failed to include local culture? Christina Torres says the history of a community needs to be recognized when making decisions about schools. " It's culture-particularly cultural attitudes towards interacting with young children-rather than race, that's driving the test scores." - Labor Lawyer, responding to the Walt Gardner's Reality Check blog post "The Misunderstood Achievement Gap"

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 23, 2015

Education Week - September 23, 2015
Research Agency Faces Deep Cuts In Budget Bills
Schools Seek Split From Confederacy
English-Learner Tests Moving to Digital Realm
Despite Research on Teens’ Sleep, Change to School Start Times Difficult
News in Brief
Report Roundup
To Combat Inequity, Ferguson Panel Urges K-12 Changes
Study: KIPP Confers an Edge in Academics But Not in Attitudes
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Online Credit Recovery in Need of Overhaul, Study Says
Blogs of the Week
From Pre-K to Higher Ed., Duncan Tour Touts Priorities
GOP Presidential Debaters Give Glancing Mention to Education
In Wide-Ranging Discussion, Duncan Mulls Issues, Agenda
ANN MYERS & JILL BERKOWICZ: STEM Doesn’t Narrow the Curriculum
MARY ANN ZEHR: Can a Former Journalist Teach English-Language Learners to Write?
GREG MILO: Why Do Students Hate History? Some Thoughts on the ‘Boring’ Social Studies
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
CAROL DWECK: Growth Mindset, Revisited

Education Week - September 23, 2015