I have always been a strong advocate for a STEM program to integrate into our tradition-learning environment. It seeks to create an increased focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, it should not be that alone. There is an assumption is that when a school embraces STEM would diminish their focus on a liberal arts education. As our millennium students begin to demand a 21st century learning environment, we need to be cognizant that vocational learning and preparation will have a robust transformative classroom engagement. However, some may argue that the lack of a liberal arts education will inhibit these students in becoming a confident readers, writers, and other problem solvers, including artists and other liberal art thinkers. This is far from the truth.
STEM education is a new and exciting concept in developing student learners that will broaden their vocational skills before graduating from high school. The comprehensive nature of this program will propel students and teachers to enrich classroom participation, strengthen collaboration and achieve higher grades.
STEM program is a shift toward a comprehensive educational orientation from the bottom up. This paradigm shift encourages a more thoughtful cradle to graduation for the curriculum to design, organize, and deliverance for our students. For STEM program to be done well; it needs to transform the classroom environment into collaboration and creative learning that includes thinking and writing that eventually shifts into STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.
However, time and money are the barriers to a fully developed STEM program. We need adequate time to pursue teacher professional development, create new curriculum and methods and engage with business community to collaborating the benefit of experiential learning. Second, funding is the drive to make the program work. We must enlist partnerships and support including business communities, and other entities in sustaining the talent, time, and money needed. Partnerships also invite business, and community leaders and students in the world of work (WOW) into classrooms as applicable experiences. This would give students an opportunity to connect and interact with not just information and knowledge, but also a view into daily work.
It seems obvious that the focus of any system of education should be to meet the student’s need for fulfillment of personal potential, whatever that maybe. The reality is, STEM doesn’t narrow the curriculum. When implemented with clarity and understanding, it will engage teachers and students in many possible ways. It is not necessary narrowly focus on four objectives – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Rather, it is an integration of subjects and perspectives. We must realize how cutting-edge technology redefines contemporary art and that how science and art have been an integral part in this century and last.
Yet without STEM, teachers and students may not have a vibrancy in transforming and invigorating learning experience when graduating from high school.
Kamara Kay is a PhD candidate in Information Security and former college Program Chair for School of Information Technology and Electronics. He is a candidate for Lowell School Committee.