Putting STEM Education Under the Microscope
19 October 2016
Deakin Burwood Corporate Centre
Level 2, Building BC, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood.
Although I have been critical of the Funds of Knowledge project perspective because of its misunderstanding of capital, it might offer a context which marries both (i) the bridging of academe with home, community, and work contexts, and (ii) problem-solving from the learners own life-world. I will draw on examples, such as that of 5-year old Rico’s photograph of his aquarium, and his identification of the home-mathematics of ‘the shape of a fish’ for inspiration.
Then there was Bobby George, our famous darts player, who eventually was forced to work out the odds to avoid excruciating embarrassment at the oche. What would a STEM curriculum look like if it took seriously Rico’s home knowledge or Bobby’s professional identity? Finally, how might we conceptualise the ‘disciplines’ in STEM in a way that would help such a curriculum?
Richard Lehrer is Frank W. Mayborn Professor of Education at Vanderbilt University. A former science teacher, he is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, a member of the National Academy of Education, and the 2009 recipient of the American Psychological Association’s award for Distinguished Contributions in Applications of Psychology to Education. Working in concert with teachers, he focuses on the design of classroom learning environments that support the growth and development of learning about foundational concepts and epistemic practices in science and in mathematics. In mathematics education, he investigates development of children’s (K-6) reasoning about space, measure, data, and chance when instruction is guided by teacher knowledge of student reasoning.
The international emergence of STEM as a goal for the 21st Century school science seems to be inexplicably associated with the demand for the skills that workers, at large, will need to have for a competitive national economy.
These skills are generally, at least in Science among the STEM subject areas, not being currently emphasised.
This societal demand challenges school science at a time when it is still coming to terms with the demand for public scientific literacy. An historical perspective will be used to discuss these and other purposes for school science and to suggest how and when they, if seriously intended, can find expression in the years of schooling.
Professor Günter Törner reports on a German STEM (which translates as MINT in German) initiative of the business community designed to promote mathematics and science in high schools – the MINT-Excellence Centre (MINT-EC).
The MINT-EC is mainly formed by industry and employers, and is running a network of 250 schools in which STEM is presented through a variety of activities. The schools receive some financial support to assist each other, and to start initiatives by themselves. Further, MINT-EC is providing projects overarching the work in the 16 provinces. Each year there is a joint meeting of representatives of these schools where there is something like a market of ideas. Importantly, the principals of the schools are invited and acknowledged, and are provided with training in areas of THEIR interests by German companies. Thus MINT-EC schools are professional learning communities where principals are included and specifically addressed.