"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
— Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa
Education is the birth right of every child. It is seen as a birth right, a human right because of the catastrophic implications that exist when a child is denied this right. Opportunities are limited, growth is hindered, mental and social well- being of a child is put at risk and the whole manner in which their personality could have been shaped, changes its course. And mostly in most cases not for the better.
Therefore, after realizing the sole importance of education itself our readers are bound to ponder over why; education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics important for our kids as well?
The answer, dear readers, is not simple but a complex one. And I shall do my best to convince you the hype around “S.T.E.M education” for children is important and valid in today’s day and age.
In 2010, the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology stated,
“We must ensure a STEM-capable citizenry. All U.S. citizens should have an understanding of scientific and technological knowledge, engineering principles, and quantitative methods sufficient to succeed in public life and in their careers, and to make informed decisions about issues facing our Nation and our planet.”
This statement illustrates just one key point as to why S.T.E.M education is crucial for our children from an early age. It is important because many of the issues that the world is facing today, whether it be global warming, famine, malnutrition, natural disasters all are in some way, shape or form linked to the field of S.T.E.M.
Either the answer to the problem can be found in many S.T.E.M related solutions or the core problem can be found in S.T.E.M related technicalities and issues. Therefore, in order for the children of Pakistan to have even a fighting chance in impacting and changing and helping the world becoming a better place. STEM education is pivotal to the process.
If Pakistani parents think that focusing and giving importance to S.T.E.M education is just a means by school systems to increase the fees of students while the child gains the same amount of knowledge as they did before. This is also entirely a wrong concept of thought.
Yes, perhaps S.T.E.M education shall cost a little more on the pockets of parents but that is only because the right sort of equipment and classroom equipment and environment needs to be altered, In order to create a STEM friendly learning environment. After all, what is taking place is a revolutionary process within the education system of Pakistan. Moreover, to add further weight to the argument on June 17th, 2010 the USA White House, invited middle school and high school teachers that are working to try innovative new models and include more STEM education in their classrooms. And older elementary school students participated in numerous science fairs and maker fair’s at the White House. This illustrates the point that it is not just Pakistan that these positives changes, hopefully are going to be implemented. But in developed states such as that of the Unites States programs such as these have been already functioning, over the last 6 years or so.
Erin Macpherson, in her article on Early STEM education for children pointed out a fantastic reason as to why children need to be educated from an early age in STEM. Not just in Pakistan but across the world. "It’s so important to encourage STEM learning early in schooling is that the process of inquiry that is integral to STEM is the way young children naturally learn." Young children explore, ask questions, and discuss their findings. In her article she describes first grade learners gathered around a sand table: "Students become engrossed with the sand, some marbles, and rulers, and soon, with the help of a few guiding questions, they are learning principles of physical science."
This just goes to show children have a natural yearning to discover and explore the world around them. S.T.E.M education is simply providing children the platform to do so. Science4us is another means by which fun and STEM education can be achieved.
If these are not reasons enough for you to tell your kids about STEM then know, that the long term material benefits of educating your child on STEM are a plenty. According to the US Department of Commerce research, workers in STEM fields earn 26% more than their counterparts and the job growth rate for STEM-related jobs are almost double that of non-stem occupations.
This basically means, by giving our kids the tools they need to succeed in STEM, we are giving them a huge leg up as they enter the job market. Which is especially crucial for us Pakistanis as the job market keeps getting ,tougher and more competitive as the years go by.
Lastly, Pakistani Parental readers it is not as complicated as a procedure to educate your child in STEM and create awareness among your children of STEM education.
Doctor Green boils it down to the four essential tasks that teachers and or parents can do in order to lead their students to successful STEM education
Step 1: Change your lens
"Elementary teachers need the opportunity and the confidence to be engineers alongside their students," says Dr. Green. This can be as simple as changing the kinds of questions we ask our students. “By adding a few words to your classroom questioning vocabulary—words like design, experiment and model—a whole world of STEM learning can be opened up for students."
It's all about tweaking the lessons, activities, homework and language just enough to create an environment where STEM is a natural but effective part of the curriculum.
Step 2: Create a Village of STEM educators
As a teacher, you’re always busy innovating, finding new ways and cobbling together resources to help your students learn. But teachers shouldn’t have to carry the entire responsibility for STEM education; we need partners. And that partner can be the government as well as parents of Pakistani students. For example; recently, President Obama's administration launched the Educate to Innovate initiative.
The initiative asks communities, companies, parents and teachers to partner with schools to encourage STEM education. “Community partnerships—both with education businesses and higher education institutions,” agrees Dr. Green, “are a key factor in the success of STEM programs.”
Step 3: Integrate STEM across the curriculum
In Pakistan this seems like a complex task as there are different educations systems that exist.
Step 4: Give Pakistani children more access to technology
The "T" in STEM stands for technology, but exposure to educational technology is not enough for true STEM learning. Exposing kids to tools like computers, iPads, e-readers and apps early on is important, but it's only through guided learning that these tools become an important part of STEM education, argues Green.
“We need to take a whole-child approach to teaching children about technology,” explains Green. “Teachers can help kids make connections across various technologies to real-world concepts simply by strategic questioning and guided learning, especially if they have had access to research-based STEM education and teacher training.”
Thus, by telling your children of the importance of STEM by making them aware of its possibilities, parents are nurturing their kids to become global leaders.
I would like to end on a note by President Obama on STEM education.
“[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world..."
Vivacious sand making waves