Head over to FoxNews.com to read a powerful opinion piece outlining the reasons businesses should band together and work with the government to support STEAM education at all levels of schooling. The argument was crafted by Blair Blackwell, an executive with Chevron, and 100Kin10 founder Talia Milgram-Elcot.
The article begins by acknowledging the real progress that has already been made; President Obama’s 2011goal to train a hundred thousand highly-competent STEAM teachers within a decade is on track to be completed ahead of schedule. Still, on a national level, recruiting and retaining the number of dedicated math and science teachers necessary to meaningfully improve the standing of U.S. students remains a struggle.
The authors note that for most students, if a zest for math and science is to develop at all, it must take root by third grade. Yet the vast majority of U.S. elementary teachers are asked to deal with unreasonable demands to begin with and deal with anxiety about their competence to deal with STEAM subjects.
Another barrier to attracting gifted STEM teachers is the lack of prestige accorded to the teaching profession in the United States compared to other countries. In many European nations competition to gain every teaching position is intense and their salaries and benefits are accordingly high. STEM graduates in the United States tend to face significant pressure, both financial and familial, to use their science degree to attain a more lucrative position and little societal encouragement to enter the ranks of primary school teachers.
Primary science education also could benefit from emphasizing the practical aspects of science and math, like engineering, far earlier in the educational process than is currently customary.
Seeing the astounding feats physics enables us to accomplish is proven to revamp embed enthusiasm. Programs can be modeled on the few flourishing elementary school curricula currently in existence, lessons like those found at Engineering is Elementary and linkengineering.org.
Taking these few steps, even though most will require a significant and sustained national effort, has the potential to ensure that a future surplus of scientific graduates can use their talents to improve American lives.
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