STEM – What exactly is it again?
Prof Kurt Seemann discussed the many entry points associated with STEM. The question that needs to be considered is, what is trying to be done from a pedagogical sense. There is not a STEM curriculum, it is not necessarily a subject (although some make it one), how then do we teach and assess it?
The push for STEM is the economical driver for ‘knowledge economy’. However, maybe the real focus is ‘applied synthesis’? Or comprehending the use of different technology into a coherent application. This made me think of Kin Lane’s recent post on ‘What is an application?’ This push is also a focus on whole-child development, moving towards reasoning and abstraction, moving from simple to complicated to complex.
So support all of this, Seemann discussed the idea of ‘Technacy Education’. Technacy is:
The holistic understanding of technology in relation to the creation, design and implementation of projects.
A part of this is understanding is the incorporation of genre theory that is used to appreciate the various:
- Tool Systems
- Purpose & Context
- Technacy Genre
STEM might then use different kinds of materials etc than other crafts, like pottery.
See a link to the chart here.
Another aspect to consider with all of this is the difference between working scientifically versus working technologically. Ethically, science is concerned about the process of gathering, whereas technology is concerned about how it transforms the world. In regards to STEM, there is a limit to what can be achieved with the material and context available. This reminds me of my discussion a few years ago in regards to coding and purpose.
I am interested in exploring more how the idea of technacy compares with Doug Belshaw’s .
Prof Therese Keane discussed some of the history associated with STEM. This had me thinking how revolutionary logo actually was and probably still is. It is important to remember the history. Keane mentioned books such as Mindstorm and Lifelong Kindergarten. What was interesting was the emphasis on technology as a means to an end.
Lego EV3 and the FIRST Lego League.
Factory of the Future incorporating robotics, laser cutting and 3D printing
Question and Answer Session
Q: Which STEM resources would you recommend?
- Before buying resources, do an audit of what you have in the school. This includes both the human and physical resources
- Get the companies to come out and get the students to explore it.
- Build the capacity and make sure that you are not single point sensitive where change and innovation is dependant on a particular teacher
- Engage with students and get them to be responsible
Q: What skills will students need for the future?
- It is not worth worrying about what jobs are around the corner, worry about what skills and capabilities to embrace novel situations (Dewey)
- How can I convert the requirements on me as a teacher and convert them into novel situations
- The jobs that are dull, boring and dirty will be replaced
- Teach students how to talk and listen. Communication and collaboration matter so much.
- We do not really look at child maturity through all the situations. Sometimes the most successful outcome is to be able to give up and allow somebody else’s idea to succeed.
- Craft is important, not because of the job, but because of what it does in the future.
- It is the quality of the person that will win out in the end
Q: Projects Responding to Real Life Situations
- The trouble in Secondary schools is that we are solving problem after problem, however we do not develop strategies for ways to solve the problem.