I've been thinking much about the latest "fad" in education. It seems like every couple of years, an educator and a politician team up to take on what is wrong with education in America. Fueled by frustration, fear, and hope for a quick fix, the movement picks up speed and spreads like wildfire.
Biggest, Brightest, but is it Best?
Public schools are sent looking for the biggest, brightest, most obvious way to not only embrace the idea, but to be the leaders for this new reform of education. The most recent fad is the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math program.
Honestly, I can see why many science and math teachers are embracing this idea, but I don't think it is for the same reason parents and school officials embrace it. Some of our lower school parents may be wondering why Covenant Classical School isn't joining the race, and I'd like to take a moment to answer that question.
I taught public school chemistry, physics, and physical science for ten years, then went on to teach chemistry and environmental science at a community college. Afterwards, I homeschooled my own child until her freshman year of high school, which corresponded with our move to Concord, North Carolina. I have always loved teaching, whether they were my 4-year old Sunday School students, 10th grade biology students, senior physics students, or college students working on their pre-pharmacy courses.
I recognized early that there were important facts and information that I needed to pass on to my students, but more importantly, there was a love and excitement for learning, an ability to transfer knowledge and information to new areas of interest or study, and the problem-solving skills to apply knowledge to unique situations.
A Love for Learning
These are what I really needed to give students. Basically, I needed to share with my students a love for learning that they could take with them throughout their entire life, while ensuring they had the skills necessary to live and take care of themselves and their families. And above all, I needed to guide them in God's truth, helping them develop skills necessary for discernment.
S.T.E.M. programs are designed to increase student participation and knowledge in the areas of science, math, and engineering. Sounds exciting! After all, who wouldn't want their child to learn about lasers, bridge building, and computer engineering?
As a science teacher, I would LOVE to have more money set aside to fund my classroom lab experience wish list. But will these things make me a better teacher? Not really. Would they help ensure the 9th grade science student in my science class will choose a career in science? Again, the answer is no.
Will focusing on science, math, and technology fix America's public education woes? Not even close. That's the problem with the many "fads" that come and go in American public education. Fortunately, Covenant Classical School doesn't need to scramble to get on board the education reform bus. Instead, we can focus on honing our skills in the one educational strategy that has stood the test of time: classical Christian education.