Wednesday, August 22, 2007

STEM needs to start early

Where do young students achieve their passion for math and/or science? It starts from having a great experience in math and science in the early grades. If you have that great elementary teacher who has a passion for math and science, they will pass that on to our young students and ensure they become so proficient that they will actually like math and science in secondary school.

Yet STEM focuses on high school and college. By then it is too late – if students don’t have the basics down, they will fear the math, loathe the science and all the investment in the world won’t change their attitude. People do what they are good at (which should keep me from writing but doesn’t). If you are not good at math and science you are not going to go chose a career in that field. And to be good at those subjects you have to get the basics in elementary school from someone who is outstanding at those subjects.

Are elementary teachers proficient at math and science? Not really. Our own certification demonstrates this time and time again as potential teachers and current teachers struggle with the rigorous math and science sections. Looking at the annual College Board report shows that the only majors with lower math SAT scores of college bound seniors are home economics and public affairs. If we are ever going to regain “the competitiveness”, we have to have elementary teachers who are passionate about math because they have outstanding knowledge - and they will generate that passion in the next generation.

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