By Jenna Herdzina, Policy Intern at TEC Center
The Department of Education’s report, STEM 2026: A Vision for Innovation in STEM Education, addresses the current state of the STEM community, workforce and education, and how they should improve in the next ten years. Following are the six solutions for improving STEM education, which are addressed in STEM 2026:
- Innovative measures of learning: Rethinking the assessment of students’ learning could enable students to focus on the development of skills instead of focusing only on test scores. Academic progression could be tracked with technology, allowing teachers a heightened attunement to individuals’ needs and strengths.
- Flexible learning spaces: Diversifying learning experiences could lead to an education system that is inclusive and accommodative to all learning styles and special needs. Some examples of extending learning outside of the traditional classroom are:
– Digital tutoring systems and educational videos at home
– Classrooms or field trips at a lab, museum, or other tinkering centers
– Incorporating real-world problems and materials into the existing classroom
For the youngest of children, this may look like incorporating more play and tinkering time, tackling simple “how” and “why” questions while moving away from a rigid schedule and strict lesson plans.
- Solving relevant “grand challenges” interdisciplinary: Bringing real world issues into the classroom could help children perceive their education as applicable outside the classroom, even younger. Interdisciplinary curriculum would allow students more opportunities to contribute enthusiastically using their interests and strengths.
- Accessible activities that invite play and risk: Creating an environment in the classroom where children are not afraid to fail would allow children to feel comfortable experimenting and exploring. A safe environment where children are not punished for failure would foster creativity and allow children and teachers to value perseverance.
- Engaged and networked communities of practice: Children could thrive in STEM learning not only in the classroom, but also in the whole community. The entire community has the power to create learning spaces to foster STEM learning. These places include: places of worship, zoos, museums, malls, festivals, etc. This would increase a child’s opportunity to explore their interest in STEM.
- Promoting diversity: Intentionality is crucial while promoting STEM learning. Creating an equitable STEM education and workforce means being intentional about the accessibility of opportunities with children of all backgrounds, in all neighborhoods, of all sex, gender, ethnicity, culture, race, special needs and learning differences.
There are many challenges that must be considered while imagining the future of STEM. Many challenges are outlined within the STEM 2026 report. Additionally, outlined are many programs, policies and key stakeholders, which are already involved in improving the STEM field.