Full Circle

It is cold and snowy more often than not this winter in Rhode Island.  My winter away last year has left me with little tolerance for this weather. Everything seems gray and icy. It is hard to imagine that it will be green and warm in a few months. And although I didn’t miss the cold last winter while I was in Singapore, I did miss the change of seasons.

I have some good news to brighten my days!  I have been invited back to Singapore to present at the biennial Teachers Conference in June. It will be wonderful to see colleagues and old friends and to have the opportunity to get caught up on the new initiatives in Singaporean education.  As I try to work my way through all of  the entrenched traditional methods and views of education here, it is clear that Singapore has the advantage of far less inertia in their efforts to move toward more skills- based education. This year’s conference is about values in education and I will speaking about some of  new projects I have developed to use engineering design to focus on issues of appropriate use of technology and global citizenship.  My own students have done some amazing work dealing with housing and medical device issues. I find that young people are truly empathetic and showing them that engineering can solve problems for so many people is incredibly empowering for them. In addition, I have used some case study techniques to develop problem- based learning lessons that deal with ethical decision making. The future will bring so many opportunities and choices for young people that we would be negligent if  we didn’t accompany discussions of what we can do with questions of what we should so.

I am more convinced than ever that we are missing the opportunity to interest creative, caring, innovative young people in technical fields because we fail to truly engage them in science and math classes. I continue to try and change that one class, one project at a time. But it is a challenge that needs to be dealt with earlier and more consistently in their education.  And it means that teachers cannot afford to teach the way they were taught. That world is gone and the young people in our classrooms need skills not facts and connections more than assessments.

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