How Does Your Child Learn?
For some time now, STEM has been the topic of discussion among educationalists around the globe. For those of you, who missed it, we have tried to break it down to the basics.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. . The acronym arose to limelight after a meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation. It later gained more momentum, when then President Barack Obama, stressed the need for STEM education for United States of America to maintain its global leadership.
The real deal is not what STEM is but why is STEM important and how exactly our children can benefit from it. To get to that, let us take a very simple example. Every preschool lays a great deal of emphasis on color recognition. This is one of the very first and basic concept that is taught to preschoolers. And once they are well versed with color recognition, they are taught or shall we say made to memorize primary and secondary colors. This memorization may happen through songs, coloring activities, color days or simple repetitions.
Now, consider a pre-school that embraces STEM. Here the approach will be to take the primary colors (Red, Blue and Yellow) and give them to children to color in a free manner. They are not constrained to color within the boundaries or to follow any schema. Once they have explored the colors pretty much on their own, STEM encourages them to explore. With younger children that would mean the instructor suggesting them to try mixing the colors and observe what happens. Notice teacher in this environment acts as a facilitator and not an instructor. Once children start mixing colors, they will invariably end up making secondary colors. It is almost like magic! Once, the children have derived the colors, the facilitator explains why certain color are primary while others are secondary colors.
Though both the approaches are extremely simple, there are some key-points:
- STEM encourages students to experiment rather than relying on what the instructor or the textbook says.
- Critical thinking, logical analysis and project based learning are the keystones in STEM education.
- The premise of STEM education is to inculcate curiosity and help children think like a scientist, who questions and try to find answers by experimenting, observing, recording and analyzing data.
- It is an Enquiry-based format with strong focus on hands-on learning - a major paradigm shift from traditional education.
- STEM helps children apply the concepts learned to actual problems and thus helps in validating the practicality of the knowledge acquired.
To conclude, it would not be wrong to say that STEM manages to plug the loopholes of a tradition approach while inculcating a true love and desire for learning.
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