11 January 2018
In late 2017, SCMP has two articles published in related to STEM education in Hong Kong. It’s no doubt that STEM is the trend for our future and it needs to start introduce from elementary school. But reports show that majority of Hong Kong teachers are not confident teaching STEM subjects and the concept and curricular framework of STEM is different from traditional science subjects.
Parents often wonder if STEM education is just the traditional education in science and mathematics with a new name. The key factor is innovation. Showing children and young adults how to develop new ways to solve existing problems leads to a reason for this area of study. When children are asked to “ask questions, make observations and gather information about a situation that could be forecast in the future that can be solved through a new way of thinking”, we elevate the value of the learning to a new level. “Engineering Design Process” is designed to address this innovation process which in traditional science subjects couldn’t find and execute.
It is easy to think of STEM as a tech workshop. However, it is not. Although technology can play a role in understanding concepts such as coding and logic, the essence of STEM Learning is in teaching children a way of thinking as analysts. In other words, it is the development of the skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation that are at the core of a programme designed to teach children to be creative and innovative. The skills of solving existing problems with new ways of thinking can be addressed by creating challenges that are in the domain of science, technology, engineering and maths. The outcome of creating a curriculum that encourages skill development includes developing individuals who are less likely to be redundant in future workforces when automation changes employment opportunity. Students who have been taught the skills of remember, understand and apply may have little opportunity compared with students who are skilled in analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
However in the recent survey conducted by the Federation of Education Workers in Hong Kong, only 36% of teachers are confident teaching STEM. Although teachers are willing to devote more times for learning STEM, the global STEM challenges will demand us to response fast. Given the difference between STEM Learning and traditional Maths and Science teaching, joint development of schools and STEM learning providers will be the trend to speed up. While school focus on the overall children learning development, STEM learning providers drive more innovative learning process that stimulate children analysis, synthesis and evaluation skill in solving real-life problems using STEM knowledge.
As a STEM Learning Provider, we are happy to see these findings matching our observations and the principles of running our services.