Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
Subscribe to RSS

Encouraging Innovation in Our Schools: The Nation's Governors Step Up for Education

Diane Demee-Benoit

Former Director of Outreach at Edutopia

The nation's governors, who met in Washington, DC, in February, voiced their support for educating our students for a globally competitive world. Here's what the recent National Governors Association newsletter reported.

"A central focus of the meeting was NGA chair and Arizona governor Janet Napolitano's Innovation America initiative. A recent survey conducted for the NGA found most Americans believe the nation's governors should lead the way in encouraging innovation in our schools and the economy.

"Governors welcome the charge, but they also recognize they face a great challenge in preparing students and workers for increasing globalization and international competition. During the meeting, governors focused on enhancing our competitive capacity by strengthening science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, making worker training more flexible and applicable to regional needs, and creating incentives to encourage states to develop regional hubs that build on existing strengths.

"Governors concluded the meeting by reaffirming their commitment to creating highly skilled students and workers, higher-paying jobs, and a more vibrant economy."

The Innovation America initiative talks about increasing student proficiency in STEM. We've been hearing that for some time. But then it goes on to say something about "modernizing the teaching force, benchmarking academic standards, and aligning assessments and creating new models for math and science education."

As part of this initiative, the NGA has assembled a bipartisan task force made up of governors, business leaders, and university presidents. (What! No K-12 education teachers, administrators, researchers, students?) If you were on this task force,

  • how would you envision a modern teaching force?
  • what would twenty-first-century STEM teaching and learning look like?
  • what would you say?

Diane Demee-Benoit

Former Director of Outreach at Edutopia
Related Tags:

Comments (11)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

  •  
Bonnie Sutton's picture
Anonymous (not verified)
Many teachers know the way to innovation. In the current teaching environment in many schools those teachers have been unable to use their skills. Public educational policy and the lack of funds have been a blockade for many. The No Child Left Behind Act has created a gordian knot that claimed creativity, innovation and imagination as victims. Another problem is that in the initiatives that the businessmen have started, there has been little or no involvement of teachers. You said The Innovation America initiative talks about increasing student proficiency in STEM. At a SITE conference in San Antonio, many of the teachers who teach teachers were unfamiliar with the STEM initiatives. You said... We've been hearing that for some time. But then it goes on to say something about "modernizing the teaching force, benchmarking academic standards, and aligning assessments and creating new models for math and science education." There are teachers who have been standing in classrooms who are Accredited, and who have some information on the use of new technologies , and math and science, and engineering. But politics of local, national and state form the permission we have to teach, and often the professional development is not done well. Many teachers have little or now new backgrounds in science, math, engineering and the use of technology. I attended and spoke at a recent conference in New York, working with Project Based Learning and the teachers were amazed that these kinds of projects exist. Since that time I have been inundated by email from the 189 participants in the workshop, none of whom left the room while I was presenting. The template for Project Based Learning served me well, but the teachers wanted to know if I was doing a professional development workshop the next day. So many people asked that I went back to the conference and did an informal discussion of various PBL's that they might want to examine. We often give teachers an idea of what they can do, but we talk to them instead of providing good examples. I had the great examples and the story, but time was a problem. The information was just enough to get them interested and thinking about it. But what if they had had hands on, minds on time to explore, examine, get involved and evaluate what they could use in their classrooms or learning environment. Perhaps in the next conference there will be a professional development workshop that uses a template and gives real world examples at various grade levels and perhaps a short imaginary one to let the participants try out PBL. I like the one that is a part of the Edutopia web site. I liked the old Kidsnetwork ideas as well. I used my most familiar projects, but I think that the course could be exciting. What is PBL? Teachers could take some time to explore the resources on the site ( Edutopia) and respond to them. This is key The Changing Role of the Teacher As part of this initiative, the NGA has assembled a bipartisan task force made up of governors, business leaders, and university presidents. (What! No K-12 education teachers, administrators, researchers, students?) If you were on this task force, 1. How would you envision a modern teaching force? Updated professional development by real professionals, not just school system employees and favorites. This professional development would not be a just offered in the summer but by e-learning and with the polish of an NGS workshop, or a NASA , or NOAA project. 2. What would twenty-first-century STEM teaching and learning look like? Awareness building,the understanding of how, when , why and what it is that is needed. Skill building toward student achievement, not rote memorization. Use of other ways of evaluation, and models and examples and.. and....imaginative uses of technology and tools that require the use of data, problem solving and gathering research. 3. What would you say? The discussions of what to do with students by businessmen, is a good start but the knowledgenetwork should involve tried and true professionals . The students can't be introduced to these subjects at middle school. It has to be ideationally scaffolded through the learning experience. That is, STEM related experiences have to be real, and numerous. We should value our STEM professionals and tell their stories like we tell the stories of sports stars and American idol personalities. We should reward teachers standing in the classroom for involvement, with scholarships and fundings to improve their knowledge. We should involve them in learning journeys that are significant. This is one resource they need. They also need to learn behavior modification. How project-based learning creates a new role for the teacher: mentor and guide. 5/1/2000 There are many resources on the Edutopia site to help teachers with this learning. I attended the various business initiatives. The businessmen sometimes are not inclusive of teachers so they don't get to understand the learning landscape. They did not know about NCLB. Bonnie B.Sutton

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.