Monday, April 25, 2016

STEM in Pre-K

An hour after I read this article about President Obama inviting ‘educators’ to a meeting to push STEM education into Pre-K (that’s not a typo), I looked across the room in my Algebra 2 class and saw a freshman playing with his farm animal toys.
I tried really hard not to laugh, but I will be truthful, I couldn’t pull it off. Turnabout is fair play, as the expression goes, so if math has to be pushed into Pre-K, I suppose pre-K can make its way into math.
You have to love the headline because, when you read the story, there are no real educators mentioned. U.S. Department of Agriculture, not educators. Sesame Workshop, while they do great work on T.V., are not real teachers in a real classroom.  Girl Scouts do work with children, but they are not teachers. Nor are any of the other mentions.
I think the DSM people are going to have to issue an update. This STEM obsession is devolving into a mental disorder. Pushing it earlier and earlier will not develop a child’s love of science and technology. It will ruin even earlier a child’s natural curiosity, which if left to its own devices and timetable, will progress as nature intended.
I would like to write 2000 words about this, but really, if you don’t get it right away, thousands of words won’t help.
I’ll leave you with this. The article ended with a quote from Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary (now there’s a title worthy of some pithy sarcasm) for Policy and Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education, to the effect that kids are already being engineers when they play with blocks. She doesn’t want anyone to do anything they’re not already doing, except to start using engineering terms.
Wowsers. As a first year teacher, I learned to cringe and then run whenever I heard anyone say that I was already doing what they wanted. A statement like that meant hours and hours of extra, on personal time, work. If I’m already doing it, why do I need to be told to do it?

But go ahead, Pre-K teachers, begin using that technical vocabulary. Because children who say choo-choo for train, woof-woof for dog, and boo-boo for mistake are ready to learn words like torque, particle, magnetic flux, and watt.