The Australian 1/06/15 reports that many students see STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) as too hard BUT the Step Up programme, designed by a chemical engineer, a biofuels expert, an astrophysicist and an ultrasound specialist, all from QUT, is bringing the excitement of science to QUT trainee teachers as well as to visiting students.
It’s acknowledged that it’s important to excite students between Years 7 and 10, to show them science is fun AND relevant to their daily lives.
NB One of QUT’s trainee teachers is an associate professor in virology who is retraining as a science teacher at 50 for a ‘new challenge’!
Some years ago, staff and the principal at Eltham High had conversations about 21st century skills and about preparing students to cope with and adapt to change, seeing it as an opportunity and challenge, not as an obstacle.
According to PISA – The Programme for International Student Assessment – Finland is outshone in academic achievement only by countries like China and Singapore where students have ‘punishing study regimes‘.
Finnish students begin ‘proper’ schooling at 7 and usually have basic oral and literacy skills. They have the lowest classroom hours in the world: a 45 minute class followed by a 15 minute break. There is an emphasis on free play and independence…as does Eltham High.
Tim Walker says:
“Students are only tested so teachers can see what they know. There is no stress around papers, which are taken home and read by parents…
Curricular programs are designed to assist with learning and used flexibly by teachers as an aid, rather than focussing on helping students pass standardised tests. Classes are not streamed by ability. The best and worst students are taught together, so talented students learn to teach, work in groups and accept diversity.
There is no such thing as failing school in Finland, the BBC reported five years ago. Schools are not competitive, commercial OR CONTROLLED BY POLITICIANS (my emphasis!).”
Marjo Kyllonen says:
“We really need a re-thinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow..
It’s not just the shift to broad subjects…active methods of teaching have students move around the classroom to look at classmates’ work and give feedback, rather than sit through 20 presentations, bored and tuned out…
The new teaching style is crucial for the modern world, where advanced computers have altered our educational needs.”