Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Year, New Project: Education || post-in-progress

UPOP challenge: marketing engineering to high schoolers
Interesting: PLoS December 2011, EPICS service learning program in high schools, started / expanded from Purdue University (which supports teacher training with grants).

However, if truly aiming for broad coverage, our solution settled on mandatory engineering class for high school graduation, for freshmen / sophomores. (PLoS Dec. 2011, if I remember correctly, some 35 states have passed mandates for service learning). Because: a program where college students volunteered in weekend programs would be nice, but in some areas, no engineering universities, nor universities, and in some cases not even engineering companies are located near high schools.

Also, the EPICS program people are optimistic that even non-technically oriented high-schoolers can, at that point in their life, choose engineering and succeed. 

I, influenced by the people I've talked to, take the view that changing elementary school education is faster and easier. To really change high school or university, will come back to elementary school education.

I also am currently of the opinion that, "if students don't even know Algebra 1, it will be hard for them to engineer and work on cool projects (DIY movement, Instructables, MAKE), and students will be more easily discouraged."

I choose not to tackle policy myself, since I fear my passion will burn out before anything changes. Rather, I would like to play the role of a negotiator and get more people talking and realizing that all sides need to give to reach a consensus. I also think that there are no magic-bullet one-size-fits-all solutions. Each school needs to take it's own time to implement what they decide is best. I also want to be flexible and adjust my  list of best practices as I learn more.

First steps: 
Read more. Checked out: The Death and Life of the Great American School System (history), Work Hard Be Nice (founding a school / group of schools)
Done reading: One Day, All Children (story of the founding of the Teach For America movement from the perspective of a Princeton senior / just-graduate). The Tipping Point (the spread of ideas).
To check out: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

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