STEM learning just gained a powerful adherent in the UK. According to the UK online daily The Telegraph, the government there recently changed the technology and design curriculum to place more emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, as it was believed that Britain would need more than 100,000 graduates in those fields in the next few years to stay competitive.
The Telegraph claims that “The new curriculum is in sharp contrast to the original draft published by the Coalition in February, which expected children to receive lessons in sewing and knitting, cultivating plants for "decorative displays", bike maintenance and extensive cookery classes.”
Is this claim for real? Seriously? Sewing, knitting, cookery classes and bike maintenance? Could any government in recent years actually have emphasized homemaking courses in view of the global fixation on science?
As a citizen of these United States, my grasp of politics in the UK is probably beyond the times. I’m much more excited about the recent discovery of Richard III’s skeleton buried in a parking lot than the recent vote on Syria. Someone please tell this long-time Anglophile that the charge is merely that of one partisan news tabloid with an agenda!
Whatever the political ramifications, the new science, technology, engineering and math curriculum sounds like something we Yanks might want to think about. For instance, the new standards expect to introduce kids to fractions at the age of five and algebra by age 11! Children
between the ages of five and seven will be building structures and studying how to make them stronger and more stable. From seven to eleven, the kids will work with computer-aided design; lessons will also be designed around mechanical and electrical systems using bulbs and buzzers. At some point more advanced electronic lessons will include the programming of microchips. New devices like 3D printers, laser cutters and robots will also be part of the new curriculum.
Impressed? You bet! I’m not certain how the new Common Core Standards Initiative compares with this new effort in Britain, but it sounds like we are going to have to go all out to remain competitive with the Old World.
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