governor's STEM council, education reform
- The governor's new advisory council on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has about 40 members. They are listed toward the end of this blog post:
As I mentioned at tonight's CMPG meeting, I think it would be valuable for each member of the council to receive some kind of short memo or article explaining the benefits of Montessori methods for teaching math and science. I doubt they will hear this message from other stakeholders in the education community.
FYI, Governor Branstad will release his administration's education reform plan in the next few weeks. The basic points are clear, but not the details: they want a new structure for teacher pay, more charter schools, some kind of high school exit exam, more kids taking the ACT, and an "innovation fund" that would provide state grants for new programs.
I think it's imperative to advocate for some "innovation fund" grants to support the expansion of Montessori education around the state. I fear that the lion's share of this money will go toward buying computer hardware and software without much thought about teaching philosophy.
This recent article from the New York Times focused on an Arizona school district that has invested huge resources in computer technology without any clear positive results:
This anecdote from the article was revealing:
There are times in Kyrene when the technology seems to allow students to disengage from learning: They are left at computers to perform a task but wind up playing around, suggesting, as some researchers have found, that computers can distract and not instruct.
The 23 kindergartners in Christy Asta’s class at Kyrene de las Brisas are broken into small groups, a common approach in Kyrene. A handful stand at desks, others sit at computers, typing up reports.
Xavier Diaz, 6, sits quietly, chair pulled close to his Dell laptop, playing “Alien Addition.” In this math arcade game, Xavier controls a pod at the bottom of the screen that shoots at spaceships falling from the sky. Inside each ship is a pair of numbers. Xavier’s goal is to shoot only the spaceship with numbers that are the sum of the number inside his pod.
But Xavier is just shooting every target in sight. Over and over. Periodically, the game gives him a message: “Try again.” He tries again.
“Even if he doesn’t get it right, it’s getting him to think quicker,” says the teacher, Ms. Asta. She leans down next to him: “Six plus one is seven. Click here.” She helps him shoot the right target. “See, you shot him.”