My passion is to improve education. Since I was young, I realized that education was the ticket to improving poverty and its resulting symptoms. Although my social conscience was strong, I embarked on my life and career, pushing that mission aside. Years later after having my own children, I saw the faults in the educational system as I advocated for their individual needs.
My passion grew and I felt compelled to return to the values I professed as a young person. I wanted to do something for kids to make their lives better. Simply said. I saw that there are many learning styles and that lots of children come to the game unprepared. Parents have not read to them or talked with them much, so their skills are not at an equal starting point for development. Educators all know this problem, the solution is complex.
Early intervention will help, and I believe you have to start education at a very young age with the end point or goals in mind. Let me say that best practice dictates to create life long learners so there would be no ending point. But for the sake of defining public education, the goals have to be clear: career or college ready with a big dose of curiosity that would make one a life long learner. Idealistic to be sure, but necessary. I will not accept that everyone doesn’t have the innate ability and desire to learn SOMETHING.
My mission is clear. I see how the arts makes kids feel good. They learn process, discipline and commitment. Creative expression is a valuable tool into the window of the mind and soul. It is the ticket out.
In the past few years, I met lots of high level administrators who liked my ideas, would entertain my conversation regularly. Did they change their test centered curriculum? No. I preached STEM education and yes, there are a few takers for that since it has received so much positive media press and government support.
What exactly is STEM education? All realize what the acronym means (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Is there understanding of how these subjects link together and how you must use the arts to teach them? Whether it is STEM or STEAM, the goal is the same. Students must learn to think, understand the creative process and how to solve problems. They must learn that there is a method to this process. It is not haphazard or vague because it encourages use of the right brain in addition to the mechanical left brain activities naturally encouraged by Math and Science.
My ideas may seem big picture or philosophical, but I do have a method to my madness. I see a process to develop students to use their communication and artistic skills to apply them to engineering, math and science, perhaps through the use of technology. There are definite steps to take to result in a comprehensive, well-rounded education that is, at the same time, 21st century focused. This path is my mission. The more I do it, the clearer my vision is. Stay tuned.