When it comes to providing students with the most beneficial STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, it is not enough to simply teach them how to use the latest creative software or how to operate a 3D printer. Instead, a far more effective approach is to embrace holistic teaching techniques that develop skills and character traits children can use to become valuable members of society.
While the value of STEM education has long been promoted by even the highest levels of government, pairing STEM with the intentional development of 21st-century skills gives students the context and understanding to apply what they’ve learned to help others. Read below for three ways to promote holistic STEM learning in your classroom!
1. Build Empathy
To empathize with someone means to consider the world from their perspective. While preparing your lesson plans, consider asking your class to brainstorm different problems and challenges around the world that people struggle with every day. Tell them that the best inventions are the ones that help other people and provide solutions to those in need. By focusing your students’ attention on the importance of helping other people, they will begin to naturally see how what they’re learning can improve the lives of others.
2. Embrace Creativity
The most complex and important problems do not have easy answers. Because of this, successful innovators often test many different solutions and frequently challenge the status quo. Educators who embrace this trial and error mindset in their classrooms are able to create an environment that fosters a can-do attitude that leads to increased exploration and engagement. In fact, creativity is often the “secret sauce” in the most innovative STEM advancements. By encouraging your class to explore on their own terms, you will help students apply their newfound confidence to improve other aspects of their lives as well.
3. Champion Perseverance
One of the most important traits of any successful innovator is the ability to persevere in the face of adversity. As psychologist Angela Duckworth famously argues in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, an individual’s ability to persevere is a more accurate predictor of success than natural talent or a high IQ score. Simply put, effort trumps ability. National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee Ashok Gadgil (inventor of the Berkeley-Darfur Stove) also promotes the power of persistence and believes “there is enormous perseverance needed to be successful,” and that to make a difference, one must not give up on their goal. In your classroom, encourage your students to practice perseverance by undertaking larger projects and seeing them through to completion.
Learn More About Our Approach to Holistic STEM Learning!
At NIHF, our education programs promote the development of 21st-century skills that benefit a student’s entire development as both an innovator and a person. To learn more, we encourage you to visit our website.