International & Global Education
As someone with a vested interest in a balanced curriculum and a commitment to holistic education I find the rush in some districts and places to implement more contact hours in So-called STEM courses is often done haphazardly and without a significant discussion on the pro/con's of such a change.
Thankfully, the move to increase contacts time for some and lessen for others tends to be still in the minority among national systems where citizenship and an awareness of the need for a complete society outweigh the vision of a STEM based economy into which students are placed as functioning cogs. Below I provide a very brief synopsis of some of the macro pro-/con ideas around which a move to a STEM based curriculum may move schools.
Implementing additional contact hours in maths and sciences for non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects in a secondary school can bring about various outcomes, both positive and negative.
1. Enhanced Academic Performance: Extra contact hours provide students with more time to grasp complex concepts and improve their understanding of mathematics and science subjects.
2. Increased Student Confidence: More dedicated time to these subjects can boost students' confidence in their abilities and encourage active participation in class discussions and activities.
3. Improved Problem-Solving Skills: Additional time spent on mathematics and sciences fosters critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, essential for success in various academic and real-world scenarios.
4. Better Prepared for Higher Education: A solid foundation in mathematics and sciences is crucial for many college majors and careers. Extra contact hours help students prepare better for higher education and future career opportunities.
5. Strengthened Teacher-Student Relationships: More contact hours allow for deeper engagement between teachers and students, facilitating stronger relationships and individualised support tailored to individual learning needs.
1. Curriculum Overload: Introducing extra contact hours in maths and sciences may overcrowd the curriculum, potentially sacrificing time for other subjects or extracurricular activities.
2. Teacher Burnout: Increased teaching hours can strain math & science teachers, leading to burnout and reduced effectiveness in the classroom without adequate support and resources.
3. Student Fatigue: Longer school days or more intense schedules may result in student fatigue and decreased motivation, particularly without sufficient variety in instructional methods or opportunities for breaks.
4. Equity Issues: Students struggling with maths and sciences may feel overwhelmed by the additional contact hours, potentially widening the achievement gap without additional support measures to address their needs.
5. Perception of Undervaluation: Teachers of non-STEM subjects may feel undervalued within the school community, leading to disparities in resources, recognition, and opportunities for professional development and career advancement. Indeed for those of us task with teaching writing and the associated critical reading and communication skills a decrease in contact time can be most disheartening.
In conclusion, the decision to introduce extra contact hours in maths and sciences should be approached with a careful balance between improving academic outcomes and addressing potential challenges to student well-being, educational equity, and inclusivity across all subjects and disciplines. Arguably math and science while important are, to a functioning society, on par, not above other disciplines. Indeed the recent lack of critical thinking and analysis within the culture wars and identity politics reveal a dire lack of ability to engage with others in purposeful discourse.
Collaboration among teachers, school leaders, students, and parents is essential to ensure that any curriculum changes support the holistic development of students and promote a culture of inclusivity, respect, and appreciation for all subjects and disciplines. These outcomes are not synonymous with lack of academic rigour and economic prosperity for a given society.
Okinawan and Japanese Budo
James M. Hatch
International Educator who happens to be passionate about Chito Ryu Karate. Born in Ireland, educated in Canada, matured in Japan