Innovation in STEM (iSTEM)

To quote Dr Ron Beyers (previously interviewed in 2013): “May I introduce you to a new philosophical approach?”  I give you the idea of iSTEM (Innovation in Science Technology Engineering & Maths) and even iSTEMed.

It is Dr Beyers’ opinion that STEMed focuses on training and teaching while South Africa needs to move toward education.  But that’s one and the same thing, right!?  WRONG!

The education system

In previous posts on this blog, I have discussed the Education system of South Africa and What education should look like.  Numerous studies have been done and published on how trainers must get the learners in the course to retain the knowledge (or content) of the course.  Below is the learning pyramid (learn more about the learning pyramid at Teaching in Ontario – 3B Strategies):

student retention rates pyramid

Placing the emphasis on innovation

Beyers have been using iSTEM and iSTEMed in all the discussions around STEM education wherever he gets the chance.  As touched on above with the 3B Strategies, the concept of iSTEM and iSTEMed places the emphasis on Innovation and not just going through the motions of teaching Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics as subject matter.

This is what the “education system” have been doing in the past – our a paradigm shift is needed to change the education ball game around completely.  The focus needs to be on the learner.  Ultimately the retention of knowledge and skills should be the result.

Bring about systemic change

Ron Beyers ends off our conversation by saying: “This is still early days for the concept of iSTEM but I am convinced that we need to start changing our own mindsets to bring about systemic change for the benefit of more individuals.”

The student becomes the master

In my personal view, I believe that when the student becomes the master, then only the master can say that he/she has fulfilled the purpose of teaching.  This purpose is to make the next generation better human-BEINGS than what we’ve been able to be in the past.

It is for that reason that I think Dr Beyers is on to something with iSTEM and iSTEMed.

as always:

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5 thoughts on “Innovation in STEM education (iSTEM)

  1. Excellent thoughts here. We need to look at the big picture, it includes the whole value chain of STEM, STEAM and my personal one i-STEAM-e (innovation, Entrepreneurship and the A for Arts). We need more than just trained scientists, technologists etc – we need creative, innovative and entrepreneurial technologists, mathematicians, we need excited people and not just job fillers. Our education methodologies are still Industrie -1, we had men on the moon far too long ago and yet we still cant teach basic mathematics. Education ministers need to get to the end users of their policies namely business, industry etc and then hit repeatedly over the head until they understand what we need and want. i want to see teachers replaced with robots linked to global best practice educationers so that even rural under a tree kids can have the same education as the best schools. Teachers need to be facilitatiors and work with learners one on one, but not teach as per old methodoligies. They need to be examples. However they need the fullest support from their education departments and not be hampered by endless meetings and workshops going nowhere.

    1. Thank you very much for you comment Mark – this is obviously a topic that you are passionate about. Tomorrow, I will publish a post about STEM vs STEAM vs STREAM vs i-STREAM-e and all the other permutations of this STEM acronym. The bottom line is we need to completely revamp how we prepare our children for the future of work.

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