Join us this week on SmartBlog on Education as we highlight Q&As with the panelists from our recent STEM Pathways Roundtable event. Read our most recent interview with Josh Thomases, dean of Innovation, Policy & Research at Bank Street College.
Why is the issue of connecting industry and education to enhance STEM education important to you?
First, and most importantly, mathematics and science — and technology and engineering — are fun and interesting. They are critical to understanding the real world. Engaged children regularly love learning – it helps them answer the questions they are trying to understand: Why does it rain? How does a train work? Something happens in our schools and the connection to the real world is lost. At Bank Street College, we understand that by placing the real world at the center of children’s learning experiences, school and learning become powerful, fun and engaging. Connecting industry and education is a way to make it central by providing students to work with real people in the STEM fields every day.
How do you envision your role in – or contribution to – this effort?
At Bank Street College, we operate a school for children, a college for teachers and principals, a museum education program and a myriad of other efforts in the field of education. Central to our work is encouraging lively intellectual curiosity that turns the world into an exciting laboratory and keeps all of us — adults and children — learning. This is how we teach our children, train our educators and model learning for everyone who comes through our doors, from Brooklyn to Bulgaria and beyond. The Bank Street approach to education is critical if we are to seriously engage our children, teachers and communities in STEM learning.
What specific actions steps would you suggest to help clear the path to more education and industry collaboration?
We must get school “right” for our children. The way we resource, support and evaluate schools must reflect what we want them to know and be able to do. We must train our teachers and principals in how to integrate the real world into their practice, effectively. And then – having done that work, we can easily connect to industry in ways that make it in their self-interest to have effective schools. Consider three New York City models: Aviation High School with Jet Blue, PTECH with IBM and the new work with CSNYC (Computer Science NYC), which spans K-12. In all of these cases, the strength of the partnership relies on the quality of the schools and the connections between the graduates and industry.
Josh Thomases is dean of Innovation, Policy & Research at Bank Street College.
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