This video from Verizon suggests that the messages we are sending to girls push them away from math and sciences. I have a girl who is in middle school, and seems to have lost some of the love of learning in these areas, not because she’s been discouraged at home. I think it is much more complicated. One of the big reasons is that she is made to sit at a desk all day at school and read in books about others who have explored and learned, but rarely gets to do so herself.
At home, we have done plenty of hands-on activities, though admittedly less often in recent years than before, because I have been busy trying to finish a doctorate. Hopefully, after that is completed, there will be more time for home-based learning activities.
I also think, in general, kids don’t go outside as much and do things with their hands as much. My daughter is more inclined than most kids in this area. I haven’t yet given up hope on her entering a STEM career field, but I really don’t feel like school supports this path well.
She actually had a great year this past year in the sixth grade. Her math teacher really built her confidence up. Early on, every test day would put her in tears, but by the end of the year we rarely heard about it as she caught on and realized she could do it. The teachers are doing what they can within the constraints that they are given, but in general, I think there are to many tests and is too little joy in learning.
Next week, Emily and I will travel to K-State Salina (where I work) to do a Virtual Worlds – Minecraft Edition camp. I’m really excited to get her into object oriented programming using Minecraft and Scriptcraft. She will also be learning about electronics, and 3-D printing… several different areas of engineering and STEM. None of it will be quietly listening to adults filling their heads with information. It will instead all be about setting up an environment for learning, and letting kids explore.