The importance of STEM skills and knowledge education
“We cannot sustain an innovative economy unless we have people who are well trained in science, mathematics and engineering,” Bill Gates.
When we talk about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) skills, we beforehand refer to the most important fields in the face of an increasingly technological future. Robotisation, the paradigm of technological development and the result of industrial progress, according to El País, will from now on be much more present in companies, resulting in an equalisation of the workforce between men and machines. This is according to the latest study by the Economic Forum, which warns that, by 2025 – in just five years – the distribution of tasks will be 50% between humans and robots.
In this way, STEM skills have gained strength in education for the development of people and the progress of society. It is essential to know technology, however, probably, what is developed, programmed or created today will be for our children like the record player, a vintage device that few of us have at home. The key to fostering STEM fields has a clear applied focus: fostering the ability to solve problems, create solutions, collaborate, process data, work in teams, reasoning and analytical skills, concentration, creativity and innovation, generating ideas or acquiring critical thinking. Thanks to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, children are acquiring skills that may seem secondary, but that mark their future, and will be the key to the working environment they will face.
“The growth potential of the new technological revolution is held back by the lack of multidimensional skills in local and global labour markets and among business leaders. The skills gap in the labour market is one of the most significant barriers to technology adoption across a multitude of industries,” noted The Future of Jobs 2018 report. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of workers will need to retrain and reskill in the coming years.
STEM, the key to further learning
STEM classes always provide the opportunity for students to find more than one right answer, but by giving them the chance to explore, it is common for them to find that they have failed. In this way they learn that error is part of learning, a necessary skill in any aspect of life.
New technologies are a resource which we encourage at Coruña British International School. Through the effective use of these technologies, our teachers are able to provide more dynamic and engaging opportunities for pupils, both inside and outside the classroom. We also promote cognitive development through Coding, an activity designed to prepare pupils for the great challenges of tomorrow, using a learning-by-doing methodology, that is, not through the transmission of information but through their own experience.
How can this be promoted?
Children are naturally curious. This is a first step that they have already taken: from an early age they have planted the seed of their scientific vocation. Now, like a tree, we must water it and harvest its fruits. In our school we have a unique facility to nurture their curiosity: “The Learning Hub”, which responds to the progressive and continuous growth of our students; composed of four classrooms for the older children, a library, a learning support room and a technology room.
Extra-curricular activities are also a great way to encourage STEM skills, helping them to organise their free time, helping them to develop their social and cognitive skills, while increasing their self-esteem and encouraging them to discover peers with whom they have similar interests. At Coruña British International School we believe that each child is unique and unrepeatable and that each one is born with a different talent. Therefore, in order to guide them, our school offers a wide range of activities: theatre, play music, art, dance or ballet are some of the alternatives to encourage artistic sensitivity and creativity but we also offer creative technology, a differential value in the educational proposal of our school. This is the case of robotics, an extracurricular activity in which students learn to programme robots to perform different tasks: they develop creativity, decision-making and the ability to solve problems.
Developing their STEM skills is really a mix of confidence, ingenuity, perseverance, mastery and emotional intelligence. Children who see themselves as competent feel capable and powerful. They are more likely to be resourceful, to believe in themselves, to attempt difficult challenges and to show greater resilience in the face of life’s setbacks.