Education Update: 5/27/15

Education Update is a weekly blog post highlighting recent developments in the world of education. The linked articles and summaries are not endorsements, rather frame points of view to begin conversations about the state of education, trends, and how we as designers can play an active role in shaping schools.

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On Head Start’s 50th Anniversary, 5 Things You Should Know About The Program

The program, created by President Lyndon Johnson, was a part of his “War on Poverty” efforts and has, over the past 50 years, provided early childhood education services to low-income children prior to entering school. While providing social services such as health screenings, the students in the program “made important gains in areas like vocabulary, spelling and word recognition during their time in Head Start, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” However, some critics of the program claim the long-term effects of the program are debatable. Although some studies have found the advantage gained by this program to diminish over time, there is increasing evidence of that early childhood learning plays a significant role in future academic success.

Can Students Click Their Way to a Better World?

Educators are increasingly using technology to  inform the teaching of civics in the classroom.  In a recent report,  The National Assessment of Educational Progress showed the latest dismal results from its quadrennial civics tests”, illustrating a sharp decline in students’ understanding of the fundamentals of democracy. Schools are responding by increasing civics requirements and implementing online tools and social media into the curriculum. One initiative, Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age, prepares students to research topics online and engage in meaningful debates, which will then lead to a “a senior-year community-oriented capstone project.”

Educators Seek New Ways to Spark Girls’ Interest in Science

A recent study by Indiana University found that although the presence of women in STEM fields have increased, “negative stereotypes about women and their math ability can significantly decrease their performance.” A specialist at Indiana University’s Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, Kylie Peppler, explores different methods of teaching science and technology to girls by changing the teaching materials. Peppler combines elements of interest for girls, such as sewing and crafts with robotics and mathematics, for example, to encourage their confidence with these subjects. She believes that by using skills like crafting and project-based learning, “helps invite girls to participate, and this improves learning outcomes.”

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