Education Update: 7/1/15

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How Seattle Got Its (Arts) Groove Back

Local Seattle artist and elementary school teacher Robyn Jordan uses illustrations to explain Seattle’s history of art programs diminishing in schools and the initiatives to change the current situation. Nationally, art programs haven’t been a respected component of the core curriculum. “Research from past years shows that art was not a requirement in more than 40 percent of secondary schools, Jordan writes on Bright, Medium’s initiative about solutions and innovation in the world of education.” The Seattle Office of Arts and Culture has partnered with Seattle’s Public School District to reach a 2020 goal of providing elementary students 2 hours a week of art and music instruction with increasing class time as they age. Jordan believes the role of technology in Seattle plays in a big part in this initiative because art teaches the skills to be successful in these jobs. View Robyn Jordan’s artwork here.

Image Source: Getty Images, Posted on Mindshift, KQED 6/24/15

Personalizing the Learning Experience in a Title 1 School

Through her many years of teaching, Susan Wolfe, an elementary school teacher, finds student-centered learning to be a particularly successful method of teaching students at Title 1 schools, schools with high percentages of children from low-income families. Instead of dictating lessons to students, Wolfe asks them to participate in the design of their curriculum, giving students a sense of responsibility and engagement. This method of teaching focuses on non-cognitive skill building, such as effective communication, while teaching core concepts like science or math. Inspired by Google’s 20% program, Wolfe has implemented a ‘genius hour’, where, like google employees, students focus on topics in which they are passionate. “Kids want that ownership, they want to be in charge of their learning,” Wolfe said. “We just have to give them little pieces at a time to be in charge of and give them a space where it is safe to do so.”

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Image Source: Decarr, Kirsten; http://www.educationnews.org; 6/29/15

What It Takes to Become a “Math Person”

What does it mean to be a math person? According to a new survey of 9,000 participants, students who major in math or math related STEM subjects in college, not only have confidence in their math skills, but more importantly have had public recognition for their abilities. Confidence does play its role in identifying as a “math person”, but it’s less important than positive reinforcement of recognition and developing a passion for math, the research shows. “The goal of the research is to understand what motivates a student to pursue a career in a math or science field, and encourage more students to head down these paths.” The study’s findings may help get more girls interested in careers in math and science.

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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