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Report Urges Early Science, Math Education

Saying students would have more success in the future, a new report (PDF) from the Aspire Institute at Wheelock College is urging schools to start teaching math and science skills as early as pre-kindergarten.

The institute's director, Jake Murray, said focusing on math and science skills at a young age can help make Massachusetts more internationally competitive in fields like technology and engineering, as well as help close achievement gaps among different student groups.

"There's a range of different explanations around Earth science or animals or how you categorize things, in terms of not only the content, but there's inquiry-based learning," Murray said. "How do you ask questions, try to develop a theory behind something and then test that theory? ... That then helps them or prepares them to continue to have that interest in exploring their world or investigating their world as they get older."

Murray also said teachers are not adequately prepared to teach math and science at early grade levels. He said teachers should be fluent in science and math similar to how Spanish teachers are expected to be fluent in that language.

"This is what this report is all about," he said, "developing that math and science fluency of elementary teachers who are generalists and have to teach everything and often don't develop the math and science content knowledge and instructional skill or this fluency or literacy in those areas."

The report recommends creating a consortium of educators in Greater Boston to work on goals, practices and funding to prepare pre-kindergarten through sixth grade STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers, provide in-service training for STEM teachers and strengthen STEM education requirements to focus more on math and science.

This program aired on May 5, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Kathleen McNerney Twitter Senior Editor, Edify
Kathleen McNerney is senior editor of Edify.

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