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Mary Saville

Educator - STEM, ACTS Homeschool Teaching Support

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Did you see CNN's documentary Don't Fail Me by Soledad O'Brien? What was your response?

I didn't mean to stay up and watch the re-airing of CNN's Don't Fail Me: a documentary about the state of STEM education in America. It just sucked me in. Even though I'm in the STEM ed field doing what I can, it made me feel crazed to do more, innovate more, reach more students. What's your takeaway? What did you learn? What did you find out that was true, which you thought was false? What steps would you take to advance STEM education in the US?

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  • May 21 2011: I watched the Soledad O'Brien report on education and the focus, or should we say lack of focus, on math and science.
    I have something to say about this. While many of the comments written here are valid, this was something I noticed and got under my skin. The word "NERD" kept coming up by students. This bothered me. I hear people making comments constantly about people who work or study in those fields, saying "Oh, they must be a nerd." This is juvenile! I think as a society we need to stop saying that and realize that things like math, science and computers are cool. I know when my nephew was in school, I got angry with him because he had the opportunity to be in AP classes, but he opted out because he did not want to be labeled as a "NERD" and didn't want to be in all classes with them. He was so afraid of not having a social life. This ticked me off! I hope this is not the case with most students as to why they drop out of these courses or not try at all. Being cool in school, I guess is still pretty relevant to most teens, but this is your education and future that you are messing with all because you don't want to be labeled a "NERD". These are the jobs of today and the future. Trust me, it is not going to be cool, when you are 30-40-50 years old and you don't have the skills you need for a job. Can you say, "Would you like fries with that?" Remember and say it with me, "SMART IS COOL!"
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    May 26 2011: Melissa, I haven't had the chance to see the O'Brien report, although several people have mentioned it to me. You are entirely correct that, as a culture, we do not seem to encourage our children to see being smart in the same way we encourage them to, for example, be able to throw a long football pass. However, I do think this has been changing somewhat in the last decades. Nerd still has a negative connotation, but the rise of the comuputer set has led to the adoption of the word "geek" as a more acceptable label, one that many young professionals and programmers start proudly using as early as grade school. Perhaps all we need is to find that new label without the past baggage (unfortunately geek, as a term, has a long past history as well, and I'm not sure it's the perfect term either) for society to embrace as we attempt to change everyone's attitude regarding what it means to be a smart kid.