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Creating a vibrant tapestry of learning

When woven properly, STEM is more than knowledge of four subjects

Published April 15, 2019

Additional 2030 Workforce articles:

By Ruthie Muller, Senior Outbound Marketing Manager and Systems Portfolio Manager

Life is often metaphorically referred to as a tapestry. An individual represents an important thread, and when it’s woven together with other threads, a beautiful, vibrant, and sturdy tapestry is created.

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, once said, “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone . . . and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.”

We are all intertwined and connected to one another; our actions affect others, and all our individual threads working together can create something beautiful.

The same metaphor could be made for learning. Learning is a tapestry, each thread representing something learned – fundamentals, facts, and knowledge, for instance. But if knowledge was the only thread, the tapestry wouldn’t be vibrant or versatile. Other threads such as skills and dispositions must be woven into the tapestry.

Business and industry would agree that these various threads are necessary. The workforce no longer desires people who have only the thread of knowledge. The workforce is begging for people who know what to do when they don’t know what to do. They want initiative and self-direction, creativity and innovation, and social and emotional well-being.

Schools that employ ineffective methods, such as rote memorization, aren’t adequately preparing students for a world where everything is connected. Futurist speaker Gerd Leonhard says in his video “Change2” that “anything that cannot be digitized or automated will become extremely valuable. Human-only traits such as creativity, imagination, intuition, emotion, and ethics will be even more important in the future because machines are very good at simulating but not at being.”

Every individual student is just that – a being – with different talents, passions, and strengths. Learning must become more personalized, relevant, and contextualized for students to be prepared for a future that we aren’t sure how to describe right now.

As technology gets increasingly more sophisticated, students need coding skills just as they need basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. They need opportunities to fail and learn through failing. They need environments that offer opportunity for active engagement in learning. They need experiences that foster their talents and abilities.

Maybe not so ironically, Sandra Day O’Connor was also quoted as saying, “We pay a price when we deprive children of the exposure to the values, principles, and education they need to make them good citizens.”

To know how to be “good citizens” and contribute to society today and in the future, children need the educational systems they exist in to support this and create programs and learning environments that develop their unique tapestry of learning.

We believe that this tapestry of learning can be created through STEM. And we believe STEM is more than knowledge of four distinct subject areas – science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM is aha moments. It’s failures. It’s collaborating with peers. It’s effective communication. It’s the development and practice of essential life skills. No matter how you define STEM, we can probably agree that if we do all the above and provide STEM experiences, students will become valuable members of the workforce.

Good news – Pitsco Education has the products, programs, and learning environments to help weave all the threads together. In our programs, as early as kindergarten, students are coding with KUBO, and they can continue with our full coding continuum to build their knowledge and skills. At the elementary and middle levels, connections are made to careers and career pathways through STREAM Missions and STEM and Career Expeditions, setting students’ young minds on the future and exposing them to ideas and careers they might not have been introduced to otherwise.

Perhaps most importantly, business and industry are noticing the benefits of our STEM programs and working collaboratively with schools and districts through STEM Ecosystems aimed at preparing a well-balanced future workforce and a tapestry of talent.

“Pitsco customer service is friendly, personable, professional, and no matter what you call about, your issue is always resolved. We love Pitsco!”

– Jennifer Rivenbark, CTE teacher, Wallace Elementary School, Wallace, North Carolina

We enable young learners to develop the mind-set, skill set, and tool set needed for future success.

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