STEM is making its way into Irish schools, but how well will it work
The news that STEM will now be rolled out to around 90 secondary schools across Ireland is great to hear, and its about time, but how is it going to work. So some of the main points that will I will be looking at is are the skills there to teach it. Do they have the teachers that are qualified to teach that subject?
Are they ready for it
In most schools that teach computer studies, it’s normally for the first three years. In some schools, they make the most of the three years. In the first secondary school I was at, I only had computer studies in the first year for once a week, and it was basically sitting in front of a Window 95 or 98 and not being able to do anything due to the mouse not working. In the second secondary school, Computer studies were for the three years, and you study for the ECDL which you get in the third year. There is a big difference between the two schools. The second School is well able and ready to adopt STEM, as the students already have a good understanding of computers.
Having the foundations of how to use computers in the first place is important when learning new topics, such as programming.
Due to the shortage of teachers in this area, a lot of teachers are getting retrained, going to short courses over the summer, so they can teach students what they have learned. This still falls short of having qualified teachers in the subject area. I came across some reports online that was suggesting that teachers study 4 years in an ICT course. Then do the masters of education for computer studies. That is something I can not see happening, a teacher going back to study for another 6 years for a subject that is still not fully rolled out across Ireland.
The fact is, the Department of Education and the Teaching Council need to work harder to try and bring in new teachers that are already qualified in the area of computers and to make it worthwhile for them to do a Master in Education.
This is an area I want to see doing well in Schools. It should have been added a long time ago. But more time needs to be put into it and to get new teachers involved. Not having to rely on teachers to fill other roles that are not in their area of teaching.