Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reflection on Closing Keynote for #iste10

The closing keynote for ISTE2010 was Jeff Piontek. Jeff is the head of the Hawaii Technology Academy. I thought his keynote was far and away the best of the three ISTE keynotes. He knew his audience, and he knew his presentation even better.

I thought his most powerful idea was that of re-tooling the age old idea of S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering and Math) in education. His recommendation is to change it to S.T.E.A.M. = Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math. Anyone who is familiar with Daniel Pink's 'A Whole New Mind' understands the need to reinforce the arts in our students' education. However, Jeff has come up with a handy way to remind ourselves of it by simply adding one letter to a term all educators are familiar with.

How creative are the students in your district/school/classroom? Are you building an environment that allows creativity to develop? Many of our schools stifle creativity in the elementary years. As our students get older, we begin to focus more and more on high stakes testing and teaching to those tests. Yet, in doing so we neglect some of the most important aspects of our students needs: creativity, critical thinking, and analytical skills. The closing keynote for the TCEA2010 conference this year was by Erik Wahl. His entire keynote was focused on the lack of creativity in schools today. Erik is an amazing artist, yet in elementary school he was told he was wasting his time drawing and so he put down his crayon. He didn't pick up another crayon until he was in his twenties. One comment from one teacher cost him upwards of twenty years worth of art. How many students have this happen every day?

We must encourage creativity! Not stifle it. We must embrace the arts and make sure we are teaching S.T.E.A.M. not just S.T.E.M. Make sure you keep a box of crayons handy. :)