By Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination ImagiNation Inc. – 08/15/11 03:25 PM ET
Applause, please, for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The congressional panel has adopted a resolution supporting inclusion of science education in the educational accountability system as the Congress works to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
However, if the committee wants a roaring standing ovation, it should also require critical thinking and creative problem solving skills to be included in the rewrite of the ESEA. Study upon study, expanding research and news media reports continue to point to creativity and problem solving skills as powerful differentiators that will provide our youth with a competitive edge as they emerge from academia into the global marketplace
In fact, an IBM survey of 1,500 CEOs worldwide found that the executives rated creativity and innovation as the most important traits future leaders will need if their organizations are to achieve sustained success. And, in President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform of the ESEA, he clearly states the need for “new, promising instructional practices.”
Adding science education in the educational accountability system is a wise move with major implications for a student’s life achievement, especially since scientific study necessarily embraces creative problem solving, critical thinking, imagination, communication and innovation.
THE ENGAGEMENT GAP
However, the challenge in implementing and measuring the impact of science education is the lack of technological applications in today’s K-12 classrooms. According to the Entertainment Software Association’s annual study, 97 percent of students play computer and video games, yet non-digital and digital games are not widely used in K-12.
A review of the literature points to teacher efficacy, inadequate technology, inflexibility of curriculum, and lack of alignment to state standards as some of the reasons. With student use of technology and gaming expertise now out of step with K-12 teaching methods, an engagement gap is being created.
Adoption rates for technology applications and game-based learning can be changed by addressing the following:
1. Developing a plan to integrate technology applications and game-based learning into K-12 classrooms.
a. Success hinges on a strategy that incorporates game-savvy students, teachers, parents, and administrators.
2. The application or game must reinforce curriculum and adhere to state standards.
3. Recognize that teachers are the ones who need professional development in this educational technology.
4. Develop course codes for cross-domain subjects such as creative and critical thinking, creative problem solving, social networking, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Chuck Cadle is CEO of Destination ImagiNation Inc., a global non-profit providing more than 100,000 youth annually with experiences in highly competitive, open-ended creative problem solving and creative thinking challenges.