Special Report

4 Teaching Ideas Students Will Benefit From Now and as Adults

By Lesly Moore — May 12, 2022 2 min read
Students in the aviation program at Magruder High School take a look at the exposed engine of an airplane during a visit to the Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md., on April 6, 2022.
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Problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking are being integrated into STEM instruction in very creative and relevant ways. Many educators are also simultaneously figuring out how to encourage more girls and students of color to pursue studies in STEM areas, showing the kids how their participation could lead to lucrative careers down the road.

Our latest special report highlights what those approaches look like in action (or should look like) for elementary and secondary students, how curriculum and instructional priorities are changing to make this happen, and why such changes are so important at this moment in time.

The report also connects the dots between what is taught in K-12 schools and what employers need, featuring a collection of senior executives from U.S. companies weighing in on what problem-solving skills their current and future workers need.

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conceptual illustration of a ladder leaning against the wall of a maze.

“Companies need people who are interested in creativity and innovation, who want to know about best practices, who are never satisfied, and who challenge the ‘status quo’ behind the phrase: ‘We’ve always done it that way,’” said Karen McClendon, the chief human resource officer for Paychex, a payroll and benefits services company.

Below is a roundup of teaching methods that educators are using to help ensure their students are prepared to tackle the challenges of adulthood.

1. Pilot lessons

Students from Magruder High School’s aviation program visit the Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md., on April 6, 2022.

A free, relatively new curriculum that teaches students about the concepts of flying planes and drones is growing quickly nationwide. Learn more, here.

2. Social-emotional learning

In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, Lt. Tammie Jo Shults, one of the first women to fly Navy tactical aircraft, poses in front of an F/A-18A with Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 34 in 1992. After leaving active duty in early 1993, Shults served in the Navy Reserve until 2001. Shults was the pilot of the Southwest plane that made an emergency landing on April 17, 2018, after an engine explosion.

Tammie Jo Shults’ Southwest Airlines flight blew an engine at 32,000 feet. A lifetime of learning—how to handle school stress and anxiety as a young kid, managing out-of-control jets as one of the first female pilots in the U.S. Navy, and her Southwest training—were put to the ultimate test that day. Read how students can relate to and learn from Shults, here.

3. Problem solving

A recent nationwide survey by Adobe, “Creative Problem Solving: Essential Skills Today’s Students Need for Jobs in Tomorrow’s Age of Automation,” found most U.S. educators and policymakers believe students should learn “creative problem solving” in school, but generally don’t. Here’s what top U.S. companies think schools can do better.

A New Mexico elementary school is already connecting math to real-world problems to give students a more sophisticated understanding of how math works.

4. Computer science

Megan Bowen shows examples of 3D printed fishing lures to Salem Academy Charter School students Marcus Marie and Camden Grinarml during class in Salem, Mass., on April 25, 2022.

A recent research paper outlines how the field, once largely focused on workforce training, now also helps students use computing to explore their identities and express themselves creatively. Here are the stories of three Latina educators pushing the boundaries of computer science class.


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