Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Meeting the Needs of the New World Student

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Meeting the Needs of the New World Student

Article excerpt

I began my career teaching chemistry in 1970 and have spent 35 years in the classroom. I recently accepted a position as the curriculum coordinator in my district, which gives me the opportunity to step back and look at our profession from a larger view. Having spent more than 30 years teaching chemistry and physics I have seen many changes in our students and even more changes in the world that they will be entering. My goal as President of NSTA is to increase the awareness of the changes in the demands that our students will face as they become citizens in the 21st century.

In the December 2006 issue of Time magazine, an article titled "How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century" asked the reader to imagine Rip van Winkle waking up from a sleep that started in 1906 (Wallis and Steptoe 2006). The article predicted that van Winkle would be amazed at all the latest technology, such as cell phones, computers, and automobiles, but one thing would seem very familiar--the schools. If we think of the number of changes that have taken place in just the last 30 years one can only imagine what the next 30 years will bring. This certainly has significant implications for our schools and in particular the way we teach science.

Students graduating from our high schools, colleges, and universities are moving into a world that is entirely different than that of our parents and grandparents. Not only is the technology changing, but also the economic and political aspects of our world. We can no longer simply think in terms of what is happening in small-town America because our students are now part of a global society and will be competing with other students from around the globe.

Students graduating from U.S. schools must have the skills and attitudes necessary to be responsible and effective citizens in the 21st century working in jobs that may not even exist yet. Technology, robotics, and mechanization are making many jobs of the 20th century obsolete. A worker in previous generations typically would have one or two jobs for a lifetime. Today the average worker can expect to hold more than 10 jobs.

The internet and instantaneous communication has allowed many technical and skilled jobs to be done anyplace in the world. …

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