IDAHO PTECH

Connecting the dots between learning
and employment.

Who says math has to be boring?

There was a good op ed in yesterday's NYTimes about math, science, and professional-technical training. P-tech merits a mention, at the end, and I really appreciated the call for more applied math classes, as you are articulating in the PTECH grant application.

There's a nice design opportunity at the end of the quote below: to create early exposure to fields like engineering. It also makes us think about how to be really direct about opportunities available to students. This supports what we learned in one of the student group exercises in Coeur d'Alene a few weeks ago, when we heard that many of students' field of view, as far as careers, were very limited to what their parents did or the retail stores they see on their daily routines.

"American students need vastly improved skills in math and science — they ranked 30th among students in 65 nations in math — but they do not all have to be trained to be mathematicians or scientists. While all students need a strong grasp of the fundamentals of critical thinking and problem solving, including algebra and geometry, they should be offered a greater choice between applied skills and the more typical abstract courses.

...Every graduate should be ready for college (whether for a two- or four-year degree) but should also be exposed to the variety of skills that will be demanded as the country continues its shift to a post-industrial economy. As a study by the Georgetown center notes, very few high schools offer career or technical education; any deviation from a classical math education is viewed with suspicion.

Research has shown that the right mix of career and technical education can reduce dropout rates, and the courses offered don’t have to be from the old “industrial arts” ghettos. They should be taught at a challenging level and make students aware of careers that are now being ignored. Take engineering, for example, a field that pays well and needs ever more workers. Most high school students say they have no interest in the subject. That’s largely because few of them ever encounter it: Only 3 percent of graduates have taken an engineering course. Only 19 percent of students have taken a computer science course, mostly at the advanced placement level."

What Idaho-specific ideas does this article inspire?

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