Could Storytelling Be the Secret Sauce to STEM Education?
Article from KQED NEWS – Mind/Shift How We Will Learn
In the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” author Ursula Le Guin describes a utopian city that has everything people want or need — beauty, religion, happiness — but it’s all possible because one child is kept in the dark, separated from all joy and light. Citizens of the city have to go and see this boy, but some can’t take the guilt and walk away.
After reading the story, Lev Fruchter and his class talk about what elements make up utopia and use the conversation as a jumping-off point to talk about equations. They talk about adding good things and multiplying them if they’re really great or, inversely, subtracting things that make people unhappy and dividing the really bad elements. This is all a way of thinking about the math that will eventually run a computer program.
“It’s a way to make equations meaningful, which is, of course, what they are in the programs when you write them,” said Fruchter, a computer science teacher at NYC Nest+m, a public K-12 school in New York City for gifted and talented students. “They are much more than a sheet of homework exercises because they make the program go.”
Using literature in this way has allowed Fruchter to make his computer science math classes entirely project-based, which in turn draws the interest of kids who might not have otherwise liked computer programming. “They’re very happy to be in a math or computer science class where they’re not having tests or doing quizzes or being asked to do sheets and sheets of problems,” Fruchter said.
Fruchter loves words, but is comfortable enough with math and science that he was called upon to teach them. Along the way, he discovered stories are a great way to make science, technology, engineering and math ideas accessible and concrete to learners who might not think those kind of technical studies are for them. He’s convinced literature is a great way to excite learners about STEM.
For the full article, go to: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/06/05/could-storytelling-be-the-secret-sauce-to-stem-education/