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FROM THE READERS

Real Learning Is Too Often Absent in K-12


I was pleased to read Debbie Chachra’s Last Word, “Adding Value to Teaching,” in the November 2010 Prism. I am an industrial engineer who currently coordinates STEMM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine – programming at an urban Catholic high school in Dayton, Ohio. I have worked with K-12 engineering education for 14 years.

I strongly believe, and want to help spread the word, that all the points made by Chachra are as relevant to K-12 education, especially at the high school level, as they are to an undergraduate engineering program. The three critical educational elements – learning communities, mentorship, and hands-on practice – are badly needed in K-12 education in all subjects and at all grade levels. I am frustrated by a lack of motivation among high school students to strive for real learning and to take responsibility for what they learn. All too often, it seems, teachers feed students information without any context, application, or use beyond the upcoming quiz or midterm exam. Unless we engage students at all levels in authentic learning projects and foster self-direction in learning, our students will fall way behind their peers in navigating global challenges that require “design, teamwork, communication, lifelong learning,” and creativity. 

Educators, especially those of us in the engineering and STEM community, must strive to make lifelong education relevant and real, beginning in early childhood, and encourage active learning by all students, not just the gifted or those with special needs.


—Meg Draeger
STEMM Programming Coordinator
Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School
Dayton, Ohio



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