The Future of engineering in schools
It is an important annual event for anyone interest in engineering and education when the London based Institution of Mechanical Engineers announces the results of their most recent piece of research which this year addressed the future of engineering in schools in the UK. A quick bit of my own research confirmed that Peter Finegold, head of Education and Skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, would be presenting and discussing this year's report at a Teachers' Twilight session at the Cheltenham Science Festivals, a great opportunity to meet the man himself and discuss more specific elements of the findings. You can download a free copy of the complete report via their website www.imeche.org
The report is calling for a complete rethink of how schools and colleges are thinking about promoting engineering and questions the current narrowing of the curriculum as pupils progress through the various key stages of education. (remember my comments on D&T in a previous post ...)
The 10 long term goals suggested by 'Big ideas' according to their website are: Promote engineering as a people-focused, problem-solving, socially beneficial discipline. Work to enhance the presence of engineering and the ‘made world’ at all stages from primary level upwards. Ensure that apprenticeships and other technical pathways not only deliver high quality technicians but also enable individuals to progress to the highest levels of engineering. Broaden routes into engineering degree courses by promoting more flexible entry requirements. Maintain a broad curriculum for all young people up to the age of 18. Shift the emphasis in STEM teaching towards problem-based, contextualised learning. Nurture engineering ways of thinking in all young people. Create more spaces and opportunities for young people to design and make things particularly by working collaboratively in interdisciplinary groups. Use Design and Technology as a platform for integrating STEM and creative design and for raising the profile of engineering in schools. Change the structure of schools' education to embed engineering explicitly at all levels.
An original mid 1920s Bugatti gearbox on display at a local Science Day for children to explore gears in action
Reading the report I tried not to be biased as I have children who would have perhaps chosen different educational paths if the official curriculum was adapted to address the shortfall of engineers in the UK. A report published back in February by Engineering UK (full report can be downloaded at www.engineeringuk.com/Research/Engineering-UK-Report-2016/ ) summarised the facts in a very neat graphic (see below).
So... would you encourage your children to study engineering? Or are they studying engineering already and you know what made them connect with the subject? Or are they at primary school and can't wait to come home and spend time taking engines apart or building mechanical masterpieces with you ? Part 2 of this blog post will look at some of my personal thoughts on the 'Big Ideas' and I would love to hear what your thoughts on this are too. Have a fantastic weekend :-)
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