There is significant interest in building STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) programs in K-12 education, and LCSS is also committed to the trend. What should “STEM” look like in our schools? STEM implementation can look different depending upon priorities. It is difficult to find a clear definition or roadmap. The broad goal of STEM is generally the same: to get students ready for a future that will be dramatically different than the present. A future that will likely have more jobs available in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. However, simply offering more courses in these disciplines, as many schools do, will not alone prepare our students for the future. This is because no one can really predict what specific knowledge will be required or specific work skills will be needed.
LCSS must have a vision for the larger purpose of STEM, or we risk designing courses that could be obsolete in 10 or 15 years. In fact, it is predicted that 85% of the jobs in 2030 have not been invented yet. Imagine if we trained all of our students to work only in a modern manufacturing facility or specifically in a modern office environment. It is likely that those jobs will look dramatically different by the time our 1st graders graduate from high school. Unless we look at STEM at a far deeper level, we are not preparing them for the jobs they will encounter, and we certainly are not preparing them for life. STEM must be more than just a buzzword.
At LCSS we are working very hard to incorporate more “STEM” into our courses and curriculum. We are taking it beyond a mere buzzword – and this will take time to fully integrate. It is part of our Vision 2030 efforts. We believe that no one course or even combination of courses can alone pass along the necessary skills for the future. So while we do have plans to broaden our course offerings in K-12 to include lessons or courses in computer science, engineering, and robotics, we believe that a focus on certain timeless skills will best prepare our graduates for an unknown and highly automated future.
In a world where nearly every fact, figure, and statistic is a few clicks away and computers can analyze all of this information far faster than even a 1000 humans, no one will be able to stay employed for their ability to memorize information, analyze data for patterns, develop mathematical probabilities, or even design basic computer algorithms. Computers will be able to do these things better. In the future, these things will still be important, but the jobs will require us to know and understand this complex information and apply it collaboratively, creatively, and critically. Additionally, in an increasingly secular culture that has few moral limits, it will be even more important in the future to apply a Catholic Worldview and Gospel Values to a world that is rapidly changing and that will also have very few technological limits. We must develop in our children the theological and moral foundation to address these future moral dilemmas.
In order for us to continue to grow our children and prepare them for this unknown future, our curriculum and instruction will go beyond simply adding STEM courses or curriculum. We will integrate, into every course, the teaching of skills and knowledge that will be timeless, but that also will be particularly relevant in this new reality, where technology will continue to have disruptive effects on the workforce and our culture. As we move forward, every course and every grade will integrate the timeless skills and competencies that we call the 6C’s:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (P21)
- Communication (P21)
- Collaboration (P21)
- Creativity and Innovation (P21)
- Character and Faith (LCSS – Mission & Gospel Values, Grit & Growth Mindset)
- Cultural Competency (USCCB)
This approach will enable us to better prepare our students for life and also continue to challenge us to seek Greatness. We believe this approach is uniquely Catholic, and we believe that LCSS will be a leader in forging a new educational paradigm for Catholic schools. Our Vision 2030 goes far beyond infrastructure. It is what goes on in our buildings and classrooms that will truly transform our community and our world.