On Feb. 1, 15 teachers from Beijing #80, a top-ranked high school in the heart of China’s capital city, arrived in New England to learn more about how the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) teaching methodology has been pioneered and practiced in the United States. This group of teachers will be participating in a model STEAM ninth-grade class in September, overseen by the Beijing Education Bureau.
The teachers began their tour at Harvard University, where they attended workshops designed to help them integrate STEAM themes into their classroom routines. Searching for successful implementation of these techniques, the group visited several Boston area high schools.
Yet when asked to name their favorite part of the tour, the globetrotting high school teachers tended to talk about their time spent in Providence, the birthplace of the STEAM movement. Adam Tilove, head of school at the Jewish Community Day School, explained how its teachers have embraced STEAM methodology with a student-centered philosophy. The visitors expressed surprise at just how engaged the kindergarten through fifth-graders were with their projects. They were impressed at how far ahead many of the students were in reading grade levels, despite having an “emergent” rather than a traditional curriculum.
The Beijing group was hosted by the CAN Scholastic Foundation, a subsidiary of the South Carolina-based Chinese Culture and Education Center.
NANCY STEWART is the executive director of CAN Scholastic Foundation.