Updated: Apr 30
NAYTEA Host Sharon Feng:
Thanks for join our EduX Interview today, today we will talk more about your story of education as well as your perspective on AI education.
Can you tell us more about your story of starting the career of education.
I actually didn't start in technology or computing. In college I studied History (UC Berkeley), but I knew that I wanted to share my knowledge of history with young people and became interested in teaching after some friends who were a year older than me started working in Saturday school programs to help kids in Oakland pass their entrance exams (SATs). After graduation, I became interested in filmmaking and video production, graphic design and other media, however teaching was always in the back of my mind.
I got my first job teaching in the same college preparatory program as my friends did while in college. It was a part time job and it introduced me to teaching as a career and life pathway. I soon quit my day job working at an office making copies and answering the phone and enrolled in a teacher preparation program. My goal was to teach history to high school students, but when I went to my job interview, I was told I was very much needed in the lower elementary grades teaching in Spanish, a language I am fluent in. I was not excited at first about teaching young kids, but I decided to give it a shot. After just a couple of days teaching (with no preparation or formal training) I realized I was meant to do it.
My original plan was to teach for 5 years and then move back to video production and media, but I actually ended up teaching for 14 years in elementary and middle school.
So a short answer would be, it chose me.
2. challenges I have faced in education
Education is one challenge after the next. If you are not being challenged, you are doing it wrong, but I can talk about specific challenges that I think are relevant. First of all, there is the issue of inequality. In the United States as in may countries, a student's academic achievement is measured with standardized tests that don't always reveal the true knowledge or potential of a student, however teachers everywhere are being asked to produce results and higher test scores, which in turn results in teachers not teaching important things and focusing only on what is on the test.It makes education very narrow and does not allow for as much exploration, making mistakes, and divergent thinking. For me the challenge was, how do I create an atmosphere where students take risks, question their own assumptions, become critical thinkers, and become excited about becoming self-directed learners, when everything around me was telling me to just make sure they do well on the test. My kids did well on the test, and I wonder how much more I could have taught them if I had not been forced to teach narrow curriculum. Relevant to STEM education, I would say a challenge is that the general US population is not very inclined to learn STEM subjects, which is why there is a big emphasis now to make sure we attract more girls and minorities. In the US, people proudly claim that they aren't good at math, or are ignorant of science, etc. This is a socially acceptable thing to say, and it promotes ignorance, instead of being an object of shame. Kids rank science and math lowest when asked what their favorite subjects are. Luckily, Computer Science is actually popular with students, more so than other academic subjects. Finally, there are may rules and regulations in the US that limit what you can and can't do in education. Change moves slowly and the adults usually get in the way of change and innovation. It is hard to convince teachers to change their practices and introduce more innovation and technology into their instruction. They have a hard time giving up power and letting kids explore and let their curiosity drive their learning.
3. Future of technology: