In the coming years, jobs will require proficiency in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), particularly computer science. We need to equip our children with the skills necessary to find employment in a transforming world. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough of teachers trained in STEM education to address the need for early engagement in coding and technology. In 2015, there were 51 teachers who graduated with a certificate to teach computer science in America. Let that number sink in: there are 328 million Americans, almost 57 million school children, and only 51 teachers who are certified to teach them in the field that is certain to dominate every aspect of the world they inherit.
Overworked teachers are being asked to take on more and more, often expected to learn STEM skills on their own and teach them in the classroom. While it’s a wonderful career-builder for teachers, self-teaching STEM is another task on their long to-do lists and often impractical. Static, self-paced online content like Khan Academy and Code.org may be great for teachers with time and previous experience, but it can be very difficult for newcomers to STEM. Although the occasional self-learner-turned-STEM-hero-teacher exists, this approach does not scale. Both teachers and students need more than access to online lessons. They need proven, effective curriculum and instructional guidance. While a laptop and internet connection may get them started, an experienced instructor with whom they can interact and ask questions is the game-changer.