Innovation assumed full focus on Wednesday as lecturer and coordinator of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme, Dr Rowena Kalloo, challenged secondary school teachers to revisit their teaching techniques and engage their students in a deeper exercise aimed at developing their understanding of science.
At the STEM teacher training workshop at the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT) Chaguanas, Campus, Kalloo said while exams were crucial to gauging a student’s competence within a particular discipline, developing a passion and a firm grasp of science should be the first priority of all teachers. “If we are passing our children through the examination system and they’re coming out with the passes or not coming out with the passes, as it may be, but don’t have these skills, we are still not going to be competitive and I think, as teachers, we know that.
Given the kinds of experiences you may have on your table, you see how people have moved beyond just passing the exam. That exam is just one part of that education system.”
Commenting on the innovative, hands-on approach of the programme to teaching, Kalloo said teachers should place less emphasis on students getting the correct answer, but more on understanding the process and developing critical thinking skills.
She added science and technology are useful tools in training the next generation of innovators which can be used to revive slumping Caribbean economies.
President of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Prof Winston Mellows, echoed Kalloo’s sentiments and said in the 21st century, students could not afford to be scientifically illiterate, citing the importance of science and technology in everyday life.
He also urged teachers to nurture their students’ passions for creative thinking and problem-solving.
During the workshop, teachers were exposed to team-building skills and ways to improve class participation, such as confidence-building exercises using scientific experiments.