Kate Gramling Principal consultant Illumineer

In this moment...

PostedMonday, April 27, 2020 at 2:05 PM

In this moment...

In February, the National Academies, led by the National Academy of Engineering, published a report on Building Capacity for Teaching Engineering in K-12 Education.

I have been going to blog about it for two weeks now. But somehow, every time I sit down to write about it, nothing happens. Instead, I find myself engaged in boketto, which is a Japanese word I recently learned that means “the act of gazing into the distance without focusing your thoughts”.

I am certain this is a byproduct of the times – not the report.

We all are working through challenges presented to us by the current health crisis. The challenges we each face may not be the same, but we all have to deal with something that we didn’t have to before.

I am accustomed to working remotely, in isolation even. But since the pandemic began, my social interactions – albeit mostly virtual – have actually increased. More than once, I have opened up my inbox and I fervently wished I’d set-up an automated reply message that says, “Kate has decided not to talk to anyone today. Please check back tomorrow.”

Humans are remarkable creatures, though. We adapt.

When told schools have to close, we developed novel ways to engage our students through virtual classrooms, social media, and online videos. When told to keep our distance to protect the vulnerable, we stood outside windows, held up signs on sidewalks, and rediscovered the joy of sending and receiving handwritten letters. When this is over, we will adapt again.

We’ve all been given a real-life design challenge.

We’re all “designing under constraint” these days, finding ways to do things within new limits on our movements and resources. We try things and if they don’t work, we adjust and try again.

I have been moved by the creativity, optimism, and conscientiousness I have seen on display throughout this pandemic. We’ll need those engineering habits of mind, along with systems thinking, collaboration, and persistence to recover and rebuild once this moment passes.

Until then, be well, be safe, and give yourself a break for the occasional boketto.

~ ~ ~

From the National Academies Press:

Building Capacity for Teaching Engineering in K-12 Education reviews existing curricula and programs as well as related research to understand current and anticipated future needs for engineering-literate K-12 educators in the United States and determine how these needs might be addressed. Key topics in this report include the preparation of K-12 engineering educators, professional pathways for K-12 engineering educators, and the role of higher education in preparing engineering educators. This report proposes steps that stakeholders - including professional development providers, postsecondary preservice education programs, postsecondary engineering and engineering technology programs, formal and informal educator credentialing organizations, and the education and learning sciences research communities - might take to increase the number, skill level, and confidence of K-12 teachers of engineering in the United States.”

You can purchase or download a free pdf of the full report from the National Academies Press.

Zen stone pile image by Karen Arnold on Pixabay