STEM 2016

I am inspired to share my thoughts, on one of the latest educational directions, that is becoming quite popular not only in UK schools but in many areas worldwide as well. I should say that my qualifications here are very limited. I am a keen observer, a parent and businessman, which all amounts to just your average layman. I don't have any science behind my views and the last thing I want to do is to offend any sensitivity any more suitably qualified person might possess, but for the record, here are my thoughts on STEM.

Polydron has been in the business of designing and manufacturing products for schools all over the world for over thirty years, and throughout this time we have seen many trends in the way our children are taught come and go. In the last few years there has been a buzz-word growing in popularity, as it is seems to be on the lips of many people, teachers, manufacturers, distributors and designers alike, and that word, or rather acronym is, STEM. Of course, this word refers to the academic disciplines associated with teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These are indeed very important areas of any child's development, and although they are not the 'be all and end all' of education, they are vital ingredients in equipping a young person for their future in the modern world.

I stand on the side-lines observing this trend as two things, first of all a concerned parent with young children on the threshold of that journey into the big wide world, and secondly as the director of a company that will always try to meet the challenges of providing good and innovative equipment to schools everywhere.

I have researched the STEM trend as much as I can by speaking to teachers, and companies at the forefront of developing products for the STEM revolution(might be a bit of an overstatement I guess), and have to say that as a parent I am confident, that our schools are providing our children with a good rounded education, which incorporates all of the aspects of STEM, but maybe not all at the same time. I think though, that more than anything more than any other trend or fashion, that the key to all of our children's success or otherwise, is good parenting, combined with great teaching, and I cannot stress how important the great teaching aspect is in that thinking. Teachers have a fantastic and privileged position in our lives. Great teachers, and there are many of them, light the sparks in our kids minds that will eventually lead them to their destination in life whatever that is. That all might sound quite naïve and far too simple, but these trends have existed for many years in education, yet when I think back to my education, and speak to others about the same things, we all can remember a special teacher or teachers, who illuminated ideas in our minds, and those memories stay with us forever. Unfortunately, many I guess, are not so lucky, but I believe we should continue to support our teachers in every way, by giving them access to great equipment, and wherever possible, the time to inspire our youngest and most precious assets.

As a director of Polydron, the trend for STEM puts us under pressure to be able to make sure we provide the tools for our schools and teachers to meet the needs of the latest direction. If I feel pressure, then goodness knows how our teachers must feel. The worst thing we can do though, is nothing. We have to react, and I feel that Polydron has all the right products in its offering to be able to help teachers and children in our schools to deliver the STEM ideal. I also believe that these products and ideals have been there for some time, but they have never been grouped like this before and given a trendy acronym. Schools have always taught Science, technology, engineering and maths for as long as they have existed, why, I can even remember getting a smattering of all of these subjects way back in the 1970s, so it's nothing new, and we should guard against the feeling that without some STEM in their lives, we will all be doomed. Not true. It is though, a really good reminder that these disciplines are going to be so important in the future of our children's lives. STEM is everywhere at the moment, and it really is worth embracing the trend, and one of the reasons is, is that it is here to stay.

So, my thoughts on STEM are clear. We react as a company by providing our own versions of STEM products, and I believe they are excellent solutions that will back up our teachers and help the development of our children. That's STEM, now don't even get me started on STEAM…

Cyril Dowling

Polydron Products for STEM