A few years ago, my daughter Haley (10 at the time) was showing me her math homework. Her school requires that parents sign off on each assignment she completes. I could just sign my initials but I use it as an opportunity to check her work. The assignment was to solve word problems where you were required to convert measurements. Feet to yards, feet to miles, which is longer, etc.
Haley knew feet to yards and she had feet to miles in her notebook. But when a word problem requiring yards to miles came up, she had no idea what to do. Looking at her homework I noticed no calculations.
“How did you do this?”
“I just did”
“Where did you get this number?”
“I found it on the Internet.”
“You need to solve this on your own”
Needless to say a fight ensued, ending with Haley yelling at me that the only reason there is an Internet is for this stuff and that she doesn’t need to know how to solve these problems because she can look it up on-line.
Being the old fogey I am, that was not a good career move on her part. She lost all electronics for a week and we argued until she figured it out on her own.
I have been working on the plan for TheMissionZone for a long time now but nothing made the point quite like this episode. Kids today do not have the problem solving skills they need. Talk to any fresh out of school college grad and you see it clear as day. We need to teach our kids better analytical skills and give them a concrete answer to “when am I going to use this in real life?”
There is no better way to give a kid a vision of how that works than Experiential Learning. Let them see STEM skills in action for completing a task. Let them see how practice in blending facts and planning a mission can be the way to simulate real world experiences. Most importantly show them how the practical and skillful application of classroom tools can help them beat their peers in activities that are not just written on a piece of paper. TheMissionZone will help me actually win arguments with Haley. That alone is worth it.