STEMginery, the story

Jiskawiracocha
Jiskawiracocha somewhere in La Paz, c. 1964

STEMginery started somewhere around here ———–>

My parents were very kinesthetic. Mom an international accomplished ceramist, Dad making his own carved violins as if it were easy.
Is it genetic that I am kinesthetic also? or is it that both of them encouraged me to meet the world hands-on, and I just got used to it? In the picture I am at a Bolivian native crafts market, sometime in my first year, back from representing Bolivia together with Mom in the first World Crafts Council that took place in New York, as part of the World Fair of ’64.

Textures, materials, tools, parts, components, structures, balance, assemblies, elements, shapes, properties, density… All of those are – or not – “natural skills”, the potential giftings of a kinesthetic person – and useful, essential for STEM!

(OK, maybe a software engineer or a theoretical mathematician can get away with having a dozen thumbs, but, a doctor? an architect? a manufacturing industry engineer or technologist?)

Having natural giftings or talents doesn’t mean they will become…
They do not just “happen” . there is a potential – that potential needs support to grow.

Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learning (also known as Tactile learning) is a learning style in which learning takes place by the student carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. People with a preference for kinesthetic learning are also commonly known as “do-ers”.

Wikipedia, Kinesthetic Learning

The Wikipedia article goes on to say that about 5% of learners are kinesthetic. Aha! that’s exactly where the cookie crumbles.

What happens is that out of mental laziness and tradition and cost concerns the 12 years of hard labor that kids are condemned to serve within enclosed walls for the crime of being kids (more years added for good behavior) is based on the one-size-fits-all model of schooling. Whatever they say about individuality, leadership, adaptable, when it comes to how a classroom operates it’s a bunch of each one unique kids that actually have to pay attention or else to a hopefully at least well intentioned individual (because teachers are each one unique, also!) who usually treats them as if they were the same.

If that individual, unique teacher’s style fits the learning style of the kid, oh joy. Otherwise, pain, boredom, trouble and failure of all kinds.

Most kinesthetic teachers don’t last long, or eventually are radiated towards “arts” classes, or maybe labs, if lucky. That is to be expected: they make 95% of kids feel out of place – while being an uncommon blessing for those few kids whose learning style is actually a match with the teacher, they are a pain to the rest (majority), and to the administrators.

Thus, that minority of students (and teachers) will not “fit in”. Hopefully the grown up will move on to where he can find accomplishment, but by the very nature of “school”, the kid has no choice. If s/he has support at home, things might be sort of OK, but don’t be surprised that the “not fitting in” eventually has a heavy cost. Dropping out is often the lesser of many bad comsequences.

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