Leading the Rebellious with Empathy: a new paradigm for (STEM) education

A public lecture by Dr Johannes Strobel, Information Science & Learning Technologies, University of Missouri and 2019 Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education has seen a huge renaissance in the USA with several new initiatives:

  1. integrated models of instruction;
  2. new science school standards incorporating engineering and
  3. a focus on design and system thinking.
In the context of renewed STEM, we communicate to our students that we value innovation, creativity, “outside the box thinking”, “pushing boundaries”, “challenging paradigms” and “coming up with new solutions”. And yet when we see these behaviors in our young learners, we try to shut them down. Many teachers, for example, value compliant originality and conforming behavior over independent thinking. Unfortunately, a large number of students, who are defiant and don’t have the tools to adapt to the expectations in school, will disengage, lose interest and drop out of school or STEM fields. There seems to be a clash between valued STEM attributes and what is considered a student and a shift is needed in how we define “good student”, the mindset we want to foster within our schools and how to support student-teacher interaction in classrooms. This lecture will provide an overview of STEM initiatives in the US, research on student-teacher dynamics and existing frames of behavioral management, and the sketch of a new paradigm for (STEM) education based on empathy for the rebellious.

Dr Johannes Strobel is Full Professor, Information Science & Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri, USA where he leads a maker space initiative and conducts research in STEM education. His research focuses on engineering as an innovation in education; learning through hands-on activities; defiance, empathy, care and worldviews in engineering. Dr. Strobel was PI, Co-PI and key personnel of research and development grants totalling over $30MM in the US and Canada. He has published more than 160 papers in journals, proceedings and book chapters (many published with graduate and undergraduate students) and co-edited four books. Dr. Strobel served as an Invited Member on the National Academy of Engineering Committee for Implementing Engineering in K-12 (schooling). Dr. Strobel was co-lead designer of Hands-on Standards STEM in Action™—an internationally available set of learning modules for preK-5th grades published by ETA hand2mind®. Dr. Strobel received the 2018 Science Educator of the Year Award from the Academy of Science - St. Louis and the 2018 STEM Excellence Award from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).