Kemi Jona Discusses STEM Education Best Practices for Korea

Kemi Jona Discusses STEM Education Best Practices for Korea

In an interview on South Korean radio, professor Kemi Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP) at Northwestern University, discusses how Korea’s science education can evolve by exploring best practices from other programs around the world, such as OSEP. Jona talks with host Alex Jensen and Korean professor Suh Hye-ae on the top Korean foreign language station, TBS 101.3 FM, starting at 8:20 in the audio.

"My office at Northwestern works to bring the excitement of cutting-edge research to primary and secondary schools. We create new curriculum and new online technologies that teachers can integrate into their current classrooms," Jona explains. 

Enthusiasm about STEM Education
South Korea has experienced a waning of interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education among high school and college students, according to Hye-ae. When Jensen asks how to bring that level of science technology to Korean classrooms, Jona responds, "By partnering with science and engineering faculty, we try to bring some of the most exciting and cutting-edge research areas into classrooms." 

"We want to make sure we're keeping young people excited and enthusiastic about STEM as they go through school," Jona adds.

Authentic science and careers
Real-world science is another important area of focus. "It's critical that we teach students how to do science, not just about science," Jona comments. He advocates teaching innovation and creative problem-solving. 

Jensen also asked about the career applications of STEM education. "Science and technology are permeating every field nowadays," says Jona. The emphasis should be on teaching a mindset for solving problems methodically and creatively, which translates to any occupation a student might be interested in, he notes.

In fact, in the United States students with STEM preparation have a lower unemployment rate than other students, research indicates. "There is good evidence that STEM major protects you in your chosen career field, even if it's not in science," says Jona.

Creative science
Creative science was another topic of discussion. Jona noted similarities between American and South Korean education in that both are based on an Industrial Age model focusing on grades and achievement that may lead to a risk-averse culture.

"It's critical to help students become more innovative," says Jona. He advises creating an environment that embraces the idea of taking risks and trying new things, even if that means sometimes failing along the way.

By Alex Jensen, TBS Radio, South Korea
Last Modified: 3/7/17