Children who are growing up with the Internet pose new learning challenges that schools and teachers must adapt to, in the opinion of the state's top education official.
Judy Jeffrey, director of the state Department of Education, told a Fort Dodge audience Wednesday that meeting those challenges requires schools to focus even more on practical problem solving techniques that young people will need in their future jobs.
''The schools of today have to begin to resemble the workplaces of today,'' she said.
Judy Jeffrey, director of the Iowa State Department of Education, speaks Wednesday afternoon to science teachers attending the Summer Science Teacher Institute - RxeSEARCH an Educational Journey at Iowa Central Community College. The program instructs high school science teachers in pharmacology methodology.
The Summer Science Teachers Institute - RxeSEARCH, an Educational Journey that concludes today at Iowa Central Community College is a fine example of the direction schools must go in, Jeffrey said.
She was the luncheon speaker on the second day of the program that gives science teachers from Iowa an in-depth look at the long process of developing medicines. When school resumes in the fall, those teachers will lead their students through a unit that will give them a hands-on experience in that type of research.
During the last academic year, the pharmaceutical class was taught at Humboldt Senior High School for one of the first times in Iowa. The seminar at the college will help spread the program to more schools.
Those schools are filled with students for whom the Internet is a basic part of life that's changed the way they communicate and socialize, according to Jeffrey. To kids linked by a stream of text messages and Web sites like MySpace, e-mail seems old fashioned, she said.
Today's youths see little point in memorizing facts and figures because they know that any information they need can be found at the touch of a button thanks to the Internet, she added.
Jeffrey said there is some research that shows the brains of today's young people develop differently because of technology.
This shift calls for a different approach to education, she said.
Iowa's new approach, she said, is based on a core curriculum that will teach basic concepts and skills that ''we expect kids to know, to be able to do, regardless of where they go after high school.''
In addition to the basics, that core curriculum includes technical literacy, civic literacy, financial literacy, health literacy and employability skills.
The core curriculum will be mandatory in Iowa high schools in 2012. It will be mandatory for kindergarten through eighth grade beginning in 2014.
Details of the core curriculum are still being developed. One of the more difficult issues will be finding a way to measure its success. Jeffrey said she's opposed to ''any more high stakes accountability tests.'' The emphasis on such tests in the federal No Child Left Behind law has caused many teachers to criticize it.
Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com