Keynote speaker Dr. Evan Glazer, Principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Twitter: @TJColonials), addressed the 2015 K-12 STEM Symposium on Saturday, March 7, in a speech entitled, “The Tiger, Dolphin, and Jellyfish Parent – Which One is Best for STEM?”.
He discussed the extent to which parents should encourage their student to participate in STEM-related programs as they get older and informed parents of different perspectives of how to engage their students in STEM-related activities in a way that will work for their families.
Dr. Glazer identified three main parenting styles — the tiger, dolphin and jellyfish. The Tiger Parent is authoritative in style and aims to shape, control and evaluate based on standards; the Dolphin Parent expects mature behavior; and the Jellyfish Parent has a more permissive style, with fewer rules, tolerates of child’s impulses, encourages self-regulation of child and uses punishment as a last resort.
How to increase STEM interest at home is related to parent engagement, he said. Reading with your child or taking them to a museum, for example, ultimately influences student diligence, time on homework, curiosity and value of activity. How a parent reacts at home sets the stage for the student views the subject themselves — a parent’s negative reaction to a child having math homework means the child will learn to have negative attitude towards math, as well.
Dr. Glazer’s recommendations included ensuring your student’s school placement leads to success. “To me, it’s more important for a student to have success than to being in a more advanced course and not succeeding,” he said.
If a student is not motivated by their teacher, then find them a mentor, Dr. Glazer added. Unfortunately, stereotypes lead to limitations, so parents should celebrate good counterexamples. Finally, influence your child in the middle and high school years by offering multiple opportunities to involvement, but they shouldn’t be forced upon your child.
Dr. Glazer recommended the book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.
Ultimately, he noted, it is a parent’s character that has the most effect on a child. The conversations about how much television a child should be able to watch, the environment the child grows up in, what music children should listen to more — none of it matters as much as the parents themselves.
Dr. Glazer’s speech was followed by Leidos President of the National Security Sector Lou Von Thaer.
He said the skill sets most needed in today’s industry include an increased need for cybersecurity knowledge, which involves “very deep math,” and physics.
Von Thaer said its important to match up a student’s abilities with what they love to do.
Industry, he said, can play a role in closing the gap in the amount of science-related graduates compared to other nations. Through science-related events and programs such as robotics, including putting role models out in front of young students, will help to increase those in the STEM pipeline.