By: Melissa Stevens
With an emphasis on STEAM, the American School Hong Kong ensures that girls don’t get left behind or left out from the hands-on, innovative design opportunities that are part of this approach to learning, according to the new Assistant Principal, Joanne Mallary.
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, and it’s a constructivist educational approach geared towards developing the type of problem-solving and critical thinking skills that students will need for their future careers.
Joanne joined the American School in August 2017 after previously serving as an educator (teacher, principal, curriculum coordinator, university supervisor and head of school) in the US, Germany, South Korea, Italy and Ukraine. With this experience and her extensive education (Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems, Masters of Education in Educational Leadership, and Education Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction), she understands how important the STEAM approach to learning is for all students. She’s also acutely aware of the likelihood that girls may be reluctant, initially, to engage in some STEAM subjects. This can have significant longterm impacts on career options.
“Girls often don’t feel that they have the skills needed to excel in the areas of engineering and mathematics,” she says. “Recent studies still document a lack of entry into these fields and therefore we believe it is vital for girls to experience and explore the world of innovation and creativity that is a part of the STEAM learning experience.”
Joanne cites engineering as particularly critical, as it’s an area with many job opportunities and a shortage of women working in the field. Joanne says the school aims for girls to feel empowered and confident in their abilities to approach the engineering process as part of STEAM.
“If we can provide these learning opportunities now, we realise that we could affect their lifelong learning aspirations and experiences and, perhaps, produce a spark of curiosity that can become a flame of passion in the future,” she says. “With the growing development of the technology design field, such as games design, we want all our students – boys and girls – to understand, explore, and embrace these learning experiences and processes.”
Joanne says the STEAM approach provides holistic and hands-on learning opportunities for students to construct knowledge and work collaboratively to solve problems, enabling them to become independent critical thinkers and problem solvers.
“We understand that, in fostering and developing creativity, innovation, problem solving and collaboration skills, we can provide our students with the foundation needed for future success for careers in the 21st century.”
Read more: What it’s like to live in Tai Po
This article first appeared in the December/January 2017/18 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.