I probably don’t have to tell you this, but life as an educator is busy. It feels as though every time I complete a major project three more spring up to take its place. Whether you’re working with students in the classroom, or developing resources behind the scenes, there never seems to be enough space or time to cover everything you need. VAI’s Terra Tarango has compared this feeling to stuffing your mouth with gumballs,

If you were trying to put all the gumballs in your mouth, you’re not really going to be able to successfully enjoy all that is wonderful about a piece of bubblegum. Standards are the same way, if we try to tackle them all, we just simply can’t do that.

The result is that something is inevitably left by the wayside. Typically, educators drop the standards which don’t closely align with your learning goals. Sometimes, we’re forced to drop entire subjects.

Learning How to Learn

If you were to audit schools on all their current classes, subjects like Logic, Rhetoric, and Civics probably wouldn’t show up very often. After all, we live in the age of technology and information. A working knowledge of STEM is practically essential for functioning in modern society. The careers of the future will probably rely on individuals who know how to navigate our rapidly evolving machinery. The result is that more niche subjects have been forced to take a back seat.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to introduce these subjects into our lessons. By combining them with other STEM-focused activities, we can teach our students how to think and process information while also preparing them for the technology-centered future. Here are just a few ideas and activities you can implement with your classroom:

  • Logic: Logic is all about fostering sound reasoning and assessment based on accurate data. It’s also a skill that’s invaluable for recognizing the difference between false and reliable information. To help students develop their abilities in logic, consider teaching your students how to be leaders in information literacy! Not only will this help them exercise critical thinking, but it will also teach them how to navigate the latest tools in technology and recognize good information. Consider taking advantage of Blue Apple’s Information Nation to get started!
  • Rhetoric: Rhetoric is the art of persuasion through public speaking. Leaders who want to make a difference often study rhetoric to inform and motivate their audience. While our students may be young, they can still use their words to take a stand for issues they care about. Task your students with creating a video or podcast where they discuss an issue that matters to them. They’ll discover all the latest tools in public speaking and get a chance to share their voice at the same time!
  • Civics: Civics is about understanding the rights and duties of citizens in their society. And as it happens, science can help inform students about crucial issues within their community. Consider having students perform experiments on their local water source to uncover what’s in their drinking water. Another possibility is to have them investigate the unique plants and animals in their state, then work towards building more sustainable environments. When students understand the science behind a civic need, they can use that information to change the world!
It Starts with You  

The work of a teacher can be daunting. The pandemic has also left countless educators feeling beleaguered and burnt out. Yet, it has also pushed teachers to new levels of creativity in their lessons and shown a spotlight on public needs that went unnoticed prior to COVID. While we cannot change the world, we can work to inspire our students and do a little good where we can. By combining our STEM lessons with logic, rhetoric, and civics, we can equip our students for the world outside our classroom. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to make a better world!

*Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

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