STEMpower

Expert Opinion: Jim Schmidt, Ed.D.

Expert Opinion: Jim Schmidt, Ed.D.

Jim Schmidt, Ed.D.

After working nearly his entire life in the education world, Jim Schmidt has gained a unique insight as to what students need to ensure a successful post-ed career in their civic and work lives. Schmidt received his BA in Secondary Education, MA in Counseling and Ed.D in Counselor Education. While he has extensive qualifications in the education world, he has worked with school counselors, managed placement activities for under-privileged individuals to get them jobs and back in school, presided as the Technical Education Guidance Supervisor of Idaho and even served as the principal of one of Idaho’s most successful technical schools. In addition to this incredible history of employment, Jim Schmidt was instrumental in developing and implementing the Idaho Career Guidance Model. Over the course of his career, Schmidt feels he understands what education needs because as he said, “I think that the experience I had really helped me to understand what students needed to become employed and also to help understand what industry wanted of education… because the whole goal is to help kids become self-sufficient and educated so they can live in the world of work.”

As far as getting students prepared for future endeavors, there is a set of skills which has become increasingly more important to instill in young learners; they are known as 21st century skills. Such skills include collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and more. In a rapidly evolving job industry, this skill set has become not only important but necessary for workers to possess to be successful. Careers of the 21st century require employees to be innovative, think creatively and work well as a team! In order to prepare students for these types of jobs, a more student-driven learning environment is needed to encourage the acquisition of 21st century skills. Jim Schmidt is a full believer in the need for more independent student curriculum which, “allows teachers to be the person that is the facilitator rather than the delivery of content.” He continued that students retain content, “more clearly if they learn it on their own rather than if they are being spoon-fed.”

However, one of the issues with incorporating 21st Century Skills into modern curriculum, as Schmidt explained, “there isn’t a written test is the problem, and the 21st century skills need to be observed in order to understand that [students] have acquired them.” Essentially, it takes a different classroom setup, where students are driven to learn on their own by asking questions and collaborating with others. When discussing the efficacy of the PCS Edventures pedagogy, which highly encourages individual iterative discovery techniques, Jim Schmidt explained that this type of pedagogy was developed specifically to address assessment issues of 21st century skills. Another reason why PCS Edventures curriculum is suitable for this type of learning is its dedication to create adaptive learning which according to Jim Schmidt means, “that any student at any level can learn.” In addition to US interest in PCS STEM programs, the curriculum is used around the world, prominently featured in India and Saudi Arabia. Schmidt explains the international interest in PCS Edventures products is due to, “the pedagogy style and that the world is really interested in STEM,” in addition to the fact that PCS Edventures understands STEM very well and can implement it uniquely using experiential and adaptive techniques. Jim Schmidt concluded the interview with one final note on the PCS Edventures system being used in the classroom: “PCS is a model that incorporates all the 21st Century Skills and the STEM skills and allows a holistic approach using those particular components to teach and enable students to be successful.”

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