Technion's flagship Views program trains caliber highschool STEM teachers as a top national priority
Sharon Tamir, ex-naval officer, Views alumnus and physics teacher at Leo Baeck High School
By Amanda Jaffe-Katz
Many Western countries, including Israel, are currently facing a shortage in high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers. As a remedy, Technion launched the Views program in 2011 that provides Technion graduates with an additional qualification in education.
"Technion did not wait for the crisis in STEM education to happen before seeking a solution; nor did Technion wait for government funds to start the program. Rather, the Technion was proactive and launched Views from its own resources, as one of its efforts to stop the impending collapse in science education," notes Prof. Orit Hazzan, head of the Department of Education in Science and Technology that implements this innovative program.
"Views encourages the best STEM professionals in Israel - Technion alumni - to be teachers; these teachers will provide the next generation with top-tier STEM education and skills"
MABATIM, Views' Hebrew acronym, stands for engineers/scientists in science and technology education. "Views invites Technion graduates back to the Technion - tuition free - to study toward an additional bachelor's degree in our Department," Hazzan explains. "This extra BSc degree includes a high school STEM teaching certificate in one of eight tracks: math, physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental sciences, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering." Notwithstanding their full study scholarships, participants need not commit to teaching in the education system.
Prof. Orit Hazzan, at the helm of the Views program
Similar to a part-time MBA course, students study one full day or two half-days a week across two years, and can continue working as scientists and engineers in the industry in parallel to their studies. "The skills gained through Views are also useful in the high-tech industry for coping with new knowledge and technological developments," Hazzan points out. "Indeed, their employers let them attend their studies without deducting from their salaries."
As of October 2014, 243 Technion graduates are enrolled in Views: 50 have already completed the two-year program. And some 50 percent are already teaching in schools today. "Views encourages the best STEM professionals in Israel - Technion alumni - to be teachers; these teachers will provide the next generation with top-tier STEM education and skills," Hazzan continues.
The Views program has trebled the number of students in the Department, with Views students joining the regular undergraduate students in their studies. One fifth of the students are enrolled in the technological tracks - electrical engineering and mechanical engineering education - which have tripled in size since Views was launched. This is important due to the recent effort to revive technological education in Israel.
"Technion's vision is that by 2020, some 1,000 Technion alumni will be qualified to teach STEM in Israeli high schools"
According to the OECD's most recent report, Hazzan notes, Israel ranks among the five countries with the highest level of inequity, together with the United States, Turkey, Mexico, and Chile. Some Views graduates of the technological education tracks also teach in the vocational education system - whose graduates are in demand both by the IDF and by the industry. In this way, Technion contributes to reducing the family-income inequality in Israel.
Technion is now expanding Views to include current Technion students, not just alumni.
"Technion's vision is that by 2020, some 1,000 Technion alumni will be qualified to teach STEM in Israeli high schools," Hazzan summarizes. "When we do the math, this implies that around 10 percent of STEM teachers in Israel will be Technion graduates. If every one of them teaches just one class of 25 pupils per annum, each year 25,000 pupils in Israel will be taught STEM by a Technion graduate."
Many of these pupils will be inspired to study at Technion, where some will also undertake a Views training themselves. "We will have created a cycle that continues to cultivate future Technion students, and, as a spillover effect, fosters Israel's economy," Hazzan concludes.
Everyone a Winner
Technion graduates gain potential mobility within the industry or in education, if they choose it or when economic crisis or age-related redundancies apply.
High-tech industry gains personnel with essential pedagogical knowledge.
Technion gains better-educated future Technion students.
Department of Education in Science and Technology benefits in particular since Views students bring relevant and up-to-date knowledge to regular students.
High school educational system and STEM curriculum development benefit since Views graduates introduce innovations from industry into the school system.
Government wins since Views may alleviate the need to invest special effort and funds to attract qualified people to education.
Israel wins a new pool of scientists and engineers with educational backgrounds.