A Chinese delegation of elementary school principals recently spent a week touring schools in New Jersey as part of a Kean University program that pairs elementary, middle and high schools in the Garden State with counterparts in Zheijiang Province, China.
Westfield Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Programs Paul Pineiro joined Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for Elizabeth Public Schools Dr. Jennifer Cedeno and other educators in welcoming the Chinese delegation at a dinner hosted by Kean University on Oct. 24.
In June, Pineiro visited Zheijiang Province in China as part of Kean’s partnership with Wenzhou-Kean University and the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Education to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) innovation and development.
“The highlights of my trip to China included visiting the innovative Zhejiang Rui’an High School, enjoying presentations and performances at the Wenzhou Art School, and sharing STEM education presentations with our Chinese counterparts,” says Pineiro who adds that Westfield was invited to attend by Dr. Keith Bostian, Kean University’s Dean of the New Jersey Center of Science, Technology and Mathematics. Prior to this collaboration, Dr. Bostian worked closely with the Westfield school district to launch its popular summer STEM Camp in 2013.
Pineiro says his “biggest take-away is how similarly the U.S. and Chinese educational systems see the importance of STEM and how to approach STEM education.” He added that the equipment and educational opportunities he witnessed in Chinese schools are “on par” with what is offered in Westfield schools, including the integration of traditional practical arts activities aligned with next generation engineering design practices.
“Another take-away is that both Wenzhou and New Jersey educators saw problem-solving and critical thinking as the purpose of STEM education, not just as the context for future careers in engineering,” he adds. “STEM education is about learning activities for students that challenge them with authentic, real world problems. Students work collaboratively, embracing trial and error approaches to learning and solving problems creatively.”