by Gary Beach

IT Retirees Make Great Math and Science Teachers

Jan 01, 20062 mins
IT Leadership

Every so often an idea comes across your desk that’s so simple—and so needed—that you scratch your head and wonder why no one has thought of it before.

Such an idea recently popped up in my inbox. Transition to Teaching is an IBM program that provides an innovative solution to the critical shortage of science and math teachers in America. What it does is help any IBM employee interested in teaching take the necessary steps “so that employees with bachelor’s degrees or credentials in math, science and related fields can more easily complete the preparation to become K-12 teachers,” according to IBM.This is a win-win idea for several reasons.

First, it fulfills a desperate need. According to the U.S. Department of Education, American public schools need to find 2.4 million new teachers by 2012 to replace the 42 percent of all K-12 teachers who are currently over 50 and soon will be retiring. That’s a worrisome statistic. But what may be worse is the fact that this group includes up to 80 percent of the current teaching corps who are teaching science and math “out of field” (that is, without math or science degrees).

Second, programs like Transition to Teaching could reach out to the millions of technology workers, skilled and educated in math, science, engineering, who also will be retiring. These baby boomers still have a lot to offer. They just need to be certified as teachers. And they need willing and farsighted employers to support such a transition.

As they say in the Guinness commercials, “Brilliant!”

Finally, it will work. One of the operative concepts in the tech business is “scalability.” Technologies that scale usually win out over those that don’t. Turning tech workers into math and science teachers scales like all get-out. All of us in the tech business share a responsibility to improve how math and science are taught in our K-12 classrooms.

IBM is on the right track with Transition to Teaching. Are you interested in replicating the idea? Contact me and I will gladly put you in touch with the team at IBM that is leading this groundbreaking initiative.