A pioneering program launched two years ago at the Graduate School of Education to ease the critical shortage of math and science educators in this country will embank next fall on a new project to make mathematics more appealing to secondary school students.
The Midcareer Math and Science Program, designed to retrain midcareer profession as math and science teachers, received founding two weeks ago for the new program with a grant of over $500,000 from the National Science Foundation.
The Midcareer Program has also spurted congressional legislation that would provide federal support for similar program.
Local junior high school teacher will be the prime participants in the few program, intended to develop more interesting math and science curricula by emphasizing the practical applications of those fields in business and industry.
"With more interesting curricula, more students may be interested in business and educational careers that involve math and science," said Merseth, who has authored several math textbook.
But Merseth said that revamping secondary school curricula is only one solution to the teacher shotage. "We will need one million new teachers in this country by 1990 and traditional sources are not going to be able to provide all of them," she said.
Merseth said the shortage is graduation in mathematics and the sciences "The 49 institution Massachusetts certifies to graduates teacher produced only two physics instructor in 1982," Merseth said.
The Harvard program which is designed as a needed for other in students certified to teach math or science in over 30 states, according to Merseth, who added that admissions personnel reported over 600 inquiries for the program within its first 18 months.
The success of the Harvard program has attracted the attention of Congressman Rod Chandler (R-Wash.), a member of the Education and Labor Committee Chandler, who visited the Ed School last week, had proposed legislation in Congress to help fund the nearly 40 institutions that are interested in beginning programs modeled after Harvard's, Merseth said.
The shortage of able teachers is partly the result of the high percentage of individuals who choose to leave jobs in education for higher paying jobs in industry, said Dean of the Graduate School of Education Patricia A. Graham.
"It's time we realize the fallacy of the myth that all teachers spend their entire lives teaching. Half of those who enter the field are going after five years," said Graham.
While the Midcareer Program seeks to alleviate the teacher shortage by training middle aged individuals as educators. The Ed School is currently seeing approval for a program the would attack the problem from the opposite end of the spectrum The program would allow undergraduates to teach in the public schools immediately after graduation said Graham.
For older individuals, a career in education is attractive because of the personal reward in offers, but for recent graduates, teaching "is a fabulous preparation for other careers," Graham said.