Revitalizing Teaching through Learning
New ISOP Program Brings Local Teachers to Campus.
Published: Thursday, January 03, 2002
Everything I learn in the program will affect how I teach and interact with my students.
Once a month, a select group of Los Angeles County teachers leaves their K-12 classrooms to take a seat at UCLA-led seminars where they are being reconnected to the world of scholarship by leading professors in the humanities, the arts, social sciences and sciences.
Through lectures, readings and films on themes that reach across continents and historical eras, many in the “Teachers as Scholars” program being run by International Studies and Overseas Programs (ISOP) are rediscovering the very reasons why they became teachers in the first place.
For example, participant Jill Delaney, a teacher from Parthenia Elementary School, explained that she attended “out of a passion for learning and a desire to become part of a broader educational community … to talk to colleagues and (teachers from) other grade levels, especially about issues that cross age or cultural boundaries.”
Beginning last summer, UCLA became the Southern Californian headquarters for "Teachers as Scholars," a national professional and intellectual development program founded by the Princeton-based Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
“Two scholarly traditions have built the UCLA program,“ said ISOP outreach director Jonathan Friedlander, who spearheaded the program. “One is the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellowship study that has fostered learning throughout America and worldwide. The other is ISOP, which, over a course of more than 20 years, has gained a reputation of excellence through programs that guide teachers through the challenges of 21st century globalization so that they, in turn, can foster a wider perspective of the world in students.”
Other “Teachers as Scholars” sites include Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan and Carnegie Mellon.
The inaugural seminars at UCLA are focusing on a theme that resonates across many different disciplines and cultures. “The End of Childhood: A Journey of Hope and Discovery” engages teachers in a scholarly discourse on the meanings and manners of coming of age. Based on their principals’ recommendations, teachers are selected to attend various seminars that focus on the theme from the perspective of Latin America, medieval and modern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, among others. They delve into how various cultures define “the end of childhood,” what rites and customs signify the advent of adult status, how growing up amidst war or social turmoil colors that experience and how literature portrays “coming of age.”
Teachers participate in assigned academic and literary readings, research projects, film screenings and classroom discussion, as well as continuing online discussion groups to enable them to extend the learning experience beyond the seminars and interact with a wider educational community that includes UCLA scholars.
“I look forward to dialoguing with professors,” said John Lasko from Manual Arts High School. “The main objective for me is to refresh myself in scholarly notions about transitions to adulthood and to explore these from perspectives such as that of the anthropologist.”
For Sandra Arnold of Palisades Charter High School, the program offered “the opportunity to forge new career relationships that will make me a better teacher, … and to bring ideas back to the classroom and make it a richer place.”
“I believe everything I learn in the program will affect the way in which I teach and interact with my students,” Delaney said. “After all, isn’t this what education is all about?”
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