From May 1-5th, 2011, CIE members gathered in Montreal, Canada to attend the Comparative and International Education Society’s annual conference. This year’s theme was from the Sanskrit phrase “Sa vidya ya vimuktaye,” or “Education is that which liberates.” CIE was a strong presence at the conference with more than twenty CIE members – current students, faculty and graduates in attendance – with many on the program.
On Monday night CIE hosted an open reception at the Queen Elizabeth Fairmont hotel to celebrate our 43rd anniversary and to welcome our new faculty member, Dr. Bjorn Harald Nordtveit. The reception drew more than 60 colleagues and friends who helped us celebrate. With more than twenty students, faculty and graduates at the conference, CIE was a strong presence.
CIE students and faculty organized two panels, while others presented on other panels. Graduates of CIE and CIE members working off campus were also active on the program or were present at the conference including Jane Benbow, Mbarou Gassama-Mbaye, Monica Gomes, Alicia Fitzpatrick, Mark Lynd, Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, Anita Anastacio, David Bell, Mainus Sultan, and Vachel Miller.
Cristine Smith chaired a panel of UMass students entitled “Agency through alternative learning models” with the following presentations:
- Global Ed 2.0: Critical socio-cultural perspectives and online learning (Verity Norman);
- Community service learning: Understanding international contexts of inequity and Marginality from a local context. (Valerie Kurka)
- Self-determination and causal agency in mothers of children with learning disabilities: Case studies from India and the U.S. (Mindy Eichhorn).
Joe Berger chaired another UMass panel with the title of “Empowerment with teeth: A critically
appreciative examination of community-informed learning models.” With the following papers:
- We lost our culture with civilization: Internalization of the development discourse in Senegal (Karla Giuliano Sarr);
- Exploring the impact of community-managed schools in Guatemala (Jacob Carter);
- The road is made by walking: Next steps for Freirean frameworks for community empowerment (Rolf Straubhaar);
- Towards post-globalisation? On the hegemony of Western education and development discourses (Bjoern Harald Nordtveit)
CIE Faculty members David R. Evans, Gretchen Rossman, Cristine Smith, Bjorn Nordtveit and Joe Berger were at the conference as was former UMass faculty member Alberto Arenas (University of Arizona) who presented a paper on, “Globalization, and exploring wars of aggression in U.S. history textbooks.”
CIE Members work with IRC in Sierra Leone
This past summer, IRC (Sierra Leone) hired two CIE members- Aiah Mbayo and Alicia Fitzpatrick- to undertake project related work in eastern Sierra Leone.
Aiah, an indigene of Sierra Leone, was hired as a international consultant to conduct a situation assessment of the education sector in four chiefdoms in Kono and Kenema districts with a view to identifying gaps and proposing a sustainable strategy for addressing the problems. The assessment covered 12 junior secondary schools (JSS) and 50 primary schools with a focus on access and enrolment, children out of school, national standards of learning, gender equity in access and performance, curriculum content, and stakeholder capacity assessment. A major outcome of the assessment was the development of a project proposal for funding by a private US donor. The project will hopefully commence in January 2011.
Alicia was contracted to coordinate a recently launched initiative focused on improving access and quality education for marginalized youth. The program supports rural JSS in Sierra Leone through capacity building of local education authorities, school institutions, and teachers. It Involves training of and support to Ministry of Education officials in monitoring and supervision of schools, teacher training in participatory methodologies, curriculum development, school and classroom management, health education, and financial management.
Aiah met up with Alicia in Kenema at a teacher training curriculum writing workshop which Alicia was coordinating. The revised curriculum will be rolled out in the New Year.
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Schooling in Capitalist America, Revisited
Reported by Verity Norman
World-renowned popular economist, Samuel Bowles, took time out of his busy schedule to share some of his work on schooling and capitalism with the CIE community. Students read his and Herb Gintis’ recent article: Schooling in Capitalist America, Revisited prior to the meeting. Dr. Bowles started off by soliciting questions and observations from CIE students. The questions posed included:
What are the implications of your work for developing countries who have economies driven by IMF
and World Bank, the hallmark institutions of US-based capitalism?
Are there periods of economic development when your findings do not apply?
orrespondence principle – how does it play out in other cultural contexts?
Is there a point in altering schooling models if the economy doesn’t change to encourage equity?
Please expand on your work on altruistic behavior and ethical motives in a community.
Sam then gave us an overview of his background and life experiences (He discovered that Yetunde Ajao, one of the current students, came from Ilorin where he had taught in the 1960s - see picture) that led the publication of “Schooling in Capitalist America.” He explained that the three commonly accepted goals of schooling are incongruent, namely: to provide an environment for individuals to fully develop, to reduce inequality, and to be prepared for the adult workplace. The third goal of preparation for work was in contradiction to the first two in his perspective. He also shared some of his work on altruism, noting that his research shows that we are not necessarily trying to mobilize an inherently selfish population to act altruistically, but rather that we are activating heterogeneous populations and encouraging natural generosity to win out. In the context of developing countries, he explained that a schooling model driven by capitalist demands works well to help create citizens who are compliant and docile, and this often works in favor of motives of a newly-independent or developing country’s government.
The discussion was energizing and included much input from CIE students and faculty, and has us questioning whether the schooling system lags behind the economy, what alternative models of schooling may look like, and what hope there is for schools’ involvement in creating a more equitable and equal society. While Sam pointed to hopeful signs for a more egalitarian economy – for example, the evolution of open-source software – we discussed whether or not schooling could play a part in making this more likely.
Sam also spoke about his collaborative partnership with Herb Gintis, and encouraged us to find partners we can work and collaborate with, not least as a means to refine and improve our own work and get closer to what is actually “right.” More information about Dr. Bowles is available at the web site for the Santa Fe Institute where he heads up the Behavioral Science Program.
CIE Dialogue: Samuel Bowles discusses "Schooling in Capitalist America, Revisited." A YouTube video of the discussion with Sam Bowles at CIE is available in 4 parts.
Part 1 Introduction, CIE Questions, How Sam got started on his career path.
Part 4 What attributes can be passed parents to children? Limits in an information & service economy
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South Africa’s Agents of Change
Reported by Philip Mangis
A group of six students from the University of Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa joined CIE for a dialogue on social justice and social change at a Tuesday meeting.
The six South African students - Kgotso Maya, Micheal Van Niekerk, Antonie Fourie, Lee Christopher, Benedict Mochesela, and William Clayton - are part of a larger initiative on the part of the University of Free State to send undergraduates to the United States to learn about diversity, justice, and cross cultural communication in the hopes that they will return as active and engaged agents of change, confronting and addressing racism in their home institution.
While at CIE, Center members and the South African students engaged in a discussion on the concepts of social justice and social change, and exchanged examples and stories of what these ideas can mean. The South African students shared what they had learned from their time in the United States and commented on how their time here has shifted their view of the U.S. as a post-racial society - an image largely informed from what they had seen portrayed in Western media – to seeing it as a country still dealing with racial tension.
The students spoke eloquently about the need for post-apartheid South Africa to take steps beyond mere integration, and begin thinking about social transformation and dialogue and developing contexts and processes where people can come to understand one another better.
More information on this University of Free State program can be found here, personal diary reflections of the visiting students can be found here, and UMass has published an article providing more details of the visit here.
A special thanks to Professor Barbara Madeloni in the School of Education for hosting these students during their visit to UMass.
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Hip Hop Activisim - "Democracy in Dakar"
Reported by Verity Norman
At a CIE Tuesday meeting, "Democracy in Dakar" directors, Ben Herson and Magee McIlvaine, screened their film and led a discussion about their groundbreaking documentary. CIE members watched the film, which showed the impact of the grassroots hip hop youth movement in Dakar, Senegal had on the 2007 presidential elections. Ben and Magee explained that originally they shot the film as a seven-part documentary, which they released on YouTube in the lead-up to the presidential elections. They told us how these shorts came to have credibility that more mainstream media did not, and how the film generated much discussion around youth issues in Senegalese politics.
The film shows how hip hop activism, video journalism, and film have the potential to influence political and democratic processes. As educators, we had the opportunity to discuss how this medium of communication could be used as a tool for teaching about global issues and issues of social justice. It gave us all much food for thought, as to how non-formal forms of education (such as hip hop) can affect a youth-heavy society, as is the case in Senegal. For more information about the documentary, the filmmakers, or the curriculum materials for "Democracy in Dakar" please visit the website of Nomadic Wax.
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CIE Annual Fall Retreat
At the end of September, twenty-five CIE members gathered at Angels Rest in West Leyden Massachusetts for the 43rd annual CIE retreat. The theme of the retreat was "Community." The activities focused on building community among the current members, examining CIE's Vision statement and how it should influence the community, and connecting with the larger CIE community of graduates. The weather was damp - it poured for two days straight - but spirits were high. For the first time in decades, the group picture was taken inside as a result!
Click on Picture for large version
Some of the many pictures taken at the retreat. Thanks to Abdrabu Alyan for several of the shots.
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Life after graduating from CIE
Skyping with Gopal Midha, a recent CIE graduate
At a recent Tuesday meeting CIE tried out a new way to build linkages and promote dialogue between current students and CIE graduates. Gopal Midha (M.Ed. 2010) sitting in Mumbai, India interacted with the on-campus community through a combination of Skype (voice and video) and a PowerPoint presentation. The quality of the sound and video was excellent and people in the room could easily interact with Gopal in Mumbai with just a laptop, a projector and some speakers.
Gopal traced his journey from CIE back to India and the challenge of the next steps in his career. He did not start looking for jobs as he reached India. Instead, he hit upon the novel strategy of identifying a series of NGOs and institutions doing innovative work in improving education and then offered to volunteer for a couple of weeks with them. After working with them, he got a richer and deeper understanding of the actual work that such organizations were doing. This helped him and the organizations decide whether there were any opportunities which could be created for working together formally.
During this exploration, Gopal was offered the role of consultant with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for two projects: (a) improving the effectiveness of the almost-defunct resource centers which were created to provide academic support to schools, and (b) to create a policy desk in the Tata Institute to assess pre-service teacher education and suggest approaches to revitalize it. He has been working on these two projects for the past one month.
After articulating some of the problems with the first project, Gopal engaged center members in a discussion about possible approaches to solving some of the problems. A particularly serious problem that he identified is how the system has conflicting lines of authority which neither allow the people to perform their role efficiently nor provide them with a sense of meaning in their work. Further, such resource centers are often staffed with inspectors and older staff members who have a fixed idea of pedagogy and curriculum. Changing their attitudes, motivation and behavior is perhaps the key to any real reform of what goes on in the classroom.
At the end, everyone agreed that this way of using the technology opened up a wide range of possibility for communication across the various generations of CIE members. More will definitely be set up in the future.
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CIE Fall Reception for 2010-2011 Academic Year
Center Members, their families and guests gathered at the home of Jacqi Mosselson for the annual fall reception to kick off the new academic year. The weather was delightful and the back deck provided just the right setting of the event.
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Reflecting on a Career after CIE
John Hatch returns to share with Tuesday Meeting
John Hatch, who received his doctorate from CIE in 1972, returned to CIE to share his experience and perspective about working for Universities, large NGOs and USAID during his career since leaving CIE. John began by commenting on his dissertation which focused on ways of providing relevant education in rural areas. Part of the dissertation was written as a drama that portrayed the various stakeholders in a rural village in Tanzania as they confronted the possibility of an Ujamaa school in their village. He suggested that the drama was an effective way of portraying a dialogue that needed to take place.
In his reflections, John recounted how early in his career he had moved from one employer to another, making use of a network of acquaintances and CIE graduates. After stints in various universities, he spent 14 years working with the Academy for Education Development, and then moved on to work as an education officer with USAID in Washington, from which he recently retired. He walked the listeners through the multi-step process used by AID to screen applicants and make hiring decisions, at each point recounting how the process played from the employer side of the table. He provided tips on what to do and what not to do for each stage of the process, providing listeners with insights into typical mistakes and possible successful strategies. He also provided insights from the agency perspective on what made for successful proposals in response to RFPs.
From there conversation shifted to current and emerging areas of focus and priority for development funding in education. Themes that he suggested included: a renewed focus on accountability through M&E; education in crisis settings; an emphasis on developing reading capability; vocational and technical training now that there is an emphasis on secondary level education; and projects working with youth. In response to a question, he argued the countries generally were not interested in major innovations, but rather wanted to focus on ways of improving the systems that they had to make them more efficient and effective. The discussion ended with suggestions to current students about areas of competence that are likely to be in demand when they enter the job market, John stressed the need for students to develop a combination of academic knowledge and demonstrated experience in applying that knowledge in the field.