Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Indelible mark

The May 29, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education has a special insert, Senior Convocation '09, that continues to tell the story of what's happening through Qatar Foundation at Education City. While the summaries in the supplement are all interesting, one particularly reflects what we seek to accomplish in students' lives. Dana Hadan, recent CMU-Q graduate, reflects on her experience in "A Final Destination? No, 'Life-Long Learning'" by talking about the critical importance of pursuing a breadth of learning opportunities in and out of the classroom. In addition to the article about Dana in the Chronicle, there is an ongoing blog where she responds to questions raised by NYTimes readers about her experience.

The type of education offered at Education City doesn't fit or isn't even possible for all Gulf countries and it's important to understand why. The difference is essentially a matter of depth of engagement. Engagement is a broad term that reflects everything from the pedagogy used in the classroom (critical reflection, discussion, experimentation, team work, and other participative methods) to where learning opportunities are available (classroom, residence hall, student organizations, sports, service, travel abroad). While educators in the U.S.A. take these pedagogical and experiential opportunities for granted, it becomes very obvious when you're in a setting where this type of learning is so new for students and so different from the form of learning environment offered elsewhere.

The indelible mark being made in the lives of Education City graduates and on the country and region are significant. This is not comfortable or easy work and those who are dedicated to it know how important it is to strike a balance that makes the indelible impact acceptable at each step along the way.

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