the magazine of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Fall 2012
Bullying It needs to stop, but how?
literacy and mothers | middle school muddle | King Pepper
the appian way
â€˘ fall 2012 â€˘ www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
May 2012 After more than 30 years at the Ed School, Professor Eleanor Duckworth said goodbye to her students on December 6, 2011, when she taught her last class and was met with a standing ovation. At Commencement in May, the former protégée of Jean Piaget urged those same students to stand up for what they believe in education, just as her activist mother had done many years earlier, despite being shy. “Raise your voice. You have a Harvard degree in education, and this does give an extra boost to your voice,” Duckworth said. “Use it to point out the injustices and to point to what public schools could be. Use it, however timid you may feel, with all of the courage and wisdom that you actually have.”
more online Harvard Graduate School of Education
contents fal l 2 0 1 2
Schools recognize that they need to Pizza ovens, sushi, roaring fires, outdoor seating.
focus more on the social-emotional
What happened to the schoolâ€™s cafeteria?
development of students if they want to tackle bullying, but how exactly do they do this?
James Polk could barely read or write until he was 18. One of John Kennedyâ€™s report cards said he always studied at the last minute. University of Chicago Law students consistently rated Professor Barack Obama as one of the best instructors. Interested in more?
The more schooling a mother gets, the better off her children’s health will be. And it’s literacy that makes all of the difference, says Professor Emeritus Robert LeVine and his team of Ed School graduates.
According to new research by Assistant Professor Martin West, students who move to middle schools lose ground compared to those who attend K–8 schools.
a l s o of i n t e r e s t Human slavery may have been made illegal, but as Judy Boyle, Ed.M.’93, shows with her nonprofit, it’s actually flourishing, even in the United States.
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Letters Appian Way Alumni News and Notes Recess Investing
Look for these icons throughout the magazine and then go online for web-only content at
Promise Academy didn’t reinvent the wheel but built on the standard and adjusted accordingly! — Diane Arrington
one of the fellowship meetings along with Mr. Washington. Me, being 62 years of age, was overwhelmed with Mr. Washington’s youthfulness and his serious commitment to his work. Thank you. — Daisy Dennis, casework supervisor, Family Support Center Definitely The Man! — Leonardo Thomas Radomile Very inspiring! Should be required reading for the whole wide world because kids are our future. — osterspeak
Praise for Canada
Promise Academy, how can I ever thank you enough? (“The Long Haul,” summer 2012) You always told me that “if you give me your child, I promise that your child will succeed.” I am proud to say that my son is a part of the first graduating seniors who will be leaving Promise and heading off to Utica College in the fall. I will never be able to thank Promise enough. Where would my son have been without you? — Gail Sargent Marty [Lipp], this is a great article and I especially love the story on Mr. Washington. I met you during 4
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
Concerning the article “Why Do Kids Believe in God but Not Harry Potter?” (summer 2012), this article implies that Harris’ research runs counter to progressive education. Yet the learning-through-dialogue approach that Harris promotes is indeed a vital aspect of progressive teaching, not a challenge to a singleminded focus on learning-by-doing. Progressive education encompasses both approaches, focusing not just on knowing things but on understanding them and applying them to new situations in authentic ways. — Mike Fishback, Ed.M.’06
letters By Degree
The Ed.L.D. is indeed innovative in its interdisciplinary teaching model (“Answering the Question: Why the Ed.L.D.?” summer 2012), but the percentage of international students with considerable work experience outside America should be increased. This would create an innovative teaching model — what I term “interexperiential” — that would not only benefit international educators, but also help American educators assess why American school students fall back in many important areas such as math and science when compared with their international counterparts. — Alfred Devaprasad
Very nice, Mandy (Lecture Hall, summer 2012). As a prevention coalition working with youth, it is very clear to us that we need to focus more on supporting youth around identity and relationship development, and have already begun to add initiatives on a community-wide level. I can’t wait to get my hands on your book (Ready, Willing, and Able) to see how we can continue to strengthen our strategies. — Lovelee Heller-Bottari, Somerville Cares About Prevention
editor in chief Lory Hough firstname.lastname@example.org production manager/editor Marin Jorgensen email@example.com designer Paula Telch Cooney firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Communications Michael Rodman email@example.com Communications intern Rachael Apfel
Can Do Bill
Keep thinking out of the box. What education needs most. If anyone can do this, it is Bill Maxwell (alumni profile, William Maxwell, summer 2012). — Dale Rutstein, Ed.M.’87
Northern Star! Love it! Yes, it’s the truth. I was a perfect example. I come from a lowincome family. I am the first to graduate from both high school and college. Because of my inquisitive nature, even as a child, I didn’t suffer from lack of information, motivation, aspiration, or preparation — to a degree. I believe the missing component that would have given me greater success earlier in my academic career is preparation and identification strategies in the adolescent stage of my life. Based upon what I have read of the book so far, I believe this will help me as I establish an educational organization to address these issues as a foundation for the success of low-income, potentially college-bound students all over the United States. — Theresa Williams, founder, R.I.S.E. Academies
contributing writers Jill Anderson Rachael Apfel Karin Cooper, Ed.M.’01 Mary Tamer Amy Magin Wong copyeditor Abigail Mieko Vargus photographers Jill Anderson Joshi Radin Michael Rodman Martha Stewart
So great to see this lady (Study Break: Amy Loyd, Ed.L.D. candidate, summer 2012) highlighted! She’s a star! — Alyssa
If you look at the caption under the picture of Dick Wolf reading a copy of Ed. (winter 2011), you may catch a major proofreading lapse. I kept meaning to create a photograph of myself pouring a pitcher of water over the issue in which Mr. Wolf is poring over the fall issue. Has any other reader picked up on this? — Brock Putnam, Ed.M.’87
Editor’s note: Now that’s a Where’s Ed.? photo we’d love to see!
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illustrators Scotty Reifsnyder Edel Rodriguez Daniel Vasconcellos © 2012 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Ed. magazine is published three times a year. Third-class postage paid at Holliston, Mass. and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Harvard Graduate School of Education Office of Communications 13 Appian Way Cambridge, MA 02138
aclickaway HGSE www.gse.harvard.edu events www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/events twitter www.twitter.com/hgse facebook www.facebook.com/harvardeducation youtube www.youtube.com/harvardeducation flickr www.flickr.com/photos/harvardeducation issuu www.issuu.com/harvardeducation foursquare www.foursquare.com/hgse Harvard Graduate School of Education
appian way lecturehall Dean Kathleen McCartney and Academic Dean Hiro Yoshikawa
n 1921, the Ed School launched the first Ed.D. in the country. Originally intended to prepare students for careers as academics and scholars, over time graduates made their marks not just in research, but in practice and policy. Fast forward to 2009. The Ed School creates the Ed.L.D., an innovative three-year practice-based doctoral program that prepares graduates for high-level leadership jobs in education. This year, the school announced another new degree, a Ph.D. in education, offered jointly with Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). The Ed.D. will be phased out and the first Ph.D. cohort will start in 2014. This past spring, just after Commencement, Dean Kathleen McCartney and Academic Dean Hiro Yoshikawa sat down with Ed. to talk about why the Ph.D. makes sense for the Ed School.
Why are you excited about this degree? HY: This will be the only truly university-wide Ph.D. in education. Bringing the full range of education scholarship at Harvard to bear on the critical issues in the field is unprecedented. The Ph.D. in education represents a wonderful opportunity to build on our current leading research doctorate in education, developing closer ties to the intellectual riches of the entire university. The new Ph.D. Program will also bring the incredible resources of Ed School doctoral students and faculty into closer contact with faculty and students in other schools here, strengthening the work of the university in education. KM: This new degree will make the Ed School a magnet for researchers across the university who study education. Thus, this new degree will leverage faculty in support of doctoral training in education here at Harvard. I have no doubt that the Ph.D. in education will result in innovative collaborative research projects involving faculty and doctoral students at different schools. And I am confident new synergies will result that no one has yet to imagine.
Describe the biggest difference between the current Ed.D. and the new Ph.D. HY: The new Ph.D. will provide more opportunities for collaboration and advisement from scholars who do research relevant to education across FAS and all the schools of the university. Many
of the benefits of these closer ties will start immediately and should be available to Ed.D. students.
In one sentence, describe one similarity. HY: Both programs share a commitment to work at the nexus of practice, policy, and research. KM: Both programs are rigorous and relevant to the pressing problems facing education today.
The Ph.D. will have three concentrations: human development, learning, and teaching (psychology); culture, society, and institutions (sociology); and education policy and program evaluations (economics). Why those three? HY: They represent both the diversity and coherence of the work of the Ed School in education research. Each of the three were conceptualized to cover core topic areas of enduring importance in education; each integrate emphases on research, policy, and practice issues, and each is interdisciplinary. KM: A working group of faculty, chaired by Hiro, proposed these three concentrations to reflect the education landscape. I am grateful to Mahzarin Banaji in psychology, Larry Katz in economics, Gary King in government, and Mary Waters in sociology, who worked with Ed School faculty to design the proposal for an interfaculty Ph.D. in education.
Fifty faculty members from other Harvard schools have already agreed to be affiliated with the new degree. What does this mean for incoming students? HY: All Ed School students, including the current Ed.D. students, know that this group of faculty not only do research relevant to education, but also have expressed willingness to serve as intellectual resources and co-advisers. KM: This means our students will profit from an embarrassment of riches! They will be able to enroll in FAS doctoral seminars, and they will be able to join research groups more easily.
The first cohort will start in the fall of 2014. What happens between now and then? HY: We will engage in a schoolwide planning process to work out the details of the new degree. We’ll also work with the other schools at Harvard to develop the cross-school aspects. KM: Our administrative team will be collaborating with the team at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to create new admissions materials, and our development teams will begin to raise funds for this innovative new program. In fact, one Harvard College alumnus has already agreed to sponsor the first doctoral student! — Lory Hough
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Presidents as Students
They were teachers, too In one-room schoolhouses John Adams Andrew Jackson Abigail Powers Fillmore Millard Fillmore Franklin Pierce James Garfield William McKinley
At colleges and law schools John Quincy Adams Benjamin Harrison James Garfield William Howard Taft Woodrow Wilson Gerald Ford Bill Clinton Hillary Rodham Clinton Barack Obama
Woodrow Wilson couldn’t read until he was nine years old. As a young boy, Andrew Johnson was sold as an apprentice to a tailor and never attended school a day in his life. One of Harry Truman’s teachers said, “Nobody thought that he’d go far at all.” John Tyler once thrashed a teacher and then locked him in a closet. Eleanor Roosevelt was kicked out of school at six for lying. Franklin Roosevelt disliked his private school so much that he once wrote to his parents, “I’m hoping to get pink eye so I can come home.” Not exactly stories you’d expect about some of our more famous presidents and first ladies, which is exactly why James Longo, C.A.S.’90, Ed.D.’94, professor of education and chair of the education
Grover Cleveland (visual impairments) Lucy Webb Hayes (hearing and speech impairments) Grace Goodhue Coolidge (hearing impairments)
In public schools Lucretia Randolph Garfield Chester Arthur (principal, too) Warren Harding Lou Henry Hoover Pat Nixon Lyndon Johnson (principal, too) Laura Bush
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
With special needs students
department at Washington and Jefferson College, decided to write his new book, From Classroom to White House. “The way history is taught, the personalities of people are washed away,” he says. “They become iconic figures, but they are just people like you and me. That’s often lost. One of the things I wanted to do with the book was show how human these people were and the role that education played in their lives.” The book also offers lessons, Longo says, such as no student should ever be written off and it only takes one teacher to turn things around for even the least interested student.
“One of the biggest surprises I had in researching the book is how often presidents and first ladies are late bloomers and underachievers in school,” he says. “You automatically think John and Jackie Kennedy had the sparkle or that Barbara Bush would have been fun to go to school with. But then you read that John was a dreamer who could never find his books and was always disheveled or that Jackie regretted feeling like she had to hide how smart she was.” In the book, Bush was described by former schoolmates as “sarcastic and mean.” Some presidents had trouble learning. Wilson, for example, was slow to speak and read. While his parents thought he was brilliant, his teachers thought he was a “dolt,” Longo says. It wasn’t until Wilson went to Princeton that he connected with a teacher for the first time. As he wrote to his father, “I have made a discovery; I have a mind.” Ronald Reagan, in his autobiography, described himself as the last kid chosen, the self-conscious student who dreaded public speaking. But then in high school, something happened: He met a teacher who, despite wearing then-unfashionable thick glasses, was confident and loved creativity, which he nurtured in Reagan. “It is difficult for even the most insightful teacher to predict which student will end up a hero,” writes Longo, who knows from firsthand experience — he taught in public schools in St. Louis for more than a decade. Longo says the idea for the book started when he was a doctoral student and would eat lunch in Conroy Commons with senior lecturer Harold “Doc” Howe, a former commissioner of education in the Johnson administration. Howe shared stories, including ones about how Johnson the teacher influenced Johnson the president. “After our lunches, I’d run back to my little office and write the stories down,” Longo says, “before I forgot them.” — Lory Hough
appian way Ed School alumni can often be found at the forefront of education policy, but Anna Gatlin, Ed.M.’11, has gone straight to the top, serving as a domestic policy adviser on education for Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. “It is incredibly exciting,” says Gatlin. “My main objective has and will always be to make a positive impact on the lives of students and their families, so the ability to help shape the broader conversation around education is [something] that I am thankful for every day.” Gatlin grew up in the small town of Bogue Chitto, Miss., and never dreamed that she would work on a presidential campaign. However, her rural upbringing directly shaped her desire to pursue a career in education policy. She says that she saw a need for a more effective system in her home state, so that all children, no matter what their zip code, could receive an excellent education. Gatlin’s commitment to learning is evident in her own academic path. She graduated in 2007 from the University of Mississippi with a triple major in political science, English, and Spanish. Two years later, she added a master’s degree in secondary English education from New York University and then earned a second master’s degree in education policy and management from the Ed School. “I felt incredibly blessed to receive a great education,” says Gatlin. “After graduating from college, I thought the best thing that I could do to help increase opportunities for the children in my state … was to work to strengthen our education system.” She became involved with the Romney campaign through her longtime friend, Garrett Jackson, who works
as an aide for the candidate. Jackson introduced Gatlin to the campaign’s policy director, Lanhee Chen, who then hired her in June 2011 as a domestic policy adviser focusing on education. “I have the benefit of working with a distinguished group of advisers who contribute to crafting policy recommendations for Governor Romney,” says Gatlin. “On a day-to-day basis, I help ensure that he is briefed on a spectrum of policy issues, from political developments in various states to recent innovations in the education sector.” She says that several of her Ed School professors stressed the fact that there is no perfect policy. “In my advisory role on the campaign, that’s an important lesson to remember,” Gatlin says. “Despite the intense and inherently adversarial nature of politics, it is good to be reminded that the best ideas are often born out of open discourse. HGSE breeds this type of collaborative atmosphere, and I will always be grateful and better for my time there.” Gatlin says she is proud of Romney’s education plan, particularly its focus on increasing choice for parents, which would allow for expanded access to highquality public charter schools, and make Title I and IDEA funds portable, so that low income and special needs students can choose which schools to attend and bring the funding with them. Going far beyond the Mississippi borders, Gatlin is aware that the decisionmaking she is now involved in could affect the entire nation. “I am lucky to work with some of the foremost minds in the world on many of the most challenging issues that we face as a country,” says Gatlin. “Playing even a small role in this discussion has been a humbling experience.” — Amy Magin Wong
The Motivator It came as a surprise to both mother and daughter: a special, handmade sash just the right size for a four-year-old. In May, after Sara Suchman, Ed.D.’12, received her hood at the annual doctoral robing ceremony, Senior Lecturer Kay Merseth, M.A.T.’69, Ed.D.’82, pulled out a small, crimson-colored sash she had made, complete with doctoral stripes and seal, and placed it over the head of Suchman’s daughter, Adina, who was standing beside her on the stage. Merseth says she wanted to honor Adina because “she was truly a partner in all of the doctoral process.” Suchman says that Adina, born at the end of her fourth year in the program, was patient with babysitters and longer school days when Mom needed to work. “I also think we both have such wonderful memories of her drawing in my office while I did a quick fact check or sentence fix,” Suchman says.
v are you a graduate working on the obama campaign? let us know!
Harvard Graduate School of Education
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
For years, Conroy Commons, the cafeteria in the basement of Longfellow, served the Ed School community well, especially when comfy couches were added and the vegetarian chili was discovered. But it was always small, with limited space for hanging out or meeting classmates to discuss projects. All that changed for the better in April when Gutman Library was renovated. The cafe moved to a much larger space on the library’s first floor, complete with fireplaces, high-end pizza ovens, and a new name: The Commons.
Near the back of the new cafe, looking
into the Kargman Garden Room and former office space for library staff who moved to the
second floor, there is outdoor seating with tables and chairs for about 20 people.
There are four new pizza ovens, including
one in the front that weighs 3,600 pounds. Because of its size, says Mike Goodwin, who oversees the cafe, the oven was delivered last December and the rest of the cafe was built around it. It can fire up to 900 degrees (but they keep it at 575–600 degrees) and crank out 60 pizzas in an hour. The three other pizza ovens in the back can bake an additional 135 pizzas per hour.
When it gets chilly, diners can warm up in
front of two fireplaces in the cafe, each with a mantel theme. The one at the cafe’s entrance showcases recent faculty books. The Kargman fireplace displays other education books, including those published by our very own Harvard Education Press.
There are five chefs, with one dedicated
just to pizza and calzones.
On any given day, visitors will find a good
mix of staff, students, and faculty members catching up with one another as they grab lunch from the well-stocked salad bar or the martha stewart
made-to-order sauté station. There are also pastries from local bakeries and plenty of sandwiches, including the one most popular with students: The Teacher’s Pet.
studybreak Nikhit D’Sa, Ed.D. candidate
here wasn’t one moment that made Nikhit D’Sa, Ed.M.’12, Concentration: aware of street children, Tool for Change: no specific event that left him thinking, “This is the work Hometown: I want to do.” In Mumbai, India, where he grew up, street children are a constant presence. (Some nonprofits estimate that as many as a quarter million kids live on the streets without adult protection.) But this is exactly the kind of work he ended up doing. It started when he was in middle school, when he volunteered with an NGO that worked with street children. He taught English and played one of India’s most popular sports with the kids: cricket. But D’Sa eventually grew impatient with what he saw as a one-dimensional portrayal of street children, especially because he had been privy to their thoughts and dreams. He decided he wanted to learn about the paths taken by vulnerable young people. After attending the College of the Atlantic in Maine, where he still serves on the board of directors, D’Sa won a fellowship that allowed him to travel for a year to Ireland, the Fiji Islands, Ghana, and Jamaica, where he collected stories from street children and gave them cameras to document their lives. Nowadays, as a doctoral student at the Ed School, he’s looking at trajectories of resilient development, most recently by teaching and collecting data at a charter school in Lowell, Mass., that serves adolescents who dropped out of high school or were expelled. This summer, he was in Bangladesh, evaluating the implementation of a national education and vocational training program for street children and child laborers through the nonprofit organization Save the Children.
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
Human Development and Education Resiliency and street children AP Photo/Channi Anand
Indian street kids play at a shanty town in Jammu, India
Cricket allowed you to …
Common thread that allows resiliency in some street children:
see the children as friends and peers rather than as street kids.
Strong relationships with older youth who have jobs or NGO workers, parents/guardians, neighborhood elders.
Most misunderstood thing about street kids:
You’ve given cameras to street kids because …
That they don’t want to be in school. Most of the street kids I have met have a voracious appetite for education, but they have a hard time accessing alternative education programs or connecting with the curriculum. We need to rethink how we package education for these children.
it took a lot for them to trust another outsider with the details of their lives. Giving them a camera was one way to create a rapport in a short period of time. I tried to tie my stories to the pictures they showed me. While risky, my honesty often allowed them to open up.
How working with street children changed you as a kid: It helped me realize how fortunate I was to have caring, loving parents who supported me through all my experiences and explorations, from childhood mischief to adolescent rebellion.
What you really miss about India: Eating with my hands at every meal.
Something surprising about you: I nearly went to graduate school for a degree in theater arts.
Your singing claim to fame: West African Idol. While traveling in Ghana I became acquainted with a group of boys who were part of a local band. They dragged me to the auditions for West African Idol. I made it through a few rounds of auditions but unfortunately had to leave Ghana before I got very far in the competition.
Working with street kids is … edifying.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Slavery and the No Project It started with a newspaper article, a story that made such an impression on Judy Boyle, Ed.M.’93, that she still remembers the exact date she read it: December 27. “My world turned upside down that night,” she says. “I couldn’t sleep. It did my head in.” The article described a young Greek woman who hanged herself with her own tights. “To hang yourself next to a toilet,” Boyle says. “I thought, what is happening here?” What was happening was something few people acknowledge or even realize: Slavery — in this case, a young woman who was forced into prostitution — is still happening all over the world, including in the United States, despite what history books claim. Boyle knew she had to do something. The next day, she told a friend, a human rights activist, about the article and how it had deeply affected her. “By pure coincidence,” Boyle says, “her NGO, just the week before, had talked about doing something on human trafficking” — the illegal trade in human beings through which people profit from the control and exploitation of others. At the time, Boyle was living in Greece, working as a teacher trainer, writing books, and raising her two children. “I became part of the NGO. I also started to do research. I read and read and read everything I could about slavery and human trafficking.” Eventually, she decided to start her own nonprofit, the No Project. The project is raising public awareness about slavery and human trafficking, focusing specifically on the demand side and primarily targeting young people through the venues they most identify with — the arts, social media, and music. As the project’s mission says, “young people have the power to create change.” The problem, Boyle says, is that change can’t happen if people don’t even know change is needed. Unfortunately, modern-day slavery and human trafficking are mostly invisible crimes. This isn’t someone shooting another person in broad daylight. In some cases, it’s people — including millions of little children — being kidnapped around the world and brought to factories or cocoa plantations to work. In other cases, people are lured by the promise of highpaying jobs in other cities or countries, then forced to work in brothels or as domestic servants in private homes. Under the threat of violence, with passports confiscated, they are forced to work without pay. They can’t contact family, and they can’t just walk away. Still, most people assume that because slavery is illegal, it doesn’t exist. In the United States, they’ll say it ended with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865. But — and this is where education and raising public awareness 14
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
comes in — nonprofit groups estimate that there are at least 27 million slaves around the world, more than there were during the entire 400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In part, slavery is flourishing because today’s slaves are cheap: It is estimated that a healthy slave in America during the Civil War era would have cost about $40,000 in today’s dollars. Today, you can buy a slave for about $90. “Slavery today is illegal,” Boyle says, “but not abolished.” Unfortunately, she adds, there’s often a reluctance to include this information in school curricula. When she first reached out to contacts she had in the publishing world and asked to include information on these topics in curriculum materials, the response was chilly. Publishers worried that the topic was too political, she says. “My thought always was: You include topics like famine. You’re telling me famine isn’t political?” In fact, when it comes to slavery and human trafficking, Boyle avoids politics. “I made a decision to steer clear of politics. This isn’t about who you vote for.” Nowadays, Boyle says, few students know that slavery exists worldwide. At a recent educational workshop that Boyle held in Athens, a group of 20-something students from Atlanta told her they had no idea this was going on. “They were shocked out of their minds to know it was going on in their city,” Boyle says. When she gets responses like this, she is outraged. “How dare we let kids get to the age of 18 and not know about the fastest-growing crime on the planet,” she says. “Ideally, I’d love for every single educational institution to have a unit on slavery in an accurate, nonsensational way. We can’t reabolish slavery unless educators and publishers are on board.” Boyle says the No Project has been working with some teachers and superintendents, but not enough. “My goal would be that in every teacher training session, there would be a module on slavery and human trafficking,” she says.
The project has also worked with some schools, mostly at the high school and university levels, holding workshops and seminars. In June, Boyle traveled to Bulgaria to collaborate with college-level graphic and visual arts students on an art installation, which includes a headless mannequin dressed in men’s clothing. Through headphones, visitors hear whispered phrases such as, “I am a liar,” “I am a rapist,” and “I smell vulnerability.” Once completed, the deputy prime minister of Bulgaria will open the installation in the capital, Sofia. Boyle hopes it inspires students at other schools to create their own work on these issues. A future goal for Boyle and the project is to develop curriculum for teachers to use on their own. For now, she urges interested educators to visit sites by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and the Polaris Project for downloadable materials. Readers can also contact her to see how they can help in their region, no matter what country or how remote. Outside of schools, the No Project recently started working with dozens of hip-hop dance crews around the world to help spread the message about slavery. These dancers have huge followings, especially online, Boyle says. The all-female ReQuest Dance Crew from New Zealand, which includes a choreographer working with Jennifer Lopez on her world tour, created a PSA video for the No Project that ran on YouTube and spread on Facebook. More recently, a dance crew from the Philippines asked how they can help. Boyle has also worked with NBA and WNBA players and is starting to reach out to celebrities like actress Isla Fisher, who will be wearing a No Project t-shirt at an upcoming event. These are all ways, Boyle says, of reaching young people. “I have to act as a portal,” she says, especially in educating young people. “Right now, I’m thinking, what is the greatest form of sustainability? It’s the next generation. If every kid on the planet knew about slavery, then when they become teachers or policymakers, they could make a difference. But until this crime becomes revealed, we can’t change it.” — Lory Hough 15
To See the Stars For Wesleyan University theater professor Ron Jenkins, Ed.M.’79, Ed.D.’84, his first experience in prison was in 1989, when he was arrested during a demonstration against the apartheid government in South Africa. Crowded into a cell with more than 100 other men, Jenkins remembers enduring repulsive and dehumanizing conditions, with prisoners not even released to use the bathroom. However, these conditions were not what left the most lasting impression on him. Instead, it was the prisoners themselves: Rather than complain, they chose to sing and dance in order to celebrate their ongoing struggle for freedom. Now, more than 20 years later, Jenkins has used that spontaneous act of theatrical transformation as a source of inspiration, with a program he created that attempts to use theater as a catalyst for positive change in prisons throughout the world. The program, called the Dante Project, has been facilitated in New York, Connecticut, Italy, and Indonesia. In the program, Jenkins uses classics like Dante’s Inferno and the works of Shakespeare to encourage incarcerated men and women to write about points of connection between their own life stories and the experiences of the characters, which are then woven together to create a script that is performed inside the prisons. The program extends outside 16
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
the walls of the prisons as well, with college students from his classes at Wesleyan also performing the scripts at other colleges and in the community before engaging in discussions about issues related to reforming the criminal justice system in the United States. “The goal is to use theater as a catalyst for transformation, inside prisons and out,” Jenkins says. It is about “personal transformations for incarcerated individuals who want to imagine a future for themselves that is different than the past experiences that brought them to prison, and transformations for the college students whose time in the prison gives them new insights into the way the criminal justice system works.” As one former inmate, Lynda Gardner, told The Boston Globe about the program, “I spent my first six months [in York Correctional Institution in Connecticut] trying to kill myself, and the next four and a half years trying to see how much more I can live.” In one of the most recent outreaches into the community, Jenkins, his Wesleyan students, and three women who had been incarcerated at York, including Gardner, attended the Ed School Alumni of Color Conference in March to perform a mash-up of Dante’s Inferno and the prisoner’s life stories called To See the Stars.
(L) Ron Jenkins rehearses with former inmates Saundra Duncan and Lynda Gardner. (R) Gardner rehearses To See the Stars with Deborah Ranger.
For Jenkins, this kind of performance and these three strong women represent the successful transformations that can be achieved through theater, a lesson he remembers first learning during his time spent studying at the Ed School. Professors such as Howard Gardner and his colleagues at Project Zero showed him that the arts are linked to human development in ways that are often unappreciated by the education establishment. Professor Gerry Lesser taught him about the impact of the arts on education through the course he taught on the development of Sesame Street. Now, Jenkins has witnessed how the arts really can make a difference. “Theater is an art of transformation because it gives people a chance to take on roles they’ve never played before — to try out new identities, to redefine themselves — and sometimes what happens on stage can be a rehearsal for new ways of looking at the world off stage in real life,” he says. “That has been the case for the three performers that appeared at Harvard. They refused to let themselves be defined as ex-convicts and instead have distinguished themselves as remarkable teachers, artists, writers, and advocates for social justice.” — Rachael Apfel
While in prison for gambling addiction–related crimes, Lynda Gardner enrolled in a drawing class and discovered something about herself: She was an artist. Since then, much of her work has included movement and growth — birds growing wings, horses charging. “The birds are the protectors, the horse a burst of energy, a way to freedom,” she says. “I think I am that horse now.”
In & Out & Up Senior Lecturer Todd Pittinsky, Assistant Professor Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, Assistant Professor Karen Brennan, and Assistant Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Ed.D.’09, joined the Ed School this year. Lecturer Stone Wiske, Ed.D.’83, retired. And Professor Nonie Lesaux and Associate Professor Jimmy Kim, Ed.M.’98, Ed.D.’02, were promoted.
I read the opening line of The New York Times restaurant review with the panache of a trained classical actress: “A doughnut was falling and everyone in the restaurant watched.” My analytical tone tests the language rhythms of a descriptive paragraph further along in the review: “Caramel-banana and brownsugar grapefruit glazes had already sold out.” A simple sentence is read slowly to highlight noun-verb recognition: “The crowd groaned.” Without looking up, I point to the white board each time a sentence represents an impression, an attitude, a detail. All the students have doughnuts and they are instructed to create a descriptive paragraph about their doughnuts before teaming up for a doughnut war. For this lesson, all my cumulative career and teaching experience is needed to engage a class of diverse learners in this Fundamentals of Composition course. I teach required English composition courses ranging from remedial writing skills to persuasive and expository essays at a California community college. Despite acquired content from earning three graduate degrees — one in dramaturgy, one in creative nonfiction, and one in arts and education — teaching in community college becomes an art of practice and craft separate from content. I am the daughter of two public school teachers. They were lauded and respected educators teaching in the same town’s school system. When I graduated from college, full of the liberal arts and myself, my mother said I possessed the “talent” for teaching. At the time, I found this graduation offering stifling rather than insightful wisdom. A career in teaching seemed static and unchallenging. There were so many paths to experience. However, whether it was the inside knowledge of the family business or my eventual self-discovered “talent,” my mother’s insight proved correct. Each path I proceeded down led me back to teaching, eventually to community college after leaving the faculty of the University of California–Santa Barbara’s writing program, due to a job relocation for my husband. California Community Colleges is the nation’s largest higher education system, opening the college doors to an economically, generationally, academically diverse student
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
atob Karin Cooper, Ed.M.’01
population. In this environment, having to use all my experiences trying to meet so many learning needs, I found the love for teaching. Here, students want to trust that I am supportive of individual circumstances and learning backgrounds while maintaining college-level content. There are motivated students who can and will succeed in any college curriculum but, due to economic and family circumstances, attend community college. There are students who are unsure of themselves as students but believe a college education will guarantee better futures and so attend community college. Unlike teaching a required course to college students with a common denominator of age and educational preparedness, the challenge at a community college is to create a supportive and active learning environment for the discussion of ideas, writing assessment, and peer reviews among a community of strangers. This begins with my teaching practice. Back at the doughnut war, a Marine veteran, a shoeless professional boogie boarder, an older ESL student, and a shy, former homeschooled student all represent their teams. The battle of descriptive words begins. If my enthusiasm for a doughnut description in a remedial writing course can motivate the students to learn to write one descriptive paragraph and bond with other students for a collegial discussion of the impressions of words, for that lesson, I have succeeded. — Karin Cooper, Ed.M.’01, teaches at Saddleback College. She says she hasn’t had a doughnut in years but lives vicariously through her students’ descriptions.
v send stories to email@example.com.
onmybookshelf Associate Professor Meira Levinson
The thing that drew you to it: I’m personally and professionally interested in the topic [integration]. Also, Anderson is one of the few political philosophers who try to integrate serious social science data into their work; since this is
something I try to do as well, I wanted to learn from her approach.
I am ashamed to admit, I have never read… James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Noneducation genre of choice: Novels. Ideally complex, layered, and somewhat self-referential, but not radically post-modern. I’m a sucker for narrative.
Favorite spot to curl up with a good book: I remember I used to do that, in the mists of time before having kids! I suppose anywhere quiet — and far away from a computer.
Last great read: We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, by my mother, Cynthia Levinson. It’s a dramatic and absorbing account of four of the children — the youngest was nine years old — who marched and were jailed for freedom.
How you find the time: I stay up too late. Next up: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. — Marin Jorgensen jill anderson
Currently reading: Truthfully, primarily The New Yorker, as I seem to find time these days only for reading short pieces. Oh yes, and Paddington Bear and The Watsons Go To Birmingham — 1963 with my children (ages 6 and 9). On the grown-up books front, however, I’m currently immersed in The Imperative of Integration by Elizabeth Anderson.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Burn Your Resume Exit
By Paul Frankenberg and Ethan Dunham
By Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
with grace and dignity, but also with purpose and understand-
ing. In her latest book, Exit, Professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot,
way for college graduates to make the transition out of
Ed.D.’72, explores this phenomenon, which she argues is be-
the classroom and ignite new careers? According to Paul
coming troublesome in a society where departures have become
Frankenberg and Ethan Dunham, Ed.M.’07, the title of their
the norm, with half of marriages ending in divorce, a rocky job
new book is a great place to start: Burn Your Resume.
market forcing high unemployment and frequent career changes,
Well, not literally, they say. But while “building up your
and tens of thousands of emigrants leaving their homes around
resume” has become a central theme of career prepara-
the world each day. Taking into account the various dimensions
tion, they argue that an individual’s resume really only
of these exit moments, including the emotional, relational, intel-
represents a small part of a much larger process, merely
lectual, and developmental aspects, Lawrence-Lightfoot seeks to
serving as a tool to help unlock the first-round interview
capture their importance in helping us move forward.
application. While they may not expect that readers set
ll things must come to an end — or so the saying goes. And yet there are few lessons in our culture that teach us how to approach these exits, not only
Drawing inspiration from dozens of interviews conducted over
done. In a globalized world with a new economy and a challenging employment landscape, the stakes
are high and the competition is tough. So what is the best
flames to their resumes, they do advocate that readers do
the course of a two-year period, Lawrence-Lightfoot focuses
away with their reliance on resumes and instead channel
on the experiences of 11 individuals in particular, including
their energy toward action and distinguishing themselves
an Iranian teenager forced to flee political strife and come to
from the competition.
America alone, a middle-aged gay man and his coming out,
Organized into a series of 21 chapters, the book provides
a bullied child whose parents take him out of school, and a
readers with 21 different pieces of advice or instruction
psychotherapist who guides abuse victims in an effort to finally
that cover everything from networking to interviewing to
“terminate” therapy. Using these stories of transitions and exits,
handling the first day on the job. Accompanied by short
Lawrence-Lightfoot provides readers with new wisdom, insight,
examples and anecdotes, these lessons are illuminated
and perspective. Simply by looking through the lens of an exit,
with real-world applications, offering readers suggestions
the book slowly illuminates the different dimensions of our own
that they can carry with them and apply to their own experi-
life stories — from things like home and a parent’s love, to the
ences. As a step-by-step manual, Burn Your Resume not
price of freedom and the meaning of grace — and demonstrates
only helps readers identify their talents and passions, but
how they can be seen in a new light.
also outlines how they should incorporate those into the
Representing a significant departure from our culture’s
appropriate career search. Challenging readers to not only
tendency to glorify and applaud the promise of beginnings while
take the next step, but to commit to it wholeheartedly, the
dismissing and depreciating the exits that bring them, this book
book argues that separating oneself from the crowd re-
helps create a new conversation. While beginnings may be full
quires work, effort, investment, and a willingness to persist
of optimism and expectation, Lawrence-Lightfoot shows that
there is always some “good” to be found in “goodbyes.” De-
inding a job in the 21st century is easier said than
“You’ll have to practice, and you will have to change old
signed to challenge readers to reframe their own transitions and
habits and develop new ones,” Frankenberg and Dunham
endings in a positive light, Exit is a book that strives to reveal
write. “Take the time to reflect on, plan, practice, and exe-
the true power and value of exits and the deeper implications
cute the points we’ve drawn up for you throughout this book
that they hold.
and you will be able to seize the opportunities you desire.”
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
Cultural Foundations of Learning By Jin Li
hat is it that defines an educated man? Is it his depth of knowledge, or his moral character; his mind, or his virtue? In Cultural Foundations of Learning, Jin Li, Ed.M.’90,
Ed.D.’97, describes how distinct answers to these questions have created fundamental differences between Western and East Asian models of learning. While a Western education aims to cultivate the mind and broaden one’s understanding of the world, an East Asian education focuses more on moral excellence. In an effort to explain how these two regional models emerged and why they produce such different learners, Li begins by tracing the departure back to its cultural origins. Pointing out how the European-American model echoes the Western intellectual tradition, she then contrasts this with examples such as the Chinese model, which manifests a strong Confucian lineage. Thus, even though both cultures value learning and the education systems themselves are similar — with students in both regions undergoing the same kindergarten to college approach, filled with much of the same math, science, and language content — the meaning of the content is so different that there is virtually no overlap. In East Asia, content is virtue-oriented, with the entire learning process taking place around five major “virtues” — sincerity, diligence, concentration, perseverance, and endurance — that aim toward perfecting the self. In the West, on the other hand, learning processes are centered on four entirely different components — critical thinking, active engagement, self-expression, and exploration — which may sound much more familiar and are ultimately aimed at creating students who better understand the world around them. Focusing on these general cultural orientations of learning, not the individual differences between East Asia and the West, the book outlines how cultural models influence a child’s beliefs, which then manifest themselves in the learning process. Avoiding a prescriptive approach filled with suggestions and advice, the book maintains a descriptive and interpretive tone, shedding both light and under-
standing onto a topic that has received little attention. Delving into this longstanding, yet often overlooked difference between two major regions of the world, Cultural Foundations of Learning provides valuable insight into the implications that particular learning processes may hold for students. — Briefs written by Rachael Apfel
The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Designing and Teaching Online Courses Joan Thormann and Isa Kaftal Zimmerman, M.A.T.’63, Ed.D.’71; 2012 Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student Professor Chris Dede and Adjunct Lecturer John Richards; 2012 The Drawing Mind Deborah Putnoi, Ed.M.’92; 2012 Effective Inclusive Schools: Designing Successful Schoolwide Programs Professor Thomas Hehir, Ed.D.’90, and Lauren Katzman, Ed.M.’99, Ed.D.’04; 2012 Generous-Minded Women: A History of the Winsor School Dianne Haley, M.A.T.’67; 2012 International Struggles for Critical Democratic Education Matthew Knoester, Ed.M.’01; 2012 Languages in a Global World: Learning for Better Cultural Understanding Visiting Professor Bruno della Chiesa; doctoral candidate Jessica Scott, Ed.M.’08; and Christina Hinton, Ed.M.’06, Ed.D.’12; 2012 Learning Causality in a Complex World: Understandings of Consequence Associate Professor Tina Grotzer, Ed.M.’85, Ed.D.’93; 2012 Learning Gardens and Sustainability Education: Bringing Life to Schools and Schools to Life Dilafruz Williams, C.A.S.’79; 2012 Literacy and Mothering Professor Emeritus Robert LeVine; Sarah LeVine; Beatrice SchnellAnzola, Ed.M.’86, Ed.D.’01; Meredith Rowe, Ed.M.’99, Ed.D.’03; and Emily Dexter, Ed.M.’90, Ed.D.’00; 2012 (see page 30) Mirrors of the Mind: Introduction to Mindful Ways of Thinking Education Noriyuki Inoue, Ed.M.’93; 2012 Random Views of Asia from the Mid-Pacific William Sharp Jr., Ed.M.’90; 2012 Shaping Social Justice Leadership: Insights of Women Educators Worldwide Linda Lyman, M.A.T.’64, Jane Strachan, and Angeliki Lazaridou; 2012 Why Our Schools Need the Arts Jessica Hoffman Davis, Ed.M.’86, Ed.D.’91; 2011 Harvard Graduate School of Education
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
Schools need to do something, but what?
The Bullying conundrum By Jill Anderson illustrations by edel rodriguez
igh school student Zachary Kerr didn’t know what to do. As a sophomore transitioning from female to male, he was met with comments in the classroom from whom one might least expect it: a teacher who voiced his disapproval of Kerr’s gender change. “It was hard to figure out what to do because it was a teacher,” Kerr, now 18, says about his experience. “Do I complain about it? This teacher was responsible for grading me, and [his] was one of my favorite classes. Do I let it go and be uncomfortable? My decision was to let it go.” He spent the rest of the year not speaking in the class about his transition. Every day, students face the decision of what to do about being bullied, whether by peers or adults. According to 2010 U.S. Department of Education data, 32 percent of students report being bullied at some point during the school year and 8 percent avoid places at school out of fear. And bullying can happen in different ways, as Kerr’s experience demonstrates. In fact, the types of bullying are just as diverse as solutions proposed to stop it. And that’s a big problem for schools. Bullying has received an unprecedented amount of attention lately. From documentary films about the issue hitting the mainstream, to celebrities talking about their experiences being tormented, to the endless media coverage, the message is loud but not necessarily clear: Do something! Educators trying to create safer learning environments grapple with that “something,” especially as more student reactions to being bullied turn tragic, like with 15-year-old Phoebe Prince from South Hadley, Mass., who, after months of torment, hanged herself. The increased attention on the topic really provides a glimpse into all the “somethings” we should be concerned about, says Lecturer Richard Weissbourd, Ed.D.’87, a child and family psychologist. “It’s a window into our failure to develop empathy in kids, or caring and responsibility in kids,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to talk about social-emotional learning, moral development, responsibility for others, standing up and having courage, and also an opportunity to talk about the way schools function and what we are doing and not doing to prepare adults to connect to students and to be helpful to them around peer troubles. You can’t prevent bullying without doing most of those things.”
Something’s Gotta Give
In the era of standardized testing, incorporating these aforementioned lessons in the classroom isn’t easy. Across the board, experts and educators agree that with an increased focus on academic achievement comes an inadvertent decreased focus on social-emotional learning — the process for recognizing and managing emotion and how to develop concern for others. “If schools are to address bullying, and if the nation sees the schools as the ones to take this on, then there has to be time for it,” says Manjula Karamcheti, Ed.M.’01, director of guidance for Malden (Mass.) Public Schools. “Educators are being held at such a high-stakes level with testing, MCAS [state standards-based assessment], and growth models. If we are saying schools are in charge of these things, but also social-emotional development for students, then it really needs to be incorporated in the classroom on regular basis. You can’t do it in a one-shot deal. They need to be empowered to do it and do it right.” But what is the right way to empower schools to teach these lessons? There is no one answer. Some educators swear by teaching empathy — the practice of sharing another’s feelings. Others mention the power of social perspective-taking, in which a student may not necessarily share a person’s view but can understand another’s perspective. There’s also the practice of mindfulness — living in the present and being self-aware. Most often these options are touted as “life skills,” even though, like bullying, their definitions are subjective depending on whom you ask. “When we talk about empathy, perspective-taking, and mindfulness, those things are circulating around a broader framework of social-emotional learning,” says Associate Professor Stephanie Jones, who researches the developmental impact of school-based interventions targeting children’s social-emotional skills and aggressive behavior. “I think these siloed terms are everybody’s favorite representation of the ‘important’ thing, when in fact it is a whole array of related skills that support kids’ positive interactions with each other.”
If schools are to address bullying, and if the nation sees the schools as the ones to take this on, then there has to be time for it.”
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
– Manjula Karamcheti, Ed.M.’01
Building the best Curriculum
To date, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options in the antibullying curriculum market for schools, and many incorporate aspects of empathy, perspective-taking, and mindfulness. But as Weissbourd points out, it’s still not enough. “We can do a lot better than we are doing,” he says. “A lot [of students] are not being reached with these programs.” Logic tells us that in order for kids to become better people, Weissbourd says, educators need to teach them to become more selfaware, empathetic, and kind. But that’s not easy to do. “It is a challenge to teach emotional regulating skills,” says Associate Professor Hunter Gehlbach, an educational psychologist whose work has focused on social perspective-taking. “I don’t know that we have good techniques for people to turn on a dime and feel a different set of emotions.” Social-emotional learning encourages students to better understand themselves by becoming more aware of their feelings and identifying those feelings in others. As a result, this type of learning creates better interpersonal communication and relationships. Jones says that although it may not be easy, educators and parents can play important roles in “practicing” these life skills. She recommends that parents model this behavior and take opportunities to demonstrate how to reflect and respond in situations. For example, when a child grabs a toy from another child, this is an opportunity for parents to intervene and ask a child how he or she feels when that happens to him or her. “My 5-year-old isn’t great at putting himself in other shoes, but there are times when he is great about it,” Jones says. “We need to practice it in more situations. It’s a constant job of highlighting moments where you can take another’s view or share the experience for young kids. They need practice and they need people to show them those moments.” This is important because these moments teach children how to live in the world with other people. Jones also urges schools to collect data by surveying students and teachers in order to gauge school climate. Do they feel safe? Is there an adult they can confide in? Schools can then identify where there might be a problem and enact targeted strategies. She says there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather schools can tailor their own social-emotional learning programs to fit the needs of the school. It’s also critical, Karamcheti says, for schools not to view a student’s behaviors in isolation. “It’s a conundrum. It’s important to keep having conversations about what all of this means. … If a kid is being bullied at school, then they may not [be] attending school and accessing the curriculum, and [they are] not going to succeed academically. It’s all connected.”
Ed School Efforts
Recently, the Harvard Graduate School of Education launched a number of antibullying efforts at the school, including Dean McCartney’s Commencement address challenging students to eradicate bullying, Lecturer Richard Weissbourd and Associate Professor Stephanie Jones’ research on strategies for parents and educators to stem bullying, and the addition of a popular doctoral module focused on creating safe learning environments. Last summer, the school participated in the It Gets Better campaign by creating a moving video of faculty, staff, and students sharing their personal accounts. Last February, Askwith Forums hosted a screening of the documentary, Bully. This past spring, Kerry Kennedy spoke in an Askwith Forum about bullying and human rights. Even Grammy award– winning singer Lady Gaga joined forces with the Ed School (and a few famous friends) this past year to launch her Born This Way Foundation, which included a youth summit that brought together local students who had once been bullies, had been bullied, or who were developing antibullying programs on their own.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Minding the Disconnect
At the heart of the issue is what Weissbourd calls a “rhetoric reality gap,” where a school’s mission states that it is a caring environment and the school adopts an antibullying curriculum, but a walk down the hall reveals a different story: a student saying, “That’s so gay.” A boy harassing a girl. Someone getting beat on. At the J. Erik Jonsson Community School in Dallas, for example, Associate Director of Education Heather Bryant and staff were shocked to hear that some of the younger Latino and African American students — as young as three years old — were engaged in bullying. In one situation, a young Latino female encouraged other students to exclude an African American girl from basic classroom activities. This pushed the school, which Bryant says was already a caring and kind community, to engage students and parents in new ways. “This was a catalyst for us to be even more overt and led us to trying out [new] socio-emotional activities,” Bryant says. 26
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
To combat the bullying, the school turned to teaching self-reflection through mindfulness using the Hawn Foundation’s MindUP Curriculum and Susan Greenland’s book, The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate. But they didn’t stop with just the students. They also partnered with parents in the community. “I was prepared for parents to say, ‘What are you doing with the chimes and breathing?’” Bryant says. “We invited them to coffee with the principal and explained what was happening, especially in the brain when a child gets upset. We also did exercises with them. I cannot tell you how many parents later asked, ‘Where did you get those chimes?’” The difference also seems to have affected the students by bringing many aspects of social-emotional learning together. Bryant says their early data shows students doing better in areas like emotional control, empathy, perspective-taking, and optimism, as well as peer acceptance. “It’s not like we have perfect angels and we are living in bliss,” Bryant says. “We still have stuff going on and we still
Early research suggests that when we are actively engaging in bullying or being bullied, we have a hard time empathizing with the other’s emotional experiences of the situation. are working on it. But I do think we are able to have better discussions about choices and we can all use the same vocabulary. It’s a process, and we have to keep at it.” Karamcheti shares similar experiences and says that in Malden, they decided to get creative. Instead of using just one approach to stop bullying and better handle conflict, they are using several methods, including teaching elementary-aged students about tolerance and empathy through antibullying, curriculum-based programs sold to schools such as Side By Side and Second Step, and using the Step to Respect program in middle school. They also offer parent workshops and use the community’s diversity to foster empathy and understanding, as opposed to just focusing on bullying. In her three years as director, Karamcheti discovered that students, especially middle school students, were craving these programs. “Our kids were hungry for it,” she says. “I was surprised by how much students wanted to do this work and talk about issues in the school setting, though they often don’t get the opportunity because things are so structured. They don’t often have the time to talk about what is going on in their lives and talk about their feelings.” Of course, teachers still report conflict among students and difficulty in applying these skills in the heat of the moment, even though the programs have also created student self-awareness and a common vocabulary to use when problems arise. “I think that can be tricky for young kids,” Bryant says. “I think you can have a respectful classroom and teachers. You can talk the talk but have to walk the walk. I think there is disconnect with kids for that.” This isn’t a surprise to Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Ed.M.’98, Ed.D.’05, a neuroscientist and human development psychologist studying social and emotional functioning of children and how it relates to the development of self and empathy. Our brains may hold clues to that disconnect and also may provide answers as to what an ideal curriculum would look like to target bullying and other violence issues facing children and schools. After all, the brain is naturally wired to be empathic, she says. This is, in effect, how we share each other’s emotions and understandings
in order to learn and engage in meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, brain researchers are just now coming to understand how this process can be undermined in our action-oriented societies. Early research suggests that when we are actively engaging in bullying or being bullied, we have a hard time empathizing with the other’s emotional experiences of the situation. This suggests that there isn’t necessarily one magic bullet or program that will solve the puzzle of bullying. “Instead, teachers need to find ways to tap into and awaken students’ abilities,” Immordino-Yang says, “to take others’ perspectives and feel what they are subjectively experiencing. “Empathy programs tend to focus on how does so-and-so feel right now,” she says. “It’s a great start, but we need to move beyond that so a person not only recognizes another person’s emotion, but also has the opportunity to reflect on that emotion by connecting to their own personal experience, emotions, and memories. And, how do we do that? By becoming more reflective and mindful. What does that curriculum look like? We are working on that, but it will involve supporting students in reflecting deeply on the emotional implications of others’ situations and interpretations.”
Putting Kindness in the Water
In February, pop icon Lady Gaga launched her antibullying, youth empowerment–focused Born This Way Foundation at the Ed School, with the help of her friend Oprah Winfrey. Perhaps her call at the event for little acts of kindness and working “from the ground up” — starting with young people — to create a new culture is the answer. As researchers and educators often point out, it isn’t necessarily the formal lessons that matter as much as creating a culture where students value differences and become tolerant of varying viewpoints and cultural practices. And it only really works, says Weissbourd, if it’s “in the water.” “The powerful stuff is in the water, not those 20-minute empathy lessons,” he says. “It’s how people treat each other every day. What the expectations are and people’s behavior.” Harvard Graduate School of Education
In Their Words
Alyssa Ahrens submitted her essay “Too Late” to a student essay contest on bullying that I held earlier this year for young people aged 14 to 19 in partnership with The New York Times Learning Network and the national magazine Teen Ink. From the 1,200 essays submitted, we chose five finalists. As one of the winning essays, Alyssa’s piece was excerpted in my May 16, 2012 column, “The Winning Essays Are … ,” and was published in full on my blog, On the Ground. The full essay is also being published here, in Ed. magazine. — Nicholas Kristof, columnist, The New York Times
By Alyssa Ahrens, 17, Indiana
A young girl walks through her high school halls, clutching a book tightly against her stomach, as if it were a shield. She has her hair loose, allowing the tendrils of it to gather by the sides of her face. Another shield. She stares pointedly at the floor, taking quick, hushed steps as she reaches the stairs. Gingerly, she climbs up them one step at a time, looking about her for that frighteningly familiar face. She feels the clamor of the students around her, brushing past her, fighting their way through the crowded hallways. The world turns into blurs around her as she sights a face at the top of the stairs, lounging against the corner in the stairwell, smiling as it recognizes its prey. It’s too late to turn around. It’s too late to hurry past. She’s been spotted. Too late. Too late. Too late. Hands grab her book, and she is pulled to the corner. Cruel eyes crinkle in laughter. No words are spoken. In the breath of a moment, the girl’s hands are empty, flailing in the air for purchase as she is tumbling, falling backward. Her head meets a sharp corner, her hand hits the wall with a sharp crack. With pain erupting in her, she slides down the rest of the steps. She hears something skidding across the floor by her head. It is her book. Her useless shield. There is one more flash of that gloating smile before it rounds the stairs. A few kids glance at her. One hands her book to her and gives her a hand up. The girl takes a quick inventory. Her hand hurts, head is throbbing, and ankle is on fire. Nothing broken. She is pushed forward by the teacher behind her, her voice chiming, “Time to get to class,” methodically. This girl is me. Just another student. Just another victim. For eight years, this is the world I have lived in. For eight years, I have skipped lunch to get to the safety of the library, bury myself in books, and count the days till graduation. As of today, it is 64. I used to have five very close friends, friends who endured the same hell as I did. Every day. Words like bullets, raining down upon you till there is nothing left. Those words hurt me worse than getting shoved down a flight of stairs ever did. Those words, that smile. Those are what make me wake up at night screaming. Those are what I see when I look in the mirror. Nothing. Worthless. Loser. Sometimes they told us we were better off dead. Two of my friends followed their advice. One never saw the age of 14, the other never got his license. Never say that they are just words. Don’t think it’s our confidence that is the problem. It is the bullies. It’s too late for me. Too late for a lot of kids. Nothing will undo the years I have spent questioning what I did wrong. But for millions of other kids, it isn’t too late. Bullying starts early and gets worse. Tackle it in elementary school. It isn’t cute. It doesn’t mean that the girl likes that boy or vice versa. It is bullying. It is dangerous. And it needs to be stopped. Before it’s too late.
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
In other words, the only way to teach children to be empathetic, to take other people’s perspectives, to be mindful, and, in turn, to be good citizens, is to reflect those attitudes every day in all aspects of school environment. This means that not only do the students need to treat each other respectfully and value one another, but adults must also model this behavior in and out of the classroom. But even if all of this is done, can school culture really change? Marya Levenson, Ed.D.’84, coauthor of the 2004 article “Can School Culture Change?” and director of the education program at Brandeis University, believes it is possible. “It’s easier to create a culture if you are starting from new, like a small school or charter school, because everyone is saying the kind of learning community that they want to have,” Levenson says. But, even in a school with an existing culture, “I believe that culture can also change. I think it needs to be more than just the principal who believes that culture can change. … It can be done. It has been done. Is it challenging? Yes.” As of January, 48 states had antibullying laws. Early research suggests that the outcomes of these antibullying policies depend explicitly on a school’s culture. Those with a respectful and responsive school culture usually fare better than those schools that have yet to establish such an environment. As Levenson says, changing school culture requires more than just a principal who believes in change or a mission statement declaring a new caring and loving environment with zero tolerance. Real change requires strategies, both short- and long-term, and unwavering commitment to making change. Without buy-in from the entire school community — top leaders all the way to parents and students — it can be difficult to tackle issues linked to bullying. And even with a changed school culture focused on caring, Levenson warns that bullying still can and likely will exist. “Schools are not a vacuum from the larger culture . . . but schools do have the ability to try to create a learning community where students feel safe to share information about what has happened to them and others,” she says. “We can’t prevent everything that’s happening, but if we have a community where students can go to a trusted adult, then that is the minimum a school should be able to deliver.” Kerr, the student bullied by a teacher during his gender transformation, knows this from firsthand experience. “The hardest thing is thinking that you are going through it alone,” he says. “No child should ever have to deal with it alone.”
Life skills Empathy
Sharing another’s feelings.
Social perspective-taking Understanding another’s perspective even if you don’t share the same view.
Living in the present and being self-aware.
Ultimately, at the end of the school year, Kerr confided in a guidance counselor, who told him it was not okay for his teacher to bully him. The counselor worked with administration to talk to the teacher, who apologized to Kerr. “There should always be someone,” Kerr says. “It’s the school’s job to care.” As educators try to tackle bullying head on, the problem must be faced with optimism, as Dean Kathleen McCartney noted in her recent Commencement address, which focused on bullying. When asked by a friend if she thought bullying could really be stopped, McCartney said, “Yes, I do, along with committed educators, parents, policymakers, entertainers, and especially young people. My mother taught me that whenever you are given a choice between optimism and pessimism, choose optimism.” In doing so, the ultimate resolve may be as simple as each of us looking inside ourselves. “We are the school culture. The culture is the norms and expectations of relationships,” Immordino-Yang says. “We are the skilled orchestrators of those relationships. We have to change ourselves if we want to change school culture.” Ed.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
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How a mother’s literacy skills, even at a basic level, translate into healthier kids. It’s an idea that’s been around for a long time: The more formal schooling a mother gets, the better off her children’s health will be. Educated women get prenatal care, boil their water, and take sick kids to the doctors. Illness decreases. Survival increases. Study after study in public health, particularly in the developing world, has shown this to be absolutely true. And yet, surprisingly, for many years, no one ever quite figured out why or how this happened. There were theories, of course. Education empowers women, who still serve as the primary caretakers for children. It liberates them from traditional bonds like family influence and old wives’ tales. It improves status and access. However, few researchers actually gave much credit to the learning itself, assuming many schools in developing countries were of such low quality that they couldn’t possibly be teaching useful skills to women. Even Professor Emeritus Robert LeVine and his wife, Sarah, an anthropologist and former researcher at the Ed School, couldn’t quite put their fingers on the school-health connection when they started looking at women’s schooling, fertility, and child mortality in the early 1980s with the Ed School’s Project on Maternal Schooling. As the LeVines and three Ed School alumni, Beatrice Schnell-Anzola, Ed.M.’86, Ed.D.’01, Meredith Rowe, Ed.M.’99, Ed.D.’03, and Emily Dexter, Ed.M.’90, Ed.D.’00, ask in their new book, Literacy and Mothering: How Women’s Schooling Changes the Lives of the World’s Children, “What is it about schooling that affects child survival, fertility, and the behavioral development of children?”
or nearly a decade, their guesses about that link between going to school as a young girl — even for only a few years — and behavior later as a mother that positively affects children’s health focused primarily on attitude and behavior. Educated women feel more assertive, for example. But early on in the project, LeVine says, “We didn’t have an account of what happens in the classroom that could explain later health and fertility outcomes.” And then, while planning to partially replicate a previous research project done in Cuernavaca, Mexico, an Ed School student, Patricia Velasco, C.A.S.’84, Ed.D.’89, suggested they look into literacy as a possible explanation — an aspect of schooling “strangely neglected,” LeVine says. Velasco was studying under Ed School Professors Catherine Snow and Jeanne Chall, experts on language and reading. At first, LeVine says he “pooh-poohed” the suggestion. As he writes in the book, “We were frankly skeptical that literacy or any other cognitive outcome of schooling could account for the impact of schooling on the maternal behavior that led to diminished fertility and mortality. We were inclined to believe” — as had earlier researchers focused on attitude and behavior — “that schooling empowered girls, influencing their aspirations for themselves and their children, their ability to assert themselves, and their sense of self-worth, regardless of what they learned in school.” In part this was because many schools in less-developed countries employed poorly trained teachers and lacked basic equipment. It was reasonable to assume, LeVine says, that only limited literacy skills could be learned in those environments, and that retaining those skills many years later when these girls became mothers was uncertain. Still, he decided to add a literacy test that Velasco helped create to the new Mexico project, mostly, he says, to prove “once and for all” that literacy didn’t have an effect. What they found from their initial work was surprising. “The results came out exactly the opposite from what I expected,” LeVine says. “The more schooling, the more literacy skills.” But even just a couple of years in the classroom as young girls made a difference in what was used later, as mothers, to make informed health choices for their children. “The data was absolutely unequivocal. We thought: Now we finally have the intervening variable.” From that point on, maternal literacy became the project’s main focus. “It’s not a model I’d recommend,” LeVine jokes about the project’s path, “but it worked for us.” And it worked through four studies in four different countries: After Mexico, they interviewed mothers in Zambia, Venezuela, and Nepal. The areas were chosen, in part, for their diversity, and also because there were Ed School doctoral students who had lived or worked in each of 32
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these countries, like Kathleen Stuebing, Ed.M.’89, Ed.D.’94, who taught for many years in Zambia, and Nepal native Arun Joshi, Ed.M.’86, Ed.D.’98, who showed up at LeVine’s Cambridge office one day, urging him to include Nepal in the study. Schnell-Anzola, from Venezuela, became the invaluable point person in her country. LeVine says these students were critical to the success of the project, especially when doing fieldwork, which Sarah primarily directed, supervised, and coordinated. “You need to find local informants in each community,” LeVine says. The informants helped him and the team cast a wide enough net to find women in each country with varied amounts of schooling. “As anthropologists, we needed to identify a village or urban neighborhood where there was a mixture of mothers,” he says, noting that his team went door-to-door asking questions and looking for mothers of children three years old or younger. “If you’re only talking to women who all have six years of education, that’s no good.” It was particularly challenging in Nepal, where, at the time of the study, the mean number of years of schooling for women 25 years or older was less than one year. They often found entire villages where women had no education at all. Still, LeVine says they managed to find some diversity: Joshi found a village outside of Kathmandu that had women varying in the number of years they had gone to school, and Sarah found an urban neighborhood with similar variety. Once the right mix was found, each mother was interviewed by the researchers, covering a range of topics like socioeconomic and educational backgrounds; the schooling of their parents, husbands, and siblings; reproductive and health behavior; knowledge of child development; and attitudes toward their children. Language and reading skills were assessed, primarily using tests created by Snow and Chall as well as existing science textbooks and passages developed in collaboration with local pediatricians. This included reading comprehension, with women reading silently and out loud to researchers to determine if the women were only decoding words — breaking up words into understandable parts — or actually reading, and how much was understood. Mothers were also asked to identify nouns common in each culture by answering the question, “What is a … ?” Responses were scored based on how simple or complex the definition was. Answering that a dog is an animal that barks, for example, would have scored higher than simply: A dog is a dog. Another test involved each mother recounting a health crisis involving one of her children — a simulation of how she would tell the story in a clinic. Her narrative was analyzed and scored on how well the researcher could follow what she was saying.
A series of photos taken by Sarah LeVine during the four-country project.
In Venezuela and Nepal, researchers also looked at functional literacy — the ability of the mothers to do everyday tasks such as tell time and read food labels or prescriptions. All of the tests were tailored to each population, using native languages and common objects. This was a timeconsuming, but critical, part of the fieldwork, LeVine told the Harvard Gazette in 1997, just prior to starting the study in Nepal, in urban and rural communities. “The patterns of communication are different in each culture and setting,” he said, noting that students from each country, like Clara Sunderland Correa, Ed.M.’83, and Medardo Tapia Uribe, C.A.S.’82, Ed.D.’89, both natives of Mexico, helped make this possible. “In that sense, this is totally a project of the school,” LeVine says. “Our methods were taken entirely from Snow’s and Chall’s work and all of the students were Catherine’s and Jeanne’s students.” In each country, women were also assessed for their comprehension of public health messages. For example, mothers were played taped recordings of health messages that had been broadcast regularly on local radio stations. Except for those with no or very little education, they were also asked to read health-related information in publications and recount everything they could remember. In Mexico, there were radio messages about breastfeeding and playing with infants. In Nepal, one radio broadcast emphasized using oral hydration salts when a child has diarrhea. In Venezuela, mothers read campaigns about AIDS, family planning, and cancer.
Across the board, in every country studied, what they found was that women retain the literacy skills they learned as young girls in school — even when they attended lowquality schools only for a couple of years — and then use those skills later, as mothers, to understand and connect
with public health information disseminated through the media and through healthcare workers. Their trust of this information, as well as respect for experts like doctors and nurses, also increases. “This clearly shows that schooling actually affects a woman and she does something with that education,” LeVine says. As Sarah told the Gazette in 1997, “Schooling allows women to learn hygiene more quickly because schools introduce them to a different way of learning. At home, they learn primarily by watching and imitating, by apprenticeship, not by following verbal instructions,” she said. “In school, however, students are given instructions on how to accomplish tasks — in a language very different from home conversation — which later facilitates the process of assimilating information.” Learning to trust experts is a big part of this leap for mothers, says LeVine. “A pregnant woman is told by her doctor to get three injections of tetanus toxoid,” he says, referring to a vaccine used to prevent neonatal tetanus, a massive killer of newborn children, especially in developing countries. “She gets her first injection. A doctor or nurse says you need to come back to complete the series. A woman with less education, she just won’t come back. She doesn’t understand the importance.” But for the sake of her children, she needs to. As Michael Cole, a professor of psychology and communication at the University of California – San Diego, wrote in the introducHarvard Graduate School of Education
Influences of schooling on mothers and their children Mothers as pupils
Mothers as teachers
• They follow advice given in health
• They talk to infants, tutor toddlers • Child learns verbal responsiveness,
media and by health experts
• At home, mothers make different decisions regarding their children’s health
• Child’s school performance improves
• Child’s health improves
tion to Literacy and Mothering, which recently won the 2013 Eleanor Maccoby Award from the developmental psychology section of the American Psychological Association, “Whether or not one has been to school for some length of time, raising children requires adult decisions about how best to feed and clothe the child and how to protect them from disease and injury. Adults must learn to whom they should turn for help when normal caretaking measures do not suffice.” Skeptics, LeVine says, question whether a mother who has only been in school for a year or two could possibly have learned something like the germ theory of disease. “The answer is no,” he says. “What she understands is that when a doctor — the expert — says do this, you do it. You don’t have to have an intellectual understanding of the disease. I think of myself as a cancer survivor who had no more than a superficial knowledge of what was wrong with me and what was being done to combat it, but I followed the experts to a cure.” When asked about the assumption that more education actually makes people question authority, not follow it blindly, LeVine explains that modern institutions such as Western schooling make individuals more likely to question traditional authority — an older member of a family, for example. However, they also teach people to follow the orders of authorized experts, such as schoolteachers or doctors. People “learn to learn,” he says. “Questioning the authority of those in white coats is not what these women 34
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learned. Quite the opposite. And they’re right. They need not know microbiology or other biomedical processes in order to be a good patient or even to provide sufficiently sanitary conditions for child health. They need the guidance of experts, and that’s what bureaucratic institutions are designed to provide.”
Mother as Teacher
In addition to learning in the classroom how to be a pupil, which improves child health and survival, LeVine and his team found that mothers also learn how to be teachers at home, which improves school outcomes for their children. Although one could argue that all mothers teach their children, regardless of whether they went to school or for how long, in Literacy and Mothering, LeVine argues that teaching in school involves adults talking to children, using language for instruction — a skill girls eventually adopt when they become mothers with their own children. In Mexico, for example, mothers with more formal schooling responded more frequently when their 10- and 15-montholds babbled or looked at them by talking and looking back. Follow-up visits when the children were 30 months showed that toddlers whose mothers talked to them more at 15 months scored higher on a language development test. Asked if he ever considered replicating the study in the United States, LeVine says they had hopes of studying the
Charting Improvement As women’s schooling increased in the four countries studied by the Project on Maternal Schooling, health indicators improved. For example, infant mortality decreased, as shown in the chart below. (Although in Zambia, which saw the most dramatic rise in female literacy, the devastating spread of HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis B, and drug-resistant malaria after 1980 halted the decline Mexico
large Latino population in eastern Massachusetts, but the funding never came through. “I’d still love to see that happen,” he says. He’d also love to see an overall expansion of the work that he and his team started, particularly in the fields of public health and demography. Despite working on this research for more than three decades now, he still considers this a pilot study. “By now, I had hoped that other groups like USAID would take this research to a larger level,” he says. “My hope is that they adopt our methods and test so many hypotheses that we were unable to test with our small samples. I want to see this replicated with 5,000 women.” From a public policy standpoint, LeVine says their work is important because it shows — despite what many in education don’t want to hear — that even low-quality schools and attending for only a few years can have a positive impact, especially in developing countries. One study found that an average of only one to three years of women’s schooling reduces early childhood mortality by 10 percent. Rowe, now an assistant professor of human development at the University of Maryland, says this highlights the fact that obtaining literacy skills is a process that starts with oral language skills. “That is, girls who may not have been in school long enough to achieve high levels of reading comprehension were still exposed to the academic language used in schools,” she says. “Having some experience with this type of discourse — for example, following instructions — helps them to better navigate other bureaucratic settings in the future, such as healthcare settings. Policymakers should encourage girls to attend school, even if it is only for a few years, because every year makes a difference.” Eventually, improving the quality of what women are learning, especially literacy skills, will make an even bigger difference. “We might see even more dramatic, positive effects,” says Rowe, “across generations.” Ed.
of infant mortality, which had previously fallen between 1955 and 1980.)
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Average years of schooling for women of reproductive age (15–44), 1970–2000. Source: Literacy and Mothering.
180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0
Infant mortality rates (number of deaths in first 12 months/1000 live births), 1970–2000. Source: Literacy and Mothering.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
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New research finds that keeping students in Kâ€“8 schools has benefits. By Mary Tamer illustrations by Scotty Reifsnyder
Harvard Graduate School of Education
ransitioning from elementary school to middle school can be tough. Assistant Professor Martin West remembers the “shock” of the new environment he encountered at the larger, all-boys school when he entered the seventh grade. Still, his transition was pretty mild, he says. He was lucky to have been the beneficiary of “outstanding” educators in his private K–6 school located within the beltway of Washington, D.C., and the fact that his new school spanned grades three through 12 meant he would avoid making another transition once he reached high school. It was even during this time that West decided he wanted to be a teacher one day. Not all students are so fortunate, as West discovered last spring when he released a study that explored the achievement and dropout rates of students enrolled in grades three through 10 in Florida’s public schools. The findings? In sum, students who left elementary schools for middle schools in grades six or seven “lose ground in both reading and math compared to their peers who attend K–8 schools,” he wrote in “The Middle School Plunge,” published in the spring 2012 issue of Education Next. Additionally, Florida students who entered middle school in sixth grade were 1.4 percentage points more likely than their K–8 peers to drop out of high school by 10th grade — a whopping increase of 18 percent. “Intuitively, I had not expected this to be an important policy lever, but there are a lot of indicators that things are not going well for students in the middle school grades in the United States,” says West, who serves as executive editor of Education Next. “If you look at international comparisons, kids in the United States perform better at elementary school than the later grades … so it made sense to look at whether grade configuration influenced this.” West decided to take a closer look after he read a 2010 study out of New York City by two Columbia University researchers that “produced compelling evidence that the transitions to middle schools were harmful for students in that setting.” That research found that students entering grades six through eight or seven to eight schools experience a “sharp drop” in achievement versus those attending K–8
schools. West wondered whether the same patterns would be evident elsewhere and, if so, whether the drop in achievement was temporary or persisted into high school. With a mass of Florida data from his prior research projects, West was able to review nine years of results from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), administered annually to students in third through 10th grade. West says that Florida’s size and diversity allowed him to study the effects of middle school transitions for students of all kinds in urban, suburban, and rural districts. And because some Florida students attend schools with grade six through 12 or seven through 12 configurations, he was able to compare the effect of entering a middle school in grade six or seven to that of entering high school in grade nine. “We do find clear evidence of a drop in achievement to high school, but it is one-quarter the size of the drop we see with the middle school transition,” he says. “By grade 10, those students are back up” where they were expected to be before making the transition. “In middle school, the decline persists as long as they remain in a middle school and even into high school; they don’t just have a one-time drop. That suggests to me … that while there is a cost with school transitions in general, the middle school transition is particularly tough.” So what does this mean for America’s public middle schools? Possibly nothing. While widespread consensus may be hard to achieve on whether middle schools work for the students enrolled within them, most people can agree on one thing: Regardless of one’s zip code, there is a healthy amount of trepidation around middle school and the middle school years. The question is, is this an indictment of the middle school model or of middle schools themselves? “Obviously the transition years are very difficult for kids, so whether it’s moving from grade five to six or eight to nine, it’s a challenging situation,” says Joseph Bumsted, Ed.M.’82, assistant principal of South Fort Myers High
Regardless of one’s zip code, there is a healthy amount of trepidation around middle school and the middle school years.
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School in Florida. “The things that make it especially difficult moving from grade five to grade six is the students go from a self-contained, supportive atmosphere where they have one teacher they know … to sixth grade and they are confronted with seven different [teachers’] personalities. They don’t know how to handle it.”
rying to figure out how to meet the needs of young people isn’t new, says Laura Rogers, Ed.M.’75, Ed.D.’87, a lecturer and codirector of the school psychology program in the Department of Education at Tufts University, and author of Fires in the Middle School Bathroom. “Our education system has been grappling to meet the need of early adolescents for 100 years,” she says. What’s changed is the configuration for how and where that age range is educated. Until the early 20th century, U.S. schools were mainly K–8 models. By the midcentury, in response to growing enrollment, many places created junior highs which typically
started in grade seven and served grades seven through eight or seven through nine. But, as cited on the National Center for Education Statistics website, school districts began moving away from the junior high model in the 1960s and rapidly toward the creation of middle schools starting in grade six or even grade five. These schools either replaced junior highs or were created where there were still K–8 schools. In 1970–71, there were 2,100 middle schools. By the 1998–99 school year, there were 11,200, an increase of more than 430 percent. During the same period, the number of junior high schools declined by nearly 54 percent, from 7,800 in 1970–71 to 3,600 in 1998–99. Initially, middle schools tended to have a distinctive educational philosophy compared with junior highs. (West says that distinction is less clear today.) They would also, says Rogers, a developmental psychologist by training, “create a bridge” for students, one that would focus on the specific needs and developmental stages of children between the ages of 11 and 13. In time, however, the effectiveness of the middle school model came into question. A 2001 article “Reinventing the Middle School,” published in the Middle Harvard Graduate School of Education
School Journal, spoke of the “arrested development” of this once-promising educational model. So too did a January 27, 2007, article in The Boston Globe, which mentioned that several districts around the nation were moving toward the return of K–8 schools. Affirming Rogers’ earlier point, the Globe article noted, “Middle schools were conceived in the 1970s and ’80s as a nurturing bridge from early elementary grades to high school, but critics say they now more often resemble a swamp, where urban youth sink into educational failure.” As a result of growing evidence, parental preference, and, in the case of urban districts, the continued loss of students in the middle grades to charter schools, West says in his article that several sizeable districts — Baltimore, Charlotte-Mecklenberg (N.C.), and Philadelphia, among others — have transitioned back to more K–8 schools. Another district, Cambridge (Mass.) Public Schools, is trying an entirely new model: This fall it moved away from its long-held K–8 configuration with the creation of a lower school and an upper school, with sixth- through eighth- graders in the upper school still housed within
Our evidence suggests that, on average, students do worse academically when they attend middle schools than when they attend K–8 schools — and that this is true in urban, suburban, and rural settings.” – Assistant Professor Martin West 40
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four of the city’s elementary buildings. Superintendent Jeffrey Young, Ed.D.’88, says he proposed the move in December 2010 to level the academic and socioeconomic field of Cambridge students as they enter the middle and high school years. West says there is no one correct model. “There are, no doubt, many highly effective middle schools and many ineffective K–8 schools,” he says. “Our evidence suggests that, on average, students do worse academically when they attend middle schools than when they attend K–8 schools — and that this is true in urban, suburban, and rural settings. This suggests that it may be harder to create an effective middle school than an effective K–8 school, and that part of the challenge is simply that middle school grade configurations require an additional school transition.” Rogers says it’s also important to take into consideration other factors — not just grade configuration — when it comes to achievement and determining “cause and effect” in education. This can be challenging, she admits, especially since other indicators are not always easily measured. But data like that from FCAT may not tell the full story. “Things can be statistically significant but not educationally relevant,” she says. “There are so many other social factors that influence these results. … It is hard to draw conclusions.” West says some middle schools have worked well, such as the KIPP charter school network, which includes 61 schools that house grades five through eight. “But even many charter organizations like KIPP are now growing back toward elementary schools to provide more continuity of service,” he says. Jonathan Bush, Ed.M.’09, understands the value of that continuity. As a seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher in a K–8 charter school in Massachusetts, he points to several factors that he believes contribute to the success of his school, including ongoing communication and collaboration among staff of all grade levels, as well as the development of a curriculum that “ramps up” each year, preventing gaps or holes in nine consistent years of academic preparation. “I think one of the most compelling reasons to support the K–8 grade configuration is the leadership aspect for students,” Bush says. “We put an emphasis on our seventh- and eighth-graders to be leaders. … They are teamed up with the younger kids for tutoring, as one example, and that is a big element of our school. If [you]
I think one of the most compelling reasons to support the K–8 grade configuration is the leadership aspect for students.We put an emphasis on our seventh- and eighth-graders to be leaders.” – Jonathan Bush, Ed.M.’09
are not given those leadership roles and you’re in the sixth grade in a middle school, you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. From the leadership standpoint, the K–8 model is important.” Important, yes, but while West hopes that his research will open the door for districts to take a closer look at more K–8 models, the configuration alone is hardly a magic bullet or panacea for success. “I happen to agree with the idea that it’s good to have K–8 or seven through 12 schools, but this is not based on data,” Rogers says. “Small schools, with less than 400 kids, can make a difference, as can having children over a longer period of time. None of these things, alone, makes a difference. The question is, what are the practices that are occurring to make some schools successful?”
est’s data on Florida includes annual FCAT math and reading test scores as well as two behavioral outcomes: days absent and a measure of whether they dropped out of high school by grade 10. As West shows in his Education Next article, moving to middle school leads to a “substantial drop in student test scores” in the first year of the transition, and the “relative achievement of middle-school students continues to decline in the subsequent years they spend in such schools.” Essentially, the longer students stay in a middle school, the lower their achievement. In addition, while the Florida study shows that although the “negative effects of entering a middle school are somewhat smaller outside of urban districts, … they remain substantial even in rural areas.” Among student subgroups, the study also finds that “grade configuration has a larger effect on the math scores of traditionally disadvantaged subgroups than on
other students. Black students in particular demonstrate large relative gains in math achievement prior to entering a middle school but then suffer larger drops both at and following the transition.” While some earlier studies questioned the role of grade configuration in school success and student achievement, including the 2008 National Forum “Policy Statement on Grade Configuration” and a 2010 study by EdSource, “Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades: Why Some Schools Do Better” in California, “the evidence on academic benefits has become much stronger in the past two years,” West says. “I’m generally sympathetic with this argument, especially to the extent that it points to a set of practices that middle schools could adopt to address their performance problems given that wholesale changes to grade configuration are unlikely to occur overnight,” he says. “That said, our evidence indicates that effective school practices are more common in K–8 schools than in middle schools and that the transition to middle school itself is detrimental for students and should be eliminated wherever possible.” Perhaps most importantly, Rogers says the one consistency she has found among K–8 schools is that “kids tend to say they feel safer, so there is less of a Lord of the Flies environment” at a critical stage when they are “navigating through social currents. For many kids, it’s distracting.” So whether the reasoning is leadership, safety, or the lessening of transitions that may affect academic achievement, West hopes policymakers will continue to review grade configurations for the benefit of all students. “The flip side of the point I’m making is that there is not one grade configuration for everyone,” says West, “but I think for policymakers, it is too easy to say we know there is a problem with middle schools and we can mitigate those problems. I don’t think my research or anyone else’s gives us the steps to take to mitigate them.” Ed. Harvard Graduate School of Education
Dan Peppercorn, Ed.M.’02, is an eighth-grade teacher and social studies curriculum coordinator. He is a former all-state athlete and coach who performs improv, makes films, and is working on a humorous novel. His latest book, Creative Adventures in Social Studies: Engaging Activities & Essential Questions to Inspire Students, was recently published.
Program: Teacher Education Program
Teaching inspirations: His parents, former teachers
noteable Dan Peppercorn
His students may suspect otherwise, but Dan Peppercorn insists that he and the legendary (in his classroom, anyway) King Pepper are not one and the same. “Some of my students think I put on a crown, white beard, and cape and magically transform into King Pepper,” Peppercorn jokes. “I don’t know how they can think that since I have a picture in my classroom in which we’re standing next to each other.” The fictional King Pepper is one of the many creative devices that Peppercorn uses in his social studies class at Thurston Middle School in Westwood, Mass., to promote a fun and interactive learning experience for his students. “As a kid I loved gym and drama because we got to move around, be part of a team, and be creative,” he says. Peppercorn’s approach — building activities around topics students enjoy such as pop culture, sports, and current events — has been so successful in getting his students excited about social studies that he decided to share it in his new book, Creative Adventures in Social Studies: Engaging Activities & Essential Questions to Inspire Students.
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
Bill Schechter and Florence Aldrich-Bennett, films Freedom Writers and Dead Poets
In addition to presenting a Society, and John Hughes variation of King Pepper, who presides over a simulation of the American colonies in which students earn money, pay taxes, create laws, and bid on prizes in an auction, the book includes lessons such as Musical Acts with Newsical Facts, in which students take pop songs and write new lyrics about current and historical events, and Fantasy Senate Races, a political election version of a fantasy sports league. Peppercorn hopes that educators at all grade levels will find the activities in his book useful, especially those who are struggling, as he had, to find a reference of this kind. “When I started teaching, I worked for a principal who said, ‘Teachers should try to get their students to love learning.’ In that spirit, I kept looking for a book that had a year’s worth of meaningful and creative social studies activities that I could incorporate into my curriculum,” Peppercorn says. “In the end, I decided to write the book I was looking for.” —Marin Jorgensen
alumni ne ws and notes 1953
Wilbur Harold Wright, Ed.M.’47, Ed.D., is retired as an administrator and professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Geneseo. He exhibits his photos and publishes his poetry. To read an example of his poetry, visit www.torch.org. Wright welcomes responses: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dianne Haley, M.A.T., recently published the book Generous-Minded Women: A History of the Winsor School. She recently retired after 33 years of teaching Latin at Winsor, the only private girls’ school, grades five through 12, still in existence in Boston.
Barry Brown, Ed.M., provost and professor at Suffolk University, has been named as the eighth president of Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass. He officially stepped into his new role on July 1, 2012.
Diana Avery Amsden, Ed.M., recently published the volume, Companion Index to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
1962 Roderick Jacobs, Ed.M., a past dean in the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature at the University of Hawaii and professor emeritus of linguistics, helped found in 2008 the Global Village Project in Decatur, Ga., a nonprofit school for teenage girls who are survivors of wars. He presently teaches history and English, and performs various administrative tasks at the school.
1964 Linda Lyman, M.A.T., published Shaping Social Justice Leadership: Insights of Women Educators Worldwide in June 2012. The book develops portraiture as a new methodology for social justice research, offering portraits of 23 women educators and leaders from 14 countries around the world whose actions are shaping social justice leadership. An author of three previous books, Lyman has taught at Illinois State University since 1999. Joan Seliger Sidney, M.A.T., received a Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center just as her Individual Artist Award from the Connecticut Office for the Arts ended.
1970 Janice Weinman, Ed.M.’67, Ed.D., was named executive director/CEO of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. Previously, she was president of the New York–based nonprofit, Kids in Distressed Situations.
1971 Isa Zimmerman, M.A.T.’63, Ed.D., has coauthored The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Designing and Teaching Online Courses with Joan Thormann.
International Reading Association 40th Annual Conference held in March 2012. The theme was treasure reading. Robert Goodman, Ed.D., co-led with his son a seminar for the leadership team of the organization AidChild in Uganda. Goodman is on the AidChild advisory board and is also on the faculty of the Ed School’s Ed.L.D. Program.
1986 William McKersie, Ed.M., was named superintendent of schools in Greenwich, Conn.
1988 David Richard, Ed.M, was named dean of the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.
Tom White, Ed.M., has retired after 21 years as a psychologist in campus health services at Northern Arizona University.
Robert Page, Ed.M., published The Monster We Defied: A Son’s Alzheimer’s Recital, the memoir of his mother Mary’s eight-year passage through the shattering disease. He remains a clinical psychologist in independent practice.
Marilyn Barber, Ed.M., served as conference chairperson for the 2012 State of Maryland
Evelyn Krieger, Ed.M., was a featured author at the 2012 State of Maryland International Reading Association 40th Annual Conference held in March 2012.
Mary Henton, Ed.M., works in staff development at Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (Christian Bilingual University of Congo), a core program of Congo Initiative, a Congoleseenvisioned and Congolese-led, holistic response to the challenges of Democratic Republic of the Congo. The initiative’s vision is to develop indigenous, ethical leaders to transform their communities and the nation of Congo. She facilitates formal professional development workshops, provides informal professional development and coaching, and works with the academic dean and faculty coordinators to develop a faculty development plan.
Andrea Kayne Kaufman, Ed.M., won a gold medal for best adult fiction e-book from
1992 Richard Freedman
the Independent Publisher Book Awards for her first novel, Oxford Messed Up. Hyo-Jung Kim, Ed.M., was recently named minister of Christian education at the First Congregational Church of River Edge, N.J. She is responsible for the church’s ministries related to children, youth, and families. William Sharp Jr., Ed.M., has published the book Random Views of Asia from the Mid-Pacific. He is on the faculty of the Department of Social Studies at Hawaii Pacific University and host of Asia in Review, a series of video interviews of diplomats, strategists, and academicians who are experts on one or more countries or regions in Asia.
1992 Richard (Rif) Freedman, Ed.M., received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology at its commencement in June.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Commencement 2012 included undergraduate Kevin Mintz choosing to accept his diploma at the Ed School ceremony, in part because of his mentor, Professor Tom Hehir. At Convocation and Commencement ceremonies, graduates held their children (sometimes sleeping), listened to the school’s a cappella group, Class Notes, and watched as honorary degrees were given to Teach For America’s Wendy Kopp, civil rights leader John Lewis, and former Massachusetts Supreme Court justice and Ed School graduate, Margaret Marshall, Ed.M.’69, all while John Harvard kept a watchful eye in the Yard.
Deborah Putnoi, Ed.M., recently published The Drawing Mind, an interactive sketchbook that is designed to help readers reconnect to the open, nonjudgmental state that she calls the “drawing mind.”
Sr. Christine’s Story 1959–1968, in which she recalls growing up Catholic in the ’50s and living through the turbulent ’60s as a nun.
Ileana Hilton, Ed.M., is teaching in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for the Abu Dhabi Education Council. She joined the council in fall 2010 as part of their 10-year vision and commitment to education reform. She coteaches with an Arab Emirati teacher in a biliterate classroom. They recently presented at TESOL Arabia’s conference in Dubai. She writes, “I am enjoying living in the UAE and traveling this part of the world.”
Susan Bassler Pickford, C.A.S., has published the memoir, Removing the Habit of God,
1995 1993 Susan Bassler Pickford
Monica Bisgaard, Ed.M., lives in Connecticut, where her husband, Dennis, is the head
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
of school at Kingswood Oxford School. She was a faculty member for the pilot program Kingswood Oxford School Leadership Institute for People of Color. She served as executive producer on a documentary about her father, artist Alvin Paige, and his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Her essay on her experiences with her father’s disease can be read at www. mariashriver.com/blog/2012/06/ reflections-on-alvin-and-alzheimersmonica-bisgaard.
1997 Margaret Adams, Ed.M., has been appointed curriculum director for Melrose (Mass.) Public Schools. She has been the director of literacy, language, and Title I/III programs for the Malden (Mass.) Public Schools since 2006, overseeing reading and writing initiatives as well as the implementation of a new core reading program for grades K–5.
Elaine Matson Scholpp, Ed.M., started medical school at the University of Colorado in August. She writes that her background in adult education should be helpful when she educates her future patients.
1999 Jim Gray, Ed.M.’94, Ed.D., was named chief learning officer at YogiPlay, the first personalized mobile learning recommendation engine designed specifically for children. In this position, he will lead the company’s educational app quality program.
2000 Shu-Ling Chen, Ed.M.’92, Ed.D., recently moved to California after serving as the Ed School’s assistant dean for doctoral studies for five years.
2002 Stuart Albright, Ed.M., released a new book, Bull City, which was inspired by his student-teaching days at Boston’s English High School while he was in the Teacher Education Program. The novel was further inspired by his students in Durham, N.C., where he’s been teaching for the past 10 years.
2001 Sarah Shulkind
2001 Sarah Shulkind, Ed.M., was named head of school for Sinai Akiba Academy, a Conservative Jewish day school affiliated with Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, the largest conservative synagogue west of the Mississippi and the first conservative congregation in the Pacific Southwest.
2005 Margaret Gillis, Ed.M., completed her Ph.D. in education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2011. She is clinical assistant professor of specialized education services at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Louie Rodriguez, Ed.M.’99, Ed.M.’01, Ed.D., and a team of researchers presented their research findings on the high school dropout crisis in the Inland Empire of Southern
prevention program director at Pacific Clinics-Asian Pacific Family Center.
California at the Ed School’s Alumni of Color Conference in March. Rodriguez has managed a team of student researchers in the Participatory Research Advocating for Excellence in Schools Project for more than two years. The project is a school-based, university-affiliated research collaborative intended to respond to the education crisis facing the Inland Empire.
Bill Wilmot, Ed.M., was named founding head of school at the Tremont School, a new independent middle school in Weston, Mass. He was academic director at Tremont.
2006 Erin Ward Bibo, Ed.M., coauthored a book chapter in the recently published College Student Retention: Formula for Student Success from the American Council on Education Series on Higher Education. Wenli Jen, Ed.M., received the 2012 Women of Achievement Award in the field of social services for California’s 24th Senate District. She is the
Lior Ipp, Ed.M., is national executive director of the Breakthrough Collaborative in San Francisco, a nonprofit that launches motivated middle school students on the path to college and prepares older students for careers in education. Eric Toshalis, Ed.M., is the author of a recently released paper, “Motivation, Engagement and Student Voice,” as part of a national series sponsored by Boston-based Jobs for the Future called Students at
Harvard Graduate School of Education
2010 Jennifer Cottle
2010 Carolyn Connolly, Ed.M., was named principal of Cohasset (Mass.) High School. She was formerly assistant principal at Pembroke (Mass.) High School. Jennifer Cottle, Ed.M., married Ernesto Linares in Lima, Peru, on March 25, 2012.
the Center. Toshalis is an assistant professor at Lewis & Clark College in Porland, Ore.
2008 Caleb Hurst-Hiller, Ed.M., was named head of school/ CEO for Community Charter School of Cambridge, Mass. Victor Jones, Ed.M., received his J.D. degree from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and was selected by his peers to deliver the student commencement speech. He writes, “The best part of my law school experience was teaching a class called Street Law to high
school students in the New Orleans Recovery School District while also taking a course in children’s law. Upon taking the Louisiana bar exam this July, I look forward to entering the legal profession and becoming even more involved with the Recovery School District.”
2009 Adina Rosenthal, Ed.M., has begun an Ed.D. program at George Washington University in educational administration and policy studies. She also recently got engaged to Daniel Newman.
Katherine Anne Pezzella, Ed.M., is assistant director of Greek life at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Recently she was recognized as the new employee of the year for the College of Charleston’s Division of Student Affairs. Matthew Weber, Ed.M., published his first book, Fearing the Stigmata: Humorously Holy Stories of a Young Catholic’s Search for a Culturally Relevant Faith. Weber is the new and social media officer at the Ed School and host of the Harvard EdCast.
2012 Megan Braucher, Ed.M., was named a Ferguson Education Leadership Fellow, a 30month postgraduate fellowship
for individuals interested in the interrelationship between traditional schools, charter schools, and the for-profit education technology industry. In this capacity, she will work full time on curriculum, product development, and data and accountability at Rocketship Education, Curriculum Associates, LLC, and Revere (Mass.) Public Schools. As a former teacher and curriculum developer, Braucher has expertise in curriculum development and leadership in the classroom. Chris Fraser, Ed.M., was named a Ferguson Education Leadership Fellow, a 30-month postgraduate fellowship for individuals interested in the interrelationship between traditional schools, charter schools, and the for-profit education technology industry. In this capacity, he will work full time on curriculum, product development, and data and accountability at Rocketship Education, Curriculum Associates, LLC, and Revere (Mass.) Public Schools. Fraser is currently an intern at the Achievement Network and is a former corps member, curriculum specialist, and senior recruitment director for Teach For America.
v send updates to email@example.com.
inmemor y David Helpern, GSE’40
Frances Solomon Litman, Ed.M.’60
Robert Gunther-Mohr, Ed.M.’87
Helen Shaner White, GSE’41
Harry Wickes, Ed.M.’62
Judith Press Salzman, Ed.M.’82, Ed.D.’88
John Hall Cushman, M.A.T.’50
Nancy Brunton Thum, Ed.M.’63
Herb Canaway, Ed.M.’92
Wesley Streit, Ed.M.’50
Joshua Brackett, M.A.T.’64
Michael O’Connell, Ed.M.’83, Ed.D.’92
Robert Louis, M.A.T.’51
Dalphia Rae Brown, M.A.T.’65
Leslie Kimbrough, Ed.M.’94
Lorne Hamilton, Ed.D.’53
Lillian Jameson Randall, M.A.T.’65
Mary Adams, Ed.M.’95
Margaret Eleanor McIntyre, Ed.M.’54
John Waller Wideman, Ed.M.’56, Ed.D.’70
William Perry, Ed.M.’50, Ed.D.’55
Thomas Jakob Marx, Ed.M.’69, Ed.D.’73
Susan Patek Booth, M.A.T.’59
Richard Millard Hamill, Ed.M.’74
Inge Paul Stafford, M.A.T.’59
Irving Schwartz, Ed.M.’78
Carolyn Jeanne Dorner, M.A.T.’60
Sonya Nelthropp, Ed.M.’86
As you’ll see in this issue, Ed. has been around the world. We love it, so keep the pictures of yourself or a loved one coming! And of course, send them as highresolution images, in focus, and with background information. Email them to
firstname.lastname@example.org Adjunct Lecturer Bob Goodman, Ed.D.’83, (fourth from left) and Nathaniel
B Dunigan, Ed.M.’10, (second from right) with the AidChild leadership team at a seminar on the shores of Uganda’s Lake Nabugabo. Mackenzie, the five-year-old daughter of Michelle Kelly, Ed.M.’95, knew what to
C do after a long day of skiing at Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire.
Ellen Michelson, M.A.T.’64, on Parliament Hill in front of the Peace Tower in
D Ottawa. Michelson was volunteering for Elizabeth May, Canada’s first Green Party member of Parliament. Eighth-grader Kerim Eraslan and fourth-grader Nur Eraslan, the children of Yansi
E Eraslan, Ed.M.’06, reading Ed. at Ozel Ege Lisesi, the K–12 school in Izmir, Turkey, where they attend and where Yansi serves as president.
F Rachel Chapman, Ed.M.’10, at the Grammys. Mary Heaton, Ed.M.’89, reads with two students from the Université Chrétienne G Bilingue du Congo, in Beni, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. David Sanders, Ed.M.’81, in Kaimosi, western Kenya, where he was living this
H past December doing research and writing Busara Road, his novel-in-progress.
r eces s Dictionary Girl (dik′shǝ ner´ē gûrl), n. 1. the name that Helen Janc Malone gave to
herself in a published commentary she wrote that led to her personal copy of a SerboCroatian dictionary being donated to the Smithsonian. 2. what Malone became after her non-English speaking family moved to the United States.
In April, doctoral candidate Helen Janc Malone, Ed.M.’07, bid farewell to the hardcover dictionary that had been a vital part of her education after immigrating to the United States from war-torn Yugoslavia at age 13. Unlike many people, Malone’s dictionary didn’t get pawned off at a yard sale or packed away in her attic. Instead Malone donated her Serbo-Croatian dictionary to the permanent education collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. “When we came to this country, we came with nothing. We ran away from the war with the clothes on our backs, [but] my dad packed a dictionary,” Malone says. “We came with the dictionary as a way to be able to communicate. I walked around with that dictionary under my arm, so it could be handy at any moment.” courtesy of Helen Janc Malone
How could she have known how important that dictionary would become to her schooling? Newly arrived to the United States and not able to speak English, Malone found herself unable to communicate in a middle school classroom where no one else spoke Serbo-Croatian. “It was tough because you have the dictionary, but mostly you rely on nodding or gestures,” she says. “People would speak
Helen Janc Malone, right, presenting her dictionary at the Smithsonian.
louder or wave their hands as though I’d understood without realizing I wouldn’t magically pick up vocabulary from that.” In February, Malone wrote a commentary in Education Week that caught the attention of a curator at the Smithsonian. The
piece in Ed Week to begin with, then that she thought [my dic-
piece, “An Immigrant Student’s Story: I Was a Dictionary Girl,”
tionary] was perfect and wanted it right away.”
shared her personal experience and made suggestions for how
made the 45-minute drive from Annapolis, Md., to Washington
from countries for which they do not have language partners.
to deliver her trusty dictionary to the museum. Malone was
“The response was overwhelming,” Malone admits. “I had no idea people would read it.”
given a VIP parking spot and watched as the Smithsonian curator handled her dictionary with extra care.
Then, the following message appeared in the comment sec-
“It was funny to see someone handling your old, raggedy dic-
tion: “I was very interested in your experiences and your chal-
tionary with white gloves and protective bags,” Malone says. A
lenges of being a school-age immigrant. Do you still have the
three-page essay about Malone’s experience coming to America
dictionary your father gave you? Do you have any other artifacts
and attending school accompanied the dictionary accession,
from ESOL or that relate to your school years and learning to be
which may be part of an exhibit on the immigrant’s life in the
bilingual? I am a museum curator interested in immigrant stu-
dent stories and related artifacts for our education collection.” At the time, Malone admits she had no idea that it could be the Smithsonian. “What? It’s the Smithsonian?” was her reaction upon discovering the museum in question. “I put [the curator’s] name
Within a few weeks, Malone, along with her mother and son,
English language learner educators can work with immigrants
Malone says it wasn’t too difficult to let go of the dictionary. She did, however, consult with her dad before handing it over. Her father, equally shocked that the Smithsonian was interested, agreed to turn it over with one caveat: visiting rights. “It gets our story out there,” Malone says. “Not that it’s
into Google to double-check that it was real,” she says. “I
unique, because there are so many immigrants coming to this
was in shock that the Smithsonian would read a commentary
country, but this just happens to be mine.” — Jill Anderson
• fall 2012 • www.gse.harvard.edu/ed
in v es ti n g
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Digg this sweet photo? Ed. does. Actor Taye Diggs was at the Ed School last spring to talk about race, growing up, and his new book, Chocolate Me!, which is based on a poem he wrote in college. During an interview with the Harvard EdCast, the Rent-tastic star answered questions, for a little less than 525,600 minutes, more with illustrator and longonline time friend, Shane Evans.
To read Ed. online, go to www.gse.harvard.edu/ed.