The headline of this month’s Harvard Education Letter is seductively simple: “Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions.” The advice is undeniably practical. But will asking questions alone suffice to create engaging classroom dialogues? The article highlights the Question Formulation Technique (QFT), a technique for encouraging students to direct inquiry in the classroom, engage with each other and develop critical thinking skills. A teacher whose students are under-engaged in the classroom would do well by her students to study the QFT technique and begin testing elements of it. If nothing else, QFT shows that “Any questions?” following a lecture will not provoke many questions. To engage students, questions must be engaging, too. Though effective, QFT is only half the equation. Students need to ask questions, yes. But they need to answer them, too. The teacher plays the role of guide, facilitator, and provocateur. Most teachers I had operated under the [...]
Learning an additional language is a lot like learning how to paint with colors after a lifetime of using grayscale. I took Spanish and French in high school, and then Russian at university. Each one has helped me re-experience a world that was only ever monolingual. When I was given the opportunity to practice my Spanish skills, I took it. That opportunity was going to Mexico. Although I had just graduated from college and had several years’ worth of studying the language, I still only spoke Spanish like a grade-schooler. Being humbled was the best learning experience of my life. It was as if I was given a second chance to learn how to walk and talk.
When I decided to first go abroad, I was 17 years old and entering my freshman year of college. I walked right over to the student activities fair on the quad at Syracuse University and picked up two study abroad pamphlets from the table: Florence and London. The idea of leaving the U.S. for the first time and traveling the land across the pond was so exciting and imminent on that first day of classes. Fast forward to junior year, and I never made it to that study abroad experience. I stayed on campus to become a resident advisor, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Although the idea to travel never left my mind as friends went off to have their adventures. Like many college graduates, I left campus and moved on and into New York City for my first job working at a talent [...]
If you’re lucky enough (and brave enough) to consider a school more than 10 miles from home (You are! You can do it!), you’re going to have to visit it at least once. If you haven’t decided on a school yet, this summer is a great opportunity to explore your options. If you’ve got the time this summer, use it! Wander campuses without a guide, and see as much as you can. One way of going about this quest is to make a family vacation out of it, like I did. The younger siblings and the parents will probably drive you crazy, but have everyone climb in the minivan (so dorky, I know, I lived it), and hit the road. If you’re curious about a state or city rather than a specific school, this is a great time to visit several schools. Larger, more popular schools tend to be fairly [...]
America’s students today face tremendous financial challenges across the board when it comes to their education. Yet, the opportunities to go abroad are still there for the taking, despite financial constraints. I’ve always believed that true learning comes from the global classroom that is the world around us, not just within the walls of a classroom. The nearly half-dozen international programs in which I participated during college convinced me that only through first-hand experiences could I truly understand the world’s challenges. Through programs in Germany, Italy, Greece and Guatemala, my time abroad guided me toward the perfect major (international studies), exposed me to the tremendous challenges of marginalized groups, helped me develop skills to carry out ethnographic research, and reminded me that some of the greatest teachers on Earth are the people we meet on the street.
While the freedom of summer vacation makes this a logical time to hit up some campuses, the mad rush from quad to quad can also be a little overwhelming. Here are some tips from the experts.
Spring Break conjures up many different ideas of how to celebrate the traditional mid-semester break during college. First let’s talk safety, then other ideas for what to do with this mid-semester break.
We spend so much time figuring out the “right” college to attend that it seems pretty silly to turn around and look for ways to get away, right? Wrong. Study abroad is one of the most valuable opportunities that college affords us and everyone should explore their study abroad options—that’s right, everyone. Even if you’re sure that it’s not for you or no program exists to fulfill your interests, you should still look into it just to be sure that you’ve covered all your bases. My own semester living and learning in Valparaíso, Chile was one of the most enriching experiences of my life, so I hope to shed a little light on the process. Study Abroad Myth #1: You have to already speak a world language. False! A huge range of programs exists, ranging from those for people who want to go to Italy, for instance, but have never [...]