Target 4. Engaged Community Partners – FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.
Action Step -Develop partnerships with global partners to carry out a project related to units of study.
Indicator of Success -Collaborative student and teacher projects/partnerships become part of the fabric of the broader community.
When the school year finally ended last June, many FWSU educators began their summer professional learning adventures. Both teachers and administrators benefited from new learning opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills. However, none traveled as far as BFA middle school social studies teacher Jen Skerrett. Jen was one of forty teachers in the US who were accepted to study in Korea through an all-expense-paid fellowship sponsored by the Korea Society.
The goal of the trip for Ms. Skerrett was to broaden her understanding and teaching repertoire in the area of Asian Studies – including learning more about the public schools in Korea which have recently gained international attention for their high performance. Some aspects of their system merit our attention while others do not, as Jen explained:
“The visit to a Korean high school was a highlight of my trip. The students are in school from 7:00 am until 11:00 pm 5 days a week. They study long hours so that they can score well enough on national exams to get into prestigious universities. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pressure on American students, and there are many Korean students who regret not having the time to pursue hobbies, and spend more time with families. However, there are aspects of Korea’s system I wish we could replicate in the United States: the value that Koreans put on education, and the belief that achievement, effort, and hard work are what will get you ahead in life. There are no shortcuts to success.”
The trip also brought enhanced growth opportunities for the educators who attended.
“The fellowship also gave me a new perspective on the conflict between North and South Korea. Almost every South Korean expressed the desire for re-unification someday. While Americans tend to look at the conflict as being about Kim Jong Un and nuclear weapons, South Koreans’ first thought is usually sadness and anger about how the citizens of North Korea have suffered under the dictatorship. This visit definitely humanized the issue for me.”
The global perspective on learning gained by Jen this summer will be a benefit for all the students in her classes at BFA. Not only will they have a teacher who has experienced another culture firsthand, they will also have a teacher who is committed to having students understand the global world that we now live in.
You can learn more about Jen’s fellowship in Korea by visiting her blog.