Empowering American Public School Teachers to Transform Social Studies Curriculum in Secondary Classrooms: June 24 – July 28, 2020
Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad program, Towson University will provide an immersion experience in Chinese culture for five weeks in summer 2020 for twelve public school teachers. The project intends to develop educators’ intercultural competence and enhance social studies curriculum and instruction on China in secondary education classrooms in U.S.A. by expanding their scope of knowledge in the areas of history, culture, religion, economics, language, and educational systems. Teacher participants will work with Towson University faculty members to design and implement curriculum that accurately reflects Chinese heritage and culture.
The project consists of three phases. The pre-departure activities are conducted through online learning modules to provide the teacher participants with initial language training, background knowledge, and cross-cultural understanding. Following the preparation is a five-week study travel in China featuring a combination of seminars, cultural workshops, school and museum visits, as well as cultural excursions to sites designed to help participants understand the diversity and complexity of China. As part of the post-departure activities, teacher participants are to finalize, implement and post the units of study with suggested teaching materials, resources and strategies on a website for all educators to access.
1. To provide opportunities for the participants to acquire first-hand knowledge of the history, culture, language, geography, family structures, religion, education, and economics of China.
The project will motivate secondary educator participants to broaden their knowledge in their specialty areas as they experience the richness and variety of real life through seminars, school visits, as well as cultural excursions in China. As a result of this immersion experience, they will design and implement curricula that are accurate in content and effective in pedagogy.
2. To develop cognitive and affective changes in the participants and to have the changes reflected in the courses they teach.
The project will enable the participants to engage in self-reflection and consciously examine their own assumptions about Chinese culture. This process of defusing and/or affirming their beliefs and values itself is a powerful teaching tool the participants will employ in their classrooms to help their students become aware of the ethnocentric lens through which they look at “others”; furthermore, the students will develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for cultures different from their own.
3. To create units of study in history, culture, language, geography, education, and economics of China that include a full range of instructional materials, supplemental resources and teaching strategies.
As part of the pre-departure activities, the participants will consult their school district specialist regarding the curriculum development guidelines and work with TU faculty to develop a draft unit outline. During the trip, TU faculty will continue to work with the participants to identify unit objectives, content and available resources. After the trip, participants will utilize the knowledge gained and materials collected to finalize the units. Each unit must produce tangible materials that can be reproduced and distributed, whether in the form of multimedia, a written text, artifacts, or any appropriate combination of these options. New curriculum units will be disseminated as a model for the study of the rest of Asia and be incorporated into area studies and world cultures in secondary curriculum to broaden students’ understanding of and appreciation for other cultures.
4. To disseminate units of study, teaching materials, teaching strategies and relevant resources to a larger educational community
As part of the post-trip activities, the participants will implement the newly designed curriculum in their own classrooms. They are also required to share their experience and information to other educators in the school community and beyond.