This week we were still getting started in many of my classes. I got a bike on loan from a classmate and have been so happy to be able to get around on two wheels again. Monday was my first class in Curriculum Development and Participatory Educational Research.
Curriculum Development in International Contexts is taught by my favorite professor (I have her for two courses this semester) and we will be working on developing real instructional material for international organizations. This week we chose from a wide range of projects, diverse in both content and by geographical region. I am signed up to work with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (in the United Arab Emirates) with two other classmates. We will probably be designing course material that helps teachers move to a more student-centered teaching style in middle school science classrooms. I am actually more interested in taking the second project option: to develop a framework for assessing newly implemented curriculum and to design a 3-day teacher training workshop, but since it is a group project we must be democratic in making the choice of project.
What I will be doing in the Participatory Educational Research course is more difficult to explain because I am not completely sure myself what we will be doing. It is taught by a professor that was highly recommended: apparently she is the queen of qualitative research. My initial definition of participatory educational research would be a way to make the people you are researching your co-researchers as a way to limit misrepresentation and to allow those communities to speak for themselves. I think it is seen as a tool of “empowerment”: as a way for marginalized communities to use research to claim their rights. My definition will probably change as I get into the course readings and activities. The course will mostly consist of readings and discussions, plus she has a long list of guest speakers coming in from a wide range of fields: from the federal government (CIA) to law to academia.
I am very glad for the long weekend: MLK day is Monday and we don’t have class. I’ll use the time to do all the readings for next week and write the intro to my Policy Brief (what would be considered my master’s thesis) before meeting up with my cohort members in Chinatown for a Hot Pot dinner and karaoke monday night.