This coming academic year (2015/2016) I will teach new course at Harvard Graduate School of Education called Hard Questions on Global Educational Change. It will focus on some of the most widely and passionately debated issues in current education reforms and help students to improve their skills to communicate their ideas and views. Classes run from September to late April on Wednesdays at 4pm (EST). Following is the description of this course.
Education is one of the most discussed and contentious social issues around the world. It divides people across a spectrum of opinions from those favoring a radical reversal of traditional practice to those clamoring for return to educational basics. In many countries education is at the heart of political debates often according to ideological principles and priorities. The rancorous debate embodies fundamental questions facing society including: What is the purpose of education? How much do teachers influence the quality of education systems? Will technology be the saving grace for the future of education? Do we need tougher accountability in order to improve public school systems? What are the roles of standardized testing, charter schools, private education, and online learning? Should OECD’s PISA test stand or should it fall? Too often reformers choose a side to debate and preach rather than problem solve. These questions are not easily solved with either-or solutions. Instead hard questions on global educational change require constructive dialogue. Identifying, discussing and troubleshooting these global educational questions are the essence of this course. To achieve these lofty goals – this course will invite educational leaders from across the world to engage us in crucial conversations around these questions. Crucial conversations, a term popularized by the 2002/2013 best seller, promotes skills for creating alignment and agreement by fostering open dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, and risky topics. These crucial conversations will then extend into our class community each week within a safe and respectful forum. Our learning community supports authentic conversation and disciplined dialogue on the most difficult questions facing todays’ world of education policy. Students’ will gain access to prominent thought leaders and an opportunity to develop their own leadership identity and promote their own perspectives on major educational challenges. Importantly, the course will also facilitate opportunities to learn how to leverage social media and other tools for sharing ideas. In the end, this course is built on an assumption that we need to better understand these complex problems before we are able to create sustainable solutions to them. “By learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same), you’ll begin to surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on your decisions with unity and commitment.”
We will have various forms of coverages of this course in social media. In Twitter you can follow the conversation using the hashtag #HGSEa319. We also plan to have monthly live broadcasts in Youtube. Your comments and point of views regarding any of the educational change questions are always welcome.