Friday, July 31, 2009

Teaching by learning first hand

The Times Tribune (Carl Keith Greene)

A memo from Corbin Superintendent Ed McNeel sent a pair of teachers from the city middle school on a trek along the Nile this summer.

Melissa Evans and Michele Anderson took the challenge — they applied for and received the grant that would take them to the land of camels, caravans and Cleopatra.

From June 26 to July 8, they and other teachers toured the Nile Valley in Egypt from Alexandria to near the border with Sudan, experiencing the historical and modern cultures of the nation.

The trip was paid for by a grant from the Fund for Teachers, a non-profit organization that seeks to enrich “the personal and professional growth of teachers” through first-hand experiences across the globe.

Evans explained that one of the criteria of the grant is that the teachers write a thematic unit that connects in some way to the subjects being taught in their classes. Evans teaches science and Anderson, mathematics.

And from the trip they brought back to share “lots of understanding and knowledge of their culture and the contributions they have made to the world,” said Anderson.

They also learned how Americans have misconceptions of the life of people in Egypt. And through that learning, the pair can help people to know that Egyptians, though different, are typical, peaceful Muslims and are not to be feared, but embraced.

“They were kind to us and we never had a reason to be afraid,” Evans said. “They are good, family-oriented people. Everyone in the family works. It’s a survival situation.”

She said by experiencing the trip, she and Anderson can help make Egypt more real for the students.

“You can read and read and know (about a place) but to experience it is different. What we wanted was an experience,” she said.

“There are not a lot of cultural experiences for the (school) children. To see it first hand and bring it back and share with the students can help them to understand a small piece of the rest of the world,” Anderson added.

The trek started in Cairo, literally across the street from the pyramids and Sphinx, the tombs of Egyptian kings.

See the above page for the full story.

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