Lessons from Florence
Shaeffer’s Forays has been dormant for the last week because I had the good fortune of traveling to Florence, Italy last week and worked with middle school teachers at the Scuola Machiavelli. I’ve attached a couple of pictures of the Scuola Machiavelli as well as one from the Piazza David.
This was our second visit with the faculty at Scuola Machiavelli and we spent a good deal of time visiting classrooms and meeting with teachers regarding areas of need. One of the areas of need for them turns out to be working with students and families whose native language is not Italian as well as working with a multicultural classroom.
What we’ve learned in our conversations with the faculty is exactly what we hope for when we engage in international partnerships, that is, breaking down barriers, creating a better understanding, and debunking assumptions. When we first met with the Scuola Machiavelli we, along with our onsite program director, were surprised by the multicultural nature of the students. Our onsite program director, a native to the area was even more surprised than we were. When we talked with the Scuola Machiavelli faculty about the multicultural nature of their classrooms they said we in the US wouldn’t understand because they believed that we in the US only teach “the elites.” Clearly we both held false assumptions about each other’s educational system.
Like many institutions in UPCEA, we were very quickly able to find a common ground with our partners in Florence and where we could build mutually beneficial experiences for our students and faculty.
In many ways, Bob Hansen’s listening tour and the opportunities President Judy Ashcroft and I have had in visiting the regional meetings hopefully has opened the possibility for “breaking down barriers, creating a better understanding, and debunking assumptions” between our institutions as well as with the Association. We look forward to continuing these “listening tours” and conversations.