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Monisha Bajaj

Assistant Professor of Education, Department of International & Transcultural Studies

It was her contact through Human Rights Watch with a woman who had been psychologically damaged from torture and rape that first got Monisha Bajaj interested in human rights education for young people. "I thought there had to be a way to prevent abuses before they occur," she says. 

One study Bajaj did involved designing a human rights course for eighth graders in the Dominican Republic and measuring its effects on her students. She continued to explore the impact on students of learning peace building skills and studying human rights in school-'"this time in Zambia, as her dissertation study. 

Before coming to Teachers College last year as a lecturer in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, Bajaj developed a curriculum for a three-week summer institute for 30 New York City public high school students learning about international affairs. "It involved developing lessons connecting global issues to local issues and the role of the U.S. in the world," she explains. Students were also able to meet with UN officials and policymakers.

Bajaj, whose grandmother was only permitted to receive a fifth-grade formal education in colonial India, is also committed to human rights through access to education. "I have carried out research in South Asia, Africa, Latin America and North America through the lens of human rights education and the cultural dialogue about the different ways that programs can meet the existing challenges and needs," she says. "So many programs are in place but there is little scholarship about them."

At TC, Bajaj will be teaching fundamental concepts of peace education, education and the development of nations, and an advanced seminar on issues in international educational development.

William Gaudelli

Associate Professor of Social Studies and Education

His early experiences traveling and working in communities in Russia and Kenya made William Gaudelli realize that "my world view was not universally shared and that I had a lot to learn from other ways of being." He did field work in Kenya as a graduate student, and as an exchange teacher brought 20 students from a high school in New Jersey to Russia for a month.  As a result he developed a passion for expanding the scope of teacher education to one that includes a broader vision of the world beyond national and state boundaries.

"It seems evident to realize how important it is that people have a broader sense of themselves," he says of his desire to bring divergent perspectives of globalization into the classroom. "Yet we do so little of that in teacher education." His task, as he sees it, is to "engage in a dialogue with teacher candidates so they can do the same with their students."

Gaudelli comes to TC from the University of Central Florida where he was an Associate Professor and Secondary Social Studies Program Coordinator.  He was an adjunct instructor at TC from 1999 to 2000 while also teaching social studies at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, New Jersey.

In his new role at TC, Gaudelli would like to further explore the ways that exemplary high school and middle school programs bring global issues into the curriculum. "I'm trying to get a lay of the landscape about what is going on in the city and surrounding areas," he explained, noting that he'll be looking for schools that demonstrate the best practices in teaching social justice, globalization and democratic ethos.

His interest in democratic practices stems back to a personal inclination towards politics and policy and a stint as an intern working in both Congressional and Presidential campaigns. "I'm interested more in politics and policy and less in bureaucratization-'"I want to explore how to build democratic spaces in a school or community," he says, adding that he is suspicious of the use of the term "democratic classroom" these days. He defines it as "being more about building connections between people so that they can see the potential for social cohesion through the classroom."

Valerie Kinloch

Assistant Professor of English Education in the English Education Program

June Jordan is Professor Valerie Kinloch's "American Idol." Born to West Indian immigrant parents in Harlem in the 1930s, Jordan defied traditional norms-'"in a home where her father believed girls should not speak-'"by becoming the only daughter to finish school. She went on to teach in New York City schools and at institutes of higher education such as Yale, Sarah Lawrence, City College and Stony Brook University. She wrote 28 books of poetry, essays and fiction, and a column of critical commentary for The Progressive magazine. Jordan died in 2002 while a Professor of African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she was founder and director of Poetry for the People, a program for the reading and writing and teaching of poetry.

"June Jordan is speaking to where I am right now," Kinloch said recently.  "She took activism to different places and different countries-'"talking about Nicaragua and Lebanon in the 1980s when literary writers were not talking about them-'"visiting these places and meeting the people and writing about their experience." 

Kinloch, who has been at Teachers College for three years as a term professor, has spent some of that time writing about Jordan and her work. Kinloch's first book on Jordan, published in 2004, examined the poet's literary contributions from various perspectives. In July of this year, Kinloch published the first biographical study of Jordan.

"I start with her because the training for my Ph.D. did not include June Jordan or women writers in the academy, or women activists in general," Kinloch explained. "It was more traditional training on literature and educational theories, and there was a large gap of women writers or women writers of color."

In much the same way that Jordan traveled among different worlds and heard the experiences of different people, Kinloch says that she invites students in her classes to discuss how to reach students whose voices cannot be heard or are not readily embraced. Or, as she puts it: "How can we invite them into the classroom to find out their lived experiences and to continue to educate them by making the connection?"

Kinloch would like to work in public high schools and middle schools, as sites of literacy where activism is already happening, to get young people to work on critical and analytical writing skills in ways that are not simply related to school work.

"TC is so centrally located that to not go into the surrounding community is to fail to reach out to people right in front of us," she said. 

In June, Kinloch received a Spencer Foundation research grant to work with students and teachers in Harlem public schools to discuss how students can find different ways to use writing and exchanges with others to express their ideas and to possibly be activists in the community. Currently she is working with two student interns who graduated from Bread and Roses High School, who consider themselves to be social activists and will be attending college in New York City. Kinloch wants to track their involvement in the community and see how they develop as social activists in New York City: "I hope to bring their experiences closer to what I do in my TC classes to rethink the approach to working with high school students."


Russell Rosen

Assistant Professor of Education in the Teaching of American Sign Language as a Foreign Language Program

The men in Russell Rosen's life when he was young were mostly medical doctors, and he fully expected to join their ranks. He even read their medical textbooks and was fascinated by the surgical techniques they revealed.

All that changed when he transferred to a regular public school after attending a school for the deaf from kindergarten through eighth grade. "Culture shock," he says describing the switch. "Different mannerisms, different expectations-'"not only in terms of modality, but the way people talked was so different." From that point on, he lost interest in medicine and became completely intrigued by culture and anthropology-'"human similarities and differences. He even met famed anthropologist Margaret Mead in his junior year when she gave a presentation to high school students in Manhattan.

In a time before laws required schools to provide services for people with differing abilities, Rosen figured out his own ways to get through public high school as a deaf student, including additional readings and meetings with teachers. He went on to study anthropology at the University of Rochester for two years and then at the University of Chicago, earning a baccalaureate degree. It was not until his last semester there that he was provided with an interpreter.

Although his initial interest in anthropology was based on his experience as a deaf student in a hearing school, Rosen had no interest in studying deaf communities until he came to Columbia University's Anthropology Department as a graduate student. An anthropology professor there had become disabled and talked with Rosen about studying disability based on the premise that the way people view disability or deafness is socially conditioned. At that point he began to focus on the deaf community in a scholarly way.

It helped that Rosen had been teaching American Sign Language since the age of 18 as a means to educate the public about sign language and the deaf community and its culture, and to make some money on the side.

Although Rosen has been at Teachers College since 2000 as an adjunct assistant professor and co-coordinator of the Program in the Teaching of American Sign Language as a Foreign Language, his new status as an assistant professor gives him the opportunity to contribute more to the program.

"I want to facilitate development of disability studies and promote positive interactions between disabled and non-disabled individuals-'"deaf and non-deaf," he says. "And I want to expand the program to a doctoral program to allow for more research opportunities in the areas of second-language learning and of equity." Rosen explained that TC has the only functioning program that prepares people to become teachers of ASL with the opportunity to become state certified.

"Teaching ASL as a first language and as a second language are two different things," he explains.  People learning ASL as a first language are normally children learning to name concrete objects, define things, and state their thoughts, desires and needs. Second-language learners of ASL already have the foundation of at least one other language. While second-language learners still need to be able to name things and express their ideas in their second language, they also need to shift away from their first language to develop the skills that will allow them to learn ASL.

Rosen says that other colleges are interested in setting up similar programs but lack qualified people to teach in them. "That is what made me think about setting up a doctoral program to help prepare future leaders in the field who would then set up more teacher preparation programs at the college level," he says. In the meantime, he hopes to use the existing program as a model for teachers from outside of New York State-'"one that their own state education departments can replicate.

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