Afghan Educators Come to Teachers College for Professional Development
Six Afghan educators are in New York City this month to learn new ways of teaching mathematics back in their war-torn country. They will use what they learn from the Teachers College, Columbia University Afghan Education Project to write new math textbooks and train their colleagues at home.
Current Afghan teaching methods follow an old-fashioned, teacher-centered model that requires rote memorization and unquestioning response from students. What the Teachers College project is imparting to the Afghans is a newer approach that is now standard in American schools, that stresses critical thinking, creativity and a deeper understanding of lessons.
The six Afghans at Teachers College were chosen to work as a team, with three math teachers, two textbook writers and one teacher educator. "The agreement we made is that they will go back to their respective schools and mentor others," Rosen said.
Teachers College has a long history of international education. It began training Afghan teachers in 1954 and continued until the Soviet invasion in 1979. After the U.S. involvement in 2001, Rosen and TC President Arthur Levine began talking about resuscitating the project. Rosen, who was TC Executive Director of External Affairs at the time, headed the first recent team of TC educators to be based in Kabul, in July 2003. The current group is led by Rosen and retired TC professor Margaret Jo Shepherd. They are seeking funding from USAID in order to return to Afghanistan this winter; past funding for commissioning Afghan textbooks and training teachers has come from UNICEF, the Christian A. Johnson Foundation and Patricia M. Cloherty, a member of Levine's President's Advisory Board.
For Rosen, the effort is a labor of love for the Central Asian region and its people. A Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960s in Iran, Rosen was the press attache in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran during the Iran revolution, when he became one of 52 Americans taken hostage for 14 months until January 1981. He speaks fluent Dari, one of the two dominant languages of Afghanistan.
This article appeared on AScribe on November 11th, 2005.
Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2005