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Otis Hackney, Philadelphia’s new Chief Education Officer, is reimagining ways to forge connections in the city’s education community.
Brianna Maldonado held her hands still as Eva Snyder sewed a sensor into the knit glove Maldonado wore. They and their 11th grade classmates at String Theory’s Performance Arts School in Philadelphia were taking part in an e-textile lesson created by Penn GSE’s Yasmin Kafai. Professor Kafai, chair of Penn GSE’s Teaching, Learning and Leadership division, is renowned for her pioneering research around learning and electronic gaming.
Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, said he would answer anything.
It was mid-December, and Mitchell stopped by Penn GSE during a trip through Philadelphia. For more than an hour, he candidly answered questions from about 20 doctoral and master’s students on how higher education policy gets made, the challenges facing colleges, and making progress amidst partisan divide.
Parents of young children constantly face choices.
The body of research about early childhood learning is quickly expanding, and that research shows that parents’ greatest impact may come in those early years, when a child’s brain is rapidly developing and when nearly all of her or his experiences are created and shaped by parents and the family environment.
Parents have a natural instinct to teach and protect their children. Police-involved killings, the shooting of Dallas officers, peaceful protests that turn violent — incidents that are often traumatic for adults — can make these two instincts feel in conflict.
Do we try to explain the strife our child sees on television? Or should we try to shield her from such “grown up” problems?
[[video|center|source=vimeo|id=191865597|caption=Confronting hate speech in schools: Tools for teachers|width=500]]
From the outside, Moder Patshala looks like many other brick homes in West Philadelphia. But walk through the front door, and a narrow hallway leads to a classroom in the back, and a stairwell covered in pictures about Bangladeshi culture leads to a basement chock-full of books, desks, and a small row of computers.
Yasmin Kafai believes in the opportunities Maker Jawn provides for Philadelphia children.
The project —with a name true to the city — connects Philadelphia children and adolescents with volunteer mentors and Penn GSE students to learn and build. Maker Jawn kids meet outside of school to work on projects ranging from coding to cooking to sewing to construction. As leaders explained in a recent Grid story, the point is to engage the children’s natural creativity and curiosity.