Today is our orientation presentation for our MOOC, Creativity and Multicultural Communication. Today is therefore an opportunity for me and Carol to discuss our theme. So, let me begin my contribution in this blog.
I knew my area of interest was education from an early age. I was a member of “Future Teachers of America” in high school (Sacred Heart Academy, Hempstead, NY) and loved to help others to their “ah-ha” moments. I learned by thinking about how I would explain the concept to someone else. My interest in mathematics came quite naturally, since my father was a high school math teacher. He made math fun by having us (me and my sister, Diane) crack codes to get presents and compete with flash cards. As a student, I had a full range of teachers and learned techniques that worked and strategies to avoid.
At Wells College, my focus was on mathematics and mathematics-physics. I loved seeing how mathematics made physics work and the applications in physics deepened my understanding of math. I also loved the theory behind mathematics, since it deepened my foundational understanding of this area, making me a better facilitator of others’ learning.
As I neared completion of the Bachelor degree, I knew I wanted to continue my education, since teaching doors would not open without an advanced degree. I applied to both mathematics and mathematics education degrees and got accepted to both. A chair of a mathematics department in New York tried to convince me that teaching was inferior to research. I fortunately declined to accept this view and proceeded to the University of Rochester.
While completing my degree there, I was asked to serve as a sabbatical replacement at Wells College. There, I had an opportunity to teach calculus as well as advanced level subjects. For my dissertation, I developed a peer teaching model for my calculus students. My firm belief that mathematics is accessible to all was reinforced in these early years.
In 1982, I came to Empire State College. Mentoring came very naturally to me. I am a firm believer in constructivist theory and my role as a facilitator of constructivist learning. Not many years later, I met Dan Apple and, a few years later, we presented a paper on Process Education. Process Education is based on constructivist theory. The underlying premise is the potential for every learner to improve and that one can learn to be a better learner. There are many parallels between Process Education and Creative problem Solving, the subject of many of our upcoming presentations in this MOOC.
In 1998, I had the opportunity to join and later lead the Empire State College team for our program with Lebanese students. Before my involvement with international programs, I had limited opportunity to travel outside the US. This program offered me the opportunity to learn about multicultural communication firsthand. The experience changed me. As one of the articles in our reading list indicates, the experience also made me more creative.
In 2006, I met Gautam Dasgupta and we were married this summer. Through Gautam and his world of friends, I have gained a deeper understanding of what he calls interculturalism.