SSEC Hosted Educators from Japan
On April 29, 2015, the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) had the honor and pleasure to host 14 visiting educators from Japan as part of the 2015 Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The program, sponsored by Fulbright Japan, is an exchange between Japanese and U.S. K--12 teachers aimed at strengthening ESD curricula in both countries. Now in its sixth year, the program sponsors 14 educators from Japan to travel to the United States in late April and 14 educators from the U.S. to travel to Japan in June. At the end of the program in each country, all 28 educators gather for a few days of joint collaboration to improve education for sustainable development, "a vision of education that seeks to balance human and economic well-being with cultural traditions and respect for the earth's natural resources," according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Teachers participate in a sample lesson.
Our program began with an introduction to the SSEC and our LASER Model. SSEC staff shared some highlights of our work in U.S. education in the areas of leadership development, teacher professional development, and curriculum design. The teachers also participated in a sample lesson, designing and building model K'Nex cars, and engaged in a healthy competition between teams to see which car could travel the farthest when released on a ramp. An engaging discussion of education practices and challenges in both Japan and the United States followed. We heard that Japanese teachers share some of the same struggles as their American counterparts. The afternoon proved to be a wonderful learning experience, both for the teachers and the SSEC staff. The program coordinators inquired about a return visit next year, so be on the lookout for another opportunity like this next year!