The Atlanta - Tbilisi Healthcare Partnership
The Division of Educational Studies
Purpose: to prepare a group of highly trained teacher educators who will serve as change agents within the Ministry of Education and major teacher educational institutions in Georgia.
To produce new teachers knowledgeable about democracy and free markets and who are committed to the values that underlie these forms of social organization.
To contribute to the development of an informed and educated civil society that is fundamental to a democratic society.
To foster democratic processes in education in three ways: formal education, experiential education, and implementation.
To create a strong Georgian-run teacher education program in Georgia.
To provide Georgian teacher educators with skills in using the latest educational technology particularly web-based research and distance learning.
Program Rationale: One of the best ways for facilitating social change is to alter the way teachers are educated. This is particularly true in Georgia and other countries of the former Soviet Union that are trying to make the transition from a Communist dictatorship to democracy and free market economies. Most of the teachers currently working in these countries were trained under the Soviet system, a fact that makes them unlikely prospects for preparing their students to become responsible, engaged and informed citizens in fledgling democracies. Producing new teachers knowledgeable about democracy and free markets and committed to the values that underlie these forms of social organization must begin with preparing a new generation of teacher educators. The operating theory behind the program proposed below is:
Teachers are vital agents for attitude formation among future citizens,
Teachers themselves acquire attitudes, knowledge, and skills during the formal
period of their education,
Therefore, developing pro-democracy attitudes, inculcating democratic ideas and knowledge, and providing pro-democracy experiences among people who "educate teachers" is a vital and efficient way of promoting the development of pro-democracy attitudes and behaviors in future citizens.
Georgia achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Over the next few years, leaders of the new country introduced democratic political institutions and a market economy. However, progress in both those areas has been slow because the majority of Georgians continue to hold attitudes and habits engendered by over seventy years of Soviet domination. To reverse this pattern, a new generation of Georgians must learn habits of the heart and mind that enable them to view themselves as citizens of a community with individual rights and responsibilities. To do this, steps must be taken to introduce education for democracy as a central component of the educational system of Georgia.
An informed and educated citizenry is fundamental to a democratic society. Education not only provides the basic skills and knowledge that make possible such democratic institutions as a free press but it also introduces the basic ideas and attitudes about democracy that each new generation must embrace for such governments to survive (Nie et al 1996). Unfortunately, most of the teachers and teacher educators working in Georgia, as in the rest of the former Soviet Union, were prepared in Communist-dominated institutions of higher education. Most teacher training institutions promulgated the beliefs that the main purpose of education was to prepare students to serve the state and that such aspects of Western democracies as freedom of speech, a free press, and independent nongovernmental organizations were dangerous to the social order. Teachers routinely transmitted these non-democratic ideas and rarely, if ever, modeled the kind of free, critical inquiry that is vital to democratic societies (Gusseinov 1996).
Independence from Soviet domination did not end the grip of these Soviet-style ideas on teachers largely because they had few other ideas to draw on. Although the teachers were immediately called on to educate young people for life in market-oriented democracies, few teachers had ever either experienced democracy or studied democratic ideas in formal educational settings. Consequently, most were at best superficially familiar with these ideas and virtually none had had experience with democratic practices in the classroom such as encouraging students to question or debate ideas and issues either with their teachers or their fellow students. Research conducted in older democracies indicates the crucial importance of the discussion of such issues in developing democratic attitudes in youth (Hahn 1996, 1998).
The program proposed here will deal directly with that problem. Focusing on teacher education, the program will foster democratic processes in education in three ways: formal education, "experiential" education, and implementation. The formal education component of the program will take place in the masters and PhD programs in the education departments or schools at the collaborating universities. These programs require students to explore key ideas, theories, and examples of democratic education through classroom instruction, reading, discussion, and research. In these programs, students will: gain a greater understanding of democratic ideas about such topics as human and civil rights, the rule of law, the nature of secular societies, and such inherent paradoxes in democratic societies as those between freedom and equality, individual liberty and social order, and majority rule and minority rights; examine the works of thinkers such as Jefferson, Mann, Dewey, Guttmann, and Rorty who have linked democracy and education; study the historical development of democratic systems of education in the US and various countries; and investigate how democratic nations have used education to address such issues as racial, ethnic, religious, and social class conflict with special emphasis on ideas about multicultural education. This part of the program will provide the students with a strong theoretical background in democracy, democratic education, and multicultural education.
The "experiential" education component of the program will provide students with the opportunity to participate in democratic institutions in the United States through internships and other types of "hands-on" activities while they are studying in the US. For example, experiences with governmental agencies, community organizations, and political action committees will enable the students to assess the efficacy and validity of the ideas and theories about democracy and democratic education that they are learning about in the classroom. Georgian students will also work with teachers in US schools who are known to be particularly helpful in leading discussions of controversial public policies and issues. This component of the program will allow Georgian students to reflect on and analyze their experiences while providing the opportunity to deepen their understanding of democratic theory and practice. In addition, the programs offered to these students will include training in such areas as web-based research and distance learning, skills that we believe will become increasingly important in the next decade. Moreover, these skills have particular practical importance for countries such as Georgia in which access to published research is difficult to obtain and the need to disseminate teaching and research across vast areas is essential.
The implementation component of the program begins when students graduate from the collaborating universities with masters and/or PhD degrees in education. Upon graduation, these students will take the lead in promoting democratic education in Georgia. In collaboration with faculty members from the participating American universities, the graduates will create programs, courses and materials that will strengthen democratic education in Georgia. These programs and courses will be designed collaboratively with American education faculty members, but they will be taught by Georgians who have completed their degrees at one of the collaborating universities. An essential component of these programs will be creating expertise with web-based research and distance learning strategies.
The ultimate goal of our proposed program is to create a strong Georgian-run teacher education program in Georgia. This multi-year program for "educating the educators" will ultimately result in an enduring democratic teacher education program. The program can have a significant impact on democracy building in Georgia first by educating large numbers of teacher educators and second as these teacher educators themselves train an increasing number of teachers who will be advocates for democratic ideas in the country. Once a 'critical massÓ of graduates from this program are working back in Georgia, faculty members and/or non-Georgian PhD students from the participating US universities will spend some time in residence in Georgia teaching summer school courses, guest lecturing, offering workshops, or generally working with Georgian educators on improvements and innovations in civic education.
We are convinced that the deliberate, careful development of teacher educators knowledgeable and committed to democratic civic education is essential for the survival of democracy in Georgia. We believe our program can make an important contribution to that process.
Gusseinov, Abdusalam (1996). "Education for Democracy in Russia" in Andrew Oldenquist (ed.) Can Democracy Be Taught? (Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation).
Hahn, Carole L. (1996) 'Research on Issues Centered Social Studies' in R. Evans and D. Saxe (editors) Handbook on Teaching Social Studies (Washington, DC: National Council for the Social Studies).
Hahn, Carole L. (1998) Becoming Political: Comparative Perspectives on Citizenship Education (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press).
Nie, Norman H., Junn, Jane, and Stehlik-Barry, Kenneth (1996). Education and Democratic Citizenship in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).
Design of curriculum for masters and doctorate level students
Plan for experiential approach
On site activities
Selection of students
On site activities
|Tuition, living expenses and travel for five years for graduate students||$2,000,000|
|Travel for faculty||$185,000|
Jeffrey Mirel <email@example.com>
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Last Update: June 7, 2001