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group photo of students and faculty smiling while holding TCU flag in Italy

College of Education students deepened their understanding of global education practices through the "International Experiences in Education" course this summer in Florence, Italy, led by Department Chair & Professor Robin Griffith and Heather Doyle, director of accreditation, certification & assessment.

Two students smiling with pupils in classroom with pen in hand.
School site visit in Florence, Italy.

The program merged cultural immersion with an extensive academic curriculum, enabling students to integrate theoretical knowledge with practical applications with a historic backdrop.

Participants explored educational philosophies and systems, delving into the Montessori Method, Reggio Emilia approach and Italy's comprehensive teacher preparation programs, complemented by visits to significant museums and World War II landmarks to understand their historic impact on education.

Secondary education major Nicholas Moore, Jr. expressed his admiration for how cultural heritage and community values are integrated in the Italian education system.

“This has made me realize the importance of including cultural diversity in my teaching,” stated Moore.

The abroad experience started with "Survival Italian Class," which included language lessons, cultural lectures and reflective workshops to facilitate cultural adaptation. Students engaged directly with Florence's rich educational landscape through various activities, including:

  • School visits, such as to Fanciulli Elementary and Kindergarten Bilingual School, providing firsthand insights into Italian educational practices.

  • Exchanges with University of Florence students enhancing pedagogical understanding and perspectives.

  • Tours of Museo Galileo and Museo degli Innocenti linking educational theories with historical insights.

  • Discussions with city education administrators introducing students to local educational initiatives.

These activities were supported by guided historical tours and interactions with local educators, enriching the students’ comprehension of diverse educational systems and refining their ability to adapt teaching methods across cultural contexts.

The Italian schools I visited placed a strong emphasis on student-centered learning…the classrooms were designed to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the students. The teachers acted as facilitators rather than authoritative figures, encouraging students to participate actively in their learning. This approach resonated with me and reinforced the importance of creating a classroom environment where students feel empowered to explore, ask questions and take ownership of their education. -Nicholas Moore, Jr.

building self-supporting dome like Leonardo da Vinci
Students building Leonardo da Vinci inspired self-supporting dome.

Reflecting on the course, faculty noted significant growth in students' educational philosophies and teaching techniques, spurred by the immersive learning environment.

"International Education Experiences in Italy 2024" highlights TCU’s commitment to broadening educational boundaries and fostering professional development through global engagement.

TCU’s College of Education continues to prepare exemplary professionals for diverse educational and interdisciplinary work who are reflective, ethical, innovative and committed to serving the regional, national and global community. Through its teaching and engagement, the college strives to inspire relentless curiosity and leadership in scholarship to impact educational practices.

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