Students will travel to Ireland, Italy to observe other schools

Nate Ulrich

The pictures of Kent State students visiting schools in Ireland that hang in Anne Morrison’s office elicit feelings of nostalgia.

After filling in for her colleague Natasha Levinson last year in Ireland, the educational psychology professor will be taking a different group of students to Italy this year. While Morrison won’t be returning to Ireland, she still looks forward to this year’s trip.

“Any kind of experience like this helps people to be more present to diverse learners,” she said. “I love to see the relationships that develop in this cultural experience with each other.”

The Gerald H. Read Center for International and Intercultural Education is coordinating two courses in the College of Education, Health and Human Services that offer studying abroad. Morrison will teach Educational Psychology in Italy, and Levinson will lead the Education in a Democratic Society in Ireland course.

Immediately following the spring semester, both sections will spend five days at Kent State and two weeks in their respective countries, said Linda Robertson, the director of the center.

This year’s trip will mark the first time an education course will visit Italy, Morrison said. Students will see the theories Italian schools are practicing from and how they manifest themselves in the classroom, she said.

Morrison said she is intrigued by two specific approaches of education in Italy: the Reggio Emilia approach and the Montessori approach.

“We’re interested in Reggio Emilia – a very democratic approach to educating children that is child-centered but community-based,” Morrison said. “The Montessori approach is very student-centered in a constructivist approach to education.”

Levinson said students will study the politics, history and philosophy of education in her Irish course.

“We will look at the roles that schools played in the birth of an independent nation in Ireland,” she said. “We look at the parallels (in education) between the U.S. and Ireland. We learn how the American education system was influenced by the influx of Irish immigrants in the 1840s.”

Levinson said an influx of immigrants traveling from all over the world into Ireland has created an interesting relationship between education and religion.

“The issue of religion is really challenging for Irish schools,” Levinson said. “They’re trying to create an atmosphere that is both Catholic and respectful of other religions.”

Both sections will visit several schools to work with the students and observe the teachers.

“The course has a field experience attached to it,” Morrison said. “There is about 20 hours of tutoring and observation. We’ll also prepare lessons and have an opportunity to exchange with the children in either their language, music or art classes.”

Morrison, who is a recipient of the 2005 Excellence in Ohio Education Award, said she is helping students with fundraisers to lower the cost of the trip. Fundraisers are being run at the Mustard Seed in Solon and Mangiamo’s in Kent, Morrison said.

Robertson said there are still spots available in both sections. For more information about the courses, students can contact Linda Robertson at (330) 672-0563 or at [email protected].

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Nate Ulrich at [email protected].