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Darryl Flaherty, right, and a few of the students in the new graduate program for social studies teachers discuss teaching methods and classroom materials.
A new master's degree program at the
University of Delaware offers a unique combination of classes in
teaching methods, or pedagogy, and in world history and global studies
content for certified social studies teachers.
"Graduate courses for practicing teachers often focus only on
pedagogy, but in this program the students are enhancing their content
knowledge of world history, which is often their first love," said Barry
Joyce, associate professor of history and co-coordinator of social studies education
in the College of Arts and Sciences. "You can't enhance a school
curriculum just with pedagogy or just with content. That's why we wanted
to offer both."
The first participants in the two-year master of arts in social
studies in world history program began attending class this summer. With
professional experience ranging from a few years to more than a decade,
they teach in traditional and charter schools in five Delaware
districts and one in nearby Maryland. Although the focus is world
history, the program is designed to enhance teachers' knowledge in other
areas of social studies as well, including civics, economics and
Creators of the program said the instruction will be a hybrid of
in-person classes, such as the one meeting now on the UD campus, and
distance learning classes that will be offered online during the school
year, to fit teachers' work schedules and to allow those who live or
teach far from the University to participate.
"Our model is for the program to be completed in two [academic] years
and a summer," said Hannah Kim, assistant professor of history and
co-director of social studies education. "The potential for this program
is truly global, and we've had interest from people internationally.
Having a global perspective in teaching world history is incredibly
Although none of the current students is international, the
instructors are committed to providing that global perspective. A recent
class meeting featured an hour-long conversation via Skype with a
middle school teacher in Hiroshima, Japan. UD students asked questions
on such topics as who determines the social studies curriculum in
Japanese schools (there is a national curriculum, but classroom teachers
choose their own supplementary materials); what academic preparation
history teachers have (none specifically, but working teachers spend a
great deal of time honing their skills and sharing ideas for
improvement); and the prevalence of teacher unions (much lower
membership rates in Japan than in the United States).
"We know that not everybody uses the same teaching styles, whether
they're in Delaware or in Hiroshima," Darryl Flaherty, associate
professor of history who led the class session, said in introducing the
Skype conversation. Flaherty, who is bilingual in English and Japanese,
also served as translator for the discussion.
As the session ended, the UD students and their Japanese counterpart
all described themselves as fortunate to be teachers and to love their
jobs "a bond they all share," Joyce said later.
"This cohort of students have committed themselves to an intensive
program, and they're all enthusiastic about teaching," Kim said. "Their
approach is: How can I be a better teacher? That makes it really
gratifying for us to be part of this program."
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