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 Tuesday, March 27, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Program for Teaching East Asia connects Asian Studies with K-12 schools
By Jon Leslie, Publications and Creative Services

Through a variety of outreach programs and initiatives, CU-Boulder’s Program for Teaching East Asia (TEA) is bringing East Asian history, geography, language and culture closer to the United States. As part of the university’s Center for Asian Studies, TEA engages in a range of efforts designed to build relationships between university faculty and K–12 schoolteachers that will ultimately result in a better public understanding of East Asia.

“Probably most of the campus is not familiar with the fact that we have a nationally recognized Center for Asian Studies, but we do,” said TEA Director Lynn Parisi. “Last summer the center won a national resource center grant from the U.S. government that designates it as one of the leading Asian studies programs in the country. With that, our charge to do programs that reach out to various community agencies and audiences has become more important, because we have a mandate as a national resource center to educate the public about Asia.”

TEA initiatives, which are funded by private foundation grants, focus primarily on work with K–12 teachers at the state and national levels to develop East Asia-related curriculum and to provide professional development for teachers through workshops, seminars, summer institutes and East Asian study tours. The program also involves CU-Boulder Asian studies students through a service-learning internship in which they develop lessons and teach kindergarten and first-grade students about East Asia in the Boulder Valley School District.

“Our overarching goal is to improve knowledge and understanding of the countries and cultures of East Asia by enriching K–12 education about this world area. Our program primarily targets elementary and secondary teachers who teach about Asia as part of the history, social studies or literature curricula, or who teach an East Asian foreign language,” said Parisi. “We draw upon the expertise of the many Asian specialists on our faculty at CU, providing venues for pre-college teachers to benefit from current research and scholarship in this field.”

As East Asia plays an increasingly significant economic and strategic role in United States international relations, the need for the public to better understand its history, languages and culture grows as well, according to Parisi. To fill this growing need, TEA offers 30-hour seminars to secondary educators around the country as part of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia, a partnership with the East Asia centers of Columbia University, Indiana University and the University of Washington. Two Colorado school districts—Adams County and Jefferson County—are currently involved in this program. Eight other Colorado districts have also been part of this project in the past few years, adding up to a total of 200 Colorado high school teachers who have completed this program.

Additionally, TEA offers an annual program of one-day workshops for teachers on the Boulder campus and has plans to extend its efforts next year by taking its workshops to school districts on the Colorado eastern plains and on the western slope. This year, approximately 100 school administrators and foreign language specialists attended a one-day conference on Chinese language education hosted by TEA. The program was designed to assist Colorado districts as they consider ways to meet the federal call for attention to strategic foreign languages in American education.


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