It’s my second week in NY and as part of my plan for the trip was to visit organizations that are doing interesting things in the education field, I’ve been to two amazing places so far and I’ll be writing about these amazing spaces in the Creative Spaces in NYC series.
It’s my second week in NY and I sat in on Tom Igoe’s class on Understanding Networks. I’ll do some comparisons between his class and a typical undergraduate class I took, when I was in college.
The first thing is the class size, 16 students at ITP compared to 48 students at IOE (Institute of Engineering). I was wondering how ITP came up with the number 16, did they experiment with smaller or larger groups and settled for 16 to be the optimal number. I should probably ask this the next time I run into any faculty members.
The second thing is the classroom arrangement, the students at ITP sit around tables arranged in the middle of the room, facing each other. At IOE, we’d sit on benches that were arranged in rows all facing the teacher and the energy flow would be from the teacher to the student. The energy flow in the class at ITP is more organic and involves everyone in the class, not just the teacher.
On the first day at (Interactive Telecommunications Program) ITP New York University (NYU), I got to observe three amazing teachers with different teaching styles. I sat in on Tom Igoe’s Intro to Physical Communication, Daniel Shiffman’s Intro to Computational Media and Benjamin Light’s Intro to Fabrication.
I sat on Tom’s 9 am and he started with a quick activity in which the students had to introduce themselves, where they were from and what manual skill they had. The class size at ITP is relatively small compared to 48 at Pulchowk Campus, where I did my undergraduate engineering from. I was amazed by the diversity of the students. They were from different backgrounds like graphics design, industrial design, marketing, journalism, electrical engineering, computer engineering and language. I was wondering how ITP addresses the varying levels, skills and interests of this diverse group of students.
And the manual skills were also diverse: swimming, rock climbing, balance, calligraphy, water color painting, running, playing sports, setting up stages for dogs and taking pictures of the dogs, photography and making things. Mine was ‘breaking things apart’.
When the aftershock struck midway through the training session, I could see uncertain faces sitting around in the room. Located on the second floor, the training hall had a single door for entry and exit and the walls had multiple cracks. Nervous but resolute, the participants decided to continue with the session we were facilitating. The determination shown by the teachers to continue was praiseworthy. However, the 5-hour session, initially planned to be 7 hours long, had not started with the same zeal.
Since the first big earthquake struck on April 25th, our lives have been unpredictable and fluid. In the initial days some from our team were responding to crisis at home and those of us lucky enough that our homes and families did not need immediate care began to act. First we provided basic relief to a few villages that we were connected with. By the 5th day, our attention began to switch from immediate relief to longer term needs such as shock/trauma interventions, re-opening of schools and educating kids in the camps.
Over the last two weeks our team worked with over 170 kids at 3 different camps in the Kathmandu Valley. As the camps began to dwindle a few days ago (only to fill up again after the big aftershock on 12th May) we shut down our camp programs and put more energy into our back to school program. Working with other educators and psychologists we created “First-Day-Back,” a 1 – 3 day package of lesson plans that teachers can use to help their students readjust to being back at school.