Jean Kwon and Neveen Saied
Despite an overabundance of information, there is a lack of understanding of American/Egyptian cultures resulting from a weakness in critical thinking, especially when discussing history and culture in the classroom. Therefore, in order to empower the future foundations of our societies, it is essential that students are intellectually humble to listen and take into consideration outside perspectives, intellectually persistent to filter opinions from facts, and intellectually courageous to confront their own prejudices in the search for truth. These abilities to self-assess and self-improve will help our societies be better prepared to face the ever-evolving future.
The mission of American-Egyptian Teachers Fellowship (AETF) is to increase understanding of Egyptian and American cultures by training teachers, who shape the minds of young Egyptians and Americans, on utilizing strategies of critical thinking when discussing history and culture in the classrooms. AETF is a week-long fellowship program for ten middle school/high school teachers in Egypt and the United States respectively to learn new ways of applying critical thinking methods in their classrooms. Over the course of the training, teachers will learn various critical thinking tools and innovative activities that train and strengthen critical thinking, as well as engage with fellow teachers on best practices to further develop and fortify these abilities in the classroom.
The project also aims to give the fellows their own opportunity to explore, assess, and challenge themselves on the question of culture. For the fellowship held in the United States, the fellowship will be led by an Egyptian facilitator, who will guide teachers through site visits, cultural activities, and open discussions on Egyptian culture. A similar program will be offered to teachers in Egypt, but led by an American facilitator.
Designing and implementing a fellowship program for American and Egyptian teachers that equips them with new critical thinking tools and increases cultural awareness and sensitization.
The fellowship will directly benefit the twenty Egyptian and American fellows. Further, students of these teachers will also benefit as teachers incorporate the new critical thinking tools in their teachings.
Phase 1: Content Development and Fundraising (4-6 months)
Create the content and materials for the training program which develops and strengthens critical thinking skills. In addition, begin fundraising efforts, researching crowdsourcing platforms and exploring personal networks, to cover the costs of the training.
Phase 2: Teacher Registration (3-4 months)
Advertise the fellowship through various public outlets, such as social media and personal networks, to solicit applications. Meet with school officials/teachers to raise awareness of the opportunity.
Phase 3: Fellowship Implementation: Egypt - USA (2 months)
Organize the logistics of implementing the training, which includes reserving training space, buying supplies, and preparing content materials. In addition, notify the teachers who have been selected to participate.
Phase 4: Future Considerations
Reflect on the pros/cons of the training to improve for next year’s training. In addition, assess ways to expand the program to other school districts and states, as well as improve the projects sustainability. Explore potential partnerships for sustainability with corporate sponsors and/or local school districts.
- Training twenty Egyptian and American teachers on utilizing critical thinking tools to discuss history and culture in the classrooms.
- Creating critical thinking and cultural sensitization training materials and resources to share with designated institutions with similar missions and other teachers in Egypt and the United States.
- Launching custom-made, contextualized activities/lesson plans developed by teachers that utilize the new critical thinking tools in their teaching.
Furthering the Foundation’s Mission
This teacher fellowship furthers the Foundation’s mission in two ways: 1) by directly creating an open dialogue with teachers on the issue of Egyptian and American culture and 2) by supporting teachers to develop and strengthen critical thinking skills in students, who will then be equipped to have open dialogues of their own on a sound intellectual basis.