J-Term at HGSE

Having spent several years actively disinterested in television (yes, I’m a little strange), I have to confess that I was initially a little skeptical about whether I would enjoy the J-term (January Term) class I’d signed up for. Informal Learning for Children, taught by Professor Joe Blatt, was a two-week long course from 10 am – 6 pm every day, and I worried that this might be more exposure to television in that fortnight than I’d had during the rest of my life. I also believed (clearly mistakenly) that many media experiences were uninformative and had little to do with education of any sort, and wondered how it would be possible to design experiences that were both engaging and educational.

So much of what I heard and saw over the course of the past fortnight blew my mind. I was amazed by how much careful thought and diligent work goes into creating a three-minute segment. The expert guest speakers for our class ranged from Melvin Ming, the President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, to Judith Palfrey, Executive Director of Let’s Move, and later Shari Rosenfeld, the Vice President of International Projects at Sesame Workshop. Of course I’m not naming everyone we heard from or doing justice to all the incredible speakers we heard during the course through this one blog post, but I guess that means you’ll just have to take the class and see for yourself!

Sesame Street Muppets!
Sesame Street Muppets!

I also really enjoyed the process of working with a group to design a product for our final project proposal, especially since this was not something I would have otherwise ever done. We decided to design IMPACT, a board game for middle school students, intended to increase global awareness and inculcate in students the traits necessary to respond to global challenges. This was by far the most unusual assignment I’ve done in a while, and it was so informative to see the different components of the game come together as we thought about what would be best suited to the needs of our target audience.

I’m so glad I took a class quite different from what I would normally be interested in, because it pushed me to consider a whole new world and to think harder about the kind of work I’d like to do in the future. Here’s to a year of fascinating learning experiences that push us beyond our expectations — Happy 2014!

Kim Fernandes is a Master’s candidate in the International Education Policy program. Having taught previously in Mumbai, Kim hopes to return to India after graduation to support government and low-income private schools.