The 5th Class

School has been in session for just over a month now, and I’m settling into the weekly rhythm of classes and homework. One vital aspect of the HGSE experience is what they informally call “the 5th class” – taking advantage of the amazing guests and experiences that are available at the Ed School, across the Harvard campuses, and within the larger community (such as MIT or greater Boston cultural events). These guests can often throw a wrench into my carefully constructed study plans, but they are so interesting and unique that it’s worth the effort to attend.

This is Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, posing for me after I awkwardly asked for her photo.


She had a large lecture for the community and then a smaller luncheon for students across the Harvard campuses. She had briefly mentioned her high school as a transformative place, and I was able to ask her specifically about its impact and get details about their unique programming.

It’s only been a month, but I’ve met Mitch Resnick, MIT professor and creator of Scratch. Jie Qi, an amazing crafting artist and creator of circuit stickers also visited campus. Elizabeth Warren was here, as was Dr. Davis, the current superintendent of one of the school systems affected by the unrest after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. There were several executive directors from arts institutions and educational nonprofits that dropped into my classes for questions, and I attended a presentation on hip-hop culture from the person who quite literally wrote the book on it.

Right now we are in the midst of the inaugural Teaching and Learning Week, where there have been open classes, unique presentations and daily emails about experiences in teaching and learning across the HGSE campus.  At one of these open classes, I brought my two daughters to meet one of my heroes, Alfie Kohn.


The class content is great, but the unique campus opportunities are unparalleled. I’m grateful to be here, and thankful for the many staff members and student organizations that use their talents to bring such interesting people to HGSE.

Charlotte Dungan is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Learning and Teaching program. She has worked and learned alongside her four children in home education networks, independent schools, and summer camps. She has a passion for child-directed learning experiences and plans to start a Family School upon graduation.