Students participating in this three-week May Experience program examine the public education systems of Australia and New Zealand and teacher preparation programs there. With British influence shaping the educational practices of both countries, they have grown to become world leaders in many facets of education. Students spend a week in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, followed by a South Island visit to Queenstown. From there, they cross the Tasman Sea to spend a week in the beautiful city of Sydney.
Schools visited in both countries emphasize the use of technology and inclusion of diverse populations. These visits, along with the assigned readings, prepare students for assignments in which they compare the education and preparation of teachers in Australia and New Zealand with that of the United States.
Finland and the Czech Republic provide stories of educational success and challenge. The course begins with school visits in Helsinki and Oulu. With a clear focus on equity, Finland’s education system has consistently performed at the top of international rankings despite discouraging homework, forgoing standardized testing until age 16, and providing schools and teachers much autonomy.
The trip continues with school and cultural visits in Prague. The Czech Republic, with high rates of literacy and strong academic and vocational programming, is providing the Czechs with a competitive edge within the EU. Meetings with parents and school leaders explore different parenting and societal expectations as both countries continue to reform their education systems to meet the needs of the 21st century.