Acera and Partners in Health Work Together to Teach Students to Solve Global Problems
How can we teach our kids to think about local and global problems, and how to use their unique skillsets to solve them? The answer is two fold. First, we need to teach them how to ask the right questions and create an environment where they develop capacities that allow them to solve problems creatively. Second, we need to expose them to the tools, techniques, and technology of real world problem solvers.
How do we do this one day, one lesson at a time? You tackle a complex global problem, and break through subject silos to create a lesson plan that tackles multiple subject disciplines at once.
This year James M. Cleary, MD, PHD of the Dana Farber Institute and Partners in Health , has been working with Acera upper elementary school teacher Christine Horan to give Acera students an inside view of the role bacteria plays in disease, how bacteria evolve in an ecosystem, and the process of diagnosing and treating disease, all wrapped up in the context of Haiti and Haiti’s struggle post earth quake. Dr. Cleary’s frequent trips to Haiti, and his research studying the outbreak of cholera following the earthquake in Haiti is a central theme to the Acera classroom work that links how geology, epidemiology, evolution, and modern medicine all come together.
Ms. Horan— inspired by Partners in Health founder Dr. Paul Farmer and his work in Haiti— reached out to Dr. Cleary and to MIT post grad student Sarah Pacocha Preheim. In addition to working with Dr. Cleary learning what is happening at a global level regarding the epidemics in Haiti, Ms. Preheim comes to Acera to show the students the real time results of her ongoing micro biome research project, bacterial findings in Winchester Lake, while teaching Acera students the fundamentals of the scientific method.
Not only have our students learned how the complex mechanisms via which the earth’s ecosystems continue to evolve, but also now they have “real world” knowledge of how to use the scientific method to work through a problems solution, as well as how to apply this overall knowledge to an incredibly complex issue like global health care. This is what teaching 21st century skills looks like!
Following his work with Christine Horan, Dr. Cleary wrote us to express his passion for teaching our students, revealing just what is possible when you pair real time learning, with experts in the field who can teach our children how to use their skills to become 21st century citizens who use their unique skill sets to solve complex global issues:
“The kids at Acera make me optimistic about the future. Acera’s innovative approaching to learning is allowing students to explore many themes that typically are reserved for high school, college or graduate school. Delivering health care to the third world is an important challenge that needs the talent, enthusiasm and creativity that is being developed in Acera students!”
We couldn’t agree more.