Lauren Darby (MAT ‘15, Social Studies Education) graduated in December 2015, after completing her student teaching in New Zealand as part of the Student Teaching Abroad Scholarship from the College of Education. For the 2016-2017 school year, Darby is overseas once again, this time to Wolfsburg, Germany, where she is teaching American language and culture in 5-12th grade English classes as part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant program.
Darby, from Sharon, Massachusetts, says that her experience living and working in Germany, combined with her time abroad in New Zealand, will provide perspective and awareness that will benefit her future classrooms.
“Teaching in a different country is such a great way to gain insight into a community because you’re not just visiting, you’re actually building these long-term relationships,” says Darby.
While studying at the College of Education, Darby examined how social studies helps students develop an understanding of personal history, privilege, and social responsibility in a global context.
“I had a great experience working with Dr. Greg Hamot and Dr. Jason Harshman, who introduced me to the ideas of global education and looking more critically at the way the U.S. fits into the world,” says Darby. “I had always wanted to take a more social justice approach to social studies education, but I hadn’t been aware of the macro level, global education discipline until they introduced me to it.”
In her classrooms, Darby intends to incorporate critical thinking about how students’ own lives fit into the greater world around them and how they can inspire change on a local and global scale.
“There’s a very clear historical and geographical trajectory for why students have the attitudes and beliefs that they do,” Darby says. “And to be able to critically examine those, I think that’s really important not only for developing basic empathy skills, but also problem solving and thinking about working with people who are different from them and being comfortable with that difference.”
Showing students what kind of impact they can have on society and the world is another important lesson that Darby is dedicated to teaching her future classrooms, whether abroad or at home.
“Every individual has a responsibility to move the world forward in a certain way.”
“Every individual has a responsibility to move the world forward in a certain way and to stand up for human rights and social justice,” says Darby. Through her social studies curriculum, she “wants students to see that history is not just circumstance or fate, but the result of human decisions, and that they therefore have an active role to play in shaping the world they inhabit.”