KOKOMO, Ind. — Paul Paese contributes to international efforts to improve teacher education, as a founding member of the World Federation of Associations of Teacher Education (WFATE).
Paese, dean of Indiana University Kokomo’s School of Education, recently attended the organization’s biennial conference in Beijing, China, where he visited university and high school classrooms, learning how that country’s educators are prepared for the classroom.
“Our mission is to build a global community of teacher educators, and to promote transnational collaboration, support, and research and development in teacher education,” he said. “We all work individually to address the challenges of teacher education, but can benefit from collaborating with people facing similar issues in other countries.”
While in Beijing, he visited Minzu University and local high schools, seeing firsthand how China’s future teachers are prepared, and how they teach.
“Sometimes these experiences open doors for your institution, for faculty or student exchanges,” he said. “You can also learn new ideas from how universities in other countries are preparing their future teachers.”
He finds it interesting to learn what challenges face teachers in other countries. In many developing countries, access to technology is an issue. Other countries face massive teacher shortages, unlike the United States.
One thing he’s found in common, though, is the challenge of educating children from a wide variety of backgrounds.
“We all have to learn to understand the conditions from which the children come to school, and how, in some cases, we can overcome those conditions to teach those children,” he said.
Paese was president of the Association of Teacher Educators when discussion began about forming a federation of national associations. That led to him being a founding member of the group, which held its first international conference in 2010 in Chicago.
He is especially proud of progress made in Africa during the 2012 conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
“We had teachers, university officials, and education ministers from that country all in one place for the first time ever, talking to each other about their concerns and issues,” he said. “We were able to bring people together, and hopefully that will mean better education for the children in that part of the world. Our federation has come a long way in the last 10 years, from discussion to a viable conference with a few hundred attending.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.