As part of receiving the generous fellowship, we are encouraged to write a thank you letter to our sponsors… here’s mine:
Dear Mr. Lemann,
I am a Masters candidate at the Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT) program at Stanford, writing to you to express my gratitude for your generous contribution towards my studies. It is an honor to be recognized by Stanford and the Lemann Fellowship and be part of such a great initiative to help Brazilian public education.
My Stanford experience so far has exceeded all of my expectations. I did not know it was possible to learn so much in such a little time. I did not expect the classes to be so rich, interactive and collaborative as they are. I am continuously amazed to see what we are learning about education being applied to ourselves during the classroom activities. I am in awe of the stellar level of the professors, leaders in their fields and mentioned continuously throughout the research papers that we read.
I started a small school that teaches mobile app development in São Paulo 6 years ago. The more I learn here, the more I know how much I can improve my school in terms of curriculum, teacher’s effectiveness, promotion of knowledge, assessment, and student motivation. I already know that I will be able to apply the knowledge being acquired here onto my school. Yet more importantly, I am seeing how complex education is. It is probably the most complex problem humanity faces nowadays. I believe it is far easier to colonize Mars than to educate the world effectively. To start off with, we need educated engineers and scientists to be able to go to Mars – therefore, education is the basis of our civilization.
My focus here will be on teacher professional development (PD). I believe it is the first step towards educational reform. Without better PD, it is impossible to change the system since teachers are the catalyst of this transformation. Online learning promises education at scale but it has been proven that it alone is not sufficient. Humans learn better from humans. We need coaches, facilitators, guides, and motivators to keep us on track, on point, and continuously moving forward in our learning progression. Teachers need to understand how to promote a growth mindset in students, how to explain the content appropriately, and to assess student learning in realtime.
For opening my eyes, I thank you. For creating the Lemann Fellowship, I salute you. For persevering with your business in Brazil and around the world, I admire you. If only we had more politicians, leaders, and agents with you vision in Brazil…