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Hart High teacher to tour China

Leslie Littman selected for NEA Pearson Foundation teaching award

Posted: June 11, 2012 4:40 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2012 4:40 p.m.

Hart High School teacher Leslie Littman is one of 33 teachers in the country to earn a national teaching award that includes the opportunity to tour schools in China this summer.

Littman is the first local teacher to win the NEA Pearson Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence and she'll spend the summer with a group of Global Fellows promoting awareness of international issues at home and abroad.

The National Education Association and Pearson Foundations, a charity and nonprofit organization respectively, have teamed to enrich academic and social experiences through opportunities like the China tour.

Littman, a social studies teacher at the Newhall high school, believes educators need to see and experience what happens in other countries. The fellowship enables her to work side-by-side with Chinese administrators, teachers and students as part of the global competency program.

"Global competency is the understanding that we live in a world now where what happens in other nations impacts us here," Littman said. "We need to learn about those cultures and those ways of life and those systems so that we can teach our students how to succeed."

Splitting eight days between Beijing and Shanghai from June 19 to 28, Littman will tour schools in each major city and gain exposure to a new culture of education.

"I'm looking forward to visiting the schools and seeing how they are different from ours," Littman said. "What's their daily routine look like?"

Chinese schools also benefit from this new relationship as they shift from a heavy emphasis on memorization and become familiar with American education practices, according to Littman.

"There seems to be a push back now to change the focus so that kids add a creativity component and critical thinking," Littman said. "You can't develop those skills when teaching to a test."

After returning home, Littman said she wants to bring global learning to the classroom and local community with a curriculum of lesson plans, pictures and other materials acquired abroad.

Along with learning about classroom culture, Littman plans to take Tai Chi classes in the morning and hit China's most historical sites between school visits.

"Tiananmen Square will be fascinating," Littman said. "The Great Wall will be just amazing, and awe-inspiring."


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