Open to Learn, Eager to Share
“My daily responsibilities vary greatly,” Nguyen Duy Mong Ha recently wrote, and indeed, in her role as head of the Office of Educational Testing and Quality Assurance at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City, her work touches many aspects of the university’s teaching and learning, research, and community service. Yet a common theme runs through her busy days of reviewing curricula and syllabi, collecting data for assessments, monitoring the implementation of improvement plans, and mentoring colleagues: improving the quality of teaching and learning.
Despite the demands of her position, Dr. Ha was eager to spend two weeks at the United Board’s September 2017 Whole Person Education Academy, which was administered by the Ateneo Teacher Center at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. “The description really caught my attention as it deals with the philosophy of whole person education in very practical ways,” she recalled. “Learning sessions covered the fundamentals and theories of education, curriculum, instruction, assessment and evaluation, classroom dynamics, research, media, technology applications, and service learning. From my experience, I have found that our teaching staff really have the need to improve their competence in these aspects.” Dr. Ha was already familiar with many of the topics but she relished the chance to experiment with facilitation techniques, media and technology tools, and new ways of managing service-learning.
The United Board strongly encourages participants at the Whole Person Education Academy to develop “echo training” workshops, through which they can share their learning with colleagues at their home institutions and educators from other colleges and universities. That appealed to Dr. Ha. “I want my colleagues at USSH, VNU-HCM to have better awareness of the importance of the whole person education philosophy and then acquire the practical skills to apply the whole person approach in their teaching,” she said. In July and August, she collaborated with two other Vietnamese participants, Huynh Thanh Tien and Tran Thi Thanh Hue of An Giang University, to deliver two echo training workshops.
“I enjoyed working with Dr. Tien and Dr. Hue thanks to their enthusiasm, commitment, and leadership competence,” Dr. Ha said. “We could share a lot of things and support each other.” One of their goals was to model student-centered learning during the workshop, and that meant monitoring participants’ reactions to new material and adjusting the content and tempo of the workshops accordingly. The three educators were, in essence, ambassadors for whole person education, and Dr. Ha was pleased that participants found the workshops so inspiring: “My colleagues realized the significance of applying whole person education and felt empowered to make changes in their own teaching.”