It’s been a fantastic 2 weeks.
I’ve been in Cambridge (not the one in the UK) getting settled in before I start a chock full of courses in Education. Some interesting things I’ve noticed:
1. The Harvard Graduate School of Education has a Great Community Spirit. Everyone here wants to help in making sure you get settled in well, that you know who to turn to for anything and everything and that you make the most of the time that you have here. The Orientation last for 8 days- which is much longer than at most other schools at Harvard and possibly, at most schools around the world.
2. MIT is far more relaxed than Harvard. I went for a class over at the MIT Media Lab the other day and my classroom was more like a music studio. Lots of Computer Screens mounted on the walls (the large Plasma TV ones), music, leather sofas, a Lazy Boy and people sitting on desks (whatever few there were) etc. This was a real class. The Professor turned up in a Jacket and after making a statement about how that was important since ‘first impressions count’ – he proceeded to take it off and swore never to wear it again to class. Sure, grad school is very different from school but there is scope for considering a similar engagement in our schoolhouses- I definitely felt a lot at ease studying there.
3. Harvard is very complicated in the rubric and nomenclature across schools. One course means different things at different schools, and 30 hours of work (normally one credit at most schools) could be variously called 3 credits (Business School), 4 credits (Ed School) or 1 credit (School of Government) making it very difficult for people to fathom whether they are really meeting requirements for graduation. What makes it stranger is that all schools start at different times and even have different term-systems – terms at the Business School and just 3 at the Ed School every year, for example. But it seems that at the end of next year, after 350 years of existence, all the Harvard Schools are going to attempt to come to a uniform system. I’m sure that will be a huge relief to everyone concerned.
The most amazing thing I’ve learned, over at MIT of course, where everyone recounts it gleefully, is that Harvard once tried to buy MIT. This was a hundred years ago when MIT was not much more than an engineering school. Harvard didn’t have an engineering school so they thought it would behove them to take over their neighbours. As it turned out, all the faculty at MIT revolted and Harvard had to back off.
Now that I’m settled in and have got myself a new machine (from Apple- too bad they didn’t knock off $200 on their MacBooks like they did on the IPhone), I should be on the blog with the same frequency as before.