When: November 30, 2016
Where: Cambridge, MA, USA
Institution: Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching
Facilitators: Doris Sommer, Gigi Luk, and Adriana Gutiérrez
The Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) held its Speaker Series event on November 30, 2016. The event featured FAS and HGSE instructors discussing Pre-Texts, a program for educational professionals to employ close reading and critical thinking skills by making art based on challenging texts.
Reflections on the event by Federico Olivieri, Cultural Agents Administrator:
On the evening of Wednesday November 30th, the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) hosted a discussion panel on Pre-Texts as part of its Speakers Series at the Fong Auditorium. With the title “Pre-Texts: The Arts Teach (Anything)”, this event offered a multi-disciplinary presentation of the Pre-Texts pedagogy, created by Prof. Doris Sommer as an innovative program for education professionals to employ close reading and critical thinking skills by making art [visual, performance, literary, etc.] based on challenging texts.
After the opening words of Erin Driver-Linn, Director of HILT, several experts explained their different research approaches and teaching experiences with Pre-Texts. Prof. Doris Sommer (Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and Director of Cultural Agents) initiated the presentation session by explaining how the simple protocol of “Pre-Texts” can offer teachers an engaging method to change the traditional authority—based teaching system in class, as well as a way of achieving more by working less with the students. Prof. Sommer also introduced how she created this program and how Pre-Texts is based on Latin American practices and authors such as Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal and many others.
After this first presentation, Dr. Gigi Luk (Associate Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education) commented on her research “The Art and Science of Pre-Texts”, including information on how this education program can be assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Finally, Dr. Adriana Gutiérrez (Senior Preceptor in Romance Languages and Literature in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University) and Dr. Viviane Gontijo (Advisor in the Portuguese Language Program at the Department of Romance Languages and Literature at Harvard University) presented, with several examples and direct professional observations, the advantages of using Pre-Texts in the teaching and learning of foreign languages.
At the end of their presentations, the panel engaged in constructive conversations with the participants in the audience, fostering HILT’s central mission: to catalyze innovation and excellence in learning and teaching at Harvard.
Video of the event and more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnjE1MJL7RM&list=PL2SOU6wwxB0tZFpj59fXV6Uf-ng1oJvLk&index=22&t=0s