Since 2009 the Stanford University Graduate School of Education has received support from the Lemann Foundation to train Brazilian students and visiting scholars. In 2011, the Foundation helped the GSE create the Lemann Center for Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Brazil. Founded by Professors Eric Bettinger, Paulo Blikstein, Martin Carnoy and David Plank, the Center hosts programs for MA, PhD, MBA students, visiting scholars, and visiting student scholars (“sandwich” students). At the end of this first phase of collaboration between the Stanford GSE and the Lemann Foundation the Center will have trained more than 150 Lemann fellows in research and innovative practice. The Center also supports a variety of research and innovation projects, with a particular focus on improving learning opportunities for disadvantaged students both inside and outside of the public education system.
The Lemann Center works to support the success of Brazilian efforts to make a giant leap forward in their educational system. To accomplish this goal the Center relies on two main strategies. First, we are committed to attracting the best and brightest minds from all fields to support educational improvement in Brazil. The Center is working to build a network of researchers and other partners whose training, sense of community, and shared vision of the future will make them trailblazers of change in Brazilian education.
Second, the Lemann Center at Stanford recognizes that meaningful improvement in Brazil’s education system will require big changes in policy and practice at all levels. We work closely with public officials at federal, state, and municipal levels, with our students and academic colleagues, and with the Lemann Foundation and other partners in Brazil to develop and test new approaches to the educational challenges that Brazil faces. We believe that new policies and practices must be grounded in hard evidence and rigorous analysis, and that improvement strategies cannot target only schools, but must address the entire ecosystem of institutions that promote the well-being of young people. Practices that have proven successful in other countries must be adapted to reflect cultural, social, and economic conditions in Brazil, and their adoption and implementation must be evaluated locally.
The Lemann Center has produced many research studies related to its mission of evidence based educational reform, through the work of its academic staff, students, and visiting scholars. This research has been made possible in part because of the access that states secretariats of education, INEP, IPEA, and the Ministry of Labor have given the Center to large bodies of data. The Center’s staff and students have also collaborated with colleagues in Brazil to conduct large-scale experiments to test the effects of educational interventions on Brazilian student performance and behavior. The most recent of these is a large experiment to test the impact of mindset interventions on students learning gains. In addition, Center researchers have made important contributions in testing models of students’ science learning processes using innovative technological applications—this is known as the Maker Movement, and the Center has been intensely involved in researching the possibilities for science education reform in Brazil based on this research. Finally, the Center is involved in summarizing evidence from research in Brazil and other countries to contribute to policy formation regarding educational reform in Brazil at federal, state, and municipal levels.
Innovative Educational Applications
The Lemann Center has been involved directly in developing two major educational improvement efforts in Brazil. The first of these is a major initiative started in Sobral, Ceará. In Sobral, the team, led by Paulo Blikstein, has developed a long-term relationship with the Secretary of Education of the municipality to transform the teaching and learning of science and technology in the city’s public schools. The project encompasses a complete rewrite of the science curriculum, teacher professional development, the creation of a team of curriculum writers, the writing of sample lesson plans, and the renovation/construction of maker spaces and science labs in all schools. This represents a brand-new model for maker spaces and science labs which invites local artisans and workers to help design the labs and sourced materials and kits that the students will use.
The Center’s second initiative is the Programa de Educação Docente (PED). PED grew out of the six-year program that brought more than 50 Brazilian educators, policymakers at national, state, and municipal levels, representatives of NGOs and foundations, and entrepreneurs to participate in Stanford’s iSTEP institutes. PED began in 2016 as an ambitious, innovative, and complex project whose main goal is to build successful demonstration sites and proofs of existence of academically rigorous and solid practice-oriented teacher education programs based on a coherent learning model used to educate teachers at Stanford. Led by Rachel Lotan, the team from Stanford and the support team in Brazil have held 3-4 week-long training seminars for teams of university educators in the past two years in advanced complex instruction pedagogical strategies in mathematics and science. In the 2018–19 year, the PED team is training more than 80 teacher educators in 11 Brazilian private and public partner universities. Once trained by the PED team, these university teams educate public and private school teachers from their local municipalities over an intense18 month period. All signs point to exceptionally good results among the 130 teachers trained in five universities in 2017-18.
The Center has recently launched a new initiative, Dados para um Debate Democrático em Educação, known as D3E. D3E seeks to increase the impact and influence of academic research in education policy debates in Brazil, drawing in part on the research produced by our network of students, fellows, and alumni. D3E is designed to increase communication between policy makers and academics and to increase the role of evidenced based research in educational reform by making that research available to policy makers in easy-to-understand, comprehensive summaries. D3E will also hold regular seminars for policy makers around various educational policy issues.