A scholarship from the Dutch government paved the way for Steffie van der Steen to pursue her master's degree, but it was the suggestion of the supervisor for her bachelor's thesis that steered her to the Ed School. After reading about HGSE, van der Steen, Ed.M.'08, immediately got hooked on coming overseas to Cambridge to study in the Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Program.
"Steffie is not only an outstanding scholar of mind, brain, and education, but a remarkably thoughtful, gracious, and helpful person," says Professor Kurt Fischer, MBE program director. "This year she was not only an intellectual leader of her cohort but was always available to help her fellow students, whether offering an insight to help them understand a difficult concept or aiding with set up at a conference."
Upon being honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for the MBE Program, van der Steen answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and her future.
Did you have a favorite class?
My favorite class here was HT-100 (Cognitive Development, Education, and the Brain), for it focused on everything I am interested in: child development, brain research, and educational practices. In particular, I enjoyed the lectures and discussing the readings with some of my classmates in our study group.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year?
Harvard, particularly the Ed School, is a wonderful place. Being in such an interesting environment is inspiring in itself. My classmates were intelligent, charming, and compassionate people who were a great source of support throughout the year. I am going to miss them next year.
What are your plans for life after HGSE?
I am currently applying to Ph.D. programs in The Netherlands that focus on child development. I hope to gain some more experience in doing research.
If you could change one thing about education today, what would it be and why?
The implementation of scientific findings in the classroom does not always occur smoothly. In particular neuroscientific findings have led to misinterpretations in the classroom, which can be harmful sometimes. Some of my classmates looked at these so-called "neuromyths" and offered suggestions on how they could be solved.
What advice do you have for next year's MBE students?
Bring your boots and a nice warm coat. Winters in New England can be tough. Besides that, take advantage of the numerous resources of the Ed School, such as Gutman Library, the Writing and Research Center, and the Office of Student Affairs. Most important, however, is to get to know your classmates. They will motivate you, give you advice, make you laugh, and support you when necessary.