Palestinian educator Hanan Al Hroub — winner of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize from the Varkey Foundation — found her professional calling in a nontraditional way. It all started when her children and husband were caught in an Israeli attack on their walk home from school.
"This caused them to feel a deep sense of trauma, and our whole family went into crisis as a result of that," says Al Hroub. "There was a sense of fear — of panic even — of hatred, of distrust. A lack of desire to go and learn, to go to school. ... As a mother I had to find a solution."
After searching for answers in libraries and from experts, Al Hroub realized the solutions she was finding were merely theoretical — to her, not really solutions at all. So, instead, she decided to take action. She cleared out a physical space in her family's home in which her children could feel safe to learn, and embarked on teaching them with methods rooted in teamwork and play. Slowly, the children's comfort increased and they began to to learn.
This deeply personal experience led Al Hroub to a new professional focus, one in which she helps guide the learning of children growing up in troubled environments who have been exposed to trauma.
In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Al Hroub, at the Ed School for an Askwith Forum, speaks about her experiences as a Palestinian educator and her unique approach to instruction.
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.