The Lattice Community: An Innovative Experiment


November 10, 2019 - Author: Balaraba Sule

Highlights 61, Balaraba Sule, The Lattice Community: An Innovative Experiment, November 2019.

LATTICE (Linking all Types of Teachers to International Cross-cultural Education) is a professional development model and an institutional partnership established in 1995 between MSU and Lansing area school districts. Since its establishment in 1995, it has worked to internationalize K-12 education in mid-Michigan by cultivating and supporting global perspectives and identities in kindergarten through twelfth grade classrooms through personal and professional development opportunities. K–12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) is an American expression that indicates the number of years of publicly supported primary and secondary education found in the USA, which is similar to the years spent in school from nursery to senior secondary school in Nigeria.

The goal of LATTICE as an International Network and also a learning community, is to change teachers' perspectives and ways of thinking through collective study and discussion. It assumes that teachers can learn from getting to know international students well and thereby vicariousy experience the life and cultures of the countries in question. LATTICE sessions are planned by a team consisting of K-12 teachers, international students, and MSU faculty.

The participants meet once a month for a few hours. The sessions consist of presentations, small group discussions, personal accounts from participants, and spontaneous reports of events in Lansing area schools and the international students' home countries. “Sharing culture through food” is a traditional activity in LATTICE in which participants savor food brought by members of the LATTICE community from different cultural backgrounds.

Present at all LATTICE meetings are select teachers from 14 districts and international students from over 50 countries. Under the LATTICE umbrella, a wide range of social, cultural, economic and political topics are studied from international perspectives, such as hunger, gender, environment, economic development, family rituals, schooling practices, and intercultural interactions. K-12 teachers draw from the experiences of the international students and in some cases follow up on many ideas in their classrooms, often in collaboration with the international students they have come to know.

I was privileged to be one of the participants at the first LATTICE meeting for the Fall semester held on Thursday Sept. 26th, 2019, at Waverly High School. One of the presentations at the session was on the new demands facing K-12 education. Some of the demands enumerated included more diverse classrooms, more (and narrowed) focus on assessment and at the same time recognizing the need for more than traditional focus on subject-based, cognitive learning. In essence these needs are global and the need to bridge the cultural barriers in education is the key. I believe LATTICE is doing just that.


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