Ian Bleakney '91 awarded 2001 Barlow grant to study education in India

How do Indian students with scarce resources consistently outscore U.S. students in math and science? A Bates alumnus using a new alumni travel grant intends to find out.

Ian Bleakney ’91, a science teacher and department chair at Merritt College High School, a small public high school, in Oakland, Calif., was recently awarded the 2001 Barlow Alumni Travel Grant from Bates. The grant will fund Bleakney’s travels to India this summer where he will study teaching strategies and administrative methods in the city of Pune.Bleakney hopes to learn about Indian public science education and, on a broader level, how Indian administrators are able to run their schools effectively with relatively little money and few resources from their government.

Noting that Indian students consistently outscore his U.S. students in both science and math on standardized tests despite conditions of extreme poverty and scarce resources in most Indian communities, Bleakney hopes the Indian educational model will provide ideas for educators in this country, especially those who teach in low-income areas.

Bleakney became a teacher, he says, by committing himself to the national teacher corps known as Teach for America. He has been teaching some of this country’s  least privileged children since 1994. Bleakney also studied teaching pedagogy in Mexico under the Fulbright Teacher Exchange program. He plans to return to his teaching in Oakland in the fall.

Recalling their own transformative study-abroad experiences, David ’79 and Ann Barlow of Wellesley, Mass., in 2000 made a $1.5 million gift to create the David S. and Ann M. Barlow Endowment for Study Abroad. In addition to the Barlow Alumni Travel Grant, other initiatives include the Barlow Fellows Program, for students and faculty advisers planning study abroad; internships and senior thesis research relating to travel abroad; faculty travel to sites frequently by Bates students; and opportunities for students to share their experiences with the college community and with local teachers and schoolchildren.

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