Alan Gao

After “teaching 8th grade science over the summer for Breakthrough Miami,” Alan Gao (SM ‘24) knew that he wanted to dive deeper into the theoretical frameworks of education. Like most students curious about EDST, Alan enrolled in Foundations in Education Studies with Dr. Mira Debs — soon after, he eagerly applied to the Education Studies program. Thanks to the “interdisciplinary nature of the program” and passionate professors like Dr. Mira Debs and Dr. Talya Zemach-Bersin, Alan felt that the EDST community was the right space to pursue his  pedagogical interests. Now, he is working as a Human Resources Intern in New Haven Public Schools. 

Alan is particularly focused on “project-learning (PBL), detracking, and civil education.” His educational interests have been inspired by exploring different pedagogies, including Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. “Teaching is such a cultural activity that we often intuitively understand and think about through a biased lens,” Alan explains, “and Freire introduces a powerful paradigm shift of a perspective on education that to this day influences my interest in project-based learning and other forms of inquiry-based learning that focuses on co-creation of knowledge between students and teachers.”

In the near future, Alan hopes to remain in the education sector with a focus on administration. If time allows, he would like to “join a state legislature and help craft broader social policy that encompasses and goes beyond education!”