An International Perspective on Education

After 45 years as an international educator, a “gap year” is well earned

by Dr. Rod Berger

When Chip Barder left the United States to teach in Africa for two years back in 1973, he was 26 years old. He thought that he would have an international adventure and be back in Colorado in no time, ready to resume a “normal” career in the American public school system. But when I recently sat down to talk with him at age 71, Barder was several months into a “gap year” after spending over 45 years working in education all across the globe.

Chip has taught and served in schools from the Congo and Kuala Lumpur to Indonesia and Damascus. He even spent time as a teacher and administrator at schools in Moscow and Warsaw before spending the last decade as the head of the United Nations International School of Hanoi, Vietnam. Chip is currently part of the Blueprint for Technology in Education Advisory Board with Dr. Matt Harris and he is participating in the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC 2019) from January 27th through the 30th in Orlando, Florida.

“I am taking this gap year because I just need a break,” Chip told me. “I'm trying to reflect and think about what I want to do next.” A self-described life-long learner, Chip has been working in the upper echelons of education but has never forgotten the all-important connection to the classroom. He has never forgotten that the entire focus of education is to teach the student. “Education gives me that value of lifelong learning,” he says. “It's really true. I will always value being around kids and being around learning environments. I hope I never lose that.”

In the meantime, Chip hopes he can take advantage of this downtime to read more, but he’s very focused on not losing touch with what’s going on in education across the worldwide community. “My son is a college math professor in Washington, and he keeps telling me, ‘Dad, you've got to up your game here because leadership holds everybody back,’ and he's right,” Chip says. “Especially where technology is concerned.”

He says it starts with knowing that technology is not an answer but simply a tool to help find the answer. “To me, technology is part of lifelong learning. Things are changing so much that if you don't have that value, then you're not going to be able to keep up.”

But for the immediate time being, Chip is just recharging the batteries. “I'm trying not to over-engineer worrying about the next thing in my career,” he says. “We'll see what happens as we go. It’s life, and it's a wonderful journey.”

About Dr. Chip Barder

Dr. Chip Barder is entering his 46th year as a professional educator. He has a BA in Economics with a teaching credential in the Social Sciences, a Master's in Counselling, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching. He has been a teacher, counselor, and principal at all three levels: Elementary, Middle, and High School. He has also been a university faculty member in teacher education and school administration.

He has been the head of three different international schools before UNIS Hanoi for a total of thirteen years. He has served in Kinshasa, Congo; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Pekanbaru, Indonesia; Damascus, Syria; Moscow, Russia; and Warsaw, Poland. In the USA, he has worked in Bloomington, Indiana; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Tampa, Florida; East Lansing, Michigan; and Bellingham, Washington.

FETC Orlando FL January 27-30, 2019

Dr. Chip Barder is an advisory board member for the Blueprint for Technology in Education. To learn more about this global edtech movement, you can attend a full-day summit on January 27 at FETC 2019. The conference, which will take place from January 27-30 in Orlando, Florida, will bring together thousands of educators and technology leaders for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices and pressing issues. Registration is now open.

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