Teaching is a lonely profession, feels Dr Kaushal Yadav, the in-charge Principal of AG Teachers College in Ahmedabad. Dr Yadav was in Mumbai to participate in a unique fellowship programme for aspiring teachers titled RACHANA, organised by the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) earlier this week.
RACHANA, meaning ‘creation’, is a resource centre and design laboratory that includes a virtual educational resource centre to give students, scholars and policymakers the opportunity to discuss and ideate solutions. A total of 85 applicants from across the country and Global South were finalised for this year’s winter school organised by the Centre for Excellence in Teacher Education (CETE).
Dr Yadav, a teacher educator, said, “Since the pandemic, the teaching sector has gained digital momentum. It brought us all together amid the distance. Moreover, in order to understand the drastic change being brought in by the new National Education Policy we need to find new pathways, for which we need communities. Learning with peers, after all, is the best type of learning.”
The fellowship programme involved academic and pedagogical sessions, along with cultural activities, from experts like Dr Yadav in the field of education. Also covered were social marginality in education, inclusivity and other reforms that are seldom found in traditional Bachelor of Education courses. Dr Yadav said, “We need communities of teachers. Things won’t happen if a school functions in a cocoon. TISS has brought an excellent idea within teacher education.”
Dr Anusha Ramanathan, Assistant Professor, Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education, TISS, said that the curriculum for the winter school is a conscious attempt to come up with a probing point. “The idea is to make students think through constructivism. Questions and knowledge constructions happen through teachers, students answer them, which once again leads to another question – it’s a Socratic method,” she explained.
The discussions include stages of teachers, professional standards, community guidelines and the value of profession, the Right to Education (RTE), the Goods and Service Tax, creation of policy on a national level and its implementation. Uncommon areas like peace education, inclusion in education and gender representation are not ignored.
“Bringing students from across the Global South is to bring in diversity. Teaching in several parts of South Asia is considered sacred but not valued enough. In a local community, teachers are given a lot of statuses but when it comes to power, they don’t have a position,” Dr Ramanathan said about the shared colonial experience.
Agreeing with Dr Ramanathan, Dr Richa Sharma, Assistant Professor, CETE, added, “We need to break the conditioning and unlearn for newer possibilities.”
Mr Jayant NV, a physics pedagogy student from Kerala said, “I particularly enjoyed the engaging discussion on the RTE Act, to understand the impact of colonisation on our education system. In these days, I have earned an incredible community from all over India-”
“History comes to life when told rather than read,” said Ms Writika Manocha, a Delhi-based student, who was part of the social science pedagogy. “We could trace the journey of different objects and people around us... especially when Dr Sharma illustrated how a mere chair can be connected to the possible areas of social studies. I learned how history can be recorded through the lived experiences of people, i.e., their memories of a certain time.”
Besides discussions, activities like star gazing, storytelling, tree walks, peace education and other cultural Programs involving dramas and poetry recitals invigorated the winter school.
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