I didn’t write a blog yesterday because I was just too tired when I got in from the teacher workshop. It was a great success, with 60 enthusiastic teachers all keen to learn (not to mention enjoying a day out of the classroom; I remember that feeling well!) The morning was on teaching ethics, and while my presentation overran (whoops!) there was real engagement from the audience who had intelligent questions and genuine interest. My host then spoke powerfully about the ethics of teaching, how we approach the task and treat the students, and it was clear that many of the delegates do have a genuine heart for the young people they teach, and a dissatisfaction with a system that values nothing about them except their exam results – something that will be familiar to British teachers who are also struggling to demonstrate that every child matters in a system that seems to indicate that every exam result is what matters.
In the afternoon I spoke on teaching disabled students. I feel excited for India because I sense there is just the beginning of an awakening towards the rights and the value of disabled people, in the way that we began to see in the UK 35 – 40 years ago. While I have been here, there have been news reports of mass demonstrations in some Indian cities of disabled people demanding equal rights. Several of the teachers here at the workshop are already working hard to include disabled students but battling against far harder odds than we face in British schools. My hope is that they will be able to take the notes I provided back to their schools to be shared with the school leadership, and that people will begin to see what can be achieved for disabled students.
In the evening the girls were practising a dance routine – I wish I could post a video of it but it would have been impossible to capture it and still preserve their anonymity. One of the girls has made use of some of the wool I brought to knit herself a very pretty bag. She did this without a pattern except the one in her head, and designed the decoration herself – here are a couple of photos of it.
Today is my last full day here. As soon as I finish writing this I will go and join in helping the girls with their studies, which they do every morning. Then this afternoon I will be leading a workshop for all the leaders of the various projects here on how to write reports and tailor them for different audiences. That is my last engagement, so I’m looking forward to a relaxing final evening with the girls, which will be all the more enjoyable because it is the birthday of the Australian volunteer here in the girls’ home.