A continuous life cycle of learning

Our first cohort of students are now nearing completion of their MA studies

Our first cohort of students are now nearing completion of their MA studies

Continuity is so much a part of sustaining a successful course here in Bangalore. We are in a delightful period at present of having a cohort of students who are just handing in their final dissertations, a group undertaking research methods training ready to begin work for their dissertations, and another group who will begin their first module on Monday. This progression and engagment with students at different stages along the route  towards the MA in Special and Inclusive Education is particularly rewarding for tutors.

The period of gestation leading up to the beginning of this course was long. It started with a meeting of colleagues and friends in a Bangalore coffee shop, with a simple discussion about the need to provide more training for teachers in respect of children who were being marginalised within the education system. As  a result of these initial informal discussions we progressed to providing professional development for teachers in schools in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and gradually gained the confidence to move towards an accredited course. Having established the courage to move forward towards a more clearly defined proposal, it took two years of planning through more formal meetings and university committees in order to reach a point where we could recruit our first cohort of students.

Earlier this week I had delivered into my hands the first ever completed dissertation written by one of our initial intake of students. I must confess I had not expected to feel so emotional as I did at this moment. Seeing the fruition of the commitment and dedication of my hard working colleagues and students in this tangible form was a moment to treasure.

In the sessions this week, students addressing issues and approaches related to educational research that are new to their experience, have demonstrated confidence and professionalism. When I think back to the apprehensions that many of them had expressed at the outset of the course, taught in a manner so different from their previous experiences, I feel a genuine thrill for the progress they have made. Each day they arrive in the classroom prepared to question and challenge, debate and participate with great gusto and expertise. The workshops activities we provide are grasped with enthusiasm making our lives as tutors so much easier.

Our second group have made good progress and now we await a third cohort

Our second group have made good progress and now we await a third cohort

As our first cohort comes to the end of their formal studies on this course we are already aware of the difference they are making in their schools. As they report the changes they have made in their classrooms, and the impact they are having on the lives of children and their families, we become increasingly convinced that we have colleagues here who will be important leaders in the development of inclusive education in India. Some will return to their classrooms and apply learning for the benefit of children, others will assume leadership roles as school principals and will hopefully be able to steer their schools towards more inclusive ways of working. At least one student has already decided to continue her studies with us and to conduct research for a PhD.

Wherever their paths may take them it is our intention to keep them together as alumni of the university and to share in their anticipated accomplishments in the years to come. I look forward to Monday and meeting our new group as they begin this journey.

4 thoughts on “A continuous life cycle of learning

  1. Richard, it is always a wonderful feeling of inspiration and accomplishment for me personally when ever I am with you. In a formal sense I am not your student as I am not enrolled into any of your courses. I do however, try to understand and learn something from small informal interactions I have with you. As it has always been, all through my life my most rewarding learning experiences have been out side the class room and on the streets. I keep telling my friends jokingly I am a “road scholar” and not a “Rhode Scholar”
    It is our good fortune to have you amongst us. Good luck and God bless you in all your endeavors.

    • Hi Sunil,
      Many thanks for your very kind comments. I am sure you are as much my teacher as I may be yours. I hope that the interactions will continue for many years

  2. Dear Richard,
    I am actually feeling quite nostalgic!
    Being part of the very first Cohort can either be thought of as being guinea pigs or pioneers. The latter sounds better! It has been an amazing learning experience and I take this opportunity to thank each and every one who worked towards bringing us this opportunity in Bangalore.
    It is with some trepidation, I admit, that I am packing my Dissertation book and the electronic version on CD to hand over tomorrow but that is part of the experience too.
    My sincerest thanks to you Richard, to John, Mary, Jayashree and Johnson. As you say, it is a continuous journey and I hope to keep the child in me going for years to come!

    • Dear Samina. I look forward to seeing you, armed with your dissertation and your usual warm smile. All of the hard work along this road has been yours. It has been a privilege to work with you.

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