‘Red-letter day’:- a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable.
Today was a special day for those of us working on the MA in Special and Inclusive Education here in Bangalore. Students from both of our first two cohorts were brought together for a celebration of achievement and a sharing of experiences. For those of us teaching on the course the day felt like the culmination of a long journey which began many years ago. I am sure that it felt very similar to our first group of students, because today they arrived at the Brindavan Centre clutching their dissertations, the final study based upon an individually constructed research project that marks the last piece of assessed work on the course.
The joy (and possibly relief) expressed on the faces of this group lit up the room and will hopefully be an inspiration to those students just beginning their dissertation studies and also to those new colleagues who will be joining the course from several parts of India on Monday. For those of us who work as tutors on the course, this was certainly a red-letter day and one that I will personally remember for a long time to come.
The range of research topics conducted by the students submitting their dissertations was extensive and certainly interesting. They included an evaluation of a course designed to enable young people with a range of special educational needs to enter the retail industry in Chennai, through the awareness of speech, language and communication needs amongst English language teachers, a study of the school lives of adopted children and an interrogation of maternal expectations with regards to the academic achievements of boys and girls in urban Bangalore. All provide insights into the expectations and provision made for children and young people who have at various times been denied full access to learning.
We know that at times many of our students will have fought to overcome difficulties whist completing work for their dissertations. The path of research seldom runs completely smoothly and I am sure that at times some will have wondered why they ever commenced this difficult journey. But these are teachers of great resolve. They have shown a determination and tenacity, motivated largely by a desire to improve the lives of children, that has seen them through to a successful conclusion.
I am sure that for many of the students who attended yesterday, the handing in of a dissertation must have felt like the final act of a demanding two year period of study. However, talking with them about the impact that the course has had on their lives, and just as importantly, the changes they are making in their schools and professional practices, I believe that their studies will continue to have influence well into the future. Listening to their stories about plans they have implemented to ensure greater access to the curriculum, or better systems for teaching and learning and more equitable approaches to assessment enabled tutors to reflect upon the significance of the studies that these consummate professionals have undertaken.
As tutors on the course we are able to provide input and shape the development of the MA curriculum, but it is the students working hard towards a qualification and putting their learning to good use in schools who are the real harbingers of change. We are certainly proud to be associated with such an outstanding group of professionals and look forward to bringing them back together each year in Bangalore to hear more about the many successes that we know they will achieve. This was indeed a red-letter day for all of us.