3.00 am and I’m wide awake. After turning around under the duvet for half an hour, trying not to wake Sara, I decide that I have no hope of getting back to sleep. Abandoning a warm bed I tiptoe to the study having decided that I might as well work if I can’t sleep. Bramble, our small black cat who usually does the night shift curled on a chair in the study, is not happily disturbed, she gives me a look of disdain but quickly manages to tuck her head beneath her tail and pretend this isn’t happening. She slips back into the arms of Morpheus in a manner that makes me envious.
Jet lag is the inevitable consequence of long haul travel, but I have learned that it takes a few nights like this until my body clock returns to normal. No point fighting it, just accept the situation and move on. I know that any attempt to return to slumber will be ultimately futile. Sorry Bramble but you’ve got company until breakfast! Looking from my study window I can see the glistening of a hard frost on the road and a lawn still covered in snow. How different a sight from the last few days in Bangalore? I suspect that some of my friends in India have never known sub-zero temperatures, and may even recoil from the thought of experiencing an English winter. Right now I can understand why the warmer climes of India have an attraction.
The first few days back in England in addition to the readjustment to the time zone, also provides a period of reflection on what has been learned over the past couple of weeks. As always, I come back enthused by the commitment of colleagues and students who are often working under difficult circumstances in India. However, it is equally possible to be daunted by the mere drop in the ocean that our work there constitutes in terms of instigating change. When fatigue takes over it is easier to see the difficulties ahead rather than to review the many positive outcomes of our work. I am constantly reminded that every journey starts with a single step, and that unless that first stride is taken then nothing happens, and this enables me to continue thinking about the road ahead.
I am fortunate indeed in working with colleagues whose dedication to the MA course we run in Bangalore and the work we do with teachers, is more than equal to my own. I am also mindful of the fact that the time for change in respect of special and inclusive education in India is here now. Debates around the Right to Education Act mean that there is a far greater focus upon the causes of exclusion, and the responsibility of schools to challenge these, than there has ever been in the past. The teachers I meet are all keen to confront the difficulties of including children from maginalised groups that are being perpetually highlighted in the media, and to prove that they are equal to the task. I already hear of the difference they are making in their schools, and the changes they are promoting amongst their colleagues. Theirs are the stories that give us the energy to keep moving forward.
In the near future I am sure I will be hearing many reports of the leadership that our students in Bangalore are providing in the creation of more inclusive and supportive schools. It is this thought that will assist me as I try to shake of the jet lag and get on with my work.
3.45 am. In a couple of hours it will be time to get myself moving and prepare for another day!