Bangalore beckons

 

Joining again with friends

Joining again with friends

I am sure that there are many people who when about to embark on a journey feel fully prepared and organised. As I pack my bags for India I am confident that I have everything needed for working when I get there, having spent many hours going back through presentations and materials that I will be using for teaching over the coming weeks. I am less confident that I will arrive with all the necessary items of clothing and other domestic requirements, which always appear to be packed in a hurry.

I prefer to travel with as little luggage as possible, and having made similar journeys to Bangalore over many years, I have learned to recognise those accoutrements that are surplus to requirements, and which on previous trips have stood idly by in a room until ready to be taken home. Even so, I usually find myself sitting on a plane wondering if I have all essential items packed.

I once flew to Mumbai seated next to a passenger who was visiting India as a tourist for a month and had everything he needed, or so he hoped, in a small holdall taken onto the flight as hand luggage. I remember being full of admiration for someone who could travel so light and with a sparse number of items. Though I also reflected that he could find himself most unpopular on a return flight had he been unable to change or wash his clothing after a month of wearing the same shirt in India’s dust and heat! – That is a somewhat disrespectful comment and I hope that the gentleman in question had a great time and returned to England with a suitcase full of good memories.

Over the past few days colleagues here at the university have asked me about what I am going to teach in India and about the challenges of preparing to deliver ideas about inclusive education, largely a western concept, within an Asian culture. They are quite right in seeing this as an important issue and one which needs to be approached with respect and an appreciation of local and national procedures and traditions. Fortunately, when working in Bangalore, I do so alongside long established Indian friends and colleagues whose experiences and perceptions have greatly influenced the ways in which I work.

I like to think  when working with colleagues in India that I have taken full consideration of the circumstances in which they teach, and have informed myself by spending time in local schools and working alongside colleagues in classrooms. However, I am always aware that when working alongside teachers I learn as much, or possibly more than I can convey through my teaching practices.

Keeping up to date with Indian research, legislation and literature is demanding, but affords many enjoyable learning experiences. Applying this learning with colleagues is something I look forward to as I prepare for this next expedition.

The coming days are sure to provide plenty of new learning opportunities and a chance to renew old acquaintances and make new friends. Above all, there will be times spent in debating the approaches we can develop and adopt to challenge exclusion and ensure that children who have been marginalised have new opportunities for learning and succeeding. The commitment of teachers in India is such that the education scene is changing quickly and dramatically. There is every reason to be confident that in the future schools will become far more inclusive than they have been in the recent past.

If I board the plane tomorrow minus an item or two of clothing, or without my toothpaste or a bar of soap I am sure I will overcome these omissions without too many difficulties. So long as I arrive with open eyes and a willingness to share in learning, I am convinced that all will be well. I look forward to reporting further after I settle once again into India’s Garden City. As Mark Twain informed us

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

But only if we travel with an intention to learn and respect those who we meet along the way.

7 thoughts on “Bangalore beckons

  1. I hope you have a successful and safe trip. I read your piece with envy as I have decided that after my recent trip to India I have left part of me there. I am one of those hand baggage only travellers as I have learned that as quite a small person I have little clothes which take up less space and that I can usually find washing facilities and access to toiletries.

    I have brought you back two newspaper cuttings from India which for me showed its contrast in education. One was about a Principal who had beaten a child to death after finding an eraser and pencil which had gone missing in the child’s bag. Other parents had previously complained about the Principal’s harsh discipline but the police had failed to see it as their concern.
    The other cutting was about the inclusion of Indian activists during the quest for Independence as a way of recognising a greater breadth of who was involved.

    My over riding impression that India is a land of contrasts and complexities.

    • Namaste Carmel 🙂 thrilled to hear that India has left such a lasting memorable impression on you. When next we meet, I will share with you what I learnt from Richard about Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and the inclusively-challenging political dynamics between India and Pakistan around the time of partition, which also makes for fascinating discussion.

    • A land of contrasts and contradictions – a country of immense wealth and extreme poverty, a nation that is wholly inclusive and otherwise denies the rights of many. The extremes within newspaper reports reflect all of this. I’ll keep you bosted on issues through these pages over the coming days.

  2. Hi Richard, All good wishes to you, Jayashree, Johnson and our colleagues in Bangalore. Looking forward to reading your thought-provoking blogposts whilst you are there. Thank you too, for sharing Mark Twain’s eloquent quote about travelling.

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