Leaving Delhi – On to Bangalore

Our delegation enters our 5th day as we head from (New) Delhi to Bangalore. Like the rest of our delegation, I’ve learned more about India, it’s people and culture in the past few days than I have in my previous 55 years plus. I’m trying so hard to not make snap judgements. Every evening at dinner we go around the table and each delegate is asked to talk about their “big take-away” from the day. Each day I struggle with mentioning one thing. From the abject poverty and squalor of parts of old Delhi to the majesty of the Taj Mahal and to the orderly streets of British-designed New Delhi and the excitement and respect of every school we’ve visited, this county is a place that offers so many perspectives. It’s like a gemstone with dozens of different cuts offering a different view and with each a beauty of its own.
In my initial blog many days ago, I mentioned how I expected to find some things quite familiar, yet others quite different, particularly when it comes to schools. That has definitely been the case. Students are working hard to learn math, reading, problem solving, values and a range of other things that you would find in nearly every school in the US. As I watched the high school students socialize in an outdoor common area I could see the teenage insecurities we would find in any US middle of high schools. And every student who talked about their projects and work products were proud of their accomplishments.
As for differences, and maybe this is unfair, but there was little focus on actual technology. Don’t get me wrong, they’re using technology, although it was well worn and would see old by US standards. The emphasis seems to be more on the learning process and the outcomes. As I listened to 4 grade 12 girls talk about their entrepreneurship project, they talked about all of the research they did, explained their business case and even their start-up plan. (They say they plan to start a health club/gym after graduation.) But, they never talked about the technology tools they used to accomplish work. That was refreshing, as we in the US often focus so much on the tech tools that we can sometimes lose sight of the work itself.
Next stop Bangalore.

Expecting to the Unfamiliar, Yet Familiar

Like many of my colleagues joining this CoSN delegation to India, I have had the opportunity to visit schools in many parts of the world. I am consistently stricken with how familiar “K-12” schools are in their design and their activities, among many other similarities. Somehow I find that reassuring. It makes the world seem just a little bit smaller. On the other hand, it’s so much fun to experience the different customs and learn about different structures and priorities. As we prepare for our trip to India, I am desperately trying to not have too many preconceptions so I can take in all that I experience. I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences via this blog.