Exploring the Learning Environment, Adapting Teaching Styles, and Accidental Innovations

Philippa, Rachel, and Suzanne are halfway through another week of classes and workshops at Karamat College and Sanatkada in Lucknow, India. After an amazing start to the program, our team has hit the ground running. They continue to be moved by the students’ enthusiasm and passion for learning.

We asked the professors to reflect on how they are adapting to her the teaching environment. Please enjoy the following response from Suzanne.

 

I am realizing how deeply my teaching style is based on luxuries, flexibility in curriculum, and resources of time and supplies. Here at Karamat College, we have dedicated classrooms with fixed desks facing a large chalk board at the front. There is a large classroom that we use to move furniture around and to facilitate group work. Electricity cuts out and kicks in. The fans in the ceiling help circulate the hot air but make it harder to hear; it’s a tough choice between the two.

The students work on a group exercise in Philippa’s Civil Society course.

The students have been excused from their regular classes to spend time in our course on Design Thinking, Civil Society and Communications. We are grateful to be here and grateful for the support by the college. I used to joke that “I cannot think without a post-it note”. Although I fear this to be true, as I’ve trained myself to rely on these accidental innovations, they are very hard to come by. Paper and pens can sometimes be had but must be used frugally.

We also tend to play a lot, such as warm up exercises to create a convivial atmosphere, to teach concepts indirectly through group games, and to foster team dynamics. These are welcomed by the students, but are only possible by making our classes longer than 45 minutes. Otherwise, students and administration alike would, I suppose, wonder about the educational value we are delivering.

Philippa, Suzanne, and Rachel have a lovely and refreshing tea.

I’m thinking further about my accustomed approach and the realities of this context. I hope to work with the college to figure out how to inject these play techniques into the teaching day without disrupting the 45 minute curriculum constraint. It’s a good challenge to think further on creating engaging and sustainable teaching methods that do not rely on the idea of expandable time, resources, and content.

 

Many thanks to Suzanne for sharing her thoughts.  We look forward to hearing more updates from the rest of the team. To read more updates from Philippa, Suzanne, and Rachel, please follow our blog.

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