(from Friday, January 24, 2014)
After spending the first two weeks reading and preparing student and teacher surveys, we were finally ready to initiate our research with our first official school visit to the Delhi Public School Bangalore North, where Manju is principal.
The school day kicked off with a breakfast of masala dosas, which brought us to our first research conclusion: If all school days began this way, teachers and students would be much more productive and happy.
From here, we were escorted to our first classroom observation, where we had the opportunity to watch a group of 9th, 10th, and 11th standard students participate in a Model United Nations simulation. Students passionately and articulately engaged in discourse about Middle Eastern border issues. Their ability to communicate their countries’ policies and appropriately defend their alliances reflected their extensive preparatory research. This was especially well noted when the young lady representing the USA punctuated her final remark by proclaiming, “God bless America.”
Our next two class visits – to an 8th standard history class and to a 10th standard political science course – were drastically different from the role playing of the Model UN group, which we later learned was an after school program and not typically a regular part of the academic day. In each social studies class, the 35-40 boys and girls sat on opposite sides of the classroom, while the teacher delivered a lesson directly from the textbook. An occasional question, typically about a specific date or name, was tossed to the class, and the students well versed in the workbook reading would stand and deliver their correct answers.
When the bell rang after the 10th standard class, we were ushered to the staff room, where we were greeted by the entire History Department. They sat us in the middle of the room, and one-by-one each woman (of the all-female department) presented the homemade dish they prepared for our potluck lunch. The eclectic spread, representative of the varying regions these women call home, was the most delicious– and probably spiciest – meal we have had yet. We left with full bellies and gracious hearts.