fulbright research

While most folks flock to the city of Mysore to learn Ashtanga from the various self-proclaimed yogis, we are here to get the lowdown on the pedagogy surrounding the Indian Nationalist Movement. We have set out to learn how history teachers in India are instructed to teach about the Indian Nationalist Movement, their feelings and perspectives about the curriculum, and how they execute lessons on it. On the flip side, we are also interested to learn students' perspectives and feelings, in order to determine the extent to which they feel, or do not feel, represented and validated by the current INM curriculum.

See below for an abbreviated version of our research proposal.

Teaching the Whole Story:
Weaving a More Inclusive Narrative of the Indian Nationalist Movement

Schools often teach one dominant narrative of history and neglect to incorporate a diversity of vital stories, leaving the classroom with a narrow scope of events and people. Feelings of disenfranchisement follow when some stories are told in favor of others; consequently, those students who do not identify with the historical narrative told in school may question their place within a national identity. I am interested in studying in India with the objective of amplifying the unheard voices involved in the Indian Nationalist Movement (INM) by creating a more holistic, truthful, and empathetic curriculum that fosters an inclusive, democratic vision of what it means to be Indian in the 21st century.[1]

I. Research & Build School Partnerships: Jan - June 2014
  Understand how the Indian National Congress (INC) and the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) relays the story of the INM to schools by enrolling in graduate courses and observing history classes [2]
  Determine which voices are missing from the NCF and analyze how educators are instructed to teach the INM [3]

II. Collect Missing Narratives: Mar - Apr 2014
  Collect oral histories from participants and families in the INM who are unheard in the NCF [4]

III. Create & Pilot Curriculum in India: Apr - June 2014
  The curriculum will weave together the range of voices involved in the INM [5]

IV. Share & Implement Curriculum: Ongoing
  Continue collaboration with Indian schools; refine and execute curriculum in my class; deliver PD; continue teaching education classes at RELAY Graduate School of Education (2015)

Why India?
India is the largest democracy in the world, yet its systems are plagued by a legacy of colonial inequity and disenfranchisement. Despite gaining independence, Indians are still piecing together a national identity fractured by the partition of 1947. This is in part because the dominant INM narrative is limited to Gandhi, Nehru, and Tagore. While they are rightly revered as the fathers of the country, they are but three faces in a movement of millions. In order to foster genuine national belonging, the creation of a diverse INM curriculum is needed.

The curriculum will be the centerpiece of my Global Citizenship and AP World History courses, and I will facilitate monthly workshops in my district.

I will continue to work alongside and share my curriculum with the Teacher Preparation & Development teams at Teach For All (TFA) and Teach For America.[7]

As a facilitator at TFA’s Global Teaching Summit and Teach For India’s InspirED conference in Delhi, I gained experience leading an international team of educators. I hope to engage with this community in the future.

Curriculum Assessment
Gather data by asking teachers and students to engage in a reflective journaling process; upload curriculum to teaching blogs and betterlesson.org as a way to track interest; provide evaluations at workshops to gather feedback.

Gather data from classrooms using the Teaching As Leadership Impact Model [8]

Student Assessment
Project-based assessments will require students to apply critical thinking skills developed throughout the course and present their findings to peers as a way for students to question which voices they use to construct their identity (i.e. ethnographic study). Other assessments will include rubrics for exams and writing activities that measure comprehension of a more holistic INM.

Carter, P. Stubborn Roots: Race, Culture, & Inequality in US & South African Schools. 2012

Dhankar, R. Azim Premji University. 2013

Epstein, T. Interpreting National History: Race, Identity and Pedagogy in Classrooms and Communities. 2009

Farr, S. Teaching as Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher’s Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap. 2010

Gandhi, M. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. 1952

Wagner, T. The Global Achievement Gap. 2008

Below is a set of footnotes that correspond to the above proposal and provide additional information by section:

[1] While the story of Gandhi is the most prominent in the study of the INM, he is but one of many voices in the richly diverse movement to shake off British rule. As India continues to grow and globalize, there is need to create a genuine sense of national belonging across lines of gender, class, religion, and regional identity. Neglecting these voices has the potential to deter future participation in the democratic process because students become disinvested in national politics and less tolerant of diversity when their voice is ignored.  

[2] I plan to visit a variety of Indian schools (i.e. private, public, urban, and rural) with different teacher and student demographics.

[3] I will determine which voices are missing from the INM curriculum in India by conducting interviews with teachers and students; observing lessons; and analyzing policy papers, curriculum maps, textbooks, etc. I want to understand what students are taking away from the current curriculum, how they personally connect to it, and what they yearn to know more about.

[4] While it is unrealistic to expect that I will capture every unheard story in a country that is so large and diverse, I plan to use my graduate courses and school partners to focus the narratives I collect. NCF writers at Asim Premji University and the Regional Institute of Education in Mysore have indicated their interest and passion for this project; their connections throughout education circles run deep and offer an entry point for collecting stories.

[5] These stories must be met with thoughtful pedagogy that fosters inclusive mindsets in teachers and students. My growing set of friendly and gracious contacts at Teach For India, a nonprofit working to end education inequity in India, and the Akanksha Foundation, an Indian education initiative in Mumbai and Pune, offer starting points to pilot the curriculum and gather feedback.

Curriculum Assessment
[7] Teach for All is a global network working to expand educational equity by providing leadership development to teachers worldwide.

[8] The model is not only used in American education circles but has been adapted
by TFA. The model seeks to assess the impact teacher mindsets and curricula have on student understandings, beliefs, and outcomes (see Steven Farr in References for more details on the Teaching as Leadership framework and impact model).

While I am a recipient of a Fulbright in The Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program, this is a personal website/blog.  All views and information presented herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program or of the U.S. Department of State. 

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