Monday, September 19, 2016

Whitney C. ILR '18, Documenting VTTRC Success Stories at Hosahalli

Whitney shopping at an open market.
SVYM maintains two schools in Hosahalli: Viveka Tribal Centre for Learning (VTCL), which is the primary and high school for tribal children between the ages of five and fifteen, and the Vivekananda Teacher Training Resource Centre (VTTRC), which is a two year college program for future elementary school teachers.  The two schools are very connected, with VTTRC students conducting research at VTCL as well as acting as house parents in the hostels.  I feel privileged that my project has given me the opportunity to interact with both campuses as well as the wider community.  My project this month has been to record success stories of VTCL and VTTRC alumni from the year 2011 to 2016 by analyzing the meaning of success in the context of institutional goals as visualized by select teachers, leaders, and students of VTCL and VTTRC and to develop a list of success criterion in which to identify successful individuals. 
There is an emphasis at VTCL on teaching students when they are ready to learn and preparing the classroom environment with the necessary learning tools, materials, and resources for the active involvement of the learner.  This inquiry-based learning that encourages divergent thinking and leads to more questions and inquiry based habits of mind helps create lifelong learners and inquisitive minds.  The atrium at school features many quotes that allude to these values, including one by Margaret Mead that says, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think”.

Everyone that we have met through our work has been so welcoming and excited to help us in any way that they can.  The students that we have befriended never cease to amaze me.  One VTTRC student eloquently explained why she wants to be a teacher; she said that education introduces you to the world and as an educator, you are an ambassador for children who want to learn about the world.  Thus, she wants to learn as much as she possibly can so that she can be the most effective ambassador for her local tribal community to a world that they shy away from.

As our time in Hosahalli winds down, I know that I will miss my new friends and I know I will think about them long after I have left India.  The students are so talented in all areas and intensely interested in everything.  We had so much learning traditional Kannada songs and dances from them and teaching them some American ones as well.  They are such fast learners and pick up anything that we teach them immediately.

Whitney (left) and Elise (right) pose with Hosahalli students.

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