Indian educators often look to the West for their pedagogical models, but last month the tables were turned when UK schools ended up borrowing a few practices from Mumbai schools.
In October, several heads of Mumbai schools visited UK schools as part of an exchange programme by the British Council. At the end of the visit, the British educators decided to adopt a few, simple Indian practices — such as praying during school hours — day-to-day activities that develop students’ leadership skills and mechanisms that schools here use to deal with religious diversity.
“In the UK, students are given few responsibilities beyond the classroom,” said Julia Morris, headmistress at Kineton High School, Warwickshire, UK, where members of Kendriya Vidyalaya School at IIT, Powai, spent a week.
“When we have assemblies and functions, teachers organise everything,” she explained. “But in Mumbai schools, students manage such things, and this inculcates leadership skills. This is something that we too will incorporate in our teaching methods.”
“In UK, prayers are said only in class assemblies, but in India, the entire school comes together to recite the morning prayer,” said Davinder Jandu, headmistress, Lillington Primary School, Warwickshire. “This spirit of unity is important for children today and something every school should have.”
In Cornwall, teachers from Mounts Bay School are excited about their trip to India next week. They will be visiting Utpal Sanghvi School, Juhu.
“We teach religious education as part of humanities and always wanted to make India a part of the curriculum,” said Jonathan Wilcox, who teaches humanities at Mounts Bay School. “While we have written resources to teach it, we are looking forward to a perspective from Indian teachers who handle the subject.”
Mumbai schools, too, have taken a lesson or two from the UK. Sulochana Devi Singania School in Thane is changing the way it conducts practicals.
“We conduct science practicals individually and give the student a brief idea of the procedure and they follow it,” said principal Raviti Shrinivasan. “There, it is done in groups and students experiment until they figure out the procedure through trial and error. This way, the students learn a lot more.”