How to deal with the interface between schooling and society is usually a neglected aspect of the curriculum. Teachers in rural schools especially need such skills since their schools are usually clearly identifiable with a particular neighborhood, the problem of non-enrolment is still severe in many places (the reasons are multifaceted) and teachers are expected not only to play a teaching role but a mobilization role in addition (to get and keep the kids at school), and they have to depend on local resources for helping them achieve their educational goals. And by local resources we are not talking about local monies, in particular we are including non-financial resources that exist within the community such as the skills of carpenters, masons and others.
Cultural traditions are were strong in these areas, so it is not surprising that great examples of “teachers as transformers” are using specific local features to make decisive impacts on their educational goals. They use folk drama for example or cultural and religious significant events. But also ideas such as Youth Parliament and activism taught at Barefoot College take effect here. This idea is exactly what the community program at we_school stands for and this is why we have embedded this deeply in our curriculum (work in progress).
The big question is how do we achieve that teachers become transformers?
One way most certainly is to make all the great narratives accessible and show their immediate benefits in a database. The Educational Innovation Bank (EI Bank), designed by the prestigious Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, is such a platform and it received a grand grant of 1 crore Rupees (approximately US $ 184.000) last week in Delhi. The ready-to-scale project is based on the work of innovative school teachers. As a decentralized peer-driven professional development network for teachers, the EI Bank identifies and validates the work of innovative teachers, and makes it accessible in usable formats to other teachers, teacher training networks and education administrators. With the EIF grant, the project will be scaled via an online platform that will feature a searchable electronic database of innovative teacher practices and localized teacher development networks. The EI Bank will also serve as a resource for policy makers to evaluate grassroots innovations that can be implemented as best practices in other districts.
A second way would be to convince the players in the education market – especially governments and universities – to include these components in their programs and to think about how to implement them in various curricula. So far we haven’t found any governmental and/or educational program which does. And the third way is the very practical bottom up approach: with or without any legally binding frameset simply include it in your daily action as teacher or principal. There are already many, many examples out there (as mentioned in the reports above) – simply follow their lead and adjust it to your community environment.
That’s what we do at we_school as well.