Optimism/Pessimism: The SeeSaw of Higher Education in India

As I continue my trainings on “Student Centered Learning”, I find myself swaying in many directions.  Some days I’m totally optimistic as I connect and listen and share with young Indian faculty, who are so bright, enthusiastic, and dedicated to their work as teachers.  They are very open to new ideas, so hungry for real…

Two weeks of silence- and lots of coughing!

Being sick in India is unpleasant, just as it is anywhere.  I’ve been trapped in Uber vehicles with coughing drivers day after day, and coughing faculty members at training sessions.  Finally I got the cough, and it has lasted for two weeks-  I gave up a few days ago on the virus self-diagnosis and went…

Cholamandal Artists’ Village

Recently visited a lovely little village that started off in the l960s as a sort of Indian artist commune – the early artists saved money to buy the land by selling handicrafts, and then got a patch of wild land and lived and worked in thatched huts.  Back in those “starving artist” days, the artists…

Necessary Humility

As I continue my Student Centered Learning trainings, I am realizing more and more that the methods I’m teaching faculty do not fully address the classroom barriers they face.  A trainer needs to be flexible- and I’m learning how to adapt my training almost every day with new approaches, tips and handouts.  It’s humbling.  This…

Community Organizer Training

I was asked to speak to a group of first year social work students today about working with groups in poor Indian communities.  I asked them to role play a group of village women upset by boys harassing their daughters on the street.  The students agreed this was a common problem for women, and almost…

19th century confluences

What an amazing tapestry of historical European and Indian mystics and activists I’ve encountered in the last few days!  My host college scheduled two “walks” for me and colleagues at the Theosophical Society of Adyar and the Kalakshetra Foundation, also in the Adyar area.  We discovered an array of odd Europeans invading India and it’s…

Unspoiled Nature- here and there!

Sadly, so much of India is overrun by rapid development, often not regulated or constructed with the environment in mind.  Infrastructure is weak in terms of pollution control and garbage management- and with the enormous population, it’s a recipe for disaster for Indian’s land, air, water, wildlife, and plants.  But nature is so strong in…

New Mexico on the rise?

I live in New Mexico, a very poor state in the US.  The state has a combination of long-time poverty and economic distress due to past reliance on oil revenue.  I was heartened to watch this PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) news item on efforts to increase entrepreneurship in the state.  My Indian friends may be…

Religion in India- pros and cons!

I’m developing a new respect for the role of religion in India, in spite of the terrible misuse of religion among fundamentalists.   In India, we have a current federal government that plays with fundamentalism to get votes.  Various leaders promote Hinduism as the national religion and push for policies that favor Hinduism over Islam, Christianity,…