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Beyond Black and White: Seeing Education in a New Light

“But what is the right answer?” a workshop participant asked me. We were having a small-group discussion on possible ways to socio-economically uplift Dalit women who are considered to be untouchable in the Indian caste system. A year back, I probably would have chosen the ‘best’ answer that had been offered during the discussion and urged students to think about why it was right. And if I were participating in the workshop, I might just have asked that question too.READ MORE

Old Habits Die Hard: The Stubborn Specter of Traditional Education

There’s a reason this organization is called ITSA and not SAIT, and it’s more than just verbal aesthetics. It is no coincidence that “independent thought” comes before “social action.” Whatever social action we try to inspire and foster in our workshop participants is subordinate to independent thought. When we talk about “igniting the flame of social change,” there is no question that that flame is located squarely in the human mind.
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Rajkot

For a few days, the ITSA team is going to Rajkot! We had an intensive two day workshop series at the The Galaxy Education System (TGES). After a very eventful, yet comfortable, sleeper bus ride, we finally made it to Rajkot. We had prepared everything for the days to come. But first it was Isabel’s 21st birthday! So we had to have a midnight celebration with cake, naturally.

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Reflections upon Summer 2012

I guess the word I would describe my overall experience with India would be “Up Close.” This word has been in my head since the first day of the trip when little kids came knocking (and some climbing) on our van for money until the last night when our group gathered in a circle at night to share things we appreciated about each other. Being with around 12-20  people throughout the trip (I realized just how around people I had been when I was waiting alone in the Delhi airport for 12 hours…), we were first of all, physically “up close.” Everyday, we shoved ourselves into the 9-person “tourist vehicle” van, squeezing in and sitting on top of one another.READ MORE
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Inspiring Student Confidence

This letter was written by Rajvi Patel, a high school student who participated in an ITSA workshop in 2011. 

“The entire experience of ITSA was mind blowing. The workshops were great; there were so many activities involved. We played interactive games, had discussions and the program helped increase our awareness about the socio-economic conditions of our country. I now know that we are the future leaders of our country and this workshop helped me realize it.

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Who Should We Save?

Hey everyone! Three years ago or so, my group in sleep away camp had us all play a game.  It involved an impending and total nuclear holocaust and the ability to save only five people.  Each village member was gifted a single sentence descriptor of a person – mine was ‘seventeen year old heroin addict’ – and was told to choose which five (out of forty) were worth saving.
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“We must keep the 150 kg, he is most certainly a wrestler!”

Hello bloggers!
        
So far, I have just posted blogs about the sightseeing that the ITSA interns have done in Ahmedabad, but, as Emma already said, our reason for being here is not merely to explore the country, but to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the Indian education system. Before actually arriving here and participating in the workshops, Riana Shah & Jwalin Patel (the 19 year old co-founders and co-director of ITSA) had described the Indian educational system as extremely strict and rigid. The reason for this, she explained (I am going to give some brief history now, so stay with me), was that the Indian education system was set up under British Rule during the industrial revolution, and as a result was aimed at creating technicians, not independent thinkers. Consequently, the Indian education system involves a lot of rote memorization and teaching directly from textbooks, as opposed to discussion based, seminar style classes. However, not until I actually got a chance to participate in the workshops and talk with the students did this become evident. 

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