A cohort of twenty La Trobe University and RMIT students studying education travelled to India in June 2017 to undertake a teaching practicum in another culture. Paired with counterparts from Christ University in Bangalore, India, they participated in a three week program designed to improve their teaching skills and learn more about each other’s traditions and culture.
“The students were distributed amongst four schools where they had the opportunity to experience the education system in India,” says Dr Premnadh Kurup, lecturer in science education at La Trobe University. “Indian classrooms have a greater number of students and have to make do with fewer resources, so it encourages our trainee teachers to adapt.”
“The program was an amazing opportunity to learn about not only the Indian culture both within and out of the classroom,” says Amy Lord, a La Trobe University education student majoring in PE and psychology. “Adapting our teaching to meet the demands of the Indian classroom with the help of our Indian peers was a valuable lesson that we can take with us throughout our careers.”
The collaborative project operates under the acronym of PAPPET (Peer Alliance for Productive Professional Experience in Teaching). It is primarily funded by the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program provided by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The project will also have research applications, as Dr Premnadh Kurup is collaborating with Dr Rohan Nethsinghe of RMIT to design a survey for participating students, supervisors, and parents from both countries.
“The combination of preservice teachers from Australia and India together produced a long lasting cultural understanding between Australia and India,” says Dr Kurup. “It is a different classroom environment and curriculum in India, however these preservice teachers made their presence in the minds of children, parents, fellow teachers and their peers from Christ University, Bangalore.”
The project is ongoing for three years through to 2019, with the next cohort of students scheduled to travel from Australia to India in June 2018.