As part of a ‘Feature Teacher’ series of interviews with teachers from Clap schools; we spoke with Ms Rukmini Karande, a Business Management and Economics teacher at JBCN International School, Oshiwara. We discussed the impact of Clap Talks on her students learning and personal development and the ways in which their understanding of cultures is changing.
What subjects do you teach and to what grade(s)?
I teach Business Management and Economics and IBDP and IGCSE to an age group of 16-18 year olds (IBDP) and 14-16 year olds (IGCSE). So grades 9,10,11 and 12.
What are your personal thoughts about Clap Global’s ‘Travellers in Classrooms’ programme?
When the Clap Global programme came I was a little excited because I thought that these students will get better exposure, even in this school (an international school). The excitement came because I myself am a traveller. I love travelling and exploring different places, and interacting with different people because you get to know so many things, not just about culture, but different attitudes to life and alternatives perspectives. These things you can only know by interacting with different people. Children these days have access to so much, but they don’t always know how to utilise what they learn.
The students get to see how different countries are dealing with the same issues that their own country (India) is dealing with.
What is the benefit of Clap Talks for students attending an International School who may already be used to travelling abroad regularly?
Travelling is not a big thing for them. Many go abroad at least twice a year, but they go to places where there is tourism. They don’t go to places where actual learning happens. When they travel they don’t think ‘I should go there and see their life.’ Especially African countries, people think they are poor countries so they think ‘why should we go there?’ But when people come from there (African countries) to give a Clap Talk, they talk about what they do in their countries, what makes their life different and how they are contributing to their society. I saw it with my students during their first three Clap Talks. They are more enthusiastic about knowing these things. They are already learning lots of things, they watch videos, but this face-to-face interaction helps to clear out their basic doubts about countries and culture.
What part of the Clap Talk do you find the most impactful?
There is one part of the Clap Talk that uses a Question Ball, where the students ask questions to the traveller and the traveller asks questions to the students. There is one question that asks, ‘what do you want to change about your country?’ You’ll usually see three main things being said- poverty, corruption and environmental issues. So students see that these issues are everywhere, whether a developed country or an underdeveloped country. The students get to see how different countries are dealing with the same issues that their own country (India) is dealing with. They are sharing their views. The Clap Talk may just be an hour and a half but I feel that they are really voicing their views and talking about them. They know the problems of India, they might not know the solutions, but at least they (the travellers from other countries) are giving them ideas for possible solutions by sharing what their country is doing to tackle the same issues.
In Clap Talks a lot get discussed that people wouldn’t talk about otherwise when they first meet different people.
Do you think that when students hear about travellers positive views on India it changes their perceptions of their own country?
Yes! One traveller came from London and spoke about how she has been visiting India for the past 10-years doing counselling sessions with Indian students. She told the class that you must respect whatever you have in your country. You always praise other countries without realising the importance of your own. She said that she is not just coming to India to ‘help out’, she is also learning many things so when she goes back (to London) she uses what she has learnt.
Another traveller from Japan shared her love of yoga and how it has benefitted her life. She explained to the students the importance of yoga. In India, we do talk about yoga but how many people actually know about it? In every Clap Talk, there is something shared that makes a big difference.
When the travellers are sharing their thoughts on Indian culture – for example culture in the home, the students hear how appreciated it is in outside countries and they feel proud. They also learn that the same family values, such as respect for elders is there in other countries too. Sometimes they feel that only they have to do these things, so when other travellers share the same views it’s a really good thing for students to hear. The become sensitised to the importance of their own cultural values.
Would you say that Clap Talks are important ‘bridges’ then in regards to cultural divisions so prevalent in today’s world?
Absolutely. We tend to focus on difference, how countries and cultures are different from one another. So Clap Talks are nice, because it shows how much we are the same in many ways. It happens a lot when food and eating habits are discussed or when they talk about respect for others and the family system.
In your opinion, what is unique about Clap Talks?
In Clap Talks, a lot get discussed that people wouldn’t talk about otherwise when they first meet different people. Sometimes you don’t have that much time or people don’t really want to get into those topics.
…the world has become very small, so if students don’t have that kind of global mentality they might be excluded.
Have you noticed any positive influence on your student’s social or personality development?
Yes! They learn how to greet different people, how to be calm when you talk to others and not get too excited. They learn how to control their body language. When the students met a traveller from Japan, they saw that Japanese people are very soft spoken and they don’t shout.
Do you feel that Clap Talks have enhanced your students learning of your taught subject?
Yes, Clap Talks have been very helpful. All of the travellers came and spoke a little about their country’s economy, the different businesses there and what their country exports for example. I use this information in my own classes and relate back to the Clap Talks. I teach everything on a case study basis and use real-life situations. Business and Economics is purely vocation based and about what’s happening around you; so you need to share these things.
Why do you think that it is important for children to have a global perspective added to their education?
I feel that the world is more open and more willing to share different thoughts and attitudes. Because of Information Technology and Globalisation, the world has become very small. So if students don’t have that kind of mentality they might be excluded. 10-15 years ago the kind of accessibility to information was not there. Nowadays however, right from childhood, they have access. Even a 5-year-old can use a mobile phone. Earlier, subjects such as Business and Economics was only taught at Post-graduate level, then it moved to Graduation level. Now students are even studying these subjects in Grade 9, at the age of 13-14 years old.
As teachers now, it is not our responsibility to just teach children something; but to develop the kind of skills they need to understand the information available. It’s not teaching at all now, we work as facilitators, teaching them how to think and to learn for themselves.