Saturday, 28 May 2011

Last Day of Workshop

            That was a super-sonic-speed three days of the workshop!  This morning, Dr. SV Eswaran who is the head of the chemistry department and dean of academics at St. Stephen’s College (top Delhi University college!) gave a talk titled “Seeking Common Ground for Science Teachers”.  He was a very charismatic speaker, walking all around the lecture hall and interacting with random members of the audience.  He opened by encouraging teaching to embrace innovative teaching methods.  He praised crossing multi-disciplinary boundaries and cited improbable collaborations that lead to Nobel Prize-level research.  He also gave some intriguing examples of ways to engage undergraduates with high-level research (a 12th grade physics class collected data a paper he published in Resonance titled “Why does the grasshopper not eat spinach?”). 
            The afternoon for physics people involved video-analysis of projectile motion and an attempt to get the teachers to brainstorm ways to use cell-phone technologies (like timers, cameras and videocameras) for educational purposes. 
Some teachers at the workshop- the photographer said he'd send me better ones

Pretty view on campus
            I got my survey distributed and over twenty-five responses collected so I’m happily immersed in a mound of new data.  Even though that’s not enough information to say anything too conclusive, I’ve already noticed a shift in the idealistic career plans of undergraduates and the more realistic considerations of people who have families and other commitments. 
Dr. Jolly asked me to give a talk on my universities research sometime in the next coming weeks.  The faculty here are really excited to see all the top of the line education-reform I’ve been talking to them about.  It’ll be fun to hear their reactions when they see the studio environment- groupwork is still pretty rare in India.  And I’m sure they’ll find the abundance of technology impressive- even though Miranda House’s equipment is considered leaps and bounds ahead of most institutions, its limited to a couple rooms and most of the classrooms look like they could be from the 1900’s.
Not too much else here- I’m joining Dr. Jolly who was invited as guest of honor to give a talk at the Math Olympiad Closing Ceremonies tomorrow. A leisurely evening will be a nice way to recover and re-energize before reassuming my role as “an ambassador from America” as she introduces me to the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University and other distinguished people tomorrow.  She usually introduces me as a “visiting scholar on a prestigious fellowship” so when the college staff scurry by, they always stop mid-stride to bow their heads at me.  Oh the royal associations of being a foreigner- I laughed when my Indian friend saw some of my family photos and commented, “Your grandmother looks like Queen Elizabeth”.
That’s all for now- enjoy the long weekend- no Memorial Day celebration here.