All of our amazing Summer Research Fellows completed thorough and thought provoking research projects this summer, in addition to their many other duties and projects. This week we’ll hear a little bit about Megan’s investigation into “tuition” culture.
My research project with Nanubhai was built around the culture of non-formal education in India, using the village I lived in, Kadod, as a case study. Observing classes in the Kadod School and then tuition classes (or tutoring classes) that directly correlated with the subject and grade level of students was insightful. However, this research project did not come without difficulties.
The most obvious issue would be language – if I was not observing an English class or English tuition, it would be unlikely that I would be able to communicate with the instructor afterwards. Although I approached all of the tuition teachers with the help of Ishan, a volunteer fluent in English and Gujarati, he was not with me when I observed the classes. I was able to have very short and straightforward conversations with many of the tuition teachers who knew a little English, but that was definitely difficult. Another difficulty I faced was having teachers ask me directly “Did you think my class was good?” and looking for me to compliment their teaching styles. There were many cultural differences that I had to learn to navigate as I sat as an observer in these classes in school and tuitions.
Education in India is incredibly different than the education I received in America, and observing these classes really illuminated the issues in India and in the U.S.. Doing field research such as this was a new experience for me that I really enjoyed. Going into the field and seeing rural education firsthand was an incredible opportunity, and I know that my participation in this research is going to help motivate me to work in education, nationally and internationally.