The teachers at my elementary school have found it difficult to include anything additional in their curriculum in these times of high-stakes standardized testing and increasingly rigid state standards. But we have been able to incorporate small things about India. I have made brief presentations in several classrooms, shared materials, and we now have a display case of Indian artifacts in the library. Through my influence, the principal hopes to invite one of our teachers from India to be our artist in residence next year.
As with all experiences like ours, probably the greatest impact of our Indian trip has been on the participants. We had the priceless opportunity to explore a culture very different from our own, with people who dearly love India and Tamil Nadu. More than anything, I was impressed with the intelligence, kindness and wonderful sense of humor of everyone that we met.
Besides deepening my knowledge of Indian religion, history, politics, cooking, yoga, music, dance, and the arts, I also was able to interact with educators involved with teaching children with special needs. I had the opportunity to lecture the incoming class
at a college for training teachers in special education, work with the speech therapist at a school for mildly and moderately cognitively delayed students, and consult at a new residential program for profoundly handicapped young children who have been
abandoned by their parents because of extreme poverty. I am very interested in special education and how it is possible to provide education for handicapped children in a world of limited resources where it is difficult to provide schooling for even the most
capable students. Although the need is still very great, I was very impressed by what I saw in India.
Jackie is a speech and language clinician for the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Go to Jackie’s lesson plan- (Elementary, Middle, High School)