Hyderabad is a very Muslim city compared to Kolkata which had a lot more Hindus and Christians. We went to a mosque today. Will write more about that later.
So apparently like 90% of the world’s pearls come through Hyderabad. Who knew? Mom, have you heard of this? Everyone is going crazy and buying pearls, not me, don’t worry! Everyone is asking me what I think are fair prices but what do I know, I get them free! J We have a big pearl store in the bottom floor of the hotel and the fury has begun! They do have pretty Tahitian pearls there, which though from Tahiti, are processed here? Something like that, I don’t really get it!
This morning we visited a place (in my head when I type this I hear the word visited as “wisited” because Indians pronounce v’s as w’s!) called the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and what they really are is a think tank on education and business who are contracted out to help with policy development and evaluation. Sounds boring? Actually, it was extremely interesting as they are able to take an objective look at the Indian educational system and not get mired in the feelings of being involved in it to give us a picture of what is actually happening. In other words, they are not in the trenches everyday, but are studying the trenches and have studied the trenches in other places as well.
Everything this woman was talking about was what a lot of the teachers in our group have been thinking about. The first thing she said is, “India is a bundle of contradictions!” This made us all laugh because we have all been talking about this constantly. Also, nobody gives you a straight answer to any question. Our favorite is the Indian nod. It is a cross between yes and no and so you can NEVER tell if someone is saying yes or no. I think they are trying to be ultra polite and nobody wants to flat out say no but the head bob is really difficult to read and has become a big joke with all of us because nobody can really read the answer.
So in regards to her statement about India being full of contradictions, she also said that even though there is abject poverty, there is also a thriving economy and middle class and really, neither can be ignored. This makes total sense, which makes us more able to understand how there can be a giant modern bridge in Kolkata with a slum under it. I am starting to get it a little more. She also said that in terms of curriculum development, India has done a really solid job, the problem lies with how the curriculum is actually taught.
This next part started to scare me, and you teachers who are CSAP proctors (HA! I said proctor!) will understand why this scared me. Her exact words were, “India is a performance oriented system instead of a learning oriented system.” Wow. Are we becoming this? The focus here is solely on WHAT you know and retention is low once the “big tests” are done. Yet India is churning out millions of engineers and doctors every year. Huh. Interesting.
I will write more later. Brain hurts.