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Shashi Nair: Large Scale Change - The challenge for Democratic Schools in India

Presentation Abstract

Notions of what democratic schools are vary widely. Activity based learning introduces some rudimentary ideas from democratic schooling such as enabling children to select what they want to learn, within a fairly tightly controlled structure and doing so at their own pace.
A case study is used to examine what these rudimentary ideas of democratic schooling were, what was done to introduce them, relatively successfully, in tens of thousands of Govt. schools in a state in India. This has turned out to be a hard act to follow for a large number of other states who tried to do so. The case study is used to examine in what ways the state was successful, and to what extent, as well as the factors that enabled the state to succeed. It raises questions as to why other states who tries to emulate this success were unable to gain the same degree of success. These questions are examined using three key processes for large scale educational change to take place: the meaning making process that participants undergoing change experience, the process of facilitating these changes, and the process of managing the change process.

This provides a backdrop for participants to explore the opportunities and challenges w.r.t. bringing about real and sustained change when introducing the ideas of democratic schooling on a large scale to Govt. schools in India.