Visit of an Indian teacher in France
Report on educational visit to schools in Lyon and Ecam Lyon in May 2018.
Last year I had come across the website launched by French President Macron - “Make Our Planet Great Again”. It invited climate change researchers from all over the world to France universities and research institutes to work towards finding the solutions of the impending perils of climate change. Though I am not a PhD researcher nor a post-doc student, I felt school teachers too can play an important role in the initiative. I immediately filled in the online form stating my interest to study Science Teaching Methods used in France and how we can sensitize young minds about Climate Change through Science Teaching.
To my surprise, after some months, I received a response and I was put in touch with Campus France, Kolkata. Amitava Das, Chargé de coopération universitaire et scientifique, Campus, France, Kolkata, got in touch with me. He arranged for an interview/interaction with ECAM, Lyon officials who were visiting schools in Kolkata. I met ECAM, Lyon officials when they came to Mahadevi Birla World Academy (where I teach Physics) to make a presentation to high school students. I was pleasantly surprised when they offered to be my host in Lyon and help me arrange for appointments/visit to high schools in Lyon. Soon I was corresponding with Ms. Lorena MANCELLINELI and Ms. Ida CAFARO of ECAM, Lyon. They arranged my visits to high schools in Lyon. Unfortunately, as there was no grants or financial aids for a school teacher, so I decided to self-fund and visit Lyon.
I visited three schools in Lyon on 15th and 16th May and had a wonderful interaction, class observation session with students and teachers. On 16th May, I had lunch interaction with ECAM, Lyon faculties. The three schools I visited in Lyon were – Lycee St-Marc, Nivolas Vermelle, Lycee Charles de Foucould and St. Thomas d’Aquin. It was interesting to see high school student learn science by the method of “discovery” by hands on experiments in laboratory rather than class room conventional teaching. Though Climate Education is yet to be included in the syllabus, we discussed different projects that could help sensitize students. Teachers also shared their curriculum and methods of teaching. Students also talked about their projects related to Climate Change.
My interest in French Science Education is rooted in their hands-on learning way of teaching – “La main à la pâte”. Just before leaving for France, I had emailed Higher Education wing of National Academia de Sciences, France requesting them to arrange school visits in Paris. I was once again pleasantly surprised when they informed me Prof. Pierre Lena, famous Astrophysicist and one of the key persons who had framed Science “La main à la pâte” way of teaching was interested to meet me at the Academia de Sciences office, Paris. It was a great honour to meet Prof. Pierre Lena to discuss Climate Education initiatives being planned by academy. Prof. Pierre Lena, gave me few pointers regarding my areas of interest and valuable resources, contacts of key persons in India who were doing work on Climate Education. He was also kind enough to show us National Academy and the historic palace premises.
During my interactions with schools and follow-up, I did explore the possibilities of future academic exchange program with my school. One of the schools, St. Thomas d’Aquin has shown interest and I really hope we will be able to share an enriching exchange program with focus on Science and Climate Education.
I am extremely grateful to my school authorities, my Principal Ms. Anjana Saha for encouraging me to pursue my interests in the field of education. My gratitude to Mr. Amitabha Das of Campus, France and ECAM, Lyon authorities and Kolkata Visa Office for arranging the visit. My stay in Lyon was extremely comfortable. My heartfelt thanks to Ms. Ida CAFARO, ECAM, Lyon for accompanying me to schools and making all arrangements. I must also thank SNCF staff at Gare de Lyon who promptly arranged for another ticket as we had missed connecting TGV due to ongoing strikes and they also investigated failed transaction issues with my travel card.
Lastly, I must mention that visit to Pantheon, Louvre museum, Musee De Orsay, Palais de la Découverte ("Discovery Palace)", Palace of Versailles and other places in Paris and Lumiere Museum, Fouviere cathedral in Lyon has given me much needed motivation and inspiration to pursue Knowledge, Truth and Aesthetics/Art in life. I look forward for future collaboration with schools in France and other educational opportunities.
Ms. Madhuri Katti
Mahadevi Birla World Academy, Kolkata, India