BELIEFS AND PRACTICES RELATED TO GIFTEDNESS IN NAVODAYA VIDYALAYAS
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in Education Approved:
Scott L. Hunsaker Major Professor
Deborah A. Byrnes Committee Member
Martha T. Dever Committee Member
Tilak R. Dhiman Committee Member
Martha L. Whitaker Committee Member
Thomas L. Kent Dean of Graduate Studies UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY Logan, Utah 2003
Copyright © Vani Gaddam 2003 All Rights Reserved
Beliefs and Practices Related to Giftedness in Navodaya Vidyalayas
Vani Gaddam, Doctor of Philosophy Utah State University, 2003
Major Professor: Dr.Scott L. Hunsaker Department: Elementary Education
The Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme (NVS) is the largest talent development program in India. It was established by the government in 1985 with two schools set up on an experimental basis. Today the NVS includes 480 boarding schools, one in nearly every district throughout the country. The specific objectives of the scheme are to identify and nurture talent particularly in rural areas, to promote national integration, and to establish institutions of high quality that would serve as pace-setters and models at district levels. The problem of this study was founded on the lack of appropriate research concerning the organizational strategies of Navodaya Vidyalayas. The objective of this study was to understand and describe the beliefs and practices related to giftedness in Navodaya Vidyalayas.
iv A phenomenological approach was followed to gain the perspectives of the participants pertaining to their beliefs and practices related to giftedness. Data were collected through 14 interviews with central administrators, principals, and teachers at four different locations and through document analysis of official reports, annual reports, and magazines published by the central administration. Rigor was established through triangulation, member checking, peer debriefing, reflexive journals, and an audit. The findings of the study revealed that no theoretical or official definition of giftedness exists underlying the NVS. Only an operational definition was identified from the opinions of the participants, which was based on a very narrow concept of giftedness. Participants believe that giftedness exists in varied fields, but there was no concordance with school practices. NVS has introduced some innovations such as promotion of national integration, pace-setting activities, art in education, and over-all development of the child that can be traced back to an ancient concept of excellence in Indian culture, but because of various sociopolitical pressures the final emphasis has been laid on academic achievement only. The major conclusion of the study is that, a well-articulated belief system could strengthen the program. This would require retention of some current aspects, but necessitate a broadened conception of giftedness, the change of student and teacher selection practices, and a more individualized application of curriculum.
DEDICATION --To My Lord— Tvameva mata cha pita tvameva Tvameva bandhuscha sakha tvameva Tvameva vidya dravinam tvameva Tvameva sarvam mama devedeva.
O my supreme Lord! You alone are everything, mother and father You alone are my friend, helper, and protector You alone are knowledge, material, and spiritual prosperity You alone are my everything, my Lord.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to acknowledge the help and contribution made by my committee members: Dr. Scott Hunsaker, Dr. Martha Dever, Dr. Martha Whitaker, Dr. Deborah Brynes, Dr. Tilak Dhiman. The guidance and direction given to me by my committee chair, Dr. Scott Hunsaker, was enormous and invaluable. His high expectations helped me to explore my potential to the fullest. Thank you, Dr. Hunsaker, for bringing out the hidden scholar in me. I extend my deepest thanks to my family: my mom, Krishna Veni; my dad Linga Reddy; my sisters, Veena and Rani; and my cousins, Sena and Sumanth. Without their support and love this study could not have come to fruition. To my mom, I give a very special thank you for believing in me and making all this possible. I extend my special thanks to my dear husband, Venu Madhav Reddy, who accepted to be a forced bachelor even after marriage for three long years. Separation from him served as a great motivation for completion of my research in a short period of time. His constant support and encouragement provided the vital energy in this process. I thank the central authorities of Navodaya Vidyalaya samiti, principals, and teachers who consented to participate in this study and helped me in the success of my study.
vii I thank from the bottom of my heart all my friends who have directly or indirectly encouraged and boosted my confidence constantly. Their constant presence had given me confidence in this challenging endeavor. I give a special thanks to my friend Benicia for not only accepting to be my peer debriefer but also for all her valuable suggestions and time through out this study. My heartfelt thanks to my teacher and a great friend, G. Narsi Reddy, for inspiring and motivating me all through my Ph. D. program. Without his guidance, support, and constant help, this Ph.D. would have remained nothing but a dream. And last but not least to my little kid who is still unborn, who didn’t trouble me a lot and helped me progress in my dissertation. My sweet baby was patient in spite of the demanding long hours of work on my dissertation. I thank you and love you and hope to hold you soon close to my heart. Once again, I could not have done it without each one of you, Thank you! Vani Gaddam
CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT........................................................................................................... iii DEDICATION ........................................................................................................ v ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ..................................................................................... vi LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................. xi LIST OF FIGURES .............................................................................................. xii CHAPTER I
PROBLEM STATEMENT....................................................................... 1 Purpose...................................................................................................... 4 Study Rationale……………………………………………………5 Research Questions………………………………………………..6
REVIEW OF LITERATURE.................................................................... 8 Theories of Giftedness………………………………………………… 9 Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness……………………………11 Gagné’s Differentiated Giftedness-Talent Model………………..17 Concepts of Excellence in India………………………………………...26 Ancient Conceptions……………………………………………..27 Modern Historical Perspectives………………………………….36
Locations ................................................................................................ 45 Entrée ...................................................................................................... 47 Researcher as Instrument ........................................................................ 48 Ethical Issues........................................................................................... 49 Biases ....................................................................................... 49 Permissions .............................................................................. 50
ix Benefits .................................................................................... 50 Confidentiality ......................................................................... 51
Data Collection Procedures..................................................................... 51 Interviews................................................................................. 52 Document Analysis .................................................................. 53 Data Analysis .......................................................................................... 54 Coding ...................................................................................... 54 Content Analysis ...................................................................... 56 Adages from the Native Culture .............................................. 57 Study Rigor ............................................................................................. 57 Triangulation ............................................................................ 58 Member Checking.................................................................... 58 Peer Debriefing ........................................................................ 59 Field Journals ........................................................................... 60 Audit......................................................................................... 60 IV V
MY PERSONAL JOURNEY ................................................................ 62 FINDINGS .......................................................................................... 74 Beliefs about Giftedness………………………………………..75 Rationale for Establishing Navodaya Vidyalayas………………79 Quality Education to Rural Students ………………………80 Competency in Three-Languages……………………….…84 Promotion of National Integration………………………...84 Pace-Setting Schools……………………………………….85 Incorporating Art in Education…………………………….88 Teacher Selection……………………………………………….88 Teacher Traits……………………………………………...89 Selection Procedure……………………………………….90 Challenges of Teachers…………………………………....91 Training Programs………………………………………..92 Inspection………………………………………………...94 Student Selection………………………………………………..95 JNVST……………………………………………………96 Selection Issues…………………………………………..99
x Nurturing Environment……………………………………….101 Curriculum……………………………………………………106 Suggestions…………………………………………………...109 Studies and Reports…………………………………………..113 VI
DISCUSSION ............................................................................... ….115 Definition of Giftedness in Navodaya Vidyalayas……………115 Official Definition Related to Historical and Cultural Perspective……………………………………………………117 Beliefs of Participants About Giftedness……………………..119 Beliefs Related to Current Theories of Giftedness……………122 Beliefs Related to Historical and Cultural Perspectives………124 Beliefs Reflected in the Experiences of Participants…………128 Entrance Test………………………………………….131 Teacher Selection……………………………………..131 Curriculum……………………………………………132 Urban-Rural mix……………………………………..133 Residential Life………………………………………133 Summary……………………………………………..134
CONCLUSION ................................................................................. 135 Positive Features…………………………………………….136 Drawbacks…………………………………………………..137 A Culturally Responsive Definition…………………………138 Program Components……………………………………….141 Student Selection Process……………………………142 Teacher Selection…………………………………….143 Curriculum and Instruction………………………….143 Final Thought………………………………………..144
REFERENCES.................................................................................................... 145 APPENDICES .......................................................................................................... Appendix A: Consent Form ................................................................................ Appendix B: Semi-Structured Interview Protocol for Teachers ......................... Appendix C: Semi-Structured Interview Protocol for Principals ....................... Appendix D: Semi-Structured Interview Protocol for Central Authorities ........ Appendix E: Organizational Chart of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti ................... Appendix F: Auditor’s Attestation...................................................................... Appendix G: Copyright Permission Letters........................................................ CURRICULUM VITAE ...........................................................................................
LIST OF TABLES Table 1
Page Letters Assigned to Different Levels of Participants ................................ 55
LIST OF FIGURES Figure
Renzulli’s three-ring conception of giftedness−1978 version .................. 12
Renzulli’s three-ring conception of giftedness−1986 version .................. 14
Operation Houndstooth ............................................................................. 16
Gagné’s differentiated giftedness-talent model−1991 version ................. 20
Gagné’s differentiated giftedness-talent model−1993 version ................. 22
A psychological filigree of factors accounting for gifted achievements... 23
Gagné’s differentiated giftedness-talent model−1991 version ................. 25
Story of Shravana..................................................................................... 29
Story of Eklavya....................................................................................... 31
10 Story of Arjuna......................................................................................... 33 11 Story of Buddha ....................................................................................... 35
CHAPTER I PROBLEM STATEMENT Saraswati Namastubhyam varade kaamaroopini Vidyarambham karishyami siddhirbhavatu me sadaa O Goddess Saraswati, salutations to you, the giver of boons, the one who fulfills all desires. I begin my studies. May there always be accomplishments for me.
With a population of over one billion people, India has a great reservoir of talent. Unfortunately, little of that talent is discovered and developed, due to several adverse societal conditions, including over-population, poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment. India’s national resources are often focused on what will help the masses, such as general education (Raina, 1985). “Where the majority of parents are illiterate and the minority though educated are unwilling to allow the young to give expression to their creative talent, . . . and where school teaching is one of the poorest paid professions, . . . the education of the gifted child becomes doubly challenging” (John, as cited in Raina & Srivastava, 2000, p. 107) 1 . Education for those people who may have the creativity, intellect, and commitment to solve, or ameliorate, present conditions is rarely addressed. However, according to Clark (1997):
1 The reader will encounter numerous secondary citations in this dissertation. That
is because many of the sources are from India and could not be traced in the libraries in India.
2 Society will need the gifted adult to play a far more demanding and innovative role than that expected of the more typical learner. We need a significant number of integrated, highly functioning persons to carry out tasks that will lead us to a satisfying, fulfilling future. Contributions to society in all areas of human endeavor come in overweighted proportions from this population of individuals. (p. 7) Realizing the importance of the education of the gifted and the need to nurture their talents, the government of India has introduced some programs like the National Talent Search Scheme 2 , the Cultural Talent Search Scholarship Program, and the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme. The National Talent Search Scheme provides financial assistance in the form of scholarships for higher education to students with outstanding academic abilities. The Cultural Talent Search Program also provides financial support to school children of age 10-14 who demonstrate outstanding cultural talents. The Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme is the largest program, and focuses, not on higher education, but on the pre-college years. It includes 480 boarding schools, one in each district 3 in India. “The Vidyalayas seek to promote and develop talented, bright and gifted children predominantly from rural areas who may otherwise be denied good educational opportunities” (Overview, n.d., ¶ 1). It has been 16 years since these schools were launched, and currently 112,700 students are on the schools’ rolls.
2 Scheme is a word for large programs in India 3 District is an equivalent of a county in the United States
3 However, all three programs for the gifted students have been criticized for lacking a basis in psychological theory or conceptualization and not being responsive to the Indian socio-cultural context. In regard to the Navodaya Vidyalaya, Raina and Srivastava (2000) stated: It seems that this scheme also suffers from an inadequate and narrow concept of excellence and the tools used for selection are again based on a very narrow conceptualization. The facilities provided under the scheme became available to a few and a large number continue to suffer from acute disadvantages. (p. 106) Further, the Acharya Ramaurti Report (as cited in Nanda, 1995) criticized the Navodaya Vidyalayas for being very expensive for the government and for catering to a microscopic minority of the total school population. In contrast, a release from the Press Information Bureau (1999) of the Government of India said that the Navodaya Vidyalayas show the best results on the national standardized tests of all categories of schools in India and these schools are doing very well. In spite of criticism, the government has sanctioned more schools and the Samiti 4 is planning to extend the number of schools by opening schools in the districts that do not currently have one. Raina and Srivastava (2000) stated, “the curriculum offered, the teachers selected specially for these schools, leadership and other aspects of organization need to be studied critically to indicate if these talented disadvantaged are nurtured in a proper and systematic way” (p. 106). A database search yielded no research
4 Samiti is another name for the central organization that manages all these schools’ finances and practices.
4 articles relevant to Raina’s claim. The apparent lack of research on the characteristics of Navodaya Vidyalaya, as identified by Raina and Srivastava, is the problem underlying the present research study. As a first step in addressing the issues raised by Raina and Srivastava (2000), this study seeks to investigate the beliefs and practices related to giftedness in these schools. It is important to study the underlying beliefs and how they affect practices as a first step because then it will provide a basis on which interested parties can evaluate whether these schools have fulfilled their objectives or not.
Purpose and Objectives
The purpose for conducting this study is definitely founded on the lack of appropriate research concerning Navodaya Vidyalayas. The more specific purpose is to explore the beliefs related to giftedness of the authorities and participants in Navodaya Vidyalayas and to compare the practices in gifted education with the cultural construct of giftedness in India. However, there are also both governmental and personal reasons for me to conduct this study.
5 Study Rationale
The first reason for conducting this study is that the government of India has come under severe criticism for spending millions of rupees on the Navodaya Vidyalaya program while not making any research attempts to evaluate the efficacy of the selection procedures and nurturing programs, nor conducting any follow-up studies to understand the advantages or disadvantages to the gifted and talented students. I want to examine the truth in the criticism by exploring the beliefs and practices related to giftedness in these schools. A second reason for investigating Navodaya Vidyalayas is more personal. Being an alumnus of Navodaya Vidyalaya and going through the system for seven years, I am curious to know what the concept of giftedness is underlying this scheme, what the authorities and participants’ beliefs are, and how they view the various practices in these schools. Thirdly, as a prospective gifted educator/administrator, I want to have a better idea of the concept of giftedness in India and also a better understanding of various schemes and practices related to giftedness and the influence of the Indian culture on these practices. I have chosen a qualitative study approach because, to understand and describe the concept of giftedness and experiences of the participants, an in-depth phenomenological study was felt more appropriate than trying to quantify the concept or experiences through a quantitative study. According to Bogden and Biklen (1998), in a phenomenological approach the researcher attempts to gain
6 entry into the conceptual world of his/her subjects in order to understand how and what meaning they confer around their daily happenings. Patton (1990) describes a phenomenological study as “one that focuses on descriptions of what people experience and how it is that they experience what they experience” (p. 71). These definitions of phenomenology fit well with the purposes defined earlier. The Navodaya Vidyalaya scheme has 480 Navodaya schools existing in India and all these schools are similar in terms of the teacher selection, student selection, calendar, and infrastructure. These schools are controlled by a central governing body and have a nationalized curriculum that is practiced strictly in each. Thus, the study of beliefs about giftedness with central authorities and only a few purposefully selected schools can provide understandings of the phenomenon that could be applied throughout the system with some confidence.
The main objective of this study is to understand and describe the beliefs and practices related to giftedness in Navodaya Vidyalaya Schools. The research questions that follow will help in gathering the data to meet the stated objective of the study. 1. What is the official definition of giftedness adopted by Navodaya Vidyalayas?
7 2. How is the official definition related to historical and cultural perspective of giftedness in India? 3.What are the beliefs of concerned Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti authorities and administrators about giftedness? 4. How are these beliefs related to current theories of giftedness and to historical and cultural perspectives? 5. How are the officials’ beliefs reflected in the experiences of participants (principals and teachers) in the Navodaya Vidyalayas? 6. How are participants’ experiences related to historical and cultural perspectives?
8 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF LITERATURE Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha Tat Savitur Varanium Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyonoha Prachodayat I meditate upon the auspicious godly light of the Lord Sun May the heavenly light illumine my thought flow and intellect in the right direction
The purpose of this literature review is three fold: (a) to present current theories of giftedness, (b) to present literature focusing on the concepts of excellence both in traditional and modern Indian culture, and (c) to present information about various programs undertaken by the government of India to meet the needs of gifted students and specifically about Navodaya Vidyalayas. I conducted a computer-assisted search using the search engines Google, Yahoo, Askjeeves, and Infoseek to locate relevant articles written on Navodaya Vidyalaya and gifted education in India. The descriptors that I used to conduct the search were gifted education in India, gifted and talented, giftedness, intellectualism, attitudes of people toward giftedness, gifted and talented education, Navodaya Vidyalayas, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas. I found seven websites with information on the history of Navodaya Vidyalayas and the demographics of these schools but could not find any research reports on these schools. I also looked for articles written by columnists, educators, and educationists on the educational system of India. A search of the ERIC database and Exceptional Children Educational Reserves using the same descriptors yielded only three articles. Again,
9 none of the articles were research reports. All the three articles were authored or coauthored by Raina. All these articles are theory based. I visited the academic libraries in India for a manual search of the documents that were listed in the references of Dr.Raina and Dr. Srivastava articles. Unfortunately, I could not retrieve any of the mentioned articles.
Theories of Giftedness
Given the apparent lack of research on gifted education in India, one is left to consider the concept both theoretically and empirically from a western point-ofview. Several possible theories for what giftedness is and how it is developed have been posited in the Western literature. Looking back at the history of gifted education in United States, there was not much interest and initiative taken to understand and meet the educational needs of gifted children until relatively recently. Beginning with the contributions of Francis Galton, Alfred Binet, Lewis Terman, and Leta Hollingworth at the turn of the 19th century and continuing through the first three decades of the 20th century, scholars and practitioners did show interest in gifted education. The launch of the Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957 created a high commitment towards gifted education by the federal government (Davis and Rimm, 1998). This support, however, was based primarily on practical needs rather than any theoretical foundations. Finally, the U.S. Office of Education (USOE) provided
10 the first official definition of gifted and talented in what has become known as the Marland Report (Marland, 1972): Gifted and Talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society. Children capable of high performance include those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential in any of the following areas, singly or in combination: 1.general intellectual ability, 2. specific academic aptitude, 3. creative or productive thinking, 4. leadership ability, 5. visual and performing arts, 6. psychomotor ability. (p. 2) In 1978 the U.S. Congress revised the official government definition and excluded the area of psychomotor ability. The reason for the omission was that artistic psychomotor ability talents (e.g., dancing, monoacting) could be included under performing arts and students who were gifted in athletics were already receiving special services in various instructional programs. Since the services were being provided elsewhere, the impact of the omission of psychomotor ability on students is negligible. The definition provided a basis for grant competitions sponsored by the USOE for technical assistance in gifted education, but was criticized for lacking any theoretical foundation. For example, Renzulli (1978) stated that there was a problem due to the “non-parallel nature of the six categories included in the definition” (p. 181). Two of the six categories (specific academic aptitude and visual and performing arts aptitude) were related to the fields of human endeavor or general performance areas, while the remaining four categories were more nearly
11 processes that relate to performance areas. Moreover, he added that the definition could be misinterpreted and misused by educators. He said that educators would develop identification systems based on the six USOE categories treating them as mutually exclusive. Additionally, the definition failed to give the required guidance necessary for educators to avoid any misinterpretation and misapplication.
Three-Ring Conception of Giftedness
In response, Renzulli (1978) propounded his theory of the “three-ring conception” (p. 182) of giftedness. According to his definition: Giftedness consists of an interaction among three basic clusters of human traits - these clusters being above-average general abilities, high levels of task commitment, and high levels of creativity. Gifted and talented children are those possessing or capable of developing this composite set of traits and applying them to any potentially valuable area of human performance. Children who manifest or are capable of developing an interaction among the three clusters require a wide variety of educational opportunities and services that are not ordinarily provided through regular instructional programs. (p. 261) According to Renzulli (1978), the strength of his theory was that it was founded on “research on creative/productive people” (p. 182). He distinguished between two types of giftedness: (a) “schoolhouse” (Renzulli, 1999, p. 8) giftedness that can be easily measured by standardized ability tests, conveniently used for selecting students for special programs; and (b) creative/productive giftedness, which describes those aspect of human activity where emphasis is
12 placed on the development of original ideas, products, artistic expressions, and other areas of knowledge that are designed to have an impact on target audiences. The interaction of the three clusters of traits that result in creative/productive giftedness, which, according to Renzulli, is the type of giftedness schools should be fostering, is represented in the shaded area at the intersection of the three circles on the left side of Figure 1. It is important to point out that, according to Renzulli (1978) no single cluster “makes giftedness” (p. 182). The graphic representation of giftedness depicts the interaction among the three clusters that is “brought to bear upon” (Renzulli, 1978, p. 184) general and specific performance areas, as represented on the right side of Figure 1. For identification of gifted students, the implication is that teachers should recognize the qualities of task commitment, creativity, and above-average ability in any of the performance areas.
Figure 1. Renzulli’s three-ring conception of giftedness−1978 version.
13 From Renzulli’s What makes giftedness? Reexamining a definition. In Phi Delta Kappan, 60, (1978). by permission of the author. In a version of the same theory, Reis and Renzulli (1985) retained the three interacting clusters of traits, but placed them in a houndstooth background as shown in Figure 2 on the next page. According to Renzulli and Reis (1997), there are a host of other factors to be taken into account in order to explain what causes some persons to display gifted behaviors at certain times and circumstances. Renzulli and Reis grouped these factors into the two traditional dimensions of personality and environment. They noted, “The research clearly showed that the factors that influence gifted behavior each play varying roles in the manifestation of gifted behaviors” (p. 10). The houndstooth pattern (the interlocking graphic represented on the left side of Figure 2) represented the intricately connected personality and environmental factors−including intuition, character, socioeconomic status, and zeitgeist, which influence giftedness and gifted behaviors (Renzulli & Reis, 1986). In 1986, Renzulli replaced his definition of giftedness with a definition of gifted behaviors, stating: Gifted behavior reflects an interaction among three basic clusters of human traits – above average ability, high levels of task commitment and high levels of creativity. Individuals capable of developing gifted behavior are those possessing or capable of developing this composite set of traits and applying them to any potentially valuable area of human performance. Persons who manifest or are capable of developing an interaction among the three clusters require a wide variety of educational opportunities and services that are not ordinarily provided through regular instructional programs. (Renzulli & Reis, 1986, p. 218).
Figure 2. Renzulli’s three-ring conception of giftedness−1986 version.
From Colangelo & Davis Handbook Of Gifted Education, 3/e Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 2003 by Pearson Education. by permission of the publisher.
The shift from defining giftedness to defining gifted behaviors does not necessarily suggest a change in the types of assessments or information sought but on the labeling of the students with the terms gifted or not gifted. Renzulli and Reis (1986) felt that an effective identification system must take into consideration other factors in addition to test scores and that these other factors must be given equal weight in the selection process. They also stated, “We must reexamine identification procedures that result in the total pre-selection of certain students and
15 the concomitant implication that these youngsters are and always will be ‘gifted’” (p. 220). This is because the absolute approach (i.e., you are gifted or not gifted) together with almost total dependence on test scores goes against the research and is contrary to effective identification process. Renzulli and Reis (1997) urged educators to identify students who exhibited gifted behaviors and develop these behaviors in youngsters who have the highest potential for benefiting from special education services. According to them, the term gifted is counterproductive to educational efforts aimed at identification and programming for certain students in the general school population, and therefore he asked the educators not to label the students but label the behaviors and the services provided for those students instead. In 2000, Renzulli coined the term ‘Operation Houndstooth’ for the background underlying the three-ring conception of giftedness. Operation Houndstooth signified the interaction among the several categories of personal characteristics that are represented by the houndstooth background seen in the three-ring conception since 1986. Renzulli (2003) felt further definition of the houndstooth was needed because he realized that a host of other factors must be taken into account in an effort to explain what causes some persons to display gifted behaviors at certain times and under certain circumstances. Renzulli included several categories of personal characteristics in the houndstooth background. “These categories include, but may not be limited to, Optimism, Courage, Romance with a Topic or Discipline, Sensitivity to Human Concerns, Physical/Mental
16 Energy, and Vision/Sense of Destiny” (Renzulli, 2003, p.78). These are illustrated in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Operation Houndstooth
From Colangelo & Davis Handbook Of Gifted Education, 3/e Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 2003 by Pearson Education. by permission of the author.
The goals of Operation Houndstooth were two fold; (a) to examine the scientific research that has been conducted on the components, as shown in Figure
17 3, and (b) to conduct a series of experimental studies to determine how various school-related interventions can promote the types of behavior defined within the respective components. More research is yet to be conducted on how much influence does each of the components play in promoting gifted behaviors and how can these components be incorporated in curriculum and instruction in schools.
The three-ring theory has been criticized by some educationists in the field of gifted and talented. For example, Olszewski-Kubilius (1999) has charged: A major weakness is the lack of school-based assessment procedures that can guide decisions about a broader range of accelerative, enrichment, and other types of program options for gifted students with different needs. (p. 55)
Gagné’s Differentiated Giftedness-Talent Model
Gagné (1985) criticized Renzulli’s theory for various reasons. First, he disagreed with Renzulli about the presence of motivation as a necessary component of giftedness. However, he stated that motivation is necessary for achievement in any particular field. He cited the example of gifted underachievers to support his contention. Second, he argued the identification of creativity as an essential component of giftedness. He stated, “Creativity can be regarded as a major determinant of exceptional performance in certain fields of endeavor, but not in all.
18 It therefore should be considered as one ability domain, among others, in which giftedness can express itself” (p. 106). Finally Gagné (1985) critiques Renzulli’s theory for its lack of differentiation of above average ability into separate ability domains. He noted that Renzulli’s description and citations of above average ability leaves the distinct impression that these abilities refer to intellectual capabilities. He opined that skills capable of explaining various artistic talents, which are strongly heterogeneous, must be sought out in other domains and “an adequate model for giftedness should introduce a parsimonious taxonomy of human abilities” (p. 107). Being dissatisfied with Renzulli’s theory, Gagné (1985) propounded his own theory of “a differentiated model of giftedness and talent” (p. 109). According to Gagné, giftedness and talent are two different concepts. “Giftedness corresponds to competence which is distinctly above average in one or more domains of ability. Talent refers to performance which is distinctly above average in one or more fields of human performance” (p. 108). Gagné (1985) explained that the terms competence and performance are important to understand the differences between giftedness and talent. He added, “This distinction is also intended to reduce the ambiguity between the two concepts as much as possible by adopting definitions which do not include the same words” (p. 108). He said that it was these factors that lead him to choose the terms domain (to refer to abilities) and field (to refer to domains of talent). The model presented giftedness as exceptional aptitude in one or more domains of ability, and defined
19 talent as exceptional performance in one or more fields of human activity. Gagné suggested a class of environmental and personal influences that are needed to change gifts into talents. He called these catalysts. Motivation, a major component of giftedness in Renzulli’s model, was given a primary place in the catalysts of the actualization of giftedness into talent. Creativity, another essential component of giftedness in Renzulli’s model, was given less importance and was transferred to one of the general ability domains. This rearrangement permitted the accommodation of many talents such as sports and athletics, musical or theatrical interpretation, trades, and leadership in which divergent thinking does not appear to play a key role. In 1991, Gagné subdivided aptitudes (i.e., gifts) into four categories (intellectual, creative, socio-affective, and sensorimotor) and talents into five categories (academic, technical, artistic, interpersonal, and athletic). Both sets of categories are illustrated in Figure 4 on the next page, with gifts on the left and talents on the right.
Figure 4. Gagné’s differentiated giftedness-talent model−1991 version.
From In Colangelo, N. & Davis, G.A. (Eds.) In Handbook Of Gifted Education, 1/e Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.Copyright (c) 1991 by Pearson Education. by permission of publisher.
Further, Gagné (1991) distinguished catalysts into two different types: intrapersonal (e.g., curiosity, motivation, perseverance, autonomy) and environmental (e.g., parents, siblings, peers, school, identification models). Talents were considered to be the developmental product of an interaction between aptitudes and interpersonal and environmental catalysts. Thus, Gagné characterized aptitudes as the building blocks of talents, and catalysts as positive (or negative) moderators that transform (or do not transform) aptitudes into talents, and talent as the heart of his model.
21 In 1993, Gagné added another category to the aptitude domain and classified it as “Others” (p. 72). He elaborated that this “Others” category “acts as an ‘expansion port’ for less recognized and studied natural abilities (e.g., extrasensory perception, gift of healing)” (p. 73). In the catalysts components Gagné (1993) added detail on intrapersonal catalysts and environmental catalysts as shown in Figure 5 on the following page. Intrapersonal catalysts included both motivation factors (e.g., initiative, interests, persistence) and personality factors (e.g., autonomy, self-confidence, self-esteem). Environmental catalysts were subdivided into five distinct categories: (a) significant persons, (b) significant physical environments, (c) significant interventions, (d) significant events and (e) chance. The center of the catalysts component was occupied by learning, training, and practice. This component illustrated the “longitudinal dimension of talent development” (p. 75). He emphasized that systematic formal training is the usual way to develop talents in any field, especially when aiming at high levels of proficiency. Finally in the talent component he excluded the general and specific categories and put them into one category and expanded the number of fields. He opined that no category system could do justice in classifying the immense variety of talents manifested by children and adults in all walks of life. Figure 5. Gagné’s differentiated model of giftedness and talent−1993 version.
From In Heller, K.A., Monks, F.J. & Passow, A.H. (Eds.) In International Handbook of Research and Development of Giftedness and Talent, 1/e Published by Pergamon Press. Copyright (c) 1993 by Pergamon Press Ltd. by permission of the publisher.
One change to Gagné’s (1993) theory was the addition of chance as a “significant factor” (p. 72) in the category of “environmental catalysts” (p. 72). In fact in 1983, this chance factor was elaborated in detail by Tannenbaum (1991) in his earlier theory of giftedness shown in Figure 6 on the next page. It was Tannenbaum who first elaborated on the role of chance, which he called “the smile of good fortune at crucial periods of life” (p. 29) in the occurrence of giftedness.
Figure 6. A psychological filigree of factors accounting for gifted achievements
From Colangelo & Davis Handbook Of Gifted Education, 3/e Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.Copyright (c) 2003 by Pearson Education. by permission of the publisher. According to Tannenbaum (1991), for a child to become truly gifted, five factors have to interweave most skillfully. He emphasized on the equal importance of chance factor in the occurrence of giftedness by stating “no combination of four qualifiers can compensate for the absence or insufficiency of the fifth” (p. 29). Gagné apparently found Tannenbaum’s arguments compelling. In 2000, Gagné changed the figure of his model drastically, and he referred to aptitude domains or gifts as natural abilities and talents as systematically developed skills. From the aptitude domains section he removed the “Others”
24 category indicating that he was now pretty much confident and settled on the specific domains as shown in Figure 7 on the following page. In the intrapersonal catalysts section he reorganized the components and reduced the special importance given to motivation and personality in his previous model (1993) and added physical, volition, and self-management components. He renamed the learning/training/practice component as developmental process and specified informal/formal learning and practicing under it, emphasizing the role of informal training too. Among the environmental catalyst components he identified chance as an independent factor rather than as part of the environmental factors he had previously designated as contributing to talent development. His figure also showed how chance could have its role in influencing natural abilities, intrapersonal catalysts, and environmental catalysts. In the talents component he reorganized the skills back into broader categories again proving that he had become confident that these were the final categories under which all possible talents of human beings could be categorized. The relationships among the six components (gifts, chance, intrapersonal catalysts, environmental catalysts, developmental process, and talents) as shown in Figure 7 are expressed through a complex impact of gifts on talents, gifts being the constituent elements (or raw materials) of talents, the presence of talent(s) implying underlying gift(s), but the reverse not being true.
Figure 7. Gagné’s differentiated model of giftedness and talent−2000 version.
From Colangelo & Davis Handbook Of Gifted Education, 3/e Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.Copyright (c) 2003 by Pearson Education. by permission of the publisher.
According to Gagné (2000) gifts can remain undeveloped (e.g., academic underachievement). The catalyst components usually act through the developmental process, facilitating or hindering the learning activities, and thus the performance. Any pair of components could interact, in both directions (e.g., gifts influencing intrapersonal components, and vice-versa). Talents could even have a feedback effect on the other components. If this is true, then Gagné’s figure is misleading because all the arrows in the figure are pointed out in one direction.
26 This could confuse the practitioners who adopt Gagné’s model for identification and for other practices.
Concepts of Excellence in India
Theories such as Renzulli’s and Gagné’s can have potential for influencing gifted education practices in India. This could occur through two different factors: (1) the vacuum created by the absence of theoretical foundations of giftedness in the Indian education system, and (2) a potential match between the traditional beliefs of giftedness and the theories of Renzulli and Gagné. Yet as Raina and Srivastava (2000) have pointed out, the present day hostility or the love-hate relationship in India towards excellence is due to the uncritical and unexamined transplantation of modern psychology from the West almost as a complete wholesale package. They further added that the native concept of excellence has been hegemonized so effectively by the concept produced and honed in the West, that the original concepts vanished from our awareness. Yet, the approach to excellence in various Indian philosophies, art, and culture has been diverse and varies in spatial as well as temporal contexts. Indian tradition has exhibited indigenousness in defining and recognizing excellence. “India was multi-centered in its cultural expression and, at the same time, a universally valid sense of excellence was continuously evolved and cherished” (Murthy, as cited in Raina & Srivastava, 2000, p.102).
Ancient India saw the emergence of talent and increased excellence in humanitarian aspects such as compassion, truthfulness, felicitous speech, generosity, sacrifice, single mindedness in carrying out a task, respect for elders and service. In the traditional society, caste system played a vital role in determining the talents of the people. Excellence in humanitarian aspects was recognized and valued across the various strata of the caste system. However, the caste system was a restrictive force in identification of the talents in varied human endeavors as people could only practice the talents in their respective family occupations. People were prohibited from exploring their talents in other occupations. Intrinsic to excellence and creativity were character, integrity, and conviction (Menon, 1978). According to Chandogya Upanishad (Ranganathananda, as stated in Raina & Srivastava, 2000), excellence is the result of vidya (science of knowledge) coupled with sraddha (totality of positive attitudes), and upanishad (deep and meditative thinking). A combination of these three energies results in a type of excellence that has the power to move the world (Raina & Srivastava, 2000). Following from Raina and Srivastava (2000), this ancient conception of excellence has the danger of being hegemonized by a concept from the west, such
28 as Renzulli’s (1978), because it is similar in some ways. For example, one could see vidya as corresponding to above average ability, sraddha as task commitment, and upanishad as creativity. The transplantation of Renzulli’s notions in place of the Chandogya Upanishad would be unfortunate from the point-of-view of Indian culture because the Indian concept of excellence is so rich and profound that it has a great potential to guide gifted programs efficaciously. The opportunity is in using the three-ring conception to better understand the ancient ideas, and vice-versa. However, unlike Renzulli’s (1978) notion that creative/productive giftedness could be developed in many general and specific fields of endeavor, in Indian culture, achieving excellence in any field would be considered impossible, excellence being better recognized than defined. In the traditional Indian context excellence was viewed as a relative term. Any individual could only claim a degree of excellence. Excellence was seen more as striving to achieve perfection (Riana & Srivastava, 2000), an inner zeal to achieve the highest standards without any external driving force. Excellence was more a path than a destination. Most of the stories in holy books and epic tales respected in India portray individuals who posses the humanitarian qualities of excellence listed earlier. Incidents in the life histories of epic Indian and historical legendary heroes, like Buddha, are provided on the following pages as a sample of the qualities of excellence valued in India in ancient times. I have chosen four stories of individuals to illustrate the above-mentioned commendable qualities of excellence from various epics, religious text, and historical legends.
29 These stories can be found in Indian mythology that is as old as 5000 years. The two epics that Hindus follow mostly are Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama, who is revered, as the epitome of what an ideal son, king, and husband should be. The example of Shravan Kumar (see Figure 8) is an extract from this book. Mahabharata is the story of the Pandavas, a group of royal brothers who were deceived by their cousin Duryodhana in a game of dice and thus lost their empire. Then they went to live in the forest in exile. Later, they won their empire back in war and ruled the country in a just and prudent manner. The examples of Ekalavya (see Figure 9 on page 31) and Arjuna (see Figure 10 on page 33) are from this book. Shravana or Shravan Kumar, is idolized in Indian society as an ideal son (see Figure 8). The main quality Shravan Kumar displays is sraddha (positive attitude).
Figure 8. Story of Shravana Shravana was a 16-year-old Brahmin boy with blind, aged parents dependant on him. One day they expressed a desire to go on a pilgrimage in India. Shravana took them on a pilgrimage by putting them in wooden baskets and carrying them on his shoulders. During this journey, Shravan’s parents became thirsty and asked for a drink of water. Shravana placed them under the shade of a tree and went in search of water. As he was fetching the water from a pond, an arrow came and hit him right in the chest and wounded him badly. King Dasharatha, who was an expert archer, mistook Shravana for an animal and hit him with the arrow. The king’s heart broke when he realized that he hit a boy, and he ran to the spot where the boy was lying. Crying with guilt, he took the boy in his lap, poured a few drops of water in his mouth, and asked the boy who he was and expressed his grief for the grave mistake he had committed.
30 The boy narrated his whole story and told the king that his parents were alone and need help and asked him to take care of his parents. Then he died. The king went to Shravan’s parents who immediately recognized that he was not their son. Upon learning of their bereavement, Shravan’s parents were badly upset and cursed the king that one day he would also suffer the pain of separation from his son.
Sraddha is clearly exhibited in his love for his parents and his willingness to sacrifice his own comforts for taking care of his parents. He had shown unparalleled devotion, loyalty, respect and obedience to his parents−as demonstrated by him embarking on a journey desired by his parents by carrying them on his shoulders. Shravan Kumar exhibited the quality of vidya by showing kindness, a sense of justice, sympathy and understanding towards King Dasaratha through forgiving his inadvertent mistake. He had shown composure and stoical nature by not displaying anger towards his killer. His balanced approach in arriving at pragmatic solutions for a difficult problem is perceivable in his request to the king to take care of his parents and provide them comforts. The quality of upanishad (meditative thinking) was displayed by his extremely focused manner and clarity of his future goals, which he decided would be to take care of his parents and fulfilling their every wish. His stability, will power and firmness, his unwavering belief in the necessity of his task, the systematic manner in which he set out to carry out the task and the joyous acceptance and endurance of the hard physical labor are proof of his concentration, concerted effort, and meditative thinking.
31 Ekalavya's personality also displays all three characteristics of vidya, sraddha and upanishad (see Figure 9 on the following page). Vidya (science of knowledge) is exhibited in his ambition to learn and hone his skills to become a good leader and protector of the people dependent on him. His zeal and sincerity in pursuit of education, his unrelenting effort and hard work, his devotion to the task of learning, and his ultimate success in achieving the required competence amply qualify him to be considered an excellent student.
Figure 9. Story of Eklavya Dronacharya or Drona, was a teacher of archery to the royal children in Mahabharata. One day he was approached by Ekalavya, a boy from the Shudra community (untouchable, low caste) to learn archery. Drona refused to accept him as a student due to his lower social status. Eklavya’s determination was strengthened by this refusal. Ekalvya constructed a clay idol of Dronacharya and installed it under a tree. He worshipped this idol of the teacher every day and took self-lessons in the art of bow and arrow. The talented young Eklavya soon acquired excellent knowledge in archery and attributed his achievement to the inspiration provided by the teacher or his statue. One day the teacher and his favorite student, Arjuna, were witness to the amazing skills of Ekalavya. They saw Eklavya seal the mouth of a barking dog without hurting it. They wanted to meet that exceptionally skilled artist, traced the spot where he was practicing the skill, and were surprised to find that he considered Drona as his teacher. Dronacharya loved his favorite student Arjuna very much and wanted to make him best in the world. He knew that it would be impossible because Ekalavya was superior to Arjuna. So Dronacharya asked Ekalavya for ‘guru dakshina’ (a formal tribute paid by students to the teacher). Eklavya was overwhelmed to see Dronacharya accepting him as his disciple and said, “ O Honorable Teacher, whatever you ask, this humble disciple of yours will try his utmost to offer you that as guru dakshina! I am blessed.” Dronacharya asked for Eklavya’s right thumb as his fee. He wanted to prevent Eklavya from practicing archery as it’s difficult to use a bow without the thumb. Eklavya cheerfully cut off his thumb and offered it as fee to his teacher.
The quality of sraddha (positive attitude) is clearly perceivable in all his actions. His refusal to get discouraged by the rejection of his teacher, his strong belief in his capabilities and conviction about his goals, his honesty in giving credit to his teacher for providing vicarious inspiration and motivation, his inability to feel rancor or hatred towards the teacher for asking a gift which would cripple him and destroy his dreams, his unquestioning loyalty and obedience are enough to understand the character, integrity and positive outlook of Ekalavya's nature. The quality of upanishad (deep and meditative thinking) can be seen in his utmost concentration and clarity of thought, the perfect coordination with which his mind and body worked, the self confidence and maturity he displayed when challenged to fight the princes, and his lack of conceit or arrogance about his achievements. All these characteristics make Ekalavya an excellent example of a gifted and ideal student in India. Arjuna personifies all the three qualities of vidya, sraddha and upanishad (see Figure 10 on the following page). The quality of vidya (science of knowledge) is shown by his extreme interest and devotion to learning the intricacies of archery, his ambition to become the best archer in the world, his desire to be loved and liked by his teacher, his inquisitiveness and aptitude which won him the admiration of his teachers, his quest for knowledge and his willingness to accept a challenge to
33 his skill and his success in proving his capabilities. All these incidents and qualities make him an ideal and excellent student worth emulating. The quality of upanishad is displayed by his superior and extraordinary concentration, ability to focus only on the goal and not to get distracted by anything else, single-minded pursuit of a target and his zeal to prove his skills.
Figure 10. Story of Arjuna Arjuna was an excellent archer and was the favorite student of the guru Dronacharya. One day, Arjuna’s cousins criticized their teacher for the undue favor shown towards Arjuna. As a reply to their criticism, Dronacharya arranged a test to decide the best archer amongst all. Accordingly, a wooden bird was put on a branch of a distant tree. It was partly hidden by the foliage. A prominent artificial eye was painted on the wooden bird. The teacher called all his disciples and said, "Look, my children. A bird is sitting on that far off tree. You have to hit the arrow exactly in its eye. Are you ready?” Everyone nodded. First the eldest, Yudhisthira, was invited to try his skill. He stretched his bow-string and was about to release the arrow when Dronacharya asked him a question, "O eldest son of Kunti, may I know what is visible to you at this point of time?" Yudhisthira replied innocently, "Why, O Gurudev, I am seeing you, the tree, people around me, and the bird.” Similar questions were put to Duryodhana, Bhima, Nakul, Sahadeva, and the others, and Dronacharya got similar answers as those given by Yudhisthira. Dronacharya told them to step aside as it was obvious that with such poor concentration, they were sure to miss the target! Lastly, it was the turn of Arjuna. He readied himself, his bow and arrow in perfect graceful harmony! Then the Guru asked him, "O Arjuna, will you tell me what is being observed by you?” Arjuna replied, "Sir, at this point of time only the eye of the bird is visible to me." When asked by the teacher whether he was able to see the bird, the tree, and people around, Arjuna replied no to this question and stressed again that he saw the eye of the bird only.
34 Dronacharya was pleased with Arjuna's immense concentration and correct approach towards the art of archery. He then explained to others how due to such peculiar yogic qualities and powers he preferred Arjuna as his best disciple.
The quality of sraddha, or positive attitude, is displayed by his love and loyalty towards his teacher, not taking offence at the taunts of his cousins and cheerfully accepting their challenge with a positive spirit, sincerity of purpose, confidence in his capabilities, and obedience to his teachers and elders. Because of combination of all these qualities, Arjuna is one of the most prominent examples of giftedness and excellence in Indian mythology. Buddha is considered as a good example of excellence and giftedness in Indian society. He is one of the most highly respected persons in India. He showed compassion for his fellow human beings by feeling sad about their suffering and trying to defeat or alleviate suffering as mentioned in Figure 11 on the following page. Buddha had shown the quality of sacrifice by renouncing his kingdom and starting on a search for truth. He had shown the quality of generosity and truthfulness by sharing his knowledge with others and trying to make them realize the truth of life. As mentioned in Chandogya Upanishad deep and meditative thinking, science of knowledge, and positive attitude are the three basic characteristics of excellence. Buddha had shown all the three qualities by seeking answers to the eternal questions of nature, pursuing them with meditation and
35 positive approach and spreading the knowledge to others. Hence, Buddha is taken as a good example of excellence in Indian context.
Figure 11. Story of Buddha Buddha was born as Siddhartha to King Suddodana and Queen Mahamaya. Priests predicted that he would either be a great king or would renounce the world to become a holy man. Afraid that his son may become a hermit, the king brought up his son within the boundaries of the palace isolated from the outside world. Siddhartha was married to a beautiful princess, Yasodhara, and in a few years they had a son, Rahul. After Rahul was born, Prince Siddhartha started becoming curious about the outside world. One day he asked his charioteer to take him for a ride far outside the kingdom. In this journey, he saw human sufferings- an old man, a sick man, and a dead man- for the first time in his life. Siddhartha asked the charioteer, “Does everyone become sick, old and die?” The charioteer replied, “Yes, master. This is the law of nature.” Siddhartha felt very depressed. On his way back he spotted a monk meditating under a tree. The monk seemed completely at peace. Siddhartha went and asked the monk, “Who are you?” The monk replied, “I am a seeker of the truth, of life over death. And to find it, I have given up everything on this earth.” At the very moment Siddhartha decided to leave his luxurious life and follow the footsteps of the monk. That night when everyone was sleeping in the palace, he crept out without the knowledge of anyone. He rode with his charioteer until dawn. Far away from the kingdom, he got down from the chariot and told the charioteer to go to his father, King Suddodana, and tell his father that he would return as the conqueror of sickness, old age, and death, or he will fail and die. Siddhartha continued his journey, seeking wisdom from the monks he met along the way. But none could teach him how to obtain the ultimate peace. He
36 struggled a lot on his way. One fine day he walked to a large Bodhi (banyan) tree and sat under it, vowing that he would not leave that seat until he attained his goal. Siddhartha was steadfast in attaining his goal, and one day, as he opened his eyes with the rising sun, he saw the whole cycle of life, the whole mystery of life. He saw the whole of existence within himself, and himself within the whole of existence. His search for the truth has ended. At the age of thirty-five, he became Buddha. Siddhartha, the Buddha, continued to sit in meditation. He left the shelter of the Bodhi tree and went ahead to teach others what he had learned. Buddha then traveled far and wide teaching his four noble truths, as well as the art of meditation to purify body, speech, and mind. The four noble truths he taught were; (a) life ends in death, (b) the cause of the sufferings of life is desire and our bad deeds, the Karma, (c) the end of desire leads to the end of suffering, and (d) the way to end desires, and hence to end suffering, is to follow the righteous path and discovering the divine truth that is inherent in us.
According to Raina and Srivastava (2000), “History is replete with many examples of excellence available in ancient India.” (p.102). In each of the stories mentioned above the heroes exhibited some basic humanitarian characteristics like compassion, sacrifice, generosity, truthfulness, respect for elders, service to others, forgivingness, sincerity, respect for teachers, loyalty, obedience, meditative concentration, unrelenting effort, hard work, self-confidence, and thirst for knowledge. Raina and Srivastava added, “Though useful and discernible, the excellences valued in ancient India have been neglected for the reason that they are not marketable and also are not testable by the available psychometric tools. They win one neither high scores, nor money, nor certificates” (p. 104). The humanitarian excellence illustrated in the stories shared in this review is not marketable, as pointed out by Raina and Srivastava. The stories’ usefulness as examples of excellence is found only in how gifted individuals lead their daily life
37 striving for self-satisfaction in doing good to others and making the world a better place to live.
Modern Historical Perspectives
Not only have ancient conceptions of giftedness been devalued over the centuries, but, through the years of British rule in India, an educational system emerged in which the intellectual abilities of the Indian citizens were not recognized to their full potential and, hence, excellence suffered a major setback. Talking of the colonial exploitation of the rich Indian civilization, British Education in India (n. d.) stated, “Britain needed a class of intellectuals meek and docile in their attitude towards the British, but full of hatred towards their fellow citizens” (p. 2). Further discussing how British education washed out the native educational philosophies and educationists, this article stated: British-educated Indians grew up learning about Pythogoras, Archimedes, Galileo, Newton without ever learning about Panini, Aryabhatta, Bhaskar or Bhaskaracharya. The logic and epistemology of the Nyayasutras, the rationality of the early Buddhists or the intriguing philosophical systems of the Jains were generally unknown to them. (p. 4) Unfortunately, such attitudes have continued to affect education in India even during post-colonial times. As Raina and Srivastava (2000) put it, “Even after 50 years of independence in India, we have neither been able nor seem to be taking effective steps towards liberating ourselves from the colonial domination” (p. 104). This is consistent with Freirian theory suggesting that, even after a colonial power departs, the citizens of the now independent country remain “colonized” (Freire &
38 Faundez, 1989, p. 95). Friere’s contention is that the minds of the people have been colonized as colonialist attitudes continue to dominate the people’s cultural and ideological worlds. Specifically, “expressions and creativity [from the indigenous culture] continue to be despised and down-graded . . . just as they were in colonial days” (p. 73). Within this context, a need to identify, recognize, and train the gifted and talented was felt during the early years of India’s independence. The government of India took major steps to eliminate financial and motivational barriers that were prevalent in the education system in order to ensure enriched education. Various schemes were devised to bring about the educational upliftment of the disadvantaged section of society. Thus while retaining western concepts of excellence, some effort was made to include more humanitarian goals drawn from ancient conceptions. Such programs included the National Talent Search Scheme, the Cultural Talent Search Scholarship Scheme, and the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme.
National Talent Search Scheme In 1964, the government of India implemented the National Science Talent Search Scheme, which was patterned after the popular Westinghouse Talent Search program (Raina & Srivastava, 2000). Realizing that identifying and nurturing talents other than in the sciences is also important, this program was extended to other areas in school education during the1970s. Ever since, this program has been
39 called the National Talent Search Scheme. The objective of this program is to “identify brilliant 5 students at the end of Class X 5 and give them financial assistance towards getting the best possible education so that their talent may develop further and they may serve the discipline as well as the country” (Raina & Srivastava, 2000, p. 105). Every year around 750 students from all over the country receive this scholarship strictly based on merit in a national level test. Cultural Talent Search Scholarship Scheme The Cultural Talent Search Scholarship Scheme (CTSSS) was implemented by the government of India in 1982 with an objective to identify and promote cultural talent. This talent search program is operated by the government agency Center for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT). Under this scheme, facilities are provided to outstanding young children, aged 10-14 years, studying either in recognized schools or belonging to families of practicing traditional performing or other arts for developing their talent in various cultural fields such as traditional forms of music, dance, drama as well as painting, sculpture and crafts, laying special emphasis on rare forms, which are in the process of becoming extinct. (Raina & Srivastava, 2000, p. 107) The CCRT organizes a central selection committee for the scrutiny of applications of the candidates. A child is awarded a scholarship to get special training in a particular cultural field in addition to the formal schooling in a recognized institute. The irony is that the scholarship amount is so small that it neither contributes much to the financial security or strength of the scholar (Raina 5 In India, the word Class is equivalent to the grade level in United States and a Roman numeral is used to denote the grade level.
40 & Srivastava, 2000). Thus, the objectives for establishing such talent search schemes have not been achieved, according to Raina (1985). While the CTSSS shows some attention to more traditional Indian forms of excellence, according to Raina and Srivastava (2000), this program “remains relatively unknown because of its emphasis on cultural talent and not academic talent” (p. 107). This illustrates the continued dominance of a western conception of excellence in post-colonial India. Commenting on all these talent search programs Raina (1985) said, “It is difficult to say to what extent these schemes are successful in identifying real talent. However, it is definite that all these schemes favor academically bright and not the creatively gifted” (p. 45). History and Description of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme The Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme is the largest talent development program. In 1985, the government of India set up two schools on an experimental basis in Amaravathi and Jhajjar districts. They were called Model Schools. This was the beginning of Navadaya Vidyalayas. Today, the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme includes 480 boarding schools, one in nearly every district throughout the country. According to Raina and Srivastava (2000): To remove disparities by equalizing educational opportunities, the Government of India, in pursuance of the direction of the National Policy on Education (1986), launched a new program called the “Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme.” Its specific objectives are: to promote national integration through specific programs of education, to nurture talent particularly in the rural area and in the weaker sections of society, to make quality education accessible to the talented children for their total development, and to establish institutions of high quality at district levels
41 that would serve as pace-setters and models to stimulate the pursuit of excellence in institutions in the neighborhood. (p. 106) Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, Government of India. Admission to Navodaya Vidyalayas is based on a selection test conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). This selection test is called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Selection Test (JNVST). The major part of the test is non-verbal in nature and is designed to ensure that talented children from rural areas are able to compete without facing undue bias. The test contains the following three parts with the percentages representing the weight given to the respective sections in the selection process; (1) Test of Mental Ability (60%), (2) Test of Language Proficiency (20%) and, (3) Test of Arithmetic Ability (20%). At a maximum, 80 students are admitted at each school annually. It is also ensured that at least one-third of the class population is comprised of girls (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, n.d.). Because of the prevalent societal practice of lesser importance for girl child education compared to that of the male child, there are disproportionately fewer girls compared to boys in schools. To encourage rural girl child education one-third of the seats are reserved, which is a realistic allocation of the seats, considering all other reservations (for example, those for backward castes and scheduled castes, which are financially and socially weak and deprived sections of the society in India). Navodaya Vidyalaya Schools provide a free education, including boarding and lodging, uniforms, textbooks, and stationery.
42 The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) formulates the scheme of studies for these schools. Salient features of this scheme are (a) medium of instruction, (b) three language formula, (c) continuous comprehensive evaluation, and (d) student exchange program. Medium of instruction. Up to Class VIII the medium of instruction is the mother tongue; at the same time the intensive teaching of Hindi and English both as language subjects and comedia is undertaken. From Class IX, the common medium in all Navodaya Vidyalayas is Hindi for social studies and humanities and English for mathematics and science. Three language formula. This concept emphasizes an acquisition of three languages by the student. Besides English and the mother tongue, the third language taught to the students is either the regional language other than Hindi or the language of students coming from another region (from another state) through an annual exchange program. Continuous comprehensive evaluation. Continuous comprehensive evaluation takes cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains into consideration for the integral development of the student’s personality. Teachers and principals are provided special training on evaluation. Student exchange program. About 30% of students in Class IX, belonging to a specific linguistic region, are transferred to another region to ensure better understanding of the diversity and variety in Indian culture. In this scheme students are either asked to volunteer or are selected by lottery.
43 An important feature of the school’s program is the cocurricular activities, such as debating, elocution, scouting, guiding, and National Cadet Corps. High priority is given to sports and games. In these schools, nationally and internationally renowned traditional and contemporary artists are resource persons. These schools encourage cross-cultural exchange and interaction with different regions of the country. One of the objectives of Navodaya Vidyalayas is to establish schools of high quality at district levels that would serve as models to promote excellence in other schools in the district. However, these schools have been criticized for not serving as good role models for the general educational system because they concentrate mostly on a few talented children. The Navodaya Vidyalaya selection test has also been criticized as “a test that is neither culture neutral nor class neutral” (Raina & Srivastava, 2000, p.106). Despite the best efforts of the government of India, the educational system of India seems to be lagging in many aspects. As Raina & Srivastava (2000) observed: The identification and enhancement of the development of excellence in majority [sic] of the children remain a distant dream. Additionally, in our attempt to bring education at the doorstep of every child, which continues to be elusive, we have been grossly neglecting the talented and gifted and have not been able to provide enough opportunities for their talents to blossom. This has resulted into [sic] a large amount of brain drain, emptying the country of its material and human resources. (p. 107) Having expressed similar opinions on the education system of India, others (Chattopadhyay, as cited in Raina & Srivastava, 2000; Saiyidain, as cited in Raina
44 & Srivastava, 2000) have suggested the development of a system that would eliminate the restrictive definition of excellence and provide a basis to explore the inner potential of individuals and set favorable external conditions. These authors emphasized the excellence that every individual child possesses, which is related to the range of individuals’ own inner potentialities and external conditions. They also suggested the need for individual attention and getting to know the child as fully as possible and meeting the child’s specific needs in order to promote his/her gifts and talents. Various research attempts have been made to find out the need for various talent search schemes and the procedures envisaged by the government in an attempt to recognize the giftedness in children; however, as stated by Raina (1985), essentially nothing about these schemes has been subjected to scholarly inquiry. The following words of Nanda (1995), inspire me in my pursuit to pioneer research on the Navodaya Vidyalaya Schools, “It is ultimately left to each one of us in the educational field to move one small step forward towards this transformation of vision towards reorientation of values and objectives of education” (¶ 23). Any area of study is open for research in better understanding their foundations, structure, and effectiveness. Thus, I have taken a first small step in research of gifted education in India by conducting a phenomenological study of the beliefs and practices related to giftedness in the Navodaya Vidyalaya Schools.
45 CHAPTER III METHOD Sri vakratunda mahakaaya Koti-soorya samaprabha Nirvighnam kuru me deva Sarva-karyeshu sarvadaa O, Lord Ganesha with the curved trunk and massive body, the one whose splendor is equal to millions of Suns, please bless me that I do not face obstacles in all my endeavors A qualitative study approach was taken to systematically explore the beliefs and practices related to giftedness in the Navodaya Vidyalayas specifically focusing on the beliefs of central authorities and the experiences of principals and teachers in two Navodaya Vidyalayas. According to Patton (1990), a phenomenological perspective can be gained through interviews without actually experiencing the phenomenon oneself, by conducting interviews and focusing on what people experience and how they interpret the world. This study was designed and conducted to gain the perspectives of the participants pertaining to their beliefs and practices related to giftedness.
I had originally proposed that the study would be conducted in three locations. But, when I actually visited one of the sites, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), Nizamsagar the officials there wanted me to get a written
46 permission from the regional office to conduct interviews and view the official documents. They also suggested the name of the official in the regional office who would be a good resource for the study (refer to Appendix E for the organizational chart of NVS). Thus, I went to the regional office and conducted two interviews, one with the assistant director and the other with the deputy director. Following their suggestions, I was able to gather data at four sites. In the regional office the Assistant Director suggested to me that Jawahar NavodayaVidyalaya, Gachibowli would be a better place to visit as there was a principals’ conference going on at that vidyalaya that week. JNV, Gachibowli is located in the outskirts of Hyderabad, in a rural area. It has a vast campus and it is located right beside Hyderabad Central University, a research oriented, central government university. The university is huge and has a big library, laboratories and playgrounds, all of which can be used by the Navodaya Vidyalaya. After finishing the interviews at these two sites−the regional office, and JNV, Gachibowli in South India, I went to the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti Head Office, located in the capital city of India, New Delhi. New Delhi is one of the biggest and most populous cities in India and it is located on the banks of the River Yamuna. I conducted interviews with various echelons of officials such as Assistant Directors, Deputy Directors, Joint Directors, and the Director (now referred to as the Commissioner).
47 The last and the fourth site I visited was JNV, Mungeshpur. This vidyalaya is located in the outskirts of Mungeshpur village. Mungeshpur is 65 kilometers from Delhi. The vidyalaya enjoys a serene location and has a huge campus. At any point of time there are about 560 students (80 each from classes VI to XII) and about 20 full-time teachers, who are required to live on campus throughout the school year. The school’s facilities consist of several classrooms, an auditorium, library, art room, computer lab, a health clinic staffed by a registered nurse, audiovisual room, spacious dining hall, playing fields for various games and sports, and residential buildings for both students and teachers. The selection of the participants and the locations was based on the purpose of the study and advice of some of the participants. This purposeful, “snow ball” (Patton, 1990, p. 176) sample helped me ensure multiple perspectives.
My status as an alumnus of the NVS helped in building trust with the participants. I was welcomed with warmth at every site I visited and was treated as a family member of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme. I also had an additional advantage of knowing the organizational hierarchy of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti and knew whom to talk to and where to identify information rich cases. The participants were very forthcoming with information. A very good rapport was built with the participants because not only was I an alumnus but also a
48 student from the first graduating group of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme. The participants were also in awe due to the fact that their past student was pursuing a doctoral program in education in the United States. The United States is reputed for quality education, and they were happy that the Navodaya Vidyalaya scheme was being studied by their student researcher in the United States.
Researcher as Instrument
Because of my essential role as research instrument in conducting this study, I must make explicit my qualifications to have done this research. My training in qualitative methodology began five years ago with research course work in my Master’s program at the Osmania University, where I passed the required research methodology examination. In my Ph.D. program at USU I also took two specialized courses in qualitative research methodology. I have participated in a number of qualitative research and evaluative projects at Utah State University, including one in gifted education. I have also consulted with my committee members on qualitative research design and instrument construction.
This research was conducted in a manner consistent with the guidelines of the Institutional Review Board at Utah State University based on the Department of
49 Health and Human Services regulations. Therefore, it was conducted keeping in view the protection of the rights and welfare of all human participants. In addition, other ethical issues were considered during the research study.
As an alumnus of Navodaya Vidyalaya and because of the positive influences of this school in my life I hold strong biases in favor of this scheme and its various programs. I am also a strong supporter of gifted education and always favor programs initiated and intended to meet the needs of gifted children. All through the process of my study, I had discussions with my peer debriefer and advisor, which helped me subsume my bias. Various entries in my reflective journals also forced me to rethink the study with respect to my biases. By doing this, I was able to make my data collection and data analyses procedures more objective.
Permission to conduct interviews and to review the records and documentation of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti was obtained both at the regional office at Hyderabad and at the head office, New Delhi. Permission from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) library to
50 conduct the literature search was also obtained from the librarian. In addition, before each interview, each informant signed the informed consent form shown in Appendix A.
Because of the cost involved in each participant’s time given to me in interviews, it was important that they and the organization receive some benefit for their participation. I have given each participant a card with a thank you note as a token of appreciation for his or her time and energy. Following completion of the study all the central authorities and the other participants will receive an executive summary of the completed dissertation that includes information on beliefs and practices related to giftedness, the influence of culture, and implications for the betterment of gifted education. My study could help the participants in the understanding of their practices and may lead to changes for the betterment of the program
The identities of all the participants were protected through the use of pseudonyms. Furthermore, tape recordings of interviews were erased once satisfactory transcripts were prepared by me. An executive summary of the
51 dissertation sent to the participants and the organization will conceal the identity of the sites in order to avoid any kind of risk on the part of participants. The risk could be the participants being questioned or action taken against the participants by the higher officials charging them with giving out privileged information.
Data Collection Procedures
The study was conducted over a period of two months. In order to collect comprehensive data I employed two methods. These were interviews and document analysis.
The interviews at each site took the forms of formal and informal conversations prompted by questions from the researcher. Informal interviews took place either before or after the interviews based on the availability of the time of the participants. These were mainly aimed at developing rapport and letting the participants speak frankly without any fear or pressure of tape recording. I made some annotations in my field notes regarding these conversations. The formal interviews were focused, semi-structured, and non-standardized, thus facilitating modifications of the interviews based on the participants’ answers. Three different interview guides were prepared depending on the job types of
52 various participants such as teachers, principals, and central authorities (see Appendices B, C, and D). Additionally, according to the participants’ responses to my questions, I probed with follow up questions. The selection of the participants was based on the purpose of the study and snowball sampling. Snowball sampling is an approach for locating information-rich key informants or critical cases (Patton, 1990). By asking the people to recommend participants, the snowball gets bigger and bigger as the researcher accumulates new information-rich cases. Based on the sufficiency of the data collected, I extended the number of interviews at the regional and head offices. Teacher interviews were included two at each school because it was helpful for me to compare and contrast their answers to get a better perspective of their beliefs. The interviews focused on the beliefs of the participants related to gifted education, various practices in the schools, and their interpretations of those practices. I was the interviewer in all the interviews. The interview guides (see appendixes B, C, and D) were developed in English, but the interview questions were translated by me into Telugu or Hindi when required. The interviews were conducted according to the semi-structured interview guides and were tape-recorded. One interview was recorded in Hindi, which I later transcribed and translated into English. A colleague, who is fluent in both the languages, checked the transcribed and translated interviews for accuracy of the transcription. He made some suggestions about the appropriate usage of words in translation and identified some missing words in the transcriptions, which
53 I immediately considered. I made changes when they more accurately represented the informant’s point-of-view.
Documents that describe the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti and its various programs were obtained from the Samiti’s head office. These included magazines and annual reports that record student work. These were analyzed for the official versions and beliefs about giftedness.
Data from interviews and school documents were recorded in transcripts and field journals. All the data were coded and analyzed according to the procedures described below.
Coding is the assigning of letters and numbers to the data collected so as to protect the anonymity of the participants and also to facilitate the researcher’s efforts to track the data easily during and after the analyses process. After the transcriptions of the recorded data were ready, I did the coding and then proceeded
54 with data analysis. The letter S stands for the site, and the four sites are represented with numerals 1, 2, 3, or 4 beside the letter S. The sites are numbered according to the order in which I visited them. The participants are coded according to their echelon starting with A assigned to the highest rank authorities and ending with letter G assigned to the teachers as shown in Table 1 on the following page.
Table 1. Letters Assigned to Different Levels of Participants
An organizational chart of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti showing these echelons is in Appendix E. The numbers beside these alphabet letters represent the
55 number of people interviewed in each rank. The participants are numbered in the order in which I interviewed them. For example, I interviewed two commissioners. The first commissioner I interviewed was coded as S3A1, and the second commissioner I interviewed was coded as S3A2, indicating that both commissioners were interviewed at site 3. Each participant is referred to in the presentation of data using this coding system.
A content analysis was conducted using theme as the category unit. “Content analysis is the process of identifying, coding and categorizing the primary patterns in the data” (Patton, 1990, p.381). I read through the transcript of each interview again and again to find emerging themes and tried to name a category based on the theme. As soon as I identified three members in a category, I defined it. When I found the next potential member in that category, I would see whether it fit into the definition of the category or not. If it did not fit, I either tried to modify the definition or created a new category. When I found a new emerging theme, I looked into the existing categories to see whether it fit into any of the existing categories, and, if it didn’t, I created a new category. I repeated the process until I found no new categories.
56 Once final categories had been established, I looked at all the existing categories to see whether any two of them could be associated together. I also checked for the themes that could be subcategories under any of the existing categories. As I went through each document I had obtained from the repositories of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, I corroborated the information from the interviews and the artifacts to verify whether the information from these two sources matched or not. If there was a match, I retained the original categories, and if there was not a match, I looked for the discrepancies in the data and made a note in the methodological journal observing the differences.
Adages from the Native Culture
After completing the process of categorization I looked for famous sayings (proverbs) from Indian culture that would better describe each category. I experimented around with the adages and finally came up with one or two that would better describe the subject of the category. I did this because these adages would help to better understand the findings of this study against their cultural background.
57 A number of methods were employed to establish the trustworthiness of the data collection and data analysis. These included triangulation, member checking, peer debriefing, reflexive journals, and an audit. Triangulation
Triangulation was conducted at two levels: methods and sources. Interviews and documents were used to ensure the comprehensiveness of the data. In addition, at each research site, more than two participants served as informants. This ensured both comprehensiveness and accuracy of the data.
During each interview, I summarized what the participants told me as an inprocess check on the accuracy of my understanding of what the participants were saying and to ensure that my biases were not interfering with that understanding. For example, in the interview with S4G3, after the discussion about his beliefs on giftedness, I made the following statement, “So, you think a student is born with intelligence, and the teacher sharpens those skills.” In this case, my understanding of what the participant was saying was affirmed by the participant. In another example, in the interview with S4G4, the participant corrected my understanding. When he explained his beliefs about giftedness, I asked, “So, do you believe that if a boy is good in sculpture, he will also be good in mathematics
58 and perform well in mathematics?” because I thought that was what he was trying to convey. He made it clear that if a child is gifted in one field, it is adequate even if that child performs at an average level in other fields. One need not be perfect in all the fields. He further added, “That’s why I consider these children competent even if they get satisfactory scores.”
A fellow graduate student, Benicia D’sa, with training in qualitative methodology and knowledge of culture and education in India, served as an independent peer debriefer for this study. I provided her with copies of my transcripts and daily notes in the journals for her review. We met four times during the data analysis process to discuss the conduct of the research and my analyses of the data. From time to time her suggestions helped me improve the rigor of my categories and the process of analysis as a whole. For example, she helped me find an appropriate adage from Indian culture to describe one of my findings in the study. I consulted her throughout the process of analysis and also reporting. Her suggestions were always valuable. Further, the research was conducted under the direction of a dissertation committee that includes members with expertise in gifted education, qualitative research, and a thorough understanding of Indian culture and education. Discussion with them on an individual basis was especially useful in the emergent nature of the
59 research design. For example, Dr. Martha Whitaker, a member of my committee helped me in connecting my findings to the Pygmalion effect. Her suggestion helped me in gaining clarity of thought.
I maintained field journals to record the conduct of the study. These included a reflexive journal to record day-to-day decisions; activities taken up; and my feelings, biases, and concerns. Also, a field note journal was kept to record data from interviews, as well as a methodological journal to record all the proceedings in the data analysis. I recorded some facts in the methodological journal after the fact; that is, after returning to United States. For example, I recorded the reasons for interviewing certain participants in the journal from memory, after the fact. I did this because when I went through my journals, I found some missing information that was crucial for the study. The journals were made available to the peerdebriefer, an auditor, and committee members as needed to verify the rigor of the study.
Finally, field notes, journals, transcripts, data analyses, and preliminary drafts of the chapters were submitted for an audit to Dr. Mike Killeen, Assistant Professor of Education from a nearby state college, who was also trained in
60 qualitative methodology, and gifted education, and has experience as an auditor. His research focus was also in gifted education. The audit entailed a judgment that the research was conducted in an appropriate manner and that the analyses were justified. He did express some concerns about the special entrée I had and journal entries I made after the fact. He also suggested some additions in the methods chapter, such as providing details of the coding and development of the interview guides. I did consider the suggestions and made changes accordingly. The full auditor’s attestation is provided in Appendix F.
61 CHAPTER IV MY PERSONAL JOURNEY Asato maa sad gamayaa Tamasoma ma jyothir gamaya Mrityor ma amritham gamaya Om Shanti Shanti Shanti hi Lead me (by giving knowledge) from the unreal to the real: from darkness (of ignorance) to the light (of knowledge); from death (sense of limitation) to immortality (limitless liberation) Om peace peace peace In order for the reader to better understand the findings and discussion of the study, I am providing a brief background of my experiences. These experiences will enable the reader to understand the perspective from which I conducted the study and also illuminate the essence of the study. I am an Indian, Hindu woman. Indian ethos and culture desire that an ideal woman should be obedient, calm and submissive. Hindu religious scriptures such as Manu Smriti say that a woman should not have any dreams or desires of her own. The noblest dream or desire she can nurture is to be a good daughter, wife and mother. She is enjoined to lead life according to the wishes of her father in childhood, fulfill the aspirations of her husband in youth, and lead life according to the requirement of her sons in old age. I was born in an orthodox, traditional, middle class, rural family that is deeply rooted in these values. My father, a businessman, wanted to bring up his three daughters, of whom I am the second, according to this doctrine. In the small town named Nizamabad, in which I grew up, any contrasting behavior is considered sacrilegious.
62 In childhood, I was a chirpy, vivacious, and gregarious young girl. I didn’t like all the strict discipline at home and school. I was academically bright and performed well in all the exams at school. Most of my friends had special tutoring classes after school. I never had any tutoring classes after school and used to stay at home with mother. My mother is illiterate and could not help with my academics. Nevertheless, she always supported and encouraged me in what I really loved; dancing, singing and meeting people. I was fascinated by the different festivals and ceremonies in Hindu religion. I eagerly awaited these occasions as they provided me with an opportunity to wear colorful clothing and jewelry and to engage in songs, dance, and general revelry. Entertaining family members, friends, and relatives used to be a general pastime, especially during school holidays. I was a good mimic and could reproduce all the antics and movements of actresses in the movies with ease. My mother and sisters used to admire my skills, encourage my abilities, and praise my talents. The fear of disapproval by my father was always lurking in my mind. So all these activities were done when my father was away for work in his office. My father was also proud of my talents and felt happy whenever somebody praised me. But, he didn’t consider these talents worth encouraging. He wanted us to concentrate on academics and choose a profession that would fetch us a qualified husband, a good job, social respectability, and financial stability, rather than pursuing these creative activities that are considered frivolous, uncertain, and not very respectable by the society.
63 I had my preprimary and primary education at Nirmala Hrudaya Convent Girls’ High School in Nizamabad and studied there for seven years until I completed Class V. This is a well-reputed school run by Christian missionaries in the town. The school was the largest girls’ convent in the town. Each class consisted of five sections with a minimum size of 60 students per section. Out of this, four sections were for English language students and one section was for Telugu language students. The curriculum focused mainly on equipping the students with basic mathematical and language skills and basic concepts of biology and natural science. I found the teaching methods very boring and monotonous, as there was very little opportunity to ask questions and clarify doubts. Students’ participation in the class was not encouraged. The teachers could not offer personal attention to the students and couldn’t even remember the names of all students because of the high student-teacher ratio. We had a rigid timetable and classroom schedule. I was always bright in mathematics. I remember correcting my math teacher a few times when she made some mistakes in solving problems in the class. I always liked to solve riddles and puzzles. I used to pester my friends and elders in my family constantly to pose riddles to me and used to take great pleasure in solving them. This interest developed good reasoning and logical skills in me, which fetched me a seat in Navodaya Vidyalaya. When the Navodaya Vidyalaya entrance exam was announced, none of us among the students had any clue about the pattern
64 of the exam. Our class teacher came with a bundle of application forms, told many good things about Navodaya Vidyalaya, and explained the difficulty and importance of the entrance exam to get into this special school. Later she chose some of the bright students in the class and distributed the application forms. I was one of those students. I completed the form and appeared for the entrance test in my town. Around 60 students from various sections of fifth grade from my school appeared for the test. Two months later, when the results were declared, I was the only girl selected from my school into the Navodaya Vidyalaya. Everyone praised me for my achievement. However, my family was somewhat hesitant to send me out of my hometown. My parents didn’t like the idea of my living in a dormitory and taking care of myself at a very young age. My father was especially concerned that it was a coeducation school, as he didn’t like sending his daughters to school along with boys. That was the reason we were all (my two sisters and I) sent to girls’ convent in the first place. Nonetheless, my deep interest and enthusiasm, as well as the advice of my school’s administrators convinced my father, and I enrolled in the Navodaya Vidyalaya. Then I was 10 years old and was eager to experience new things and make new friends. This school was a turning point in my life. For the first time, I experienced real, unhindered freedom. I was always a teacher’s pet and could get an opportunity to experience and experiment with many academic, cultural, literary, and sports activities. Navodaya Vidyalaya, Nizamsagar started functioning in the year 1986
65 with Class VI, and my classmates and I were the first students of this school. This caused some problems in coping with academics and dormitory life, as there were no seniors to guide us or counsel us. However, this also enabled us to make independent decisions at an early age and become emotionally strong. My class had 72 students, and most of them were from interior villages and were very shy, timid, and hesitant to communicate and mingle with others. I was from Nizamabad, which is the district headquarters and is considered an urban area. Out of 5,000 students who appeared for the exam, 80 students were selected, among which 80% of the seats were reserved for the rural students, and the remaining seats were open to both rural and urban students. I was very fortunate to make it to the school in that 20% open category. Because of my personality and urban background I was more communicative than the rest of the students. I used to mix with everybody freely and soon became a social leader and friend for all the students without much effort. I was a very eager and enthusiastic participant in the various literary and cultural activities in the school. There wasn't a single ceremony in the school in which I was not a participant in the seven years that I was a student. I fondly recall two incidents. I was an active participant in the literacy campaign and used to take active part in various related activities. One day I gave a lecture, in the presence of the district education officer, on the need of education for women. The officer was very impressed with the content and my presentation skills and rewarded me with a special prize.
66 When I was a student of Class X, I received six prizes for my performance in various cultural, literary, and sports activities. The district magistrate, who was the chief guest, praised me and exhorted all the students to emulate my spirit and enthusiasm. I also gave dance performances in many cluster group meetings of Navodaya Vidyalayas. I earned many friends from various Navodaya schools, and I could make everlasting impressions on them with my performances. I took part in elocution and debate competitions at my school and various interschool competitions. I could offer my views forcefully and logically. During my school’s Annual Day ceremony, Teachers’ Day, and on various other occasions, I was invited to perform the welcome dance and prayer dance. Because of all these activities and interests, I was highly appreciated, admired, liked, and loved by my teachers and classmates. Everybody called me a gifted student. I had grown tremendously as a person during this period and had a complete personality makeover. I gained self-confidence in my capabilities. I developed an ambition to pursue my interests and lead life according to my dreams. However, I couldn’t fight with the restrictions and traditional values of my father and other family members. My mother and sisters were proud of my talents and had confidence in me. I wanted to become a trained dancer and actress. I felt that God has bestowed me with certain special skills and talents and I wanted to fine tune them and nurture them. My experiences at the Navodaya Vidyalaya had shown to me that these skills were valued and appreciated because I could bring happiness, laughter, and peace to the people around me with these talents. But, my
67 family disapproved of my ambition, as it wasn’t considered a proper career choice for a girl like me. In Indian society, acting and dancing are traditionally considered professions of low dignity and low morals and are often treated with disrespect. Because of these family barriers, I had to enroll in a bachelors program in biology at a women’s college close to my home. During this period, I actively participated in various literary and performing arts activities and won many prizes. I had a very inspiring teacher who spotted my talents and advised me to use these talents for benefiting society, particularly the underprivileged sections of India. I became a member of National Service Scheme and extensively toured rural areas of my district. I created, directed, and performed in many educational dance dramas explaining the need for education, sanitation, AIDS awareness, and pulse polio awareness, among other issues, in the interior areas of Andhra Pradesh. All these activities coupled with my studying for a degree involved lots of hard work and effort. Many of these activities were often complementary to one another. My strong foundation in Biology Education was very useful in explaining concepts like health, hygiene, and sanitation to rural illiterate women. The acting and theatrical experience gained at Navodaya school, coupled with enthusiasm, interest, and scientific knowledge, helped me to offer significant service in these areas. This earned me a lot of praise in the media, from important people, and from government functionaries. My activities were mentioned many times in the local newspapers like Eenadu and Andhra Bhoomi.
68 My father was hesitant to send me to a nearby city for my masters degree. He wanted to arrange a marriage for me after I completed my bachelors. I was offered a scholarship for pursuing the masters degree, so financially I wasn’t a burden to my father. Nonetheless, I was obligated by my culture to fulfill the wishes of my father, or I would face the disapproval of my friends and relatives. I spoke to my father about my strong desire to pursue further studies and promised him that I would make him proud of me with my achievements. Only with great difficulty could I finally convince my father, and I was granted permission. While studying for my masters degree, I was selected to work as a program presenter and anchorwoman for a popular television channel named E-TV in India. I presented a show reflecting the dreams and aspirations of Indian youth, which soon became very popular. My father and other family members were very proud of me and my achievements, but discouraged me from continuing with the show, because they thought the job was unsuitable for a girl from a traditional, respectable family, and that this career might hinder me from getting a husband from a respectable family. I was very disheartened by these obstacles in pursuing my real interests. I was always considered very gifted and talented, even though most of the time, I wasn’t wholeheartedly encouraged or provided with a conducive atmosphere and facilities to nurture my talents. In most cases, society decided what was good and bad for a young girl, and so other girls like myself were forced to choose a career or profession according to the rules dictated by
69 society. To fulfill any desire or dream, we had to fight, request, and convince society or parents of its importance for our careers. This lack of sympathy and support in India for women in general and gifted and talented women in particular propelled me to dream about doing something to change this scenario. I decided to seek higher education in gifted children education and start a school for gifted children in India. Memories of Navodaya Vidyalaya and the support I received there were factors that strengthened this ambition. I envisaged a place where all necessary infrastructure, encouragement, motivation, and support would be provided to realize the dreams and aspirations of gifted and talented children With this ambition, I applied for admission into a Ph.D. program at Utah State University and was accepted. I chose gifted education as my area of interest. While undergoing this program of study, I realized that the only place where my giftedness had been encouraged was at Navodaya Vidyalaya. So I wanted to make a scientific study of giftedness in the context of Navodaya Vidyalayas. Because my experiences at Navodaya Vidyalayas had been so positive, my expectation was that, if I studied Navodaya Vidyalayas, I would discover the basic constructs of giftedness based on which Navodaya system is built. I hoped to get a clear understanding of the methodologies engaged to identify and nurture giftedness. As part of my journey, I visited India from July through September, 2002, to collect data for my research. I visited various Navodaya schools and interacted with the faculty members and administrators. I also spoke to the chief
70 administrators of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, which is the governing body for these schools. I interviewed many renowned educationists and other intellectuals about the impact of Navodaya schools. As I conducted my interviews and reviewed documents, I experienced many revelations that criss-crossed with my emotions. All throughout my interviews I experienced heightened ecstasy because of the cooperation and enthusiasm of the participants. I was especially delighted to see the officials taking pride in my achievements and treating me as a family member. However, I was disheartened by the facts that were revealed in the process of this study. At each step of my research I was disappointed by the lack of clarity among the participants regarding the construct of giftedness. The participants were self-righteous about their job and failed to see the gaps and inconsistencies in their approach to giftedness. They were smug about the academic achievement of the students and the organization, not really knowing that giftedness demands a holistic approach to education. My strong belief that the practices in Navodaya Vidyalayas brought forth desirable changes in attitudes and behaviors was misplaced. I could find no proof of the concordance between the practices and changes in the attitudes and behaviors of the students. This was a depressing revelation to me, as I believed that the change in my perceptions and attitudes was directly attributed to my experiences in Navodaya Vidyalaya. Now I realized that this belief may be tenuous or unfounded. It was very difficult for me to accept the facts that were revealed from my data analysis that many of the practices in these schools were not research based.
71 Despite all the disappointments I had gone through during my study, I am still proud of my personality and what I am today, and I attribute most of my success as a person to Navodaya Vidyalaya. I believe it was in this school that I was transformed into a self-confident and independent thinking person. Whenever I compare my perspectives with those of my sisters and friends, I gladly think of Navodaya Vidyalaya and thank God for giving me a chance to be a student of that school. Even today, I still think that these are wonderful schools where each individual is respected for what he or she is and opportunities are provided to develop potential. My experiences as a student at the Navodaya Vidyalaya had done something valuable for me in my life, which makes me feel unique in my family and society. I had a tough time accepting the facts after conducting the research on Navodayas, but then I returned to a balance where I am thinking that there may be a few lacunae in the establishment of these schools, which can be addressed by conducting research. Then, these scholos can successfully claim that they nurture giftedness. And now, I look forward to discussing my results with the central officials with the hope of bringing about some change in direction in their administrative practices. This study has been a gargantuan task for me in terms of my emotional turmoil, and I am glad that I have seen it through to its completion. This study will be a hallmark in Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme.
72 CHAPTER V FINDINGS Yaakundendu tushhaar haara dhavalaayaa shubhra vastraanvitaa Yaa veena varadanda manditaa kaaraa yaa swetha padmaasanaa Yaa brahmaashyutaa shankaraa prabhruti bhirdevai sadavanditaa Saa maampaatu saraswathi bhagavathi nihshesha jaadyaapahaa… Fair as jasmine flower, the moon or a flake of snow, Dressed in white, her hands adorned by the graceful veena staff, Adorned by Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the other deities, Protect me, Oh goddess Saraswati, remover of ignorance inert. One reason to undertake research is to remove ignorance, which could loosely be defined as lack of knowledge or education. The exposure and removal of ignorance has been a pervasive theme throughout this study. In conducting the study, I have removed my own ignorance about many aspects of Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme. While reporting the results of the study, I identified and exposed the areas in which ignorance exists and the areas where ignorance does not exist specifically among those people who are most closely associated with Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme. In the presentation, I begin by identifying a specific theme that emerges from the analysis of raw data. Then, I cite an ancient adage from Indian culture that ties the theme to its cultural context. Finally, I provide quotive and descriptive material sourced from the raw data that defined the theme. Themes are presented in an order that begins with the larger theoretical issues related to the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme and moves on to more particular, practical issues as experienced by those who work in specific schools. The reader will encounter the major themes in the following order: (a) beliefs about giftedness,
73 (b) rationale for establishing Navodaya Vidyalayas, (c) teacher selection, (d) student selection, (e) nurturing environment, (f) curriculum, (g) suggestions, and (h) studies and reports.
Beliefs About Giftedness Raju leni rajyam lo yevari dikku vaaride People lose focus when there is nobody to offer direction or guidance, leading to anarchy and chaos.
The mission statement of Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme states the main objective in the following words. “We envisage identification and development of talented, bright, and gifted children predominantly from rural areas who are denied good educational opportunities” (Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, n.d.). The words bright, talented and gifted were not explicitly further defined anywhere. The absence of an official definition of these terms made me curious to know about the beliefs and views of individual participants regarding these terms. The responses I received are varied and interesting. The person who has developed JNVST (an exam that is claimed to identify talented children) believes that high IQ and high scholastic aptitude are the parameters that define a person’s giftedness. His beliefs are reflected in the design and structure of the exam, which includes mental ability, arithmetic skills, and language capabilities as the main test areas in the JNVST. He also opined, “Other qualities of giftedness include a capability of independent thinking, risk taking
74 ability, creative thinking, and inquisitiveness” (S3E1). He believes that this test is effective and successful in identifying children with these capabilities. Some officials are of the opinion that giftedness is inborn. “Giftedness is a boon bestowed upon a person by God. They can achieve things, which others think are impossible. They can create miracles in the society” (S4F2). One official stated, “Gifted is one who is born with extraordinary capabilities” (S3A2). Another participant felt, “Gift is something which is bestowed upon by God almighty” (S4F2). Contradicting these views, one official stated that gifted children have the ability “to learn many things on their own” (S3B1). Another official supported him and added, “Giftedness can be improved by providing suitable environment and facilities” (S1C2). Combining these two different opinions leads to a belief that giftedness is partly inborn and partly environmental. An official expressed this view by stating, “Part of it [giftedness] is inborn and part of it comes from the occupational skills and family tradition” (S3B1). A teacher echoed similar feelings by saying, “I think a student is born with intelligence and teacher sharpens those skills” (S4G3). This opinion was echoed by another official who observed that: A gifted child is gifted at the time of his birth. A part of the giftedness usually comes inborn. But, given the necessary conditions and the proper environment, I am sure a child can be made to blossom into a full-fledged individual. (S1D1)
75 His argument was supported by anecdotes of his personal experiences with some of the students in the Navodaya Vidyalayas. He also added, “Children can be made gifted by providing the necessary atmosphere and necessary inputs.” Giving a clearer distinction one official propounded, “Gifted children are highly focused and gifted in only one area of activity. Talented children have skills of noticeable nature in every line of activity” (S3A1). He also added, “Talented have the potential to excel in any given line of activity, whereas gifted children are those who are good at one or maximum two activities, whatever they are.” One teacher defined these terms as, “Talented means intelligent, gifted means also intelligent but to a higher degree” (S4G3). Another principal believes, “Gifted children are a higher order in their intelligence and potential” (S2F1). One teacher made this interesting comment, “Talented students can never be gifted students” (S3G4). He thinks that a gifted student is one who performs extraordinarily in all the fields. According to him, talented students may be intelligent, but can never be as good as gifted. One official tried to clearly distinguish between the terms gifted and talented by stating, “Gifted is one who grasps things at a faster pace” (S3A2). He argued that even a child who is not gifted could be transformed into a talented child by providing him with opportunities and taking care of his physical and mental needs. One participant opined, “Gifted is something which is bestowed upon by God almighty, something which is innate and talent is something which you can
76 acquire” (S3B2). One more official joined the chorus saying, “Talent may be acquired through learning. But, gifted, I understand is genetic” (S3C1). Offering additional insights into gifted and talented, one official said, “Gifted child need not always be gifted only in academics” (S1D1). He added that the child might have excellent potential in nonacademic fields like athletics, arts, and other disciplines of life. A principal supported this opinion and noted that, “Giftedness is an extraordinary capability in any field. It can be there in any of the cultural or games and sports events too” (S4F2). One teacher completely affirmed this view and said, “You cannot call a person who is excellent in academics alone as gifted child” (S2G1). But he qualified his statement with an observation that “a gifted child is one who is excellent in all the activities.” One official stated, “A talented person will excel in every walk of life, whether it is in academics or in science and technology” (S3C1). That giftedness can exist in varied fields was supported by a teacher who commented that “if a student is weak in academics, but he is very good at sports, I still consider him as gifted child because his performance is extraordinary in sports” (S4G3). A couple of participants offered an interesting definition of giftedness by saying that gifted people are those whose actions benefit the society. A teacher said, “ I consider that person gifted whose actions benefit the society” (S4G4). Describing the characteristic traits about gifted children, a teacher said: When I say gifted children, I am referring to those who are good performers in both studies and other co-curricular activities. Gifted child is an extraordinary person who is to be dealt with separately, not along with the
77 normal children. . . . Gifted children have an ability to adjust and survive in any condition. They are innovative in their approach. If they are given proper guidance, they can do wonders. (S2G1)
Another official considered enthusiasm, adventure, creativity, curiosity and courage as the distinct qualities of gifted children. He added that, a gifted child “has the potentiality or the leadership qualities too” (S3B1). One interesting insight provided by the examiner about gifted children was that “generally good IQ and academic performance can be called giftedness. . . . But in the present context, emotional quotient, divergent thinking, creative thinking are the parameters which are considered for calling someone gifted” (S3E1). Although, the perspective of gifted and talented has changed over time, no apparent effort has been made to alter the entrance exam pattern aimed at selecting gifted and talented children. Overall, a majority of the participants believe that giftedness is inborn but that a proper environment is needed to hone the talents for developing the personality of the child and also for the societal benefit.
Rationale for Establishing Navodaya Vidyalayas Bharata Desam Yokka Aatma Dhani Gramalalo Undhi (M.K. Gandhi) The soul of India lies in its villages In India, 80 % of the population lives in villages. It is important to raise the literacy level of the rural population. Providing quality education is essential to
78 raise the standard of living in villages. This is the raison d’etre of the establishment of Navodaya Vidyalayas. These schools were visualized as pace-setters bringing innovation and experimentation into the educational system. India is a secular country with a multiplicity of religions, languages and cultural preferences. In order to maintain unity in this diversity of cultures, it is important that people of this country are made aware of these diversities and learn to respect and appreciate them. The importance of this need is realized and is incorporated in the Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme.
Quality Education to Rural Students
Realizing the importance of providing quality education especially to poor, rural children, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India from1984 to 1989, initiated an education plan for rural students. This led to an educational policy in 1986, which envisaged: Establishment of pace setting schools in various parts of the country on a given pattern, but with full scope for innovation and experimentation to promote national integration by providing opportunities to the talented children pre-dominantly rural, from different parts of the country to live and learn together to develop their full potential. (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, n.d.) Commenting on the philosophy behind the establishment of Navodaya Vidyalayas, an official stated, “The objective of Navodaya Vidyalaya is to provide accessibility to quality, modern education to the children belonging to the rural
79 areas” (S3B1). Another official elaborated by stating, “Lots of children are very bright, talented but don’t have access to good education. So it was thought that we should have such schools in every district of the country to maintain uniformity. . . . So this is meant for rural talented children who just cannot afford this kind of education” (S3A1). A teacher described rural students as children who possess knowledge and competence but “are unable to express or utilize their capabilities due to the severe lack of facilities” (S2G2). He also added that the objective of Navodaya Vidyalayas is to “bring such children together, impart quality and value-based education, and prepare them for facing the ever-changing world.” Agreeing with the above opinion, a principal noted, “We are providing a chance or opportunity to these rural children who never had any facilities to explore and enhance their talents” (S4F2). He believes that the Navodaya Vidyalayas laid “emphasis on developing them [the students] into socially conscious, disciplined, hardworking, and sincere citizens of this country.” In addition to these opinions, one teacher felt that many of the students would not be in a position to pass Class X if Navodaya Vidyalayas did not provide an opportunity to the rural talented students. (S3G4) An official underscored the differences between rural and urban education facilities by saying, “Even though the [rural] children are highly talented, they don’t have the required facilities in the nearby vicinity and lack all the modern
80 facilities when compared with urban areas” (S1D1). Emphasizing the lack of opportunities for the rural children, a principal felt that: There are lots of intelligent children in the rural areas but because of the lack of opportunities they never get a chance to develop their giftedness. If proper environment with all the facilities and opportunities are provided to them, their giftedness can be well developed. (S4F2) A teacher observed that the uniqueness of Navodaya Vidyalaya is that the government is providing quality education free of cost to the rural students. This quality education would not have been available to the students as their parents cannot afford to bear the cost of such education (S4G3). The objectives of establishing Navodaya Vidyalayas are interpreted in different ways by different participants. According to one official, “The first objective is rural upliftment. This means development of rural talent” (S3E1). One interesting interpretation of the objectives brings into focus equity, justice, and excellence issues. An official stated: The objectives were equity, justice and excellence. Equity means equal opportunities for all the children in rural areas. By social justice, we mean providing opportunities and support to every needy, talented person irrespective of caste, community, religion, language or financial status. Anybody with talent should get quality education. They should also be inculcated with a feeling of love and belonging to their country and understand the concept of national integration. (S1C2) This same idea is echoed by another official who explained how these schools attain social equity. He felt: Equal chance is given to all the students hailing from far-flung areas or nearby the vicinity of urban areas. So this is how the components related to equity coupled with social justice is taken care of so these institutions provide opportunity for the talented and gifted children irrespective of their
81 socio-economic profiles of their family and help the government to identify and groom their talent. (S3B1) Although, all these Vidyalayas in the country were established with the same objective, infrastructure, curriculum and instruction methods, many administrative differences are observed in the functioning of various Vidyalayas. One official felt that differences are a must to maintain each Vidyalaya’s identity and individuality (S1D1). Another official reasoned that the differences arise “depending upon the background, geographical conditions, culture, impact of the society around them” (S3B1). He added that “their [students’] socio-economic profiles and the backgrounds of the parents, and the areas in which they [schools] are located” also effect differences. Supporting this view, an official added, “Broadly saying, each school functions according to the leadership of the principal. Some schools are good because of good principals. The infrastructure in all the schools is the same. But, the principals make the difference” (S1C2). Similar views were echoed by another official who observed that the differences “largely depend upon the leadership provided by the principal, and the motivation level of the teachers, and the cooperation they are able to get from the society around them” (S1D1). A similar opinion was expressed by S3B1, who noted that the variances in the functioning of Navodaya Vidyalayas are “because of
82 the individual competencies of the teachers and principals leading the particular institutions.” Another interesting spin to this issue is offered by an official who observed that the differences are not necessarily defects and added that these differences are due to the diverse nature within the country (S1D1). The location of the Vidyalayas and the availability of the infrastructure were also mentioned as reasons for the differences among the Vidyalayas by S3C1 and S3B1.
Competency in Three Languages
One objective of establishing Navodaya Vidyalayas is the attainment of reasonable level of competence in three languages (S3B1). The main advantage of this objective, as interpreted by an official, is aimed towards development of a “feeling of national integration and community spirit” in view of existing diversity within the country (S2G1). He also added that this competency attainment is achieved through the policy of migration of students amongst all the schools.
Promotion of National Integration
An important feature of Navodaya Vidyalaya is exchange of students from one Navodaya Vidyalaya in a particular linguistic region to another Vidyalaya in a different linguistic region. This is intended to promote understanding of the diversity and plurality of India’s cultures and people. According to the scheme,
83 30% of the children from each Navodaya Vidyalaya are migrated to another Vidyalaya at Class IX for a period of one academic year. The migration is normally between Hindi and Non-Hindi speaking states. According to an official, “Inculcation of cultural values, promotion of national integration and encouragement of adventure activities” (S3B1) are some of the aims of Navodaya Vidyalayas. One of the ways to promote national integration is the practice of migration. (S1D1) Commenting on this innovative scheme an official noted, “In order to ensure that the children at their tender age are exposed to different cultures, customs, and languages, we migrate 30% of the students in the ninth class” (S3B1). He added, “Migration helps the children to acquaint themselves with the local culture [of the migrated school], and it helps them to assimilate . . . understand the customs, habits, food habits, and environment.” He also opined that this migration “develops the bondage of friendship and human relations with different sections of the society or different people from different parts of the country.”
Pace-setting means “to serve, in each district, as focal points for improvement in the quality of school education in general, through sharing of experiences and facilities” (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, n.d.). An official expanded on this definition by commenting, “We intend to develop these
84 institutions as model institutions in the district which will function as a nucleus for experimentation and innovation in teaching, available technology, personality growth of the children, optimum utilization of the potentialities of the children” (S3B1). He also added, “When we say pace-setting, we mean to say that the entire activity related to the program of the school will have full scope for the growth of the personality of the child.” He expanded, “They [Navodaya Vidyalayas] become lead schools and the teachers and students of the neighborhood community as well as other schools of the district can participate and share and get the benefit of the experience of these schools.” A teacher provided a detailed description of these pace-setting activities in the following words, “These schools share their knowledge and other facilities, like computers, with other local schools” (S2G2). Among the pace-setting activities mentioned are “taking an active part in community service, adult literacy, NCC [National Cadet Corps], NSS [National Service Scheme], et cetera.” An official added his observation that these schools also share their educational technology like books, library and computers with their neighboring schools. (S3B1) Another teacher highlighted the participation of the students in disaster relief work. He quoted the example of his colleagues and students contributing monetary help and services to help the victims of a major earthquake that hit Gujarat (S2G1). Clarifying the pace-setting activities one official remarked, “The idea is not to make them [local schools] duplicate what we [Navodaya Vidyalayas] are doing,
85 but they should take the spirit of it and learn to achieve to the extent possible under the conditions given in their respective Vidyalayas” (S1D1). He also added, “We don’t want our Vidyalayas to be islands of excellence. We want to disseminate our resources to the neighboring schools so that they learn from us.” The essence of views of pace-setting activities obtained from various explanations and examples offered in the artifacts such as school magazines, annual reports published by the samiti can be summarized as follows; (a) involvement of students in community service programs; (b) participation of students in district and state level activities like literacy drives, social upliftment programs, activities that promote peace and harmony; (c) sharing of the facilities in the school such as lab equipment, science teaching aids, tape recorders, audio visual cassettes, computer floppies, microscopes, solar cookers, distillation plants, and charts with neighboring schools in the locality; and (d) sharing of the knowledge and experiences of the students with students of local schools.
Incorporating Art in Education
An interesting and innovative aspect of education in Navodaya Vidyalayas is the concept of Art in Education. The objective of the scheme is to promote interlinkages between education and culture. Based on the information provided in the artifacts such as Kala Sarit and other school magazines published by the samiti, this program can be summarized as follows; (a) inculcating universal values in the
86 minds of children, (b) inviting specialists in different fields to teach the children, (c) involving students in theater and dramatics by conducting Theater in Education Workshops, (d) ensuring that children do not get alienated from their own surroundings and cultural heritage, and (e) encouraging students in creative writing, painting, traditional performing arts, theater, sculpture, and so forth. Interestingly, such a big, innovative program evidenced from various artifacts collected was never mentioned by any of the participants except one. According to this one participant, the objective of this unique experiment is to “identify their [students’] aptitude and train them in that art [a particular state’s traditional art]” (S1D1). He added that special funds are provided to train children by some professional artists in various traditional arts prevailing in different states.
Teacher Selection Anagananaga Raaga Mathisayilluchu Nundu Thinaga Thinaga Vemu Thiyyanundu Saadhanamuna Panulu Samakooru Dharalona One’s voice becomes softer and melodious with regular singing Food with a bitter taste also seems tasty with habitual and regular consumption People become skillful with continuous practice Navodaya Vidyalayas are unique in the sense that they have been established with the aim of nurturing rural gifted and talented students. This objective can be achieved only with the help of qualified and well-trained teachers and a well-equipped infrastructure at the school. Hence, it is important to look into the teacher selection and training processes.
Commenting on the required traits of the teachers to teach in such schools, an official felt that a teacher should not only be “intelligent and competent” but also have the qualities of “an excellent human being” (S3B1). He added that while recruiting teachers, the officials not only look for academic competence of the teacher but also consider his or her capability in cocurricular activities and leadership qualities. Besides this, a teacher in the Navodaya Vidyalayas is expected to “be willing to sacrifice, and they should be sensitive, balanced, and judicious” (S3B1). As well, they should have high teaching and communicative skills and should be good at counseling skills (S2G2). This teacher also explained that the inquisitive and curious nature of the students in Navodaya Vidyalayas requires a teacher to “have the patience to collect information, improve their knowledge, and be able to stimulate the interest of the children” (S2G2). Agreeing with this, another official added that a teacher in Navodaya Vidyalayas is expected to adapt to the modern “innovative teaching techniques like computer aided tools, models and animation techniques, et cetera” (S1C2).
88 Selection Procedure
An official describing earlier selection procedures said that, for a decade after the establishment of Navodaya Vidyalayas, “the selection of teachers was done at the regional office level” (S1D1) based exclusively on academic qualifications. Two categories of teachers were recruited; (a) trained graduates, and (b) postgraduate teachers. He added that the selection process has been centralized in the past few years. The standard procedure for recruiting teachers in Navodaya Vidyalayas for the past few years is through an all India level entrance test followed by a personal interview. An official observed: While selecting a teacher we ensure that he has a basic knowledge of the content of the subject for which he is selected. In addition to that, his participation during his student life in a variety of co-curricular activities and his professional skills are also taken into consideration. (S3B1) Another official opined, “We have been appointing very qualified and knowledgeable teachers in our system by adopting better recruitment procedures” (S3C1). A principal observed, “Teacher selection is very tough and difficult” (S2F1). He added that the applicants are tested in general awareness, subject knowledge and teaching aptitude. Elaborating on the entrance test one official noted that it has two sections, “aptitude test and content test” (S1C2). He added, “Depending on their performance in these tests, they are called for an interview and suitable candidates are selected.”
89 Challenges of Teachers
The teachers in the Navodaya Vidyalayas feel that their job is challenging and exciting. A principal related his experience saying, “It brings the best out of us and propels and motivates us towards constant self-improvement and up-gradation of our knowledge and skills” (S4F2). A teacher expressed the same feeling and added, “It gives me self-satisfaction” (S3G4) for doing something beneficial for students from financially poor backgrounds. A few participants expressed some concerns, especially with respect to the number of hours they put in their profession while working in Navodaya Vidyalayas. One teacher complained about the excessive workload. As the schools are residential in nature, they have an additional burden of attending to the problems that arise during after- school hours (S2G1). Joining in the chorus, a principal echoed, “But it’s also a very tough job. Being residential in nature, we are required to be on the job round-the-clock. So we are not able to find much time for our family and social life” (S4F2). He also added that the remuneration paid to them is “not commensurate” with the work they do. But, on the whole, he was positive and added, “The feeling that we are working towards training future geniuses is motivating us to give it our best.”
90 Training programs in India are similar to staff development in the United States. A lot of importance is given to these training programs in Navodaya Vidyalayas. The training programs are of three types. In the words of a principal: The first type is the induction course for the newly appointed TGTs [trained graduate teachers]. This training is provided to the teachers as soon as they are recruited. In other words, this is preservice training. The second type of training is for the teachers who are promoted from TGTs [who teach at sixth to eighth grade level] to PGTs [post graduate teachers, who teach from ninth to twelfth grades]. The third type of training program is for senior teachers who have not attended any training programs for three consecutive years. (S2F1) In other words, the second and third types of training programs constitute the in-service training programs. Each of these training programs is aimed at promoting the professional growth of the teachers (S2F1). Commenting on the need for the training programs, a teacher expressed, “Training is essential for a teacher to enrich his knowledge” (S2G2) and skills. An official noted that induction programs “attune them [teachers] to objectives and philosophy of the program, the responsibilities, . . . given to them, and the residential culture emphasizing co-scholastic or co-curricular activities” (S3B1). He added that these training programs help the teachers in the “management of hostel [dormitory] environment, social and mental hygiene, . . . [and in] helping the students to be self-confident and self-sufficient.” Commenting on the usefulness of the training programs, a teacher observed, “We share our experiences and identify our mistakes and understand the ways to improve ourselves” (S2G2). Resonating the same idea, another teacher said that
91 these programs “train us with some special techniques with regard to how to handle bright, gifted students and slow learners” (S3G4). Another official joined in the chorus who believed that these “structured training programs [equip the teachers] with the techniques of handling gifted and talented children” (S1C2). The training programs address not only the need for equipping the teachers with the latest developments in the content (S3B1), but are also credited with various improvements like attitude transformation (S2F1 & S2G1) and increased performance levels of the teachers (S3G4). Adding to the above, a teacher noted that training programs provide an “opportunity to exchange ideas, views, and innovative methodologies among the teachers” (S2G1). He extended by saying that these programs “inculcate a lot of enthusiasm in teachers and certainly help[s]” them make their teaching effective. Noting the change in the recruitment of resource persons to train the teachers, a teacher observed: We now depend on our inner resources for resource persons. Some teachers have been selected and they are imparted with training on how to teach and . . . various methodologies to be followed. Now, we call outside persons very rarely to work as resource persons. (S2G1)
Inspection represents the process of supervising day-to-day activities in Navodaya Vidyalayas. The basic aim is to identify the gaps in the organization and improve upon them to increase the efficiency of the system. Inspection is
92 conducted at two levels, school level (internal inspection) and regional level (external inspection). At the school level, the principal, who is the leader of the school, “inspects the functioning, teaching and learning process” (S3B1). This type of inspection is aimed at instructing the teaching staff, identifying the areas of weaknesses of the teachers (S3B1). The second type of inspection, also called an academic panel inspection, is conducted at the regional office level (S1D1). In this, a panel of experts inspects each school at least three times in a year (S1C2). This panel is comprised of one official from the regional office (assistant director or deputy director), one or two principals of neighboring schools, and one or two subject experts. This panel goes through the entire academic and non-academic activities of the school (S1D1). According to an official, “A variety of things are inspected like infrastructure, school, teachers, houses, et cetera. Quality of teaching, teaching methodology, cleanliness and hygienic conditions” (S1C2) are the most important academic aspects that are inspected. Commenting on the objectives of inspection an official noted that, “inspection is not a fault finding mission” (S1D1). He added that it is aimed at providing expert suggestions for the improvement of the institution.
Chippalona Padda Chinuku Mutyambayye Neeta Badda Chinuku Neeta Kalise
A drop of water received by an oyster shell changes to a valuable and beautiful pearl The same drop that falls in the stream becomes just water
The government of India stipulates that at least 75 % of the seats in the Navodaya Vidyalayas in each district be filled with candidates selected from rural areas. The remaining seats are filled from the urban areas of the district. Reservation of seats in favor of children belonging to scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) is provided in proportion to their population in the concerned district. In any district, such reservation cannot be less than the national average (15.5 % for SC and 7.5 % for ST) and cannot exceed a maximum of 50% for both the categories taken together. These reservations are inter-changeable and over and above the candidates selected under open merit. Further, one-third of the total seats are to be filled by girls. The application forms for the entrance test are distributed to all the schools in the district by the district education office. The government directs that the applications should be distributed without discrimination toward any student. However, in some cases, classroom teachers tend to select a few above average students and encourage them to appear for the exam. Thus, at times this selective process may serve as an unauthorized screening process.
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Entrance Test
The primary tool used in making the student selection decision is the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Selection Test (JNVST). This test is described in a detailed manner on page 40. It is interesting to compare and contrast the more prosaic description of the test provided on page 40 with the description of the test given by program authorities and personnel. For example, one teacher stated, “ Most of the questions in the exam test logic and reasoning. Only a truly talented child can solve these problems and get selected” (S4G4). One of the officials claimed that other high functioning abilities were being measured by the test, including “imagination, adventure, . . . confidence, [and] aesthetics” (S3B1). The test also includes some information on basic skills such as the “willing [ness] to undertake hard work” (S3B1), as well as “knowledge of notation and arithmetics and . . . ability to write or language ability” (S3B1). According to one teacher, this objective (multiple choice) nature of the test leads to “evaluation of the answers [being] easy” (S2G1). This teacher admitted, “As a teacher, we don’t have any say in it. . . . We have to teach whoever is selected” (S2G1). In general, the teachers seem to believe that “whoever is selected” (S2G1) are the students whom they should be teaching. One teacher averred, “There is no doubt in saying that the test is good, and students selected are also good” (S4G3). This teacher is joined by another official who stated that, based on the selection process, “you can ensure that good rural children get selected” (S3E1). A principal supported this view by
95 stating, “On the basis [of exam results], we can say he is talented” (S2F1). One more voice, that of a program official, intoned, “ To the larger extent, [we] definitely succeeded in identifying the talented, rural children” (S3C1). Not all educators involved in Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme are as positive about the test. One teacher gave only qualified support to the selection process, stating, “Sometimes one or two students may not be extraordinarily intelligent, but they do possess some intelligence” (S4G3). Another teacher indicated having “some grievances. . . . Some of the children who are getting selected are not up to the mark” (S2G1). This teacher also expressed some reservations about the children from rural areas who are in the program. “These children do not have much exposure like the children of the public schools or some other well known schools run by private management. These children are from rural areas and have limited exposure. In spite of that, they are good” (S2G1). One official noted that the inception of coaching centers has put some students in an advantageous position compared to others (S3A2). Contradicting this opinion another official opined: Coaching centers for Navodayas are coming up, and it is a tribute to Navodayas. It means people do have some liking for Navodayas. That is why people send their wards [children] into coaching centers for getting admission into Navodayas. We definitely feel encouraged if such coaching centers come in different parts of the country. (S3B2) The program officials assume the test is good, because its construction and administration were carried out independently. According to one official,
96 “Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti has nothing to do with the examination” (S1D1). For the first ten years of the program, NCERT conducted the examination. After these 10 years, the CBSE has been carrying out the selection process. “Whoever they select, we get” (S1D1). A principal claimed that the entrance exam is a fairly scientific method for selecting students. “Eminent experts and scientists, through various studies, have identified certain competencies which differentiate talented students from others” (S4F2). The competencies referred to by the principal aren’t the only basis for the test. An official stated, “The formation of the test is based on the psychometrics. . . . The broad base of the test is based on psychometrics, observations, and studies” (S3B1). However, when asked for any psychometric or scientific studies of the test, the official responded, “Subsequently, no systematic study has been conducted” (S3B1). Determining the reliability and validity of the test could be a difficult enterprise. This is because the test does not remain the same every year. Consider the following exchange during a follow up interview with a government official: Official: Every two, three years we propose to alternate the content part. ... Interviewer: So, you change the questions every three years? Official: Questions, every year. They are different. Obviously you can’t have the same questions. (S3B1) Even though developing important psychometric foundations for the test would be difficult on a year-to-year basis, it would seem important to do, for, as
97 pointed out by one teacher, “We cannot honestly claim that all students who are selected by our entrance test are gifted” (S2G2)- an obvious validity issue.
In most Navodaya Vidyalayas, 80 students are selected every year for each school. However, in the absence of adequate physical facilities the number of admissions is restricted to 40 in some Navodaya Vidyalayas. The reasons for admitting only 80 students per year per district are many and varied. An official noted, “We, being residential schools, we have to provide the infrastructure in terms of their accommodation, in terms of food, and other facilities” (S3B1), adding that the financial burden is a major constraint for expansion in admissions. However, the same official also averred, “Talent and gift is to be dealt in a systematic manner on a day-to-day basis. . . . The teacher student ratio has to be high . . . so that the teacher has time and scope to consistently and constantly observe the child’s growth” (S3B1). The issue of lack of financial and infrastructure facilities limiting selection capacity was corroborated by two other officials (S1D1 & S4F2). Furthermore, S4F2 added that selection of gifted students from non-academic disciplines or students with unconventional capabilities, such as students good in music, sports, rural arts, rural crafts, and other skills, are not selected because of “practical difficulties in identifying and training these students.”
98 Another major factor that affects selection of students is the political requirements, otherwise known as quotas. An official stated that allocating quotas for SC and ST students does not affect the average achievement level of the students. Commenting on the achievement of the quota students he said, “Over a period of time, in fact, these children are doing very well in these schools in the later years. My experience is that they are not as bad as most people expect them to be” (S1D1). Another teacher justified the allocation of quota to SC and ST students by stating, “When we compare these children [from under-developed communities and poor family backgrounds] with students hailing from semiurban areas or higher economic status, they may seem somewhat less intelligent than these urban children. But, I am sure, with some grooming, they will be on par with urban students, as they possess innate talents and traits” (S2G2). One teacher, justifying the quota for rural children, said, “Rural children are unable to compare and compete with urban children because of reasons like economic factors, lack of infrastructure, lack of parental guidance and support et cetera” (S2G2). One teacher voiced his concern about combining rural and urban students in the same class. He felt that, as urban students have a strong advantage over rural students in terms of knowledge in English and other subjects, they get bored when the teachers teach at the level of the rural children (S2G2). He added that teaching these two disparate groups simultaneously is really a challenging task. An official stated, “[Some] students are selected on the basis of their caste and backwardness so their performance is not up to the desired level” (S2G1).
99 However, these contradicting opinions of the participants regarding the quota system will not bring a change in the selection process because the quota system is stipulated and enforced by the Constitution of India.
Nurturing Environment Emi leni edaarilo aamudamu chette maha vrukshamu In a barren land, even a small plant looks like a Banyan tree
The vision of Navodaya Vidyalayas is to provide a new style of growth and development aimed at identification and development of talented, bright, and gifted children, who are predominantly from rural areas and otherwise lack the opportunity of meaningful and quality education for their development. In addition to the academics, Navodaya Vidyalayas also visualize the significant role of cocurricular activities as a means to all round development of the students. A senior official offered an insight into this vision in the following words: The purpose of these schools is to provide an appropriate environment to the children, identify their talent, and groom them properly, and also to ensure that they participate in a variety of programs envisaged in the school system with the support and assistance of teachers. (S3B1) A principal added to this by saying, “Since these are residential schools, the students understand the importance of community living, team spirit, group dynamics and importance of unity and togetherness.” He added, “Each student learns dignity of labor and self sufficiency. They [students] gain tremendous amount of self confidence and aggressiveness.” (S4F2)
100 One teacher observed that, since students stay in the school full time, there is a lot of scope for the teachers to identify and develop students to their full potential (S4G4). An official noted that the residential nature of the schools provide an opportunity for both the students and teachers to work together and involve themselves in a great deal of innovations and experiments that lead to the overall growth of the students (S3B1). He further added that irrespective of the student’s background, “every child is made to participate in a variety of co-scholastic activities like sports, seminars, discussions, assignments and projects, et cetera.” All these activities further consolidate and strengthen the talent of the students (S3B1). The same official opined that these institutions [Navodaya Vidyalayas] ensure that all the students develop some “personal values in terms of discipline, health, hygiene, behavior, punctuality, sincerity, honesty and dignity of labor.” He also added that the pace setting activities taken up in the schools have full scope for the growth of the personality of the child. This official also made an affirmative statement that the kinds of programs they offer in these schools cater to the needs of the gifted children, as “the entire daily framework of the programs in the Vidyalayas is intended towards all round development of the growth and personality of the child.” He added that in addition to academic excellence, Navodayas aim at developing physical, social, and human excellence in every child. Another teacher stated that the emphasis in Navodaya Vidyalayas is on the overall development of the child’s personality rather than imparting only subject
101 knowledge. He added, “We expect a child to keep pace with the changing world, and change himself accordingly” (S2G1). Another teacher echoed the same opinion explaining that “our aim is all round development of rural talent, and our purpose is to provide an educational environment that provides an opportunity for the students to develop” (S4G3). He further added that the syllabus and training imparted in Navodaya Vidyalayas is sufficient for the all round development of the child as the student is not just restricted to the academic activities. Commenting on the advantage of the residential schools, a teacher said, “My art room is open 24 hours for children. I spend a lot of time with the children, sometimes late in the night” (S4G4). A principal felt that the counseling and professional guidance provided to the students in these institutions helped the students attain their fullest development (S2F1). Another official noted that the schools provide lots of opportunities for the students to take part in games and sports, arts, music, and all other activities. He also added that specialized teachers are appointed and special facilities are provided for the children to blossom as multitalented individuals (S1D1). A teacher described the congenial environment of Navodaya Vidyalayas in the following words: There are many good things in Navodayas. I enjoy working here [in Navodaya Vidyalayas]. I love the family atmosphere of these schools. One important thing is that the students here are self-learners. They are self reliant and independent. They understand and value dignity of labor. They develop a capacity for independent decision making. (S2G1)
102 He further added, “Learning can be effective only in a good, peaceful atmosphere. You can find that atmosphere only in the Navodayas.” He also expressed that: We maintain very good relationship with the students. We do not treat them as our students. Rather we treat them as our own family members. We give them a lot of love and affection. We work with them. We take up activities where both teachers and students are involved. We take up tree planting, beautification of the campus, et cetera. (S2G1) A principal, who had similar feelings, said, “In the Navodayas, a child lives in the school for 7 years. The role played by parents elsewhere is to be played by the teachers here. Because of the residential, regimental life they lead here, students develop many good qualities” (S2F1). Joining in the chorus, another official observed that “here it is a residential program where the child is available all the time. This provides scope for the total personality development of the child” (S1C2). He further added that “our strategies, our academic training, our interaction with the student, knowing their strengths and weaknesses and providing remedial action is very advantageous for the students in these schools.” He highlighted the advantages of free education in the Navodaya Vidyalayas. “There is no element of commercial angle. Education, boarding and all other facilities in the school are provided for free” (S3A2). He also made an interesting comment that “most importantly, these schools are indocentric schools in which the cultural heritage, good points in every religion, moral education, and good habits are given more importance in Navodaya Vidyalayas than in other schools.”
103 A senior official stressed that each student’s interest and background, specific talents or gifts that she or he possesses are identified and care is taken to strengthen them (S3B1). He also emphasized the importance of the residential nature of the schools in doing so. Another official highlighted the importance of the residential system in these words, “They [students] are together. They become socially conscious and they develop a feeling of togetherness” (S3A2). One official made an interesting comment that “we are also happy to produce students who are socially conscious and responsible” (S1C2). Quoting a study conducted to assess the impact of the students who graduated from Navodaya Vidyalayas, he said, “The students became role models for other students in their villages. They, through their talent and personality transformation, became walking examples of the importance of education.” Expanding on the social responsibility of the students, a teacher mentioned that “the students took active part in socially demanding situations like collecting donations to assist earthquake affected families and organizing rallies during the Kargil War to strengthen the patriotic feelings among the people” (S4G4). Commenting on the unique aspect of education in Navodaya Vidyalayas, a principal stated, “Here the emphasis is on knowledge, skills, and attitudes. More stress is on attitude transformation, inculcation of value education and promotion of national integration” (S2F1). An official elaborated by saying, “In Navodaya Vidyalaya system of education, a great emphasis is laid on character building,
104 patriotic spirit, scientific outlook, participation in co-curricular activities, leadership qualities, and effectiveness in languages, and a variety of other activities”. A principal offered an interesting insight that: we do encourage students to participate in various activities, but at the same time we emphasize more on academics, because we have parents who come to us and express their concern about their child’s academic performance. They [the parents] put pressure on teachers to push their children more in academics. The parents are not concerned about the achievements in non academic fields as much as they are concerned about academic course.” (S4F2) He also added, “Not only the parents, even the society and the central administrators judge the schools based on our academic performance. So though we offer all the co-curricular activities and extra curricular activities in the school we emphasize more on the academic performance.”
Curriculum Nalugurito Narayana, Gumpulo Govinda Whatever four people say, I will say With the group, I can shout hurray
The scheme of studies formulated by NCERT and prescribed by CBSE is followed in all the Navodaya Vidyalayas. The curriculum followed in Navodaya Vidyalayas is intended not only to take care of the needs of the present day education but also the future demands. Navodaya Vidyalayas are said to provide an
105 effective learning environment by organizing large numbers of curricular and cocurricular activities (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, n.d.). Commenting on the curriculum an official said, “It is framed by CBSE and is really good. It is covering most topics and applications. So I feel it is satisfactory” (S1C2). Another official offered his comments on the curriculum that, it is “not only very good but more or less ideal for these schools, for these children” (S3A2). He also added, “The government and Navodaya Samiti are providing all facilities and infra-structure for effective implementation of the curriculum. I don’t think there is a problem” in implementing the curriculum. Another teacher agreed by saying that “each child is given an opportunity to participate in co-curricular activities, sports, games and some other social service activities like scouts and guides, NCC, and NSS. . . . So, no doubt the Navodaya Vidyalaya Curriculum is excellent for the development of the child” (S4G3). Expressing a similar opinion, one teacher observed, “I feel that our curriculum and training is sufficient to produce good citizens and fulfill our objectives” (S2G1). An official explained the rationale behind adopting CBSE curriculum. As these institutions are funded and monitored by the government of India, it is logical to have a curriculum that meets the needs of children from different languages and different backgrounds. Since CBSE curriculum addresses the above concerns, Navodaya Vidyalayas have adopted the CBSE syllabus for their schools (S3B1). Another official explained the same in different words. “Why we have chosen NCERT is because we need a centralized curriculum. Navodaya schools
106 started in the entire country, and we need a common framework to form the base from which we can take up” (S1D1). A principal gave a different perspective to the scope of this curriculum. He noted, “It is designed by well trained and experienced educationists, but I am not sure that it is adequate for gifted children. Any curriculum is designed keeping an average student in mind, but these children are special. They have a higher capability to understand advanced concepts. I feel these children should be provided with a specially designed curriculum, which is of a higher standard and helps in accelerated learning” (S4F2). He, however, expressed concerns: There are some practical problems with this view. In the present competitive world, students aspire for getting admission into medical, engineering and other professional courses. For getting admission into any of these courses, you should study the recognized, comparable mode of syllabus. Thus, even if we design a separate curriculum, it may not be practical or feasible to bring it into practice. Echoing this opinion a teacher observed: India is a very big country with geographic and demographic diversity. So, I feel a uniform curriculum is not suitable. There is a difference in the infrastructure available in rural areas and urban areas. So same curriculum cannot be effective. I believe that there should be a different curriculum for rural areas and urban areas. (S2G1) A principal noted, “In addition to the curriculum followed in these schools, special modules are developed by the teachers to cater to the different needs of the gifted children once they are identified” (S2F1). Another principal threw light on the negative aspects of the curriculum followed in Navodaya Vidyalayas. He stated, “The curriculum of our schools is not
107 matching the capabilities of our children. It is not being updated regularly. I feel many of the recent advanced developments in technology like computer technology should be made a compulsory part of our curriculum” (S4F2). He also added, “Teachers should be provided training in advanced teaching methodologies and techniques. Skills and giftedness in non-academic disciplines should be given more weightage in the evaluation process.” The same opinion was echoed by a teacher who also felt that the “curriculum is somewhat outdated” (S2G2) and needs to be updated “to meet the specific ambitions of the students.”
No institution can be perfect. Every organization has some shortcomings; and there is always scope for improvement. This is true in the case of the Navodaya Vidyalaya scheme, which has 480 schools, spread over a wide range of regional, linguistic and cultural environments. In view of this scenario, many suggestions were offered by different participants to improve the functioning of these schools. The suggestions from the participants came out of an analysis of a wide range of the problems that they face on a day to day basis. Initiating the discussion one official noted that, as the Navodayas are selecting good students, “The curriculum should be able to accelerate and enrich the interest and knowledge of the students” (S3E1). He further added, “Pace-setting
108 schools should have curriculum which is of a higher order. It should make them thinkers, investigators, and inculcate a spirit of knowledge in them.” This official also suggested “introducing general awareness in the selection test.” He added, “Some people feel that rural children would find it difficult because they don’t have access to newspapers.” Another official suggested that the JNVST should be devoid of the urban bias, which is existing in the present pattern as he feels that the rural children do not have the same exposure as the urban students. (S1D1) He extended his thoughts, “There should be some seats reserved not only for academically bright children but also for children who are talented in other fields” like arts, music, and painting. He expressed his concern that “all said and done, the main yard stick through which we are assessed, or success of the Vidyalaya is judged in the society is through academic performance in the board exams.” He also recommended that more emphasis should be laid on cocurricular activities rather than concentrating more on academics. One teacher had a critical perspective of nurturing giftedness in Navodaya Vidyalayas. He felt that too much emphasis was laid on academics in Navodaya Vidyalayas at the cost of the talents in non academic subjects. He expressed his disappointment on how the gifted children are treated in these schools by making them focus only on academics (S4G4). Expressing similar views, another official stated, “Some additions are to be made in the evaluation system wherein sufficient
109 or adequate credit is to be given to the activities of a student or performance given by the student in various activities out of the classroom” (S3B1). A principal mentioned that emotional problems faced by the students because of separation from the parents are raising concern in the schools. He felt that “parents of the Navodaya children don’t pay enough attention. Parent orientation is very important” (S2F1). According to this principal, one drawback of the system is the relatively less attention paid to the students of Classes VI, VII, VIII, IX, and XI when compared to Classes X and XII, and that it is all because of the examination system they follow in the schools. The CBSE pattern of examination assigns standard scores only for Classes X and XII exams. The examinations of all the other classes are not given standard scores at the national level. They are assigned by and recognized only in the particular school where the student studied. Another teacher repeated this opinion adding that there should be a common exam in every class. At present, common exams are conducted only for Classes X and XII, and the studies in other classes are neglected (S2G2). Suggesting a change in the evaluation system, one teacher noted: I want the evaluation system used for [academic] subjects to be implemented for other subjects [non-academic] like sculpture, painting, so that they will show interest. From my personal experience, I found grading with ABC letters is not as motivating as mark system. So, I feel mark system for these subjects should be introduced so as not to deprive these children of future opportunities. (S4G4)
110 Further expanding on this he said, “A uniform system should be followed for all subjects. Either give grades in all subjects or give marks in all subjects. Why this discrepancy?” One official suggested, “The focus in the Vidyalayas should be to train the students how to learn to learn and what to learn” (S3B1). Another teacher felt that “there should be an emphasis on teaching morals and social responsibility to the students so that they can become role models in the society” (S2G2). Another official suggested that “more emphasis should be laid on frontline curriculum like consumer awareness, environmental awareness, population education, human rights, pollution control, and a variety of other socially relevant issues” (S3B1) to make students responsible citizens. He also stated, “Children [in Navodayas] are not properly provided with adequate career guidance.” He opined, “There is a great deal of opportunity for developing many vocations and careers.” However, Navodaya Vidyalayas are restricting the students to a limited number of subjects. Another teacher felt that “guidance regarding careers and employment opportunities also will benefit the students” (S2G2). He added, “Proper guidance and counseling services should be provided to teach morals to students and to tackle indiscipline.” One teacher felt proper training is needed for the teachers in these Vidyalayas as “they are not only involved in teaching, but are also involved in looking after the children” (S2G1). He also felt that their salaries and payments are not commensurate with the work they do when compared to their counterparts in
111 other government organizations. He suggested, “To solve this pay disparity problem, some sort of allowance should be given to Navodaya teachers” and added, “This will certainly encourage the teachers to perform better.” One teacher suggested, “The present syllabus and curriculum is not meeting the desires and aspirations of the students”(S2G2). He felt that Navodaya Vidyalayas should follow the state syllabus as the entrance exams for professional courses like medical and engineering are based on a state syllabus. He mentioned that this would greatly reduce the drop out rate of the students after passing the Class X. The curriculum for math and science is different in the state syllabus as compared to that of CBSE syllabus. Moreover, the entrance exams to various professional courses such as medicine and engineering are developed according to the state syllabus. Most parents aspire to get their children admitted into professional colleges, and therefore the dropout rate of the students is high after Class X. However, the officials had mixed opinions on whether to adopt the state syllabus in Class XI and Class XII to control this dropout rate. Some teachers considered the location of the schools, which are in the remote rural areas, as a problem. One teacher noted that the “lack of any entertainment facilities and distance from cities is causing problems in our family life” (S2G2). Another teacher suggested that the schools should be located nearer to the urban areas to avoid environmental and physical problems like availability of electricity and water (S4G3).
112 Studies and Reports When queried about whether any studies were conducted on the functioning of Navodaya Vidyalayas, one official noted: To the larger extent, I think that the talent is being nurtured in these Navodaya Vidyalayas because our results have been commendably well in comparison to other sister organizations affiliated with CBSE, and simultaneously our children are coming up in many platforms [i.e., NVS graduates are succeeding in various professions]. Overall the Navodaya Vidyalayas are doing a wonderful job. (S3C1) One official said, “I am not aware whether any studies were conducted or not. I know that in the first four or five years of establish[ment], no study was conducted” (S3E1). Another official felt, “I am interested in a study being conducted in this regard. But so far no study has been conducted. We have discussed the need for such a study in various meetings, but it is not done till now” (S1C2). One official stated that they had studies conducted on the achievement of the goals at different levels. One study was at the school level in which each Vidyalaya was asked to give a record of its activities and achievements. The second study was at the regional office level, where the authorities prepared a document on the 10 years of existence and achievement of Vidyalayas. The third study was commissioned by Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti at the national level, which was conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in which an in-depth study was made of the achievement of goals in Navodaya Vidyalayas (S1D1). This official felt that the evaluation study was a good one.
113 Another official noted that the observations of this study “have been quite encouraging in terms of performance of the schools” (S3B1). In the report, in the executive summary of the study a host of recommendations were made but these are yet to be incorporated into the functioning of the Vidyalayas. A senior official observed, “It is doing very well in-spite of all the odds that were in the succeeding years, and there is a lot of scope for improvement” (S3A1).
113 CHAPTER VI DISCUSSION Vidya Dadathi Vinayam Vinayaa Dyathi Patrataam Patratvaa dhanaapnothi Dhanat Dharmam tatah sukham Education endows us with humility Humility endows us with character Character leads us to prosperity Prosperity shared with others leads us to peace. Based on the findings and insights gained throughout the study I will address the research questions I started with. In doing so, I will also highlight the attributes of the categories that emerged from the study.
Definition of Giftedness in Navodaya Vidyalayas.
Many long discussions with the officials and teachers of Navodaya Vidyalayas revealed that no theoretical, official, precise, or uniform definition for giftedness exists within the Navodaya Vidyalaya system. Everyone has his or her own perspective, view point, and opinion about what constitutes giftedness. The education policies and curriculum design are viewed according to these varying opinions. Lack of definition is a major concern because it is difficult to imagine such a vast organization running 480 schools countrywide, and not having a focus in its core objectives. How can anyone claim that the objective of establishing these
114 schools is to identify and provide quality education to rural talented children without having a concept of who these rural talented children are? A theoretical definition would lead to an official definition, which would lead to an operational definition. In this organization, there is neither a theoretical definition nor an official definition guiding the selection of students, curriculum, and instruction. I sometimes wonder whether the terms bright, talented, and gifted crept into the objectives for the schools, when in reality the authorities were primarily seeking to provide quality education to a few selected rural students, as it was financially impossible to provide such education to every student in the rural areas. This argument cannot be completely true, because the organization has some definition in the form of an entrance exam for selecting the students. This exam, according to the officials, is believed to select real talented students as it was developed keeping the purpose in view. Thus I could sense an operational definition in the beliefs expressed by the officials. The person who drafted the entrance exam believes that high IQ and high scholastic aptitude are the parameters that define a person’s giftedness and these beliefs are clearly reflected in the design and structure of the exam, which includes mental ability, arithmetic skills, and language capabilities as the main test areas. He mentioned capability of independent thinking, risk-taking ability, creative thinking, and inquisitiveness as some of the other qualities that define giftedness. However,
115 these abilities seem not to be assessed within the multiple choice format of the JNVST. Thus, this becomes the operational definition. The criticism of Raina and Srivastava (2000) on this scheme seems to hold that it “suffers from an inadequate and narrow concept of excellence and the tools used for selection are again based on a very narrow conceptualization” (p. 106). The conception is narrow because it is conceived at the operational level only. Officials and teachers often seem to be happy with the academic results of the students in these schools and consider it as the success of this scheme; therefore, they have little motivation to do the work to develop an official or theoretical definition for the schools.
Official Definition Related to Historical and Cultural Perspective
Since there was no official definition of giftedness found in the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, no relationship can be established with historical and cultural perspective of giftedness. This is very unfortunate in a country like India, which has rich and varied cultural heritage. India has more than 5,000 years of history replete with various cultures, art, and philosophies of education. As mentioned earlier, “India was multi-centered in its cultural expression and, at the same time, a universally valid sense of excellence was continuously evolved and cherished” (Murthy, as cited in Raina & Srivastava, 2000, p. 102).
116 History plays a vital role in shaping a society, and society defines the objectives of schooling. It is very important that the students’ experiences in school are planned in a way that the experiences are embedded within the socio-cultural milieu of the society. The ancient Indian tradition has demonstrated an indigenousness in thought and advocacy for excellence related to creativity (Raina & Srivastava, 2000). Raina and Srivastava noted: It is this human faculty which is distinct from intellect, in which originates all human excellence and creativity. Thus, the insights into the human condition that we owe to the great poets, novelists, and story-tellers have their origin in that mysterious faculty of Pratibha 6 . (p. 102) Excellence is recognized and valued in various fields of human endeavor. Excellence is striving for higher exemplars in every phase of life, driven exclusively by strong and potent inner urges without any external driving force. In other words, it is the discovery of the best in oneself; the attainment of one’s fullest potential in one’s work, family life, and public life. Having the knowledge of this rich definition or approach of excellence in ancient Indian culture and how excellence in various fields was recognized and promoted could have led to the emergence of a thriving definition of giftedness that guides comprehensive methods and practices to nurture and promote giftedness in varied fields of human endeavor. However, it seems that no effort has been made to
According to Raina and Srivastava (2000), “The word Pratibha means a flash of light, a revelation, and is usually found in the literature in the sense wisdom, characterized by its immediacy and freshness” (p.102).
117 consider the cultural context of India in planning or executing this Navodaya Vidyalaya Scheme to promote excellence in India. The only comparison I can make between the historical and cultural perspectives of giftedness in India and a sort of official view of giftedness is with the operational definition I could sense from the test. To excel in humanitarian aspects and exhibit deep, meditative thinking in any field requires a person to posses higher level thinking skills and particular social sensitivities. A person should be able to analyze the social situation, synthesize new knowledge that benefits the society, and finally be able to evaluate self and also the knowledge created so as to enhance progress in the society. Such people only can bring a social change and such are the people whom the society needs more in numbers. The operational definition implied in the JNVST fails to provide assessment for these concepts. Beliefs of Participants About Giftedness
After analyzing the responses of central authorities, administrators, and teachers who are involved with the scheme, various characteristics have emerged to be the criteria by which a person can be defined as gifted. While people differed in their opinion as to whether giftedness is genetically inherited, inborn, acquired or shaped by environmental and external factors, it could be concluded that the participants focused on broad characteristics without trying to organize those characteristics into any articulate theory. According to the participants, gifted
118 children are those who posses one or more of the following characteristics; (a) high IQ, (b) high scholastic aptitude, (c) independent thinking, (d) risk taking ability, (e) creative thinking, (f) inquisitiveness, (g) ability to grasp concepts quickly, (h) focus on a task, (i) ability to contribute to the society and benefit the society in which they live, and (j) leadership qualities. The participants seem to follow a particularistic point-of-view; that is, viewing giftedness as parts rather than as a whole. Most of the beliefs expressed by these officials reflect an adoption of a Western perspective of giftedness in toto. Although many profound theories of what constitutes giftedness have been developed in the west, the testing of IQ has become an indispensable yardstick in measuring giftedness in spite of the fact that many intellectuals and theorists in the United States have criticized these IQ tests (Richert, 1985; Hunsaker, Callahan, & Abeel, 1991). It is ironic to observe that the IQ forms a major part for identification of gifted students in Navodaya Vidyalayas, where the traditional culture has a rich and indigenous concept of excellence that is dynamic and multi-faceted. Giftedness was never equated in ancient conceptions as merely academic excellence, rather it was recognized and valued in various human endeavors such as architecture, pottery, carpet making, engraving of stones, sculpture, sense of humor, poetry, story writing, story telling, painting, singing, dancing, and stage acting. Occasionally officials mentioned some of the above disciplines as possible fields of giftedness attributing some significance to the traditional concept of
119 giftedness. But apparently no effort has been made to identify giftedness in any of these fields except in academics. There is a lot of discussion about these programs in the samiti magazines and official documents. Many workshops are conducted to train teachers and students in various traditional art forms and to incorporate that into the classroom teaching, but very few or no follow-up activities are conducted to see the progress of the students or to supervise the implementation of this knowledge in the classroom by various teachers. The government could play an important role to promote these arts. Fostering a socialist economy, the government should encourage the organizations that hold exhibitions of the arts by providing them the required resources. This encourages the talented students to work hard in their fields of endeavor. Recognition to gifted students in various traditional arts in India not only encourages the students to be creative but also brings back life to the dying traditional arts, which are priceless. It was interesting to note one of the official’s mentioning an effort to identify the talents in these fields in the students after their selection. It is like putting the cart before the horse. This belief gives credence to the notion that academic achievement is mandatory for excellence in these various fields, which is not supported by experience or research (Bloom, 1985). Creative thinking and risk-taking abilities reflect the importance given to the creative aspect in various human endeavors in the traditional Indian culture. The beliefs about being able to contribute for the benefit of the society as
120 giftedness also has its roots in the traditional culture where excellence in humanitarian aspects such as service and sacrifice were highly valued and revered. Although these qualities were mentioned in the beliefs of the participants, none have been given any weight in the selection of the students.
Beliefs Related to Current Theories of Giftedness
The characteristics of gifted children mentioned by the participants can be broadly classified into (a) intellectual−high IQ, high scholastic aptitude, ability to grasp concepts quickly, and inquisitiveness; (b) creative−independent thinking, risk-taking ability, and creative thinking; and (c) socio-affective−highly focused on a task, ability to contribute to the society and benefit the society in which they live, and leadership qualities. Interestingly, these categories relate to present day theories of giftedness in the west such as those of Renzulli (1978) and Gagné (1985). While concepts from Renzulli or Gagné are sometimes reflected in what participants in this study said, participants did not seem to have in-depth knowledge of what makes giftedness and never actually referred to these theories. Nonetheless, the strong belief expressed by many participants that giftedness can be nurtured by providing the right environment very much matches with Gagné’s (1991) theory in which he describes natural abilities and catalysts. The belief that giftedness is inborn or bestowed by God and can be nurtured to its fullest by providing proper environment also falls in line with Gagné’s theory. A
121 participant’s acknowledgement that there could be many more gifted students, but only a few get an opportunity to get into these schools, confirms the belief that chance plays a role in the development of gifts, which is also reflective of Gagné’s theory. Almost all the participants differentiated between the terms gifted and talented, which is a distinct feature of Gagné’s theory, but were not clear as to what constitutes talent. The characteristics of giftedness mentioned by the participants obscurely reflected the three interlocking clusters of Renzulli’s (1978) three-ring conception of giftedness. Creativity and motivation were viewed as essentials along with extraordinary ability in any field to exhibit giftedness, which is a primary concept from Renzulli’s theory of giftedness. However, participants were not clear about the intricacies of the theory, that is, how the interaction of these three clusters promote gifted behaviors. The participants’ beliefs mostly reflected schoolhouse giftedness−a kind of giftedness that, according to Renzulli (1999), can be easily measured by standardized ability tests and therefore is most widely used in the selection of students for special programs. The competencies required to succeed on such cognitive-ability tests are the ones most valued in traditional school settings. This is clearly true for Navodaya Vidyalayas. Participants also expressed beliefs about the possibility of giftedness existing in many fields of human endeavors, which is corroborated with Renzulli’s (1978) definition. The categories of optimism, courage, romance with a topic or
122 discipline, sensitivity to human concerns, physical/mental energy, vision/sense of destiny, elaborated in the Operation Houndstooth (Renzulli, 2003), very much reflect the traditional beliefs of giftedness in India. Some of the participants’ beliefs reflected these categories to some extent as essential to exhibit giftedness. Lack of clarity and coherence about giftedness and talent could clearly be recognized from the participants’ responses. The participants had vague ideas of giftedness but they were neither strongly grounded in any of the western theories nor in the native concept of excellence. This lack of clarity can be traced to absence of a knowledge base on giftedness in the current education system.
Beliefs Related to Historical and Cultural Perspectives
In Indian culture, various definitions or ideas about giftedness evolved which are mainly derived from the professions, lifestyles, and environmental conditions. In ancient India, possession of humanitarian qualities like compassion, truthfulness, felicitous speech, generosity, sacrifice, single-mindedness in carrying out a task, respect for elders, and a service motive was considered to be excellence or giftedness. An ancient Indian religious text named Chandogya Upanishad delineates the qualities that epitomize giftedness or excellence. It says that any person having the qualities of vidya (study of knowledge), sraddha (totality of positive attitudes),
123 and upanishad (deep and meditative thinking) can be called an excellent and forcefully talented person, and many of the major monumental and momentous changes in the world have occurred because of the people who possess these qualities. When we look at the role models or highly admired personalities in Indian society, the conspicuous qualities in all of them are courage and conviction about one’s goals; steadfast pursuit of ambitions; honesty and sincerity in thought and action; respect for the elders; and working towards making the world a better place to live by propagating values like peace, love and harmony. The reasons for giving importance to these qualities are steeped in the historical, sociological, and economic profile of India. India is a country that has traditionally depended on agriculture and animal husbandry for livelihood. A major proportion of India’s population lived in villages and rural areas. Skills like ability to protect oneself from wild animals; ability to withstand and surmount natural vagaries like droughts, floods and storms; and ability to utilize available natural resources to the optimum extent were the tasks necessary to be performed to carry on with survival. These tasks required possession of qualities like creativity, logical thinking, focused actions and leadership skills, which were the qualities defined as excellence in those days. As a society with high population and limited economic or productive resources, there was a need for balanced use of these resources. Thus, qualities like sharing and giving, honesty and truthfulness in relationships, compassion for
124 others, simplicity and frugality in food, dress and celebrations, spiritual thinking, and a community spirit became admired and desired qualities in a person. Possessing these qualities was considered excellence. Although participants did not mention explicitly all these qualities as part of giftedness, a few expressed community spirit and one’s actions benefiting the society that reflect the traditional belief system. Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavadgita espouse the philosophy of “Sarve jana sukhinobhavantu, Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi.” (Let peace prevail everywhere and let everyone be happy and comfortable.) Any person who worked for the lofty ideals of benefiting the general well being of the society was considered gifted in Indian culture. As mentioned earlier, according to Chandogya Upanishad, qualities of vidya (science of knowledge), sraddha (positive attitudes) and upanishad (deep and meditative thinking) are considered to be giftedness. The examples cited in the previous chapters like Ekalavya, Shravan Kumar, Arjuna, Siddhartha, and other historical personalities like Vivekananda (a spiritual leader), Mahatma Gandhi (freedom fighter and Father of the Nation), and Mother Teresa (social worker) are some of the most admired people in India who had significant impact on the Indian psyche. The concept of working for the benefit of society was apparently being promoted actively in these schools from the participants’ views and also in the official documents where a lot of community service activities were recorded. These reflect the traditional value system in India.
125 However, in the last two to three centuries, the definition of giftedness has gone through a significant change. India became colonized by England and this led to important changes in the perspectives of Indian society. “The impact of colonialism was deep, causing depreciation and trivialization of ancient Indian knowledge and qualities, and all excellence was abolished as effectively as by decree (Anand, 1961, p. 69), resulting in the denigration of native excellence” (Raina & Srivastava, 2000, p. 104). The English rulers wanted to employ educated, talented Indians in lower level government positions to assist them in running the country according to their wishes. The positions for which Indians were appointed were mainly clerical positions and lower level civil service appointments, which required qualities like unquestioning loyalty and obedience to master, competence in mathematics and accounting, language proficiency in English, and an ability to adapt and adjust to new systems and procedures. As securing a job promised a decent lifestyle and security, many higher class and upper middle class Indians aspired to these positions and cultivated the requisite qualities. So, displaying these characteristics came to be accepted as excellence or giftedness. This idea persists even today and this is very much reflected in the Navodaya Vidyalaya organization in how success is defined. The competitive scores among schools that are published in almost all the official documents and the participants taking pride in mentioning their students securing jobs in various disciplines gives credence to this idea. In the present society, academic excellence, knowledge of mathematics, logical and analytical thinking, language proficiency and communication skills, and
126 interpersonal skills are generally the traits that are considered as demarcating a gifted person. Any extraordinary capability that can lead to economic or financial success in any areas−like sports, painting, dance, music, design, and artistic vocations such as pottery or puppetry−are also considered as giftedness. Academic success has become paramount in defining excellence. Talent or excellence for the sake of excellence is futile if it does not obtain a job, status, or position in society or financial success. This can be provided as the reason for the emphasis on academic achievement, although co-curricular activities are encouraged to some extent in these schools. Thus, when we look at the Indian definition of giftedness, there is no single or uniform definition of giftedness. The participants’ beliefs also seem to follow the suit and they have their own ideas, which are based on the commonly desired qualities in the society.
Beliefs Reflected in the Experiences of Participants
Most of the participants are happy with the NVS and its organizational strategies, and they all had praising words for the entrance exam, curriculum, and the results. Results in the exams are generally used as a yardstick to measure the success of the organization and also to evaluate the success of a teacher. These measures are quantifiable, whereas achievements in other activities such as dance,
127 music, sports, and arts are not precisely quantifiable, and teacher capability and organizational performance may not be evaluated with reference to these activities. For this reason, the teachers and administrators correlate giftedness with academic intelligence. As long as the percentage of marks is high; the parents, teachers, and administrators are happy with the organization. They all seem to aim at and again strive to get better marks and higher percentages every year. This emphasis is mainly arising out of the NVs comparison and competition with urban schools. Since urban schools are competitive in academics, the NVs also follow suit. This extensive emphasis on academics thus leads to the practice that it has of using academic outcomes as the yardstick for measurement of success of these schools, not only by school officials, but by parents in the larger society. Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti started with a focused mission and was later driven by the tides of social, political, and economic pressures. However, because NVS is not built on a solid, theoretical foundation, it is an organization whose objectives are influenced more by social, political, and economic imperatives rather than purely educational or intellectual factors. Its objectives cover a whole gamut from providing equity and justice and developing national integration to being pace-setting. This is quite a tall order, and if the purpose is not well defined, focus can be lost. In the present Indian society, education is viewed as a pathway to get a job, gain financial security and stability, and attain a higher social status and respectability. Very few people who pursue education, mainly coming from elite
128 sections of the society, do so for the purpose of enlightenment and intellectual stimulation. In any educational institution academic performance is given utmost importance because it fetches a person an earning job, allowing the person to survive in a highly competitive world. Thus, the effort to train and groom gifted children (especially those gifted in nonacademic fields) in the normal education system is a difficult and impractical task. Any educational institution should reflect and fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the larger society. Navodayas are no exception to this. But, this influence of society and the concurrent expectations, pressures and priorities of the society are driving the day-to-day functioning of Navodaya schools. Thus, gifted education remains an uncared for agenda, and the resources like time, money and effort are not invested in a sufficient quantity to pursue this noble idea. Whatever the stated aims and objectives of establishing these different schools, in the final analysis, they are like any other good school, which emphasizes academic achievement. There are many problems at the implementation level starting from selection of students, selection of teachers, training for teachers, curriculum and instruction, and administration. Some of the observations are elucidated in the following sections.
129 Entrance Test
Lack of clarity about the definition of giftedness seriously affects the selection procedure of students. Participants differ significantly in their opinion about the efficacy of the test in identifying gifted students. Many of them feel that, since the test is designed by highly qualified and respected educationists, it is a good test. They are complacent and smug in their belief that the test is effective in its task of selecting gifted children. To date, no systematic effort has been made to study the efficacy of the test. Still, many participants do not see any necessity for such study. They offer an explanation that since the test changes every year, it becomes difficult to systematically evaluate the test. However, there are some indications that the test is selecting some average students. The appearance of many tutorials for training the children for these tests is a worrying factor. Successful entry of many students from these tutorials into Navodayas gives an indication of the predictability of the questions in these tests. Any serendipitous occurrence of guessing answers correctly, bubbling up of the student, or the principle of natural selection where the fittest survive may lead to improper selections in the test. Teacher Selection
Selection of competent teachers for teaching in these schools, equipping them with modern teaching tools, providing periodical training and feedback,
130 providing them a satisfying emoluments and opportunities for personal life are necessary prerequisites for maintaining a good academic environment. It is observed that the teacher selection procedure at the NVs is systematic. Regular upgradating of their skills by providing training is also done. Most of the teachers are satisfied with the nature of their job and the challenges it poses. However, they complain about the long working hours and excessive workload and the variety of tasks imposed on them because of the residential system. They are unable to allocate much time for personal and family affairs. This may affect their treatment and relationship with reference to their pupils.
Participants differ significantly in their opinions about the efficacy of the curriculum provided in these schools. Some participants felt that the Navodayas should have a separate curriculum that meets the needs of gifted students. Some participants are of an opinion that the curriculum is of high standard, as it is prepared by CBSE and it meets the needs of gifted students. They are complacent in their belief that the curriculum is effective in its task of challenging gifted children. To date, no systematic effort has been made to study the efficacy of this curriculum. Still, many participants do not see any necessity for such study.
131 Urban-Rural Mix
Among the 80 students selected every year per school, 75% of the students are from rural areas and remaining 25% are from urban areas. The difference in the knowledge levels and skill sets of these students were reported as difficulties for the teachers. Within this mix teachers have variable expectations from the students expecting rural students to perform low. This might lead to poor performance of the rural students. Care should be taken to train teachers to have high expectations from all the students and not to judge a students’ capabilities based on the background of the student. Individual differences of the students such as learning pace and exposure level to a topic must be considered while framing the curriculum and designing classroom instruction.
Residential life has both its merits and demerits. Undoubtedly residential life makes a person self-dependent and confident. A few participants mentioned this as the positive aspect of the schools. However, gifted children require emotional and physical space to experiment with their ideas and thought processes. The pressure of a rigorous day schedule coupled with the emotional pressure of living away from one’s parents can create emotional disturbances in some students and stifle their growth. Lack of suitable counseling facilities worsens this
132 problem. Care should be taken to attend to the emotional needs of these tender age children by providing them with good counseling facilities.
Summary Participants believed that giftedness exists and it exists in various human endeavors. They also believed that it is important to identify and nurture gifted students. Some of the beliefs expressed by the participants reflected ancient Indian beliefs about excellence which can also be compared to some of the present day theories in the west. Some of the beliefs such as high IQ and high academic achievement expressed by the participants reflected various socio-political pressures, which drive the present day education system in India. These are the qualities that secures a person with a job in the highly competitive world. Whatever were the beliefs of the participants, they were not in concordance with the school practices. Practices such as identification procedures and emphasis on high academic performance clearly put aside the promotion of giftedness in various human endeavors. A rich concept of excellence is available in the Indian culture, which can be considered in framing a theory of giftedness that fits the present day Indian society. A broadened concept of giftedness is possible to develop and this could strengthen the program by guiding various school practices such as identification procedures and selection of curriculum and instruction.
133 CHAPTER VII
CONCLUSION Medipandu chuda melimai undunu Pottavippi chuda purugulundunu Medipandu (Indian wild fig fruit) is attractive with a shiny, golden yellow exterior, but when it is cut open the inside is filled with worms and disease.
The Navodaya Vidyalaya scheme, like all noble schemes in the world, has good motives and objectives. While it has many achievements to its credit, it is crippled by lack of clarity about the basic definition of what giftedness is and how to nurture it. Before proceeding to an in depth analysis, it is be pertinent to recapitulate the basic objectives of Navodaya Vidyalayas. The main objectives of Navodaya Vidyalayas are (a) to provide social equity and quality education to rural, talented children; (b) to act as pace setting schools, serving as focal points in each district for improvement in the quality of school education in general, through sharing of experiences and facilities; and (c) to ensure that all students of Navodaya Vidyalayas attain a reasonable level of competency in three languages, promote national integration, and create socially responsible and patriotic citizens. Though Navodaya Vidyalayas have these noble objectives, the participants’ experiences reveal that what is emphasized is high academic performance of the students.
Nonetheless, there are positive features of the Navodaya system. For example, Navodayas are providing much needed education facilities like qualified teachers, infrastructure, and motivation to the rural students. They are also providing free food and accommodation so that students who cannot afford such quality education can benefit, and good responsible citizens can be created out of deprived rural societies. This is a great service to the nation. Many pace setting activities like organizing interschool competitions, sharing school facilities with other schools in the neighborhood, taking up literacy programs, conducting AIDS awareness and sanitation awareness programs, and collecting funds for earthquake relief are being conducted. The children can benefit from these activities by gaining general knowledge about the outside world and what happens beyond the school. These programs also have the potential to develop empathy and affection in the children towards the problems of ordinary people in the society. This could create feelings of compassion, caring, and love for others in the students. Navodayas have a policy of migration to inculcate national integration. This helps create awareness about divergent customs and cultures of the country and develops a feeling of appreciation and attachment to other cultures. This could lead to a feeling of national integration and patriotism. Navodayas are residential schools, and students live with other students in the dormitories for many years. This experience inculcates values like team spirit,
135 unity, community spirit, dignity of labor, and tolerance for other cultures and religions, thus making a person self-sufficient and self-confident.
However, there are many shortcomings in the Navodaya system with reference to basic ideology and implementation of the scheme. The first objective is to provide quality education to the rural talented children. This is an admirable goal. The major problem is the lack of clarity about what giftedness is. Whatever may be the theoretical or stated beliefs about giftedness, in practice academic excellence and IQ are the only criteria used to judge giftedness and to select students. The entrance test is designed only with the objective of identifying these capabilities. Thus, students who are creative and gifted in other fields like music, sports, painting, fine arts, and traditional arts are not identified and nurtured. Suitable effort is not employed to identify and nurture these diverse talents. The curriculum and facilities in the schools are also focused in the direction of achieving better marks and results in the exams. Due to financial limitations, a fixed number of 80 students are selected, which leaves many other highly gifted children with only the impoverished educational opportunities in rural areas. Ironically, not all the students selected into Navodayas can be called gifted according to the narrow concept of giftedness the participants have. It is believed that because of some gaps
136 in the entrance exam and selection procedures, some students who are not so talented also get selected. Clearly, no effort is being made in these schools to find out giftedness in various traditional art forms and humanitarian aspects that were valued in the traditional Indian culture. Also, there is an assumption that the test identifies academically gifted and correctly eliminates those that aren’t. Participants do believe that gifted students are present in the rural areas and it is important to identify and nurture them to bring out the best in them. They also believe that giftedness exists in varied fields of human endeavors. However, none of them could provide a concrete definition of giftedness and the ways in which it can be identified and nurtured to its fullest. This can lead to an unfocused and unguided approach in identifying and nurturing giftedness as each participant tries to interpret these practices according to his or her own beliefs of giftedness.
A Culturally Responsive Definition
An articulated belief system is necessary to understand, implement and evaluate the various features of the Navodaya system. An articulated belief system about giftedness, which focuses on Indian values, is possible. At present, the main criticism is that there is no psychological theory or conceptual framework that is responsive to the Indian sociocultural context. Given the rich cultural perspective of excellence in India, it is very much possible to develop a theory or belief system that answers and counters this criticism.
137 Based on the literature available on the native concept of excellence, my understanding of this concept, and the beliefs expressed by the participants, I propose the following for consideration as one possible definition of giftedness that is suitable to the cultural context of India. The major components of the definition are stated as declarative knowledge. Particular manifestations of the concept within Indian culture are indicated in parentheses. Giftedness is a unique, extraordinary aptitude (inherent ability, quickness in learning and understanding, quality of being suitable, interest) in any valued field of human endeavor (intellectual, creative, spiritual, emotional, humanistic, and musical/artistic/aesthetic). The nurturing medium is the environment required for these gifts to blossom into full-fledged talents. This medium can be divided into (a) personal factors that include interest (passion; total immersion; confluence of heart, mind and soul; inner drive; self-motivation) and commitment (devotion, hard work, and dedication); and (b) environmental factors that include support (family, siblings, peers, teachers, school, availability of ideal role models) and opportunity or luck (such as being in the right place at the right time). Creating interest and developing commitment can be done by providing proper support and opportunities. The development of a gift may not need all the above mentioned factors to be positive, but availability of one or more factors will definitely make a difference in the development of the gift. Talent is a very special way of expressing one’s aptitudes or abilities, which gives pleasure to oneself or others or both. Talent is the highest form of self-expression (academic, sensual, aesthetic,
138 altruistic [service and leadership orientations], self-satisfaction, and spiritual realization [metaphysical thinking, self-awareness]). This conception is very similar to that posited by Gagné (1993), but has included important elements from Indian culture. As I proceeded in this research, the literature review and the interviews with the participants took me back again and again to Gagné’s theory because I strongly felt some similarities between these two concepts. When I asked the participants about the justification of selecting only 80 students per year most of them said that there could be many more gifted students but because of the financial issues they had to limit themselves to few. This gives credence to the similarity with Gagne’s (2000) theory, which emphasizes the role of the chance factor in identification and nurturing of giftedness. Similarly, Gagné’s beliefs that giftedness can exist in varied fields of human endeavors and that gifts need to be identified and nurtured by providing the right environment also lead me to this conclusion that Gagné’s (2000) theory closely resembles a concept of giftedness compatible with Indian culture. This definition closely fits the belief system often given by study participants. Some of the present activities and schemes introduced by NVS are innovative and reflect the traditional Indian concepts of excellence. In Indian society, society’s welfare comes before one’s own welfare. Thus involving students in national integration activities like the National Service scheme, interschool sports competitions, community service activities, disaster relief, and fund raising activities for humanitarian needs is an excellent approach to promote a feeling of
139 social responsibility and love for the society in the students. These activities very much reflect and promote the notions of confluence of heart, mind, and soul and of an altruistic talent from the conception I just proposed. Pace setting activities taken up by the school lead towards sharing the facilities of the school with other schools in the region and emphasize the importance of sharing and working for the common good which is a deep rooted principle in Indian culture. Cocurricular activities for the all-around development of the child, the three language formula, and art in education help in the integrated development of a child and expose him to enlightening activities. This is concordant with the ideas of gifts in any valued area of human endeavor, especially the humanistic and musical/artistic/aesthetic. The concepts of residential life style and social service activities are rooted in traditional concepts as stated by Ranganathananda. “Human excellences such as tyaga (sacrifice) and seva (service) for and to the society are also stressed in the Indian tradition” (as cited in Raina and Srivastava, 2000, p. 103). Again, a connection to altruistic talent is seen. Program Components NVS should retain and improve upon these valued parts of its curriculum that are very much grounded in the traditional value system of India. However, many practices in these schools, such as the identification procedures, do not show any concordance with this existing belief system. An articulated belief system should influence student selection, teacher selection, and curriculum and instruction. This would require some changes in the present structure of the NVS
140 program. Of course, because of possible political, economic, social, and cultural barriers, some changes are more easily implemented than others. At first, the concerned politicians must recognize a need for change in the concept of giftedness and various practices related to it. This recognition would initiate a search for the values that are vital to the Indian society, thus, leading to a theoretical framework of the concept of giftedness treasured by the ancient Indian society. A theoretical definition could help the authorities in framing an official definition of giftedness guiding various practices in the field of gifted education leading to an operational definition. Addressing the financial barriers involves many resources. This includes identifying the gifts of students in various fields and appointing experts to train these students. One way of approaching this problem could be to establish centers of excellence in specific fields at specific locations. This, of course, adds the additional potential problem of transporting all students gifted in a particular field to one school where experts in that field would be available to nurture their gifts. Nonetheless, this structure could help in the economical management of human resources (i.e., expertise). Addressing the social barriers, the caste system plays a pivotal role even in today’s society. For example, a cobbler earns a menial wage not enough for even meeting basic family necessities. It is impossible to expect such people to educate their children. Where the existing mandate for free primary education is being ignored, the grampanchayat (village administration) should be more active in
141 encouraging families to see that every child should is in school. Adequate help and support should be provided to every child to be assured of their progress in the school. It is recognized that these suggestions would be implemented in a complex sociopolitical context that would make implementation very difficult. This complexity, however, does not excuse government agencies from making best effort. It is also suggested that the quota system be made need-specific rather than caste-specific. This revised system would increase the chance of getting quality education for the economically disadvantaged sections of the society as well as the socially disadvantaged. Also, assessment of gifts in the children should be an ongoing process every year starting from grade I, rather than assessing only in one particular grade and labeling the students as either gifted or not gifted. The identification of specific growth needs would better serve the individual and the community.
Student Selection Process
The JNVS test would require a total revision with respect to the criteria for identifying giftedness. In place of the present parameters of mathematics and language skills, a new identification system would need to be developed with criteria based on the broadened conception of giftedness. Separate and unique parameters and instruments should be used for different areas of giftedness. For
142 example, a child gifted in dance must be identified by testing her or his aptitude for dance–movements, expressions, and creativity. A group of experts in each field could review the applications of students in a particular field and outstanding students could be interviewed to exhibit their talent. Multiple sources of data should be considered to get the complete picture of the student being identified. Giftedness in neglected areas like fine arts, traditional skills, sports and other such disciplines should be given due recognition and importance because giftedness is believed to exist in any valued human endeavor. This process may seem arduous and laborious in the initial stages and might create chaos and confusion, but a successful implementation of the system would be able to identify many gifted students in varied fields of human endeavors. This would be a great service to the society as giftedness in many valued human endeavors is going unnoticed, undeveloped, and unused. Identifying students possessing a broad range of gifts could have the potential to change the society greatly.
Dedicated teachers who are willing to understand and cater to the needs of gifted children should be recruited to these schools. Expert teachers in varied fields should be recruited and the teachers should be provided with the flexibility of work hours so as to give them time for their personal lives. Other administrative burdens should not be placed on the teachers to the extent possible. Teachers should be well
143 trained in the identification and nurturing of giftedness in varied fields. They should also be trained to set examples for the students in various humanitarian endeavors like service and sacrifice.
Curriculum and Instruction
The NVS should disengage itself from the common curriculum of CBSE which binds it to other schools and forces it to take part in the rat race of unnecessary and unhealthy competition for academic scores. There is a need for NVS to develop its own, customized curriculum, which meets the needs of the talented children and fulfills the present day requirements of the society. Since NVS should have a unique, customized curriculum that focuses on individual student strengths discovered through the selection process, Navodaya Vidyalayas should not be competing with any outside schools or students. Each individual should be encouraged to strive for excellence in his or her own field with the help of the inner drive of the student and a supportive environment such as encouragement and guidance of the teachers and parents. Living for the greater cause of the benefit of the society must be part and parcel of the teaching. “Share your talent for the benefit of the society” could be the motto of these schools and would encourage students to strive for excellence in various humanitarian aspects like sacrifice, service, tolerance and respect for others.
144 Final Thought With a well articulated concept of giftedness and finding a foundation for various practices in these schools within the cultural context of India, the NVS can be strengthened to a great extent. The NVS is attractive from outside with its features such as free and quality education to develop rural talent, promotion of national integration, and pace-setting activities. This can be compared to the exterior of the fig fruit. In India, though the inside of the fig fruit is filled with worms, people don’t throw away the fruit but clean out the worms and eat the fruit. Similarly, NVS can be strengthened by a broadened concept of giftedness that reflects Indian culture and by planning various practices of the schools based on this broader concept. This could make the interior of this fruit look as wonderful as the fruit looks from outside.
Bogden, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (1998). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Bloom, B. S. (1985). Developing talent in young people. Random House, NY: Ballantine Books. British Education in India. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2003, from http://members.tripod/~INDIA_RESOURCE/britishedu.htm Clark, B. (1997). Growing up gifted: Developing the potential of children at home and at school (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Davis, G. A., & Rimm, S. B. (1998). Education of the gifted and talented (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Freire, P. & Faundez, A. [T. Coates, Trans.]. (1989). Learning to question: A pedagogy of liberation. New York: Continuum. Gagné, F. (1985). Giftedness and talent: Reexaminig a reexamination of the definitions. Gifted Child Quarterly, 29, 103-112. Gagné, F. (1991). Toward a differentiated model of giftedness and talent. In N. Colangelo and G.A. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education. (1st ed., pp. 65-80). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Gagné, F. (1993). Constructs and models pertaining to exceptional human abilities. In K. A. Heller, F. J. Monks, and A. H. Passow (Eds.), International
146 handbook of research and development of giftedness and talent. (1st ed., pp. 69-87). NY: Pergamon Press. Gagné, F. (2000). Understanding the complex choreography of talent development through DMGT-based analysis. In K. A. Heller, F. J. Monks, R. J. Sternberg, and R. F. Subotnik (Eds.), International handbook of giftedness and talent. (2nd ed., pp. 67-79). NY: Pergamon Press. Hunsaker, S. L., Abeel, L. B., & Callahan, C. M. (1991, June). Instrument Use in the Identification of Gifted and Talented Children. Paper presented at the meeting of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program Grant Recipients, Washington, DC. Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas. (n.d.). Rural residential schools: A profile. Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, New Delhi. Marland, S. P. (1972). Education of the gifted and talented: Vol. 1. Report to the Congress of the United States by the U. S. Commissioner of Education. Washington, DC: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Menon. N. (1978). Diplomacy and diplomats. The Illustrated Weekly of India. 37, 44-50. Nanda, N. (1995). The school system in India: A critique. Retrieved September 21, 2001, from http://ignca.nic.in/cd_06021.htm Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti. (n.d.). Citizen Charter. Ministry of Human Resource Development, New Delhi.
147 Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2001, from http://www.navodayaschools.com/home/default.html Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (1999). A critique of Renzulli’s theory into practice models for gifted learners. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 23, 55-66. Patton, Q. M. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd ed.). NewburyPark, CA:Sage. Press Information Bureau. (1999). Navodaya Vidyalayas show best results among all categories of schools. Retrieved September 20, 2001 from http://pib.nic.in/ lreleng /10699/rl70699 Raina, M.K. (1985, July/August). Education of the gifted. G-C-T, 39, pp. 44-46. Raina, M.K., & Srivastava, A.K. (2000). India’s search for excellence: A clash of ancient, colonial, and contemporary influences. Roeper Review, 22 , 102108. Reis, S. M., & Renzulli, J. S. (1985). The secondary triad model: A practical plan for implementing gifted programs at the junior and senior high school levels. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press. Renzulli, J. S. (1978). What makes giftedness? Reexamining a definition. Phi Delta Kappan, 60, 180-184, 261. Renzulli, J.S. (1999). What is this called giftedness, and how do we develop it? A twenty-five year perspective. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 23, 354.
148 Renzulli, J.S. (2003). Conception of giftedness and its relationship to the development of social capital. In N. Colangelo and G.A.Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education (3rd ed., pp.75-87). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Renzulli, J.S., & Reis, S.M. (1986). The enrichment triad/revolving door model: A schoolwide plan for the development of creative productivity. In J. S. Renzulli (Eds.), Systems and models for developing programs for the gifted and talented. (pp. 216-266). Mansfield center, CT: Creative Learning Press. Renzulli, J.S., & Reis, S.M. (1997). The schoolwide enrichment model: A how-to guide for educational excellence (2nd ed.). Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press. Richert, E. S. (1985). The state of the art of identification of gifted students in the united states. Gifted Education International, 3(1), 47-51. Tannenbaum, A.J. (1991). The social psychology of giftedness. In N. Colangelo and G.A.Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education (1st ed., pp. 27-44). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Appendix A Consent Form
Page 1 of 2 Date Created: May 24, 2002 INFORMED CONSENT Concept of Giftedness Underlying the Navodaya Vidyalayas, and its Organizational Strategies. Dear Participants, I am from India and working on a doctoral degree at Utah State University. My focus is on the gifted and talented education. I am interested in exploring the concept of giftedness and also various practices related to gifted education in India. Therefore, I have chosen Navodaya Vidyalayas, established for rural, gifted and talented children, to study the concept of giftedness underlying them and their organizational strategies. My plan is to conduct interviews with the central authorities in the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, and with few administrators and teachers at two different schools. I will tape record all the interviews to help me better transcribe the information. The interviews will last anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes. I also plan to view the records such as documentation of teacher and student selection procedures, selection of curriculum and instruction, the goals and objectives of the schools, with the written permission of the concerned authorities. Your participation in this research is very important for my study. If you do not understand any part of this consent form, or if you need translation into any other language I will be more than happy to help you. However, participation in this research is entirely voluntary. You may refuse to participate or withdraw from participation at anytime without consequence. Regarding research records, I am pleased to inform you that all the records will be kept confidential consistent with federal and state regulations. Only the investigator and members of my doctoral committee will have access to the data. I will use pseudonyms of the individuals in recording and reporting the interviews instead of using their original names. The data will not be kept for more than 3 months and then will be destroyed. Any tape recordings will also be destroyed by deleting everything or cutting them into pieces. In addition, if you believe that you have been harmed as a result of your participation in this research program, please contact the Vice-President of research office at 435-797-1821. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the protection of human subjects at Utah State University has reviewed and approved this research project. The information gained in this research will help the gifted educators in India to better understand the concordance of the concept of giftedness underlying the Navodaya Vidyalaya and its organizational strategies. It also helps all the
Page 2 of 2 Date Created: May 24, 2002 INFORMED CONSENT Concept of Giftedness Underlying the Navodaya Vidyalayas, and its Organizational Strategies. people who are interested in understanding the concept of giftedness and the various practices in gifted education in India. All the participants in the study will be given a card with a thank you note as a token of appreciation of their time and energy. I will share the findings of my study with the central authorities. If you agree to participate in this research, please sign the form below. Please feel free to call my committee chair, Dr. Scott Hunsaker or me if you have any concerns or questions. Vani Gaddam 620 E, 700 N, #3 Logan, UT 84321 Ph: 435-787-2696 E-mail: [email protected]
Dr. Scott Hunsaker UMC 2805 Dept. of Elem. Education Logan, UT 84322-2805 Ph: 435-797-0386 E-mail: [email protected]
By signing below, I agree to participate in this research project. -------------------------------------------Signature of the participant
Appendix B Semi-Structured Interview Protocol for Teachers
Interview Guide for Teachers What is the concept of giftedness underlying the Navodaya Vidyalayas? How do you feel about the students? Are they all intelligent and gifted? Why do you think that way? What is your background? Do you have any experience in teaching the gifted students? How were you selected for the school? What are you beliefs about giftedness? What do you feel about the curriculum and training being offered at the Navodaya Vidyalayas? Is it appropriate and challenging? Why or why not? Are you satisfied with the entrance tests for the students? Why or why not? How much say do you have in the student selection and curriculum and instruction selection processes? What, according to your opinion, are some good things about the Navodaya Vidyalayas? What are some drawbacks of the Navodaya Vidyalayas? Why? How do you feel about the job as a teacher at the Navodaya Vidyalaya when compared to the job as a teacher at any other school? Is it challenging/exciting? Why or why not? What are the major changes you would like to see in the running of the Navodaya Vidyalayas? Why?
What do you feel about the standardized curriculum? What kind of pressure does it have on you to be in compliance with the standardized national curriculum and instruction? Do you have any self-development/in-service training programs? If yes, how often? What do you feel about such programs?
Note. As the study progressed the semi-structured interview questions were adjusted.
Appendix C Semi-Structured Interview Protocol for Principals
Interview Guide for Principals What is the concept of giftedness underlying the Navodaya Vidyalayas? How do you feel about the students? Are they all gifted and intelligent? Why do you think that way? What is your background? Do you have any experience in gifted education? How were you appointed to the school? What are your beliefs about giftedness? Do you see the curriculum and instruction at the Vidyalayas appropriate for the gifted students? Why? What, according to your opinion, are some good things about the Navodaya Vidyalayas? What are the drawbacks of Navodaya Vidyalayas that need to change? How do you feel about the teacher selection? Are they all trained well to teach gifted students? Why or why not? How much say do you have in the teacher selection process and curriculum and instruction selection? How do you feel about your position? (Authoritative sense) How often do the officials conduct inspection? Are these inspections useful in terms of making effective changes in the program based on the results from evaluation? Why or why not?
How do you manage the compliance of the program with the standardized curriculum and instruction? Do you think that all the Navodaya Vidyalayas are the same? Why? What are the major changes you would like to see in the running of the Navodaya Vidyalayas? Do you have any leadership/in-service training programs? What do you feel about such programs?
Appendix D Semi-Structured Interview Protocol for Central Authorities
Interview Guide for the Central Authorities What were the motivational factors behind establishing the Navodaya Vidyalayas? What is the concept of giftedness underlying the Navodaya Vidyalayas? What were the objectives of the Navodaya Vidyalaya when established? Is there any follow up study conducted on the achievement of these objectives? Where may I obtain that? Is there any documentation on the achievement of the goals? What is that? What are your personal beliefs about giftedness? What are your teacher selection criteria? What are your student selection criteria? What is the curriculum and instruction you chose for these schools and what are the criteria? How often do you inspect the schools? How is such an inspection conducted? Do you think all the Navodaya Vidyalayas are the same? Why/Why not? How do you justify choosing only 80 students per year from a district? In what ways do you see the curriculum and instruction meeting needs of the gifted and talented students? What is the official definition of giftedness and how is the concordance between this definition and the other organizational strategies? How do you monitor the implementation of curriculum and instruction?
What standards do you set for these schools and how do you monitor the compliance? How is each of these schools similar/dissimilar? How do these differences occur? Who else do I need to talk to who knows about Navodaya Vidyalayas?
Appendix E Organizational Chart of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti
Appendix F Auditor’s Attestation
Appendix G Copyright Permission Letters
CURRICULUM VITAE Vani Gaddam 1580 Pelham Pkwy S Apt # 5-0 Bronx, NY 10461 (435)-757-3839 (718)-812-9821 [email protected]
Areas of Interest Gifted and talented education, Service activities. Education PhD – Aug 2003 -Curriculum and Instruction Area of Emphasis: Gifted and Talented Education College of Education Utah State University, Logan, UT. Master of Education – July 2000 Institute of Advanced Study in Education Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. Master of Science – Sept. 1999 University College for Women Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. Bachelor of Education – Sept. 1997 AMS College of Education Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. Bachelor of Science – May 1996 Women’s College, Nizamabad, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India.
PhD Project Beliefs and Practices related to Giftedness in Navodaya Vidyalayas. (Schools for rural, gifted, and talented children in India)
Course Projects Emotional needs of gifted children, Cross cultural study of the understanding of the concept of marriage, Case study of a gifted child, Evaluation of the gifted and talented program of Milville elementary school.
1. Worked as a career counselor and course coordinator with PROMAC (Professional Management Academy), a premier institute offering guidance for personality development and career planning. 2.
Worked as a teacher handling classes for primary school students with Vignan Public School, Nizamabad.
3. Worked as a Television Program host with E-TV, a channel with a viewer-ship of eight million people. Achievements: 1. Held the position of President of the student body, AMS College of Education in the year 1996-97. 2. Received Best Student award for the year 1995-96 at Women’s College, Nizamabad. 3. Working as a Television presenter for E-TV, a popular television channel having about 8 million viewers.
4. Awarded the Best Volunteer award – National Service Scheme twice, for the years 1995-96 and 1998-99. 5. Received Best Actress award of the year 1999 at O.U. College for women, Hyderabad. 6.
Received many commendations and awards for acting, singing and dancing at many cultural festivals.
7. Won many prizes for essay writing, debate and creative writing competitions at school, college and in inter college level. 8. Advisor of ISA (Indian Student Association) for the year 2001-2002 at Utah State University. 9.
Student life Vice President of ISC (International Student Council) for the year 2001- 2002 at Utah State University.
10. Advisor of ISA (Indian Student Association) for the year 2002-2003 at Utah State University. Extracurricular Activities: 1. Served as an active National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteer for seven years. 2. Active campaigner for creating AIDS awareness and participant in many rallies and seminars conducted by the university on AIDS. 3. Attended the ten-day National Integration Camps seven times as part of NSS.
4. Conducted a door-to-door survey and motivation campaign for creating awareness about PULSE POLIO program and various governmental development schemes. 5. Led many women oriented workshops and programs motivating women to participate in various government schemes. Presentations: Gaddam, V. (2001, November). Teaching Creativity Through Dance. National Association of Gifted Children, Creativity Night, Cincinnati, Ohio. Gaddam, V. (2002, January). Teaching Creativity Through Dance. Utah Association for Gifted Children Midwinter Conference, Provo, Utah. Gaddam, V. (2002, January). Womanhood and Giftedness: Reflections of Talented Women from Diverse Cultures. Utah Association for Gifted Children Midwinter Conference, Provo, Utah. Gaddam, V. (2002, November). Womanhood and Giftedness: Reflections of Talented Women from Diverse Cultures. National Association of Gifted Children, Denver, Colorado.
Manuscripts Submitted: Gaddam, V. (2003). Womanhood and Giftedness: Reflections of Talented Women from Diverse Cultures. Manuscript submitted for publication.