. I’m writing this post sitting in Mumbai airport at 3am, my first foot in India, so to speak, and the start of a new ed(ucational)venture.
The story of how I came to be here began six months ago, while undertaking research for the creative pedagogies for creative learning ecologies project I came across a TEDx talk by Rahul Hasijah. He talked about the education provided by Swaraj University near Udaipur in Rajastahn province of NW India to develop learners as social entrepreneurs. Like many TED speakers his talk was quite inspiring and I searched for more information. I found the university website and an article he had written and emailed him to see if we could republish it in Creative Academic magazine. He readily agreed and in my capacity as editor I helped him develop the piece. Through our conversation I formed a plan to visit the university and Rahul was very encouraging.
Journeying – field trips are all about participating in a journey that involves mentally and physically getting ready and the participating in a journey that takes us from what is known into the unknown. Of course life itself is a never ending journey and where we go is as much about our orientation to exploration as it is to our circumstances.
Six months after discovering Swaraj University here I am on my way to Udaipur feeling excited, expectant and a little apprehensive as well as feeling a bit odd after travelling for 13 hours with another 6 ahead of me before I reach my hotel in Udaipur.
Travelling puts you into a liminal state – betwixt and between, moving from one place to another from what is familiar everyday to what, in this case is completely unfamiliar. I remember from my days as a geologist that sometimes fieldwork involves a continuous process of travelling. Making a new path in order to discover new things. Here I am journeying towards a specific place inhabited by particular people who do particular things for particular purposes. My fieldwork involves journeying into their lives for a short while to try to connect their lives to my own.
I have done some preparation and I think I know what sort of things I want to learn, but of course what emerges may be totally different. I want to understand how this form of entrepreneurial education has come about – it is itself the product of entrepreneurs seeing and acting on opportunity driven by strong personal beliefs, and what it is about the context that enables it to flourish. I want to know why the teachers – facilitators and mentors have got involved in this novel educational project. I want to appreciate how learners experience these forms of education, why they have chosen to participate in it and how they fell they are being changed by the experience. I want to see what I can learn from this approach to education that I can incorporate into my own practice, and my hope is that I can form new relationships from which new, as yet unimagined, possibilities can grow.
I have lots of questions but sometimes you just have to experience something in order to know what questions to ask and this is why I have come here in order to experience the context in order to understand the questions I need to ask – and that is at the heart of the idea of fieldwork – to experience and better understand the context.