Field Practice | MA in Education: Why it is more than just practice

It’s a practical experience crafted to prepare education professionals to improve the quality of education in India, highlights Kinnari Pandya, faculty member, MA in Education.

Kinnari field practice 1

Image credit: Kinnari Pandya

We drove through lush patches of cotton and tuvar (pigeon pea) fields, and reached a village. We sat in a clean, well-organised room, and observed the ongoing processes in this Anganwadi centre. The teacher was conducting a range of activities with children in the age group of 2.5 to 5 years— getting the children to pick their ID cards as a way of marking attendance, narrating a story, holding a conversation with them on what they saw on their way to the Anganwadi centre and so on. 

After observing them for a little while, the teacher asked me to introduce myself to the children. 

I said, Like your teacher, I too am a teacher. Once you finish school, you will go to college. I teach in a college”. 

Two children immediately asked, Are you Kashish akka’s teacher?”

Yes, I am. I teach Kashish and her friends,” I said. 

When will Kashish akka come back to teach us?” they asked.

Like many of my colleagues, I was visiting Kalaburgi, one of the Azim Premji Foundation’s District Institutes, also a site for Field Practice for the MA in Education students, to meet our students and colleagues, who were in the Field for a period of twelve weeks as a part of their programme.

While speaking to Kashish and her classmates, our second year Master’s in Education (MA in Education) students, the same evening, on what was one of the most significant takeaways from the course, one heard a resounding chorus — the most valued experience for most of them was being with children, and directly engaging with them, assisting the teacher, engaging with the community and the working of an Anganwadi centre.

The teachers, helpers, children at the centre, the community they visited, and the autowala uncle who ferried them to the centre and back every day had all formed relationships that would be cherished for a lifetime. They celebrated Diwali together, visited their homes, had their moments and opportunities immersing themselves in the local culture. Their inner circle of peers and faculty mentors as immediate carers — both for their learning and wellbeing seemed to have imprinted on this otherwise rigorous time away from the campus in Bengaluru.

It was a proud moment to realise that our students had (to a good extent) imbibed and appreciated what was at the core of this programme, carefully crafted for them, by innumerable colleagues and the supportive teachers and officials in the system.

Through the field practice, students pursue a course on the focus subject area, teacher professional development, conduct a mini-research, observe-prepare and assist in conducting professional development sessions, plan, teach and reflect on their teaching experience. This rigorous immersive schedule is facilitated by faculty with rich direct engagement with the education system.

MA Ed students during their field practice
Photo Credit:
Uma Maheshwara Jaggena Rao

As a part of this preparation, this group of students were involved in peer-teaching. A striking aspect of this exercise was the feedback’ the students provided and received from their peers and the faculty during a peer-teaching session.

The maturity and openness with which the peers participated as learners, and the teacher/​facilitator students’ received systematic feedback on every aspect of their teaching, i.e., their plan, the presentation, choice of content, activities, preparation and clarity of explanation, was incredible.

It was a proud moment to realise that our students had (to a good extent) imbibed and appreciated what was at the core of this programme, carefully crafted for them, by innumerable colleagues and the supportive teachers and officials in the system.

At the core of this field practice is practical experience’ — that hopes to enable students to examine the linkages between ground realities of schools, teachers, children, and their contexts — develop dispositions like care and ethical concerns related to working with children and teachers, experience of local culture, plan, teach, reflect, and develop the sensibilities required to become educational practitioners.

Students acknowledged that they were able to appreciate the nuances of theories at the core of perspective building, and that a theoretical notion may play out very differently in reality when one is immersed in a context.

For instance, the notion of a child one perceives through understanding theories of child development, a complex concept such as that of childhood’ as assumed through a theoretical explanation may be very different from the actuality of that phenomenon; the role language and contexts play in the work of a teacher; how policy statements trickle down and get implemented on the ground; that larger systemic change is about the continuous ongoing effort on the ground and so on.

Further, theoretical principles are critical to making sound plans, yet they are plausible for effective implementation only when rooted in the contexts and reality within which the plans must be operationalised in.

The Field Practice course in the MA Education programme has all the above as an explicit focus and is not merely aimed at practising and becoming habitual to master a skill as the term practice typically suggests. 

At the core of this field practice is practical experience’ — that hopes to enable students to examine the linkages between ground realities of schools, teachers, children, and their contexts — develop dispositions like care and ethical concerns related to working with children and teachers, experience of local culture, plan, teach, reflect, and develop the sensibilities required to become educational practitioners.

Theoretical principles are critical to make sound plans, yet they are plausible for effective implementation only when rooted in the contexts and reality within which the plans must be operationalised in.

Implicit to the long practical component is the growth of personal-interpersonal-professional aspects that is inevitable through an immersive experience.

As one of the students remarked, this course, the semester-long Field Practice of the MA in Education programme, is a game-changer’. And indeed, it seems so, in the multiple ways in which the experience has impacted students’ learning and growth, both as individuals and professionals. All these efforts are in the singular hope that our students will be true game-changers’ to improve the quality of education and schooling in India.

Postgraduate Programmes

MA in Education

Nurturing passionate professionals for Education, Evolving Indian Education System and its need for trained professionals.

Applications closed for Early Admissions

Campuses Bengaluru
Bhopal

About the Author

Kinnari Pandya teaches in the education programmes at the University and has been associated with the MA in Education programme since its inception in 2009