The Peer Alliance for Productive Professional Experience in Teaching (PAPPET) program sent 20 pre-service teachers to Bengaluru, India.
Australia is known as a multicultural nation, with people from all walks of life intersecting, and educators are expected to accommodate the country’s growing diversity.
At RMIT, five per cent of teaching students must complete a global mobility experience, and the PAPPET program is one of these.
The three-week program immersed 20 Bachelor of Education students from RMIT and La Trobe University in Indian primary and high schools, with the help of 20 local pre-service teachers from Christ University.
Program Manager Dr Rohan Nethsinghe said the PAPPET project was a valuable opportunity for pre-service teachers to give their future students the best and most diverse education possible.
“The PAPPET program is designed to equip the graduates with cross cultural competencies recommended for Australian educators,” he said.
The Australian and Bengaluru teachers collaborated to plan lessons and work with year eight students on an exhibition titled Integrating New and Diverse Ideas from Australia (INDIA), which compared their respective cultures across dance, science, art and more.
The Australian pre-service teachers also had the chance to explore the broader educational, religious and cultural surroundings of India.
From discussions on Krishnamurti educational philosophy to Hindu temples in Mysore, students’ understanding of Bengaluru and India at large went beyond surface level.
Dr Nethsinghe said Asia-Australia connections are a key learning area of cross-curriculum taught in schools to benefit Australians.
“The PAPPET project offers such knowledge about social, cultural, political and economic links through direct engagement with Asia/Asians.
“It has the potential to sustain and thrive as a source of knowledge for Australia in the Asian Century, preparing Australian teachers to address the challenges of cultural diversity in schools.”
Jacquelyn Scott was one RMIT pre-service teacher who participated in the PAPPET program and said the experience had given her a valuable insight to diversity within and between countries.
“Teaching to a different syllabus has given me an appreciation of the Australian curriculum and enhanced my ability to be flexible in my teaching,” she said.
“Using reflective practice to observe, analyse and interpret our experiences of education in India will be transferred in our future teaching practice to promote ourselves as interculturally competent teachers.”
But Scott said her most important takeaway was the deep connection that formed between the Australian and Indian teachers, despite their differences.
“Our colleagues were from vastly diverse cultural backgrounds to our own,” she said.
“We learned how to behave appropriately, built genuine relationships and promoted cross-cultural alliances.”
The PAPPET program, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is set to continue until 2020.
Story: Jennifer Park