Keare from Loomis

Overall I had an amazing experience! I had a great time when I went the first year and an even better time the second year! The second year went a lot smoother, it felt like we got to do more, and the group bonded a lot more. We all especially loved working at the school and getting to know the students.

Working at the School:
-this was such an amazing experience! My only complaint is that the our activities were very disorganized. Most of time, no one had any idea where they were supposed to be teaching, or if they weren't teaching, what project they working on. Within the activities too, we didn't know what we were supposed to be teaching or how we supposed to conduct the project.

Ideas for at the School: I think we should have made, on the plane or before we got to Fabindia, a "curriculum" of things to teach the students or a list of possible activities (i.e. going over English plurals of nouns, or playing hangman or pictionary). When we left we felt like we hadn't really taught them that much English so I think more organization would really help.

Spend more time with Fabindia students our age: I was really interesting to be able to talk with the high schoolers at Fabindia. Could we maybe do some work in their classes, or help them with the English papers? Could there also be more pressure to interact with them? Maybe a set time when we all have to sit together to have lunch with them, just so we can get to know them? (it's a lot easier to introduce yourself to a little kid than a teenager)

When I went to Morocco last summer, my tripmates and I brought pictures of our family members and places back home to show our host families and the children at the school. Since Fabindia students were very curious about America, it would be nice if LC students come maybe bring some pictures.

Also, since, LC students are curious about India it would be nice if we could spend more time with the students/their families. Visiting Shaily and Shefali's house was so much fun, but it was the only non-hotel or non-restaurant I'd stayed at in India. Could we maybe split the Loomis students into groups and have them eat lunch in the home of a Fabindia family one day?

The Dance: We LOVED learning the dance the girls taught us and performing it! Since they spent so much time teaching us, I think we could teach them some form of American dance. Maybe like the cotton-eye-joe or something simple and fun?

-we spent a lot of time driving --often three times as much time in the bus than actually in a city/destination. I realize that traveling is difficult and that to visit some places you do have to drive there, but maybe Loomis could find a quicker way to transport--maybe flying more? Taking a train would be good too, but only if we could find ride in 1st/sleeper class or find a train service that was comfortable and safe (not the train we took two years ago when someone's bag got stolen)

Temple: we LOVED going to the temple that had thousands of pillars and even though it was out of the way it was definitely a highlight of the trip

We went to the fabindia store a lot but it would nice if we could have gone to more markets and spent more time in the crafts/co op store we went to in Delhi.

I apologize for this being such a long email, but since I went on the trip twice (and really enjoyed it) I have a lot to say!

Keara Jenkins

Fab Alumnus!

Abhinav was at The Fabindia School from 1997-98 to 1999-2000. He joined the school in class VII. Son of Mr. B.N Jha who had come to Bali as a manager  at IOC(Indian Oil corporation) Kot. He left the school in 2000 as his father was transferred to Rajkot. Abhinav graduated from NIT (National Institute of Technology) Rourkela, with a B. Tech Degree in Mechanical Engineering.After graduation he worked for a company in Pune. Later he was selected for an MBA in Philippines.  As a Part of his degree in Philippines, he is now at Wharton Business school in the US.

‘Abhinav was an outstanding student’ recalls Mr. Dilip Vaidya, who had taught Abhinav at the Fabindia School. Abhinav was actively involved with cricket in school and took up the game even at college. He had attended the summer camp organized by Mr. Vaidya  to improve the mathematical skills of the students. He as well his parents were so impressed with the kind of things they did at the camp that Abhinav had come from Rajkot to attend the annual Summer Camp in Bali, even when he had left the school. Abhinav was also awarded the best student prize by the SDM of Bali in on 15th August 2000.

Abhinav is still in touch with Mr. Vaidya as he is assisting Mr. Vaidya  in a very important Mathematics project related to angle trisection. The project is a very close to challenge to the  Archimedes’s Principal of angle trisection. Abhinav  is still in touch with many of the alumni and teachers at Fabindia School. He  was recently married and his wife works with Larsen & Turbo while his parents live in Guwahati.

Building the Fabindia School

From the Newsletter of 2011- contributed by Ravi Kaimal

First Fabindia School pamphlet in 1993

Courtesy Ravi Kaimal

A school may be a harbinger of change in rural Rajasthan

Veena Choudhury's khaki' green and white school uniform stands out among the bright saris' arm bangles and nose and ear jewellery of the older female relatives around her. So do her views on what she wants to do in life' even though she's the daughter of an illiterate farmer from a poor rural district. Looking you straight in the eye' 15-year-old Veena states plainly' "I intend to become an engineer." Never mind that her mother and grandmother were married with children by the time they were her age.

Only five per cent of the girls in this' the central regions of Rajasthan' complete secondary school' and to take up engineering as a profession would be beyond their wildest dreams. Yet' Veena expects to be one some day. Sowhat is it that makes her aspirations ring true' even as most other girls in her remote village look merely to follow in their mothers' footsteps? What distinguishes her from her peers and even her mother' who still works 10-hour days in the fields and covers her face in the presence of strangers?

The picture becomes clear as you follow Veena early in the morning as she rides her bike from her village across a dry riverbed to a friend's house. The bright yellow bus she catches has 'Fabindia School' written on the sides. The bus collects Veena and her brother Vinod' the start of their journey to a better life some day' away from the poverty and narrow prejudices. Away from the future the past had predicted for them. The Fabindia School opened in the town of Bali' in Pali district' 10 years ago. It's a non-profit private school established by William Bissell' a half-Indian' half-American Delhi-based entrepreneur who heads the Fabindia Group' a leader in marketing handloom home furnishings and clothing. Bissell's idea was to create a prototype school' empowering rural youth of diverse backgrounds from the poor districts to "shape their own lives and transform the state of Rajasthan".

From its inception' the Fabindia School has been committed to educational opportunity for girls in a region where most parents' even if they could afford an English medium school' would send only their sons. To attract girls' the school even subsidises their tuition. At the school' Veena is first in her class' excels in science and mathematics and has a lead role in this winter's school play. She carries herself with dignity and self-confidence' holding her own among male schoolmates whose sense of entitlement comes more from a feeling of caste superiority.

In addition to becoming fluent in English' Veena is also getting a strong grounding in other subjects. The school strongly supports equality for girls' and they hold many leadership positions here. It also stresses environmental education' exposing students to the issues of the larger world through workshops conducted by expert visitors.
There is normally a sad irony to the story of rural development. When children like Veena move up in the world' be it through education or their own burning ambition' they usually migrate to Bombay or Delhi or emigrate' abandoning both family and their home districts. The Fabindia School teaches students to take pride in their local heritage' instilling a sense of responsibility on the future of rural Rajasthan. It encourages students like Veena to consider working nearer to their homes' hoping they stay connected to their birthplace.

With the 250-student "core school" in Bali now well established' the plan is to open more Fabindia Schools elsewhere in Rajasthan.In June' the first satellite school will open in nearby Ghanerao. A prosperous business family based in Bombay'but originally from Pali'is contributing the capital to build the Ghanerao school' modelled on the virtue of reinvesting in one's rural origins. Hopefully' some day' the hundreds of Veenas and Vinods will also play a part in the transformation of rural Rajasthan. 
Column by Ravi Kaimal
Outlook's weekly profile of people who work under wraps, beyond the laudatory limelight.

Newsletter Fall 2012

Click on the the images above and you will be able to enlarge the pages on your desktop!
Happy Diwali and have a great Festive Season ahead.

With best wishes,
The Bissell Family, Trustees, Staff & Students 

Special thanks to Katherine and The Fabindia design studio!

From Good to Great

In an October 2012 workshop conducted by new BAT Board Chair Sandeep Dutt, Fabindia faculty members reflected on the question: How will we move ahead and develop our school from “Good to Great.” Their responses indicate that they understand that the most effective agent of educational change is the teacher. They also bring to mind the “instructional triangle” posited in an essay by David Hawkins called “I, Thou, It.” Hawkins sets forth the vital interaction between the teacher (I), the student (Thou), and the content (It), which provides a shared focus for their relationship and interaction.

Some workshop participants focused on the teacher (the I) as the main impetus for moving the school forward. They emphasized the importance of using a variety of teaching techniques, of “planning for good teaching” (Kavita Davda), and of creating “a friendly environment in class” (Meenaz). They stressed the need for teachers to become learners themselves. “Learn innovative ideas to communicate with students,” suggested Bharti Rao.

Others emphasized the “Thou”—the students-- and the importance of creating a relationship with learners, (“Have a good and friendly relationship with the students-Monika Vaishnav), communicating with them, (“How we communicate with students matters,” --Om Rathore), engaging them in the subject matter, and developing their interests. “How can we create interest in children?” wondered Himani Chauhan.

Still others saw the need to improve the content that is taught both in and outside of the classroom: the “It.”  They recognized that the quality of the interaction between teacher and student was intimately related to the quality of the ideas and topics. “Content knowledge should be upgraded,” suggested Nikta Rajpurcohit. “How to make a lesson interesting is a challenge,” wrote Suresh Kumar, suggesting the key relationship between pedagogy and content. The “It” also encompasses co-curricular activities such as community service. “Come for education and go for service,” was Suresh Singh Negi’s way of moving the school from good to great.

The challenge for any teacher is to keep the interaction vital between the three angles of the instructional triangle—to be self aware, innovative and reflective as a teacher (I), to create a relationship with students which builds on their interests (Thou), and to interact over content which engages students’ hearts and minds (It). In the workshop the teachers engaged in the process of becoming a community of learners. As Jagdish Suthar said, “Group discussion is important to make a school grow from good to great.”—both among the teachers and between teachers and students.


Colgate Connect - Get to Know

Colgate Connect - Get to Know:
'via Blog this'

Giving back: In India, I worked at the Fabindia school in Pali, Rajasthan. We taught kids English and tutored them in a variety of subjects. I also went on a community service trip to Nusa Pendia, an island in Indonesia, where I helped build temples, worked with village organizers on environmental initiatives, and got the chance to take private stone carving lessons. Since coming to Colgate, I started a COVE group, Fabindia, which raises scholarship money for the school I worked at in India. - Dana ‘Coco’ Vonnegut

"Great to see the impact that Putney volunteers have when they go back.  True ambassadors for The Fabindia school. " - Kamini 

I have been in touch with Coco and they are still trying to raise funds... - Katherine

A Check-list for Classroom Observations: In search of ‘quality’

From – “A Study on School Effectiveness: Education Programme Review in Bihar and West Bengal” Anita Rampal and Sharmila Bhagat, May 2003, Unicef (Mimeograph)

Classroom culture
  • Does the teacher have a rapport with the children? Do children speak confidently with the teacher? Are there moments of laughter?
  • Does the teacher address the entire class or is his/her attention monopolised by a few? If so, which few? Does s/he know the names of all children? Are some social groups/individuals ‘excluded’ in the class interaction? Are there some children who seem to dominate the class?
  • Are different social groups treated at par – for instance, children belonging to general castes/SC/ST, girls/ boys, Hindus/Muslims/Christians/Others? 
  • Is the communication in the classroom only one-way – the teacher asks and children answer, or two-way? Who speaks more – the children or the teacher?
  • Do the teacher and children listen to each other attentively? Do they communicate by speaking at a moderate (or an abnormally high) pitch and volume?
  • Does the teacher’s behavior show that s/he knows the children as individuals?
  • Is the teacher sensitive to the family and community context of the children?
  • What is the content of conversation amongst children?
  • Do the children cooperate with each other? In learning situations?
  • Does the teacher only sermonize, or does she facilitate a process of dialogue to resolve conflict? Does s/he help build relationships amongst children?
  • Do children participate in decision-making - about activities, class tasks, etc?
  • Does the teacher solicit and accept children’s suggestions in class?
  • Do children take up responsibilities on their own?
Curriculum transaction
  • Does the teacher explain a given topic/concept clearly, soliciting children’s understanding and prior experience? Is the topic handled routinely, only from the textbook, or creatively?
  • Does the teacher use maps, charts, pictures, or children’s creations with a sense of purpose, or in a mechanical manner, more as a ritual?
  • Does the teacher use children’s knowledge as a resource for teaching?
  • Do children answer in chorus or individually? Are they given time to think, or is there a culture of ‘pat’ answers? 
  • Does the teacher respond to each child’s answer (by elaborating, indicating the need to rethink, etc.) or does s/he quickly move on from one to the other? How does the teacher respond to a wrong answer?
  • Does the teacher encourage a plurality of answers or does she expect a single uniform answer to a given question?
  • Are children involved in meaningful tasks? Do they know what and why they are doing a given task/activity?
  • Do the given tasks address the learning needs of different children?
  • Do the children discuss what they had learnt in the previous class?
  • Are children encouraged to question, think on their own and discuss in groups?
  • How does the teacher respond to a child’s question – in monosyllables or by attempting to answer it in detail? Does she probe the child in order to understand her question/doubt better? 
  • Is the teacher able to say ‘I don’t know’ when she doesn’t know the answer, or does she try to dismiss/ignore the question?
Classroom management
  • Is the classroom display relevant to the ongoing activities?
  • Do the walls display children’s creations? Their current work done in class?
  • Is the classroom looking attractive and tidy?
  • Do the children help in setting up the classroom?
  • Are they sitting in straight lines/fixed positions? Does the seating arrangement change according to the activity? Can children see and interact with each other?
  • Is there space for children to move around or it is cramped and overcrowded?
  • Does the teacher move around in the classroom?
  • Are there different activities – whole group/small group/individual work? What does the teacher do when children are working in groups?
  • Does the teacher manage her time well, through different tasks and activities?
  • Does she use the blackboard effectively - in a clear, legible, and planned manner?
  • Does the teacher go out of the classroom? If so, how often and for how long?
  • If there is a problem in the class how is it handled? Does the teacher try to find a solution to it by involving the children?
  • Does the teacher punish/threaten children? Does she promise incentives, rewards?
Children’s interest
  • Are children actively engaged and taking interest? Do they seem to have a sense of belonging to the class? Is the attendance high?
  • Do the children seem disappointed when the period is over, or are they relieved, or indifferent? Do they continue with the task even after the period? Do they seem to wait for the next class?
  • Do the children take time to revise their work? 
  • Does the teacher check the work of each individual child? Does s/he use different methods of assessment – oral/written, games/creative exercises, collection tasks, and individual/ group work? Is there ever a process of self or peer assessment?
  • Is the process of assessment relaxed and enjoyable or are children anxious and tense? Do children see it as a competition with peers only to get ‘marks’, or as a ‘learning’ exercise to understand their own progress? 
  • Does the teacher recognise and respect the pace of each individual child’s learning? Does s/he encourage quiet children in the class to speak, discuss, etc? 
  • Are children able to express their difficulties in learning?
  • Are the records maintained properly? Any learner profiles, portfolios, teachers’ diaries? If so, are these used – in class, at cluster (CRC) meetings, in training, etc?
Thank you Anita and Kamini for sharing this with us.

Forbes India Magazine - William Bissell: Turning Fabindia's Artisans to Company Owners

Forbes India Magazine - William Bissell: Turning Fabindia's Artisans to Company Owners:
'via Blog this'

Ownership of property may be private, collective, or common and the property may be objectsland/real estate or intellectual property. Determining ownership in law involves determining who has certain rights and duties over the property. These rights and duties, sometimes called a 'bundle of rights', can be separated and held by different parties. - Wikipedia

Ownership is not really possession, but leadership in action. When we feel committed and are motivated to establish our right over any action or material we are the real owners. Read the article in Forbes and see what ownership is all about. Thank you William for sharing with us!

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