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Dr. Schneller Conducts Educational Workshops in India

December 23, 2009

Dr. Peter Schneller, associate professor of education and co-chair of the Department of Education, spent three weeks this summer conducting educational workshops at Christ University in Bangalore, India.

“I was invited to teach workshops to their (Christ University’s) faculty,” said Schneller. “While I was there I conducted workshops on creativity.”

Schneller explained that it is difficult to incorporate a lot of creativity into the classroom in India because the class sizes are so large. “Some teachers have 120 students in their class,” he said. Since the class sizes are much larger, professors typically give multiple-choice tests and some essays.

According to Schneller, there are many differences between education in India and in the United States. One difference is that students in India are required to wear uniforms to school. “Not everyone can afford a uniform, therefore not everyone attends. The poverty there is so widespread.”

The largest workshop he conducted was 150 faculty members, and the smallest being 30. Schneller said at the average workshop size was 50-75 people.

“India is a wonderful place. The people at Christ University were so good to me,” he said. This was not Schneller’s first time visiting India; he spent his sabbatical leave at Christ University in 2005. “For me it was an amazing cultural experience. I saw the most awful poverty and I saw the most amazing examples of affluence.”

In 2006, Mount Union College established a teaching assistant and visiting scholar program with Christ University. Since 2007, three teaching assistants and visiting scholars from the university have come to Mount Union and given lectures on Indian culture and education. While they are here on campus, they conduct research and take courses within the Department of Education.

Through his interaction with the teaching assistants and visiting scholars from India, Schneller has developed a strong understanding of Indian accents and did not seem to have any trouble understanding the Indian professors during the workshops he conducted.

“You develop a more acute sense of hearing once you get used to the rhythm in their voice,” he said. “If you can catch onto the pattern of their voice, then you can better understand it. But even if I can’t understand, I don’t have a fear of asking them to repeat themselves.”

Schneller has been to India three times and plans to spend his next sabbatical leave in India. “The experience was absolute sensory overload and Indian people seemed to possess a wonderful sense of acceptance,” he said. “I love India. I’d go back anytime.”

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