[Editor's Note: Meet our newest guest blogger, Alison Perry, who’s currently completing her second stint as a volunteer teacher at Shanti Bhavan in India. The sophomore at Tulane will be sharing a few of her thoughts, photos and experiences with us!]
Hello from India! At Shanti Bhavan, I teach Elective Literature to the 11th grade, which is actually a small class of only two girls, Kishori and Catherine, who are pursuing the liberal arts tract.
I really enjoy working with the girls in such a personal setting. We are able to have substantive conversations, and I feel like I’m getting to know their personalities along the way. The smallness of the class is particularly good for Kishori and Catherine, because when I’ve seen them in larger classes, they are sometimes hesitant to participate.
We’ve been working for a week with William Blake’s poetry. At first, they were very outspoken in their dislike for Blake, but slowly but surely they are coming to appreciate his nuanced (and sometimes highly complex) work. Catherine is particularly excited by the idea that his poems were considered “sacrilegious,” since students at SB come from all religious backgrounds, from Christian to Hindu to Atheistic. But they are all excited and eager to talk about questions or God, creation, and religious organization.
Today, we had a particularly illuminating discussion on the idea of opposites. Blake’s theme of innocence versus experience sparked the question “can we have innocence without experience?” At first they both adamantly insisted that opposites can exist independently of one another, but after reading the poem “The Tyger,” they have begun to question this assumption.
What do you think of the girls’ curriculum? Do you remember studying Blake in high school?