Diary of a Lead Teacher: An Inspiring Visit to India

Author: Ravinder Singh, Lead Teacher

My name is Ravinder Singh and I am a Faculty Director for Computing and Enterprise at Ark Victoria Academy in Birmingham. I’ve been a practitioner for 8 years and a Lead Teacher of Digital Schoolhouse since 2018.

My participation in this programme has offered some amazing opportunities to reach and teach students beyond the standard national curriculum. I even had the pleasure of going back to my old Primary school and introducing the students there to computing - an endeavour I found incredibly moving as I was teaching in the very classrooms where my career journey began.

Although born in Birmingham and thoroughly British, I’d heard the stories my parents would tell about growing up in India and attending their local schools. A place where the desire to learn was evident but access to the latest knowledge or the newest way to teach wasn’t always available.

I had also always desired to expand my horizons and to use teaching and Computing to connect with students who weren’t part of my day-to-day cohort; to use my profession to build bridges with those whose lives were different to mine.

I had some family business to attend to in Punjab, India over Christmas 2022. Feeling a certain compulsion towards all students over the world, I decided I wanted to take the opportunity to teach in the village my father grew up in. Once given the go ahead by my Principal, Ms McSorley, and the Director of the DSH, Ms Saeed, I started to prepare for my lesson abroad. 

The village I taught in, Thinda, is a rural village mainly involved in farming with some light industry. The children in the local school are the sons and daughters of workers who have migrated from other parts of India. Given the short time I had, I wanted to teach them about the basics of computing, to give them a foundation to build on.

The great thing about Digital Schoolhouse is the ethos on modular, play based learning that lends itself so well to these situations. I used DSH workshops, most notably a version of Machine Code Mario, to teach about topics such as binary numbers, and why computers use them. The lessons were a great success; enjoyed by all the pupils and it introduced the teachers to a different type of approach rather than the standard rote-learning they are accustomed to.

What surprised me most of all though was the fact that computing is such a diverse subject and can be taught across different cultures and countries! Computing enables students to be energised with tools that they can build on.

I would highly recommend anyone who has the chance to teach computing lessons in other countries to do so! It is not only beneficial to those students and teachers to be exposed to new and different methods, but I also found it to be personally fulfilling on a much deeper level. It is also fantastic to be part of DSH and be given the tools to make real change.