Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM


Programme in Development Management

Student Lenses

I started teaching at the Tata-Dhan Academy in the third term of the seventh batch of students undergoing the PDM—the Programme in Development Management. During that term, I taught a class in writing and another course in spoken communication, and it was very exciting for me to be back in the classroom again after more than a year without teaching. I knew, of course, that this classroom experience was only a fraction of what makes learning at the Academy interesting, but had not yet had much of a chance to see what the students really did in the field. I also knew that although I could teach English well, I did not really know much about what happened in the field beyond what I had read in a handful of student reports or heard about in student presentations. So, at the end of August in 2007, with my knowledgeable mentor and guide, Sangeetha, I got my first real chance to let the roles of student and teacher change, and have my students teach me about their field locations during my visits to them in the field.

This visit was for the first “Development Practice Segment”, a portion of the Academy’s curriculum in which students practice their community organizing skills. When I visited the students, I was taken to different villages to meet the community members they had been working with, and I listened to the stories of the approaches used, challenges faced, and lessons learned by the students. I was also shutter-happy with my camera, constantly taking pictures while listening to these stories from my students and while being filled in on some of the technical details by Sangeetha. As a teacher at the Academy, I had already decided that this was something to look forward to with each new batch of students.

With the eight batch of PDM students, I got the chance to be with them from their first day at the Academy. To the extent that I could make it happen, I also tried to accompany them on all of their field “labs”—practical learning in the field preparing them for their fieldwork sessions. During these short visits (they are usually around three days each) I got to know each student better on a personal level, and I was able to gradually observe their creativity and their interest in photography. A couple of students had digital cameras or had mobile-phones with cameras (and a few were always taking my camera from me and snapping great shots) and the output was pretty impressive.

And this is part of what has inspired this exhibition. As a teacher, I am always excited to sit with the students and see their slideshows and listen to their stories. But since this creative side of their experiences rarely get shared on a larger scale, I approached each student and asked them to submit up to five of their favorite photos from their collection. And these are the photographs which are represented here.

~ Ananda Mahto
Tata-Dhan Academy
Faculty, Communication for Development
November 2008

(Note: Unfortunately, not all 17 students were able to participate in this exhibition. One sadly lost all his photos, and another could not complete the Development Practice Segment due to health problems.)


Filed under: Development Practice Segment, PDM 8, , ,

One Response

  1. […] busy. Upon returning from their Development Practice Segment, we organized a photo exhibit (see this post) to go along with all of their presentations and report writing, and the photos can now be found […]

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