The Inclusive Education Dialogue

Over the past six years, I have been actively involved in Education. Teaching Writing & Communication Skills across the learning-landscape, from junior school, through to college, and to seniors; I have been blessed to have reached out to a truly diverse and growing student-base.

Another area I have tried to make a contribution to Education, is Writing. I have written extensively on Education & Parenting across a slew of Newspapers, Magazines, Publications & Portals, On & Offline.

Despite the above, I had, until recently, begun to feel that I was not doing enough. That there were larger, more pressing issues & challenges related to the Education Sector, that needed Attention, Focus, Dialogue, Discussion & Solutions. This burning urge to play a more catalytic role, to Advocate, and facilitate Advocacy, compelled me to seek a partner, an individual and an organisation with shared Values, Concerns, Passions, Outlooks & Philosophies. From a few earlier interactions, I remembered fondly, and deeply respected Vikram Rajola and his amazing rural-education-augmentation would through his foundation In-Deed (based out of Jodhpur district), and it was like a eureka moment.

My ‘hunch’ that he’d be interested in what I was proposing, was confirmed in one phone-call, a conversation that lasted minutes! We decided that we would jointly initiate an ongoing series of talks on Pressing & Pertinent Issues within the Education Sector. And literally a week ago, The Inclusive Education Dialogue was born!

That we are largely on the same-page, with little or no conflict principally, aided in us instinctively agreeing that our very first Panel Discussion ought to be in view of the impact of Covid 19 (pandemic) on Education, more specifically, focusing on the Millions of Indian Students who DO NOT, or CAN NOT, at this point, continue their education, through Online Learning (as many are doing in urban centres). Our first Panel therefore, titled ‘Reaching The Unconnected Millions’, was formulated.

Earnest endeavours are recognized and rewarded because worthy people happily join you in them. And we are absolutely delighted, humbled and privileged, that an especially eminent panel of experts has joined us to kickstart our talk-series, and to each of them, we are incredibly thankful.

The core idea of The Inclusive Education Dialogue is to keep shining a light on Education Sector Issues that have been sidelined for one reason or another. The word ‘inclusive’ will ALWAYS be elemental to our choice of issues. And through discussions and debates, we seek solutions, perhaps even on-ground actionable pilot programs, that emerge from these intended deliberations.

The Inclusive Education Dialogue may be a modest enterprise; it is fuelled by immense sincerity, zeal, passion, and commitment. Join us as we embark on what will hopefully be a longstanding value-addition to Education. Follow our Talks & Panels, watch them, listen to them, spread the word!

Thank you!

The Art of Moderating – Moderation

I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to Moderate a fair number of Literary Panels in the past 3-4 years. Currently, I am in Delhi moderating several sessions on behalf of the European Union at the World Book Fair. While the event is still ongoing, and I have sessions that remain, I thought I’d share whatever little I’ve come to realize about the ‘art of moderating’.

So particularly to the uninitiated who are interested in this kind of thing, the first thing is get the ‘fear’ out of your system. Writers/Authors are human beings just like us. They want to engage at a real and human level, just like we ordinary mortals do. So to go into something on the assumption that the people are going to be ‘difficult’, ‘stuck-up’, ‘intellectually highbrowed’, in most cases, is a myth. So relax, and take a deep breath.

Second, be well researched and prepared. Again this does not mean you must have read every word ever written by each author on a panel. But you must have more than a general sense and background about the person and his/her work. Genre, sphere, readership, country of origin; things of this nature. And part of the preparation also is to try and solicit as much detailed information about the ‘subject’ and ‘theme’ of the discussion itself, as much in advance as possible, from the organizers.

Third, try to meet the panelists in advance, strike a rapport. Going in completely cold, unless one is a natural peoples’ person, leads to awkwardness which on stage is a dead giveaway.

And finally, and to my mind most importantly,  be Moderate! It is kind of like an interview really. And many people who interview, tend to be either too verbose, or not engaged at all. One has to find a middle ground, strike a balance, ask relevant questions and then allow the panel to respond freely, give them time and space, try not to interrupt. Judge the mood and direction of the audience as well as of the panel, and if need be, divert from your script or whatever you had in your mind in terms of questions. Let the conversation build organically.

Be polite, well informed, well judged, and always ask the audience to acknowledge the panel with applause and gratitude.