Trista Madan

Arts Education

Grant Period: Over two years

The first grant to Trista Madan enabled her to undertake a pilot project towards animating classroom pedagogy through museum visits. The pilot programme, Time Treks, was conceived around the Egyptian Gallery of the Indian Museum in Kolkata. Over 1,200 students from ten schools were beneficiaries of the programme. The programme has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from school administrations, students and their parents, and all the schools have requested Ms Madan to continue and extend the programme to cover other topics in the history textbook. Other schools that got to know about the programme through the school network have also extended an invitation to her. Excited by the possibilities that were opening up, Ms Madan approached IFA to support her for the next phase of the project.

While our evaluation of Time Treks was positive, we felt that it was necessary to nudge Ms Madan to think about how the initiative would be sustained in future years. This dialogue was productive: it helped her to conceptualise the second phase not just as a continuation of the first, but as a stepping stone towards a much larger initiative to intervene in formal education. As a result, Ms Madan has begun the process of registering Time Treks as a trust, which would have greater capacity for intervening in school education in Kolkata, and be able to develop programmes that extend beyond the four new modules that will be added in the second phase to the existing Egypt segment. The second phase will, therefore, build on the momentum of the pilot programme, involve more schools and develop Time Treks as a reliable brand that corporate houses might find attractive to partner. In our dialogue with Ms Madan, we had also stressed the importance of getting both the museum and the schools to have a greater sense of involvement and ownership, since the programme adds value to their work. However, the museum administration seems to be quite indifferent to her work, and the best that can be expected of it is cooperation. By contrast, the schools have demonstrated more interest and excitement. For the second phase, all schools will partially underwrite the costs of the educational kit that will be handed out to each student.

The four new modules will be decided on after a thorough study of the history syllabus and through conversations with the history teachers in schools. However, Ms Madan is keen to focus on the Indus Valley Gallery, which is scheduled to be opened to the public in May 2006. The other modules that she hopes to implement are the life of Buddha, the history of the Mauryas, and a larger segment connecting different artefacts in the museum to various sections taught in the history syllabus. The programme will target children in the age group of 9 to 14. Ms Madan will continue to work with the same research assistants, but will possibly add more project assistants to help her manage the greater numbers of students.

After completion of the pilot project, Ms Madan participated in two workshops. The first, was to facilitate an exchange of ideas around pedagogic initiatives in heritage education. At the second workshop, Ms Madan shared her experience of the pilot project with their teachers and students. She is keen to organise at least two workshops (although this grant will not be paying for them) with the history teachers who accompany their students to the museum, as a follow-up exercise. Ms Madan is convinced that she needs to establish herself as an art educator with the schools and the museum before looking at the commercial potential of this initiative. She will therefore spend the last six months of the term of this grant in making presentations and approaching sponsors. IFA will help Ms Madan in her efforts to market the programme. It is our hope that this arts education initiative will not require further support from IFA.