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One of the strengths of the Think Tank was its rootedness in local cultures. The members were mostly Indians, representing different states across the country. This helped in identifying India-specific issues, concerns and practices, in adapting ideas and insights from other contexts to Indian situations, and in ensuring that the overall work remained relevant to India. The ‘insider-oriented’ thinking in the Think Tank helped to relate its work closely to the socio-cultural contexts of India.

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The UK consultant consolidated the work by providing theoretical and conceptual tools, as well as by bringing in an outsider perspective. He and the British Council representatives helped to situate the Indian CPD scenario on a wider global canvas and draw abstractions and generalisations from it. They also helped in reducing the risk of narrow subjectivity while participating in the process of drawing interpretations and generalisations from the data and experiences collected by the Think Tank.

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The Think Tank was itself a living example of CPD, leading to the significant professional development of its members. It practised what it was trying to preach. The entire working of the Think Tank was, as Darling-Hammond and McLaughlin (1995: 2) say, matched to a vision of learning as a constructed activity and a vision of professional development as an ongoing, inquiry-based and collaborative activity.

Implications of the Think Tank experiment As we hope will be clear, the Think Tank experiment has many distinctive features, which make it a notable initiative in the Indian context. There are also several implications arising from this experiment that may be relevant for other contexts: ■■

The Think Tank experiment reiterates the obvious truth that collective thinking involving all possible stakeholders is an effective way of making better sense of the issues and challenges in CPD, and reaching a more realistic understanding of these, than the kind of understanding gained in less representative and less inclusive groups like the ‘expert committees’ which are so typical in the Indian scenario.

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It is important to ensure that initiatives such as the Think Tank are strongly rooted in local cultures, which helps in making them more relevant through situating all CPD-related work appropriately in the socio-cultural milieu.

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A combination of both theoretical and practical work may be a better way of operating for initiatives like the Think Tank than a concentration only on the theoretical. Cycles of alternating thinking and acting result in mutually reinforcing rounds of learning and understanding.

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Although a clear agenda and ‘terms of reference’ are necessary for a sense of direction in group initiatives like the Think Tank, ensuring these are not prescriptive, and building in flexibility, is important so that there is scope for priorities, concerns, interests and approaches to emerge in the course of the work.

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The Think Tank greatly benefitted from a long tenure of work and from the continuity between its meetings. Making provision for adequate time and ensuring continuity between different elements of the work are important for the success of initiatives like the Think Tank.

CPD policy ‘Think Tank’ |

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Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  

The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...

Innovations in the CPD of English language teachers  

The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...