Beliefs and Perceptions of Teachers about the Local Knowledge of Students: A Case Study of the Birhor Tribe of Jharkhand

The environment in which tribal children live is usually very different from what is represented in their school curriculum. The responsibility of localizing the curriculum in accordance with children’s knowledge and bridging the gap between their indigenous knowledge and school content knowledge lies upon the teacher. The perception a teacher holds about the nature of the subject, the pedagogical aspect of the subject, the nature of knowledge and the learner, and her role in the classroom—every aspect together shapes the classroom practices of the teacher in which she tries to localize the curriculum for children and make them understand the topic. Therefore, the present study focuses on understanding the beliefs and perceptions teachers hold about the social context of children, the local knowledge of children, and the scope and significance of their knowledge in classroom transactions. For the study, five teachers who teach the children of the “Birhor Tribe” living in Koderma, Jharkhand, were interviewed. The classroom teachings of the interviewed teachers were observed to validate the impact of their beliefs on their pedagogy. Major findings indicated that the indigenous knowledge of children is not valued in the classroom, and there is no such effort on the part of teachers to localize the curriculum in the context of children’s conception. The study also has the scope for suggesting some modifications that are needed to be included in the administration.