Saturday, September 13, 2008

New skills for the current generation?

This discussion started by "drona" in seems a very important issue, for teachers in India. You will view my comments as varni, which you can read. I am providing the link here and expect lots of comments from teachers around..

Its all about Creativity and Innovativeness, Dear Teachers !!

I chanced upon this video, and was taken to the content matter, which talked about how much of change we as teachers can bring in the lives of children by being creative in our teaching practices, as well as encouraging it among the younger generation. Teachers need to think how much of creativity we are nourishing among children.It directly relates to the atmosphere in school. Most schools in India lack a plan whereby teachers could incorporate their own personal teaching ways. But the attitude and style can be our own, I guess, and educators can within the restricted atmosphere of the school try and make those forty minutes as creative as they can. Easier said than done, I know. But if managed, we also know the difference that we can make.
For children to be able to feel free to express his/her thoughts, feelings and ideas, they first need to have that confidence in the teacher. Too much regulation and testing curtails creativity in anyone, be it students or teachers. If a teacher is throughly bored with the monotony and needs a change , she might just hit upon ideas skirting the mundane-ness of it all, in other words grey cells may be stimulated to change her/his style and make things interesting for children. It just might make the child happy enough to want to come to school.
A teacher needs to: a) Impart Knowledge; b) build in confidence among children; c) build up personality d) help children lead productive lives and over all equip them well to face the world confidently. For many schools it is an either/or situation.
If children are happy, the home is happy, in turn the society and the world will be happy, so says Dave Eggers in this video. And don't we all agree?
Watch this very inspiring video, and see what a lot of difference a teacher can make. Its title is "ONCE UPON A SCHOOL". Learning in informal groups and an unstructured atmosphere, we do notice that it happens faster and more beautifully..
Encouraging technology in classrooms, allowing children to accumalate information and present ideas on their own, and through so many more different ways other than the 'Talk and Chalk" method could we allow our children to grow.

A Wonderful Video!!

Now we all wonder what our children think of us. Those eccentricities, those spurts and bursts of anger, excitement, fun and all. Life is a stage isn't it? We all play a part..
This video "You'll miss me", is so interesting..All those wonderful lively MA'S out there- Love You All.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just for a laugh

With the world becoming a smaller place to live in, literally with no boundaries, the need for one language which is functional all over and everywhere is becoming more and more urgent. Also because of the revolution in the world of online communication makes the need to socialize in one language more compelling. The attempts of us humans all over the world to learn English is truly commendable. People are acquiring a general ability to bridge those gaps between each other. In today’s world being non-communicative does not help. But once in a way, some errors and slip-ups happen, especially in those countries, where English is not a commonly used language.

I present here some such material, again which I got as a mail, which I would like to share. It is amusing:-

Some funny English sign boards :-

Some Non-English speaking countries sometimes go out of their way to communicate with their English-speaking tourists:
Cocktail lounge, Norway:

At a Budapest zoo:

Doctor's office in Rome:

In an information booklet, on how to use a hotel air conditioner. Japan:

In a Nairobi restaurant:

On the grounds of a Nairobi private school:

In a Mumbai restaurant:

Hotel, Japan:

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery:

Advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist:
A laundry in Rome:

Tourist agency, Czechoslovakia:

Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand:

The box of a clockwork toy maiden Hong Kong :

Airline ticket office, Copenhagen:

In a Japanese cemetery:


Friday, July 25, 2008


Unlike the confused parents of today, my parents and probably their peers, during their years of parenting, have been quite bold, relaxed, and confident. Or so it seems to me. Parenting did not seem as challenging as it is now. This is not in any way undermining parenting ways of any generation. It is only in a way, putting a pointer on the slight change that is noticeable at the present time. Child rearing has become more complicated over a period of time. Along with the whole gamut of stresses that parents need to cope with, tackling children takes a back seat. Stress related with work, social and family responsibilities, allow little time to parents to enjoy parenthood. Distractions offered to both children and adults are too many, to add to it all.

SO, when we hear the old saying that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers, where does it leave us? With less time on hand, parents’ talk of quality time, to give to their children as there is no other way. Several times they turn a blind eye, and let their children grow whichever way they are.

Now this is not a rampant problem, but it is there. There isn’t a manual for child-rearing; it is specific to each household. But some general rules do apply. Those parents well conversant with them know that it prepares their child for the years ahead. Educating children about simple ethics, help in developing a sound personality. Teaching the child basics of school curriculum also helps them to cope better at school, strengthening their foundation. In fact once the child gets enrolled in a school, the parents can proactively get involved. Schools can have programs on parenting practices. They may need to know about the developmental stages of children, the vulnerable periods of their lives; maybe delays in growth also need to be told to parents. Talks on health issues could enlighten parents. Schools should these days, take special note of stressing on internet safety, for children, encouraging parents to keep a closer look on what their children are up to.

Having said all this I would like to write about my parents, who have been very involved parents, trying their best to do the right things. My mother, a Bachelor of Arts, and very well conversant with three languages, English, Hindi and Punjabi, taught us at home all what was needed. She took special lessons in Math to teach us when she realized that the stuff being taught to us was different from what she had done. This taught us to be resourceful and diligent. She is an excellent seamstress, result being that we were dressed in the best of clothes, totally uncommon, something that was not available off the shelf in any of the shops. To give her ideas, she subscribed to the Women’s Weekly magazine. So whether it was summer or winter clothes, ours were different, and fashionable. She experimented with our hairstyles, on a regular basis and came to a conclusion whose she could style, and whose hair needed to be left as it is. This taught us the art of good presentation, of working upon looking good, and presentable. My mother always helped her husband in his work. She is a regular at his office, and the first half of the day she has for years now been given to the family business, started by my father. The result being that they never could take many holidays, and have found pleasure in their work. This taught us to put duty and work before pleasure.

Just another note about my mother, a busy lady that she is, you will always find the house well done up. The flower decorations. worth seeing, always in place. The home that she has nurtured is still the coziest place to be in. So lots to learn, for the very busy moms out there. Besides you will till date never find her deter from entertaining people. It seems an effortless job for her. She is so happy to have people over...Father is a strong support, always involved with all thats happening in the home front.

Both parents have been very helpful to people around them. My father has at some point of time or the other funded many a child’s education, or helped people monetarily. My father, a contented, happy man, never gave in to any negative feelings that may have at any point of time troubled him. He in a way is a very POSITIVE person. He sees something good in all that has been bestowed upon him by the almighty, whether good or not very good. This taught us never to be spiteful, be happy at all times, or rather, know that times that we encounter maybe good or bad, but see good in everything. Fear only God, and take each day as it comes.

By Gods grace they have done very well for themselves, and through their hard work have managed to take their work to great heights. It may not always have been a smooth ride for them in their initial years, and they must have had to struggle, but we as children were never given to feel deprived. This taught us to be happy with whatever we have.

They maintained a group of friends, who we meet till today, whereby our social scene was complete, with lots of picnics and parties. They were like-minded, and the stress of trying to be one up was not there, so it was a relaxed and fun time we children and the adults had, whenever we got together. This taught us the value of making good friends. On a daily basis, life was fun, and I can confidently say that it still continues to be fun. I have consciously or unconsciously emulated all of these values and more. Parenting for me is not so much of a worry. Though times have changed, and the dynamics are a little different. So what? With the strong foundation we are based on, I am sure children of our house will do well.

This personal experience was the best way to tell that being good role models for our children helps.

In how many ways can we thank our parents? Do we? Many people do, in their own ways. We as parents tread with unsure steps, not knowing whether what we do, and the hows of it all..are right or wrong. As long as we as parents keep trying, its well worth it. A link to a song by Bono ..

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our Trip to Tokyo- Vineet gets "BEST MASTER OF THE YEAR" Award

Hey Guys,
This was a rare and a proud moment for me, to witness Vineet getting the award by NYK, the company he works for as Master at sea. We were put up at the Marunochi Hotel, which is in the heart of Tokyo, close to the Imperial Palace. The NYK building was close by. On the first evening we had dinner on a cruise liner owned by NYK, called Lady Crystal. It was great meeting people working for NYK, from all over the world collect together for the Global NYK Week at Tokyo.
The next day was the award ceremony, where Vineet and the other awardees were handed the momemto by the President of the company, the very respected Mr. K. Miyahara. Mr. Miyahara, enlightened all by speaking about the history of The NYK Group. After receiving the award Vineet thanked NYK for this felicitation, on behalf of all those who were the recipients of the award. There was a photo session, as you can see from the video, and post lunch, we went out sight seeing. We went to the Tokyo Tower, and The Asakusa Temple, which is a Buddhist and a Shinto Temple.
The day ended with a formal dinner. A special note here, of praise for the convener of this whole program, Capt. Tanaka, an amazing person with a precision to details, a stickler for time, and a perfect example of the Japanese that I have known, conforming to the "firm but Kind" attitude.
In all, a perfectly enjoyable and enlightening experience for me.
The song that I have added along with the video is 'Feels Like Fire' by Carlos Santana.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ambiguity in the English Language

I keep getting these mails. I felt this could be shared for a laugh, and sure there is information too. Maybe it is often repeated, and many must have read them. Whatever, I put it up for those who have not had the chance to read about the English language as being a funny language too.
English language!

If you ever feel stupid, then just read on. If you've learned to speak
fluent English, you must be a genius! This little treatise on the
lovely language we share is only for the brave. Peruse at your
leisure, English lovers.

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to
present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor
pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or
French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads,
which aren't sweet, are meat.

Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is
neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write,
but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? If you have a bunch of odds
and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? Is
it an odd, or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats
vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people
recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo
by ship?

Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man
and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your
house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by
it out, and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the
creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.
That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the
lights are out, they are invisible.

There is more that I would like to add. This is also a mail that I had received. I find it so funny that I needed to keep it for a laugh, for me and you:-

An Ode to a Spell Checker
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques for my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As swoon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite

Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw

I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Rig Veda In Hindi

This is the first volume of the four part RIG VEDA in Hindi.
This covers the third fourth and fifth mandalas of the sacred text and is generally dedicated to Agni - the sacred fire.
It is for the first time that this great text has been published (by Lokbharti Booksellers and distributors, Allahabad) in modern Hindi poetry with explanations on literal and spiritual levels.
The translation and explanations have been written by Professor Govind Chandra Pandey, a renowned scholar in multiple disciplines. Prof G C Pandey has been the Vice Chancellor of Jaipur and Allahabad Universities, he was the Chairman of Indian Institute of Advance Studies, Simla, the Chairman of Allahabad museum Society and the Chairman of Central Tibetan Society, Sarnath Varanasi.
A book of this caliber comes along perhaps once in a lifetime.
It gives deep insight into the foundations of Indian culture.
A must read.
Published by: Lokbharti Book Sellers and distributors
15-A M.G.Marg Allahabad - 211001
Tel: 91-532-3295870/ 2427210

Friday, June 6, 2008


I read this book recently and being a teacher understood that the number of roles a teacher could take in the life of an individual is many. The book, written by Mitch Albom, is a true story of a relationship between a teacher and a student, which goes far beyond the four walls of the classroom and spans several years. In fact it still lives through the book Mitch has written. Any one could take on the role of a teacher consciously or unconsciously for any person at any point of time in life. It was many years after school that Mitch came back to Morrie upon hearing that his mentor was dying of a terminal illness called ALS.ALS-Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a disease of the neurological system. The patient loses control over muscles. For Morrie it was a slow and painful walk to death. For Mitch it was remorseful to watch him this way. On the many Tuesdays that Mitch meets with Morrie, he decides the meetings to be pleasant talks between them. Life is complicated, but for Mitch, on talking with Morrie, it gets so much more simplified. Morrie talks on a wide range of topics like fear, family, society, forgiveness, death, ageing, money, greed, detachment and lots more. Who could get a teacher like this? So he is a teacher right till the end of his days, telling the world about life from the eyes of a dying man. To convert each painful moment into a happy one, to be content in whatever situation one has been thrown into by fate, is what I felt needs to be learnt from this book besides others.

In his acknowledgments Mitch after thanking all, says, “Mostly my thanks to Morrie for wanting to do this last thesis together. Have you ever had a teacher like this?”

So it made me wonder, I guess it would make all thinking people reflect about whether they ever had a teacher like this.

In India, to have a teacher like this is not a rarity. We have had a strong guru- shishya/ student tradition in place. They would learn values of life, discipline, feeling of service towards the teacher, undue respect to the spoken word of the teacher, skills based on talent; all this was ingrained right from a very young age. Children would leave the comfort of their homes to live with their Guru, thus learning lessons of life. The child would go back home whenever the guru felt it was time. There are so many similarities between perceptions of Morrie in his last days, and a Guru in India. (India of the olden days). The Guru here is like a Zen master; a person who removes darkness of ignorance, and shows light. The Guru is discerned as a person sitting on the throne of power of knowledge, with a garland of the ultimate reality adorned on his neck. The guru is a person who lets the student know himself, and encourages self knowledge. The guru in his own charming ways sows the seed of knowledge and compassion which is the base for all rightful acts. For the student, the guru’s feet are revered as the ultimate.

I was thus attracted to the content and style of this book. There are a lot of portions that I need to keep in my memory, so I am going to jot them down here for myself and for whoever else reads it.

About Morrie, a little bit. Being a Russian American Morrie was an astute, disciplined person, with a gentle attitude about him, as understood from the writings of the author. Not that life had treated him kindly in his childhood days. Money was always a problem, memories of his own mother who died when he was just eight years of age, haunted him throughout his life, there were n special attachments with his father, and he had responsibilities of his younger brother who was affected by polio. Life was tough, but a teacher for Morrie. Having gone through it all early in life, Morrie could easily sail through the latter better part of his life as a professor of Social Studies. Morrie takes his lessons freely from Buddhism, writers, thinkers, and others, Mahatma Gandhi too. He was very passionate about dance, something to me that personifies total freedom, the expression is simply soul stirring.

Now to quote from the book portions that I have specifically found worth keeping are as follows. They are taken directly from the book.

When Morie got to know about his illness: and On Death

=“Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?

He would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying…Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me learn with me...”

= He was intent on proving that the word “dying” was not synonymous with useless… He chose a date for a “living funeral”. On a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family. Each of them spoke and paid tribute to my old professor. Some cried, some laughed. One woman read a poem…..Morrie cried and laughed with them. His living funeral was a rousing success.

=”There are some mornings when I cry and cry and mourn for myself. Some mornings, I’m so angry and bitter. But it doesn’t last too long. Then I get up and say, “I want to live...”

=”Dying is the only one thing to sad over. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy.”

“Because the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it. They’re unhappy than me-even in my current condition.”

= Death is a great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another.

=”Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”

=”To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it any time, that’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.”

=”Do what the Buddhists do. Every day have a little bird on your shoulder that asks,’ Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?”

Morrie borrowed freely from all religions… He was a religious mutt, which made him even more open to the students he taught over the years, and the things he was saying in his final months on earth seemed to transcend all religious differences. Death has a way of doing that. The truth is once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

Morrie created a cocoon of human activities-conversation, interaction, affection, -and it filled his life like an overflowing soup bowl.

Morrie told Mitch: “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning to life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

On caring for people

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become soft. But a wise man Levine said it right. He said, ‘Love is the only rational act.’”

On feeling sorry for himself

“I don’t allow myself any more self- pity than a few tears each morning.”

“It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because all of the time I get to say goodbye.”

What if today’s my last day on earth?

The culture doesn’t encourage you to think about such things until you’re about to die. We’re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks-we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing?” “You need someone to probe you into that direction. It won’t happen just automatically.”

We all need teachers in our lives.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams

On Family

“The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family….Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said, ‘Love each other or perish.’”

Even as he was dying, he showed respect for his children’s worlds. Little wonder that when they sat with him, there was a waterfall of affection, lots of kisses and jokes and crouching by the side of the bed, holding hands.

On Emotions

Learn to detach. “You know what the Buddhists say? Don’t cling to things, because every thing is impermanent…Detachment does not mean you don’t let experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.”

“Take any emotion-love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear, pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back emotions-if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them – you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief, you’re afraid of the vulnerability that love entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only you can say, ‘All right I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.”

On Ageing

Morrie had ageing in better perspective.

“All this emphasis on youth-I don’t buy it. Listen, I know the misery being young can be, so don’t tell me it’s so great. All these kids who came to me with their struggles, their strife, their feelings of inadequacy, their sense that life was miserable, so bad they wanted to kill themselves…And in addition to all the misery the young are not wise. They have very little understanding about life. Who wants to live everyday when you don’t know what’s going on?... I embrace aging.”

“You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive, And, age is not a competitive issue.”

On Money

“Wherever I went in life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car, a new piece of property, a latest toy. And then they wanted to tell you about it,’ Guess what I got? “

“You know how I always interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for the gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness… When you’re dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.”

On love and marriage

“There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage. If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what’s going on between you two, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. And the biggest one of those values is Love.”

Well I have tried to put forth what I liked from the book. In fact there is lots more, but more of that later……

Thursday, May 29, 2008

School /Teacher-Parent Relationship

For a child, home is the first school. The home and most importantly the parents are vital in the development and growth of each child. Teaching is best done by parents. They can provide that strength and confidence to their children. So it would be great if both institutions, school and home work in unison for the betterment of children.

Schools must learn to tap resources right next to them. Talking about a good relationship between parents of children studying and their schools/teachers, it is worth noting that most schools in India, work quite hard to keep them away. They take it as an interference in their working style. Schools might need to take a re-look at this issue. Attending/conducting parent teacher meetings which most of the times leaves parents dissatisfied due to less time alloted to each, is not enough. Parents of today are interested and would like to involve themselves more if given an opportunity. It is seen that those parents who take extra time out for their children and their studies, are rewarded with better results. Parents who help their ward in doing home work, in getting them involved in extra curricular activities, sports etc see a good development in the child. It is the duty if a parent to introduce their child to the teacher in the beginning of the academic year, and keep a regular check on the performance of the child.

Schools may do well to tap the talents of parents. Many parents/ mothers who are not working in offices and have the time to spare, can get involved into helping out with some or the other happenings of the school. Some may actually start to enjoy it. Schools should try and explore such talented parents. Parents could volunteer to help.

The environment of the school should be friendly for the family, it could help in better cooperation of parents. Both sides need to be respected. Schools could devote more time to parents, and parents must not feel that once the child gets admission in the school, they are done with their responsibility, it rests solely with the school. A mutual understanding, a good rapport between the two enhances a sense of community and commitment.

Needless to say that maximum communication from school to home is in the early childhood period. It starts to get a little less as the child is in the middle school. A healthy school-parent relationship goes a long way in a positive development of the child.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Shock Treatment !!

Parenting is tough. This I discussed in my previous post. Children find their own means of treating their parents well. They also, most of the times do not exactly want to create that so called gap. They want peace and would much like a happy atmosphere in the home. Now we can all read a great deal on parenting, understand our children, be wise, go to and what not. But nobody can explain why we flew into that rage and sulked when our children manage to get bad results in their exams. I got this mail in the morning and found it funny and also thought provoking. Read it and see what thoughts cross your mind other than having a good laugh. See how sometimes children have to try and treat their parents psychologically:
A father, passing by his son's bedroom, was astonished to see the bed was nicely made, and everything was picked up from the floor.
Then, he saw an envelope propped up prominently on the pillow. 'Dear, Dad," the letter said. "It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing to you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend, because I wanted to avoid a scene. I've been finding real passion with Stacy, and she is so nice, but I knew you would not approve of her, because of all her piercings, tattoos, her tight Motorcycle clothes, and because she is so much older than I am. But it's not only the passion, Dad. She's pregnant. Stacy says that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods, and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children. Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone. We'll be growing it for ourselves and trading it with the other people in the commune for all the cocaine and ecstasy we want. In the meantime, we'll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS, so Stacy can get better.
Don't worry Dad, I'm 15, and I know how to take care of myself. Someday, I'm sure we'll be back to visit, so you can get to know your many grandchildren.
Love, your son,
P.S. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Jason's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the school report that's on the kitchen table.
I would like to add another video of a mobile phone, which is also based on the shock treatment that children can give to parents, to get what they want. Normal ways don't work with many...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

To Parents with love...

It is dreadful when we hear of children choosing to take their own lives. This is about suicides committed by young children, usually in their teens. How would you as a parent feel when you read about such an act been committed? Does it not conjure up images of the goings on in that family? Most of the times it is human interactions that are in question. The first reaction is shock, followed by sympathy. Then we rationalize, wondering about the hows and whys. It is devastating for parents to lose a child. A lack or a wrong style of communication, excessive expectations, isolation, peer pressure, being unable to cope with study related stress, or stress related issues at home, being bullied at home or school... what could be the reason? The reasons for teen suicides could be many.

Each person is a unique individual, and craves to be understood and recognized accordingly. Society needs to respect that feeling. So which are the adolescent years? The years between 11 and 18 are considered as the teenage/adolescent years. It is the pre-adulthood period in a persons life. Adulthood as such differs from country to country. Every society has their own voting age, or the age when the child can get a driving license, while some countries have even other ways to identify the individual stepping into an adult group. The time when a child is entering into his/her teens is considered as a tumultuous span of a few years. It is synonymous with "difficult", "rebellious", "rude", and "OH-SO-CRAZY". But the child does not have any control over the hormonal changes that are taking place in the body, which could be a a reason for erratic behavior. The onset of puberty brings in various internal and external changes in the body. The child is emerging as a unique individual. We need to understand that and cherish as well as appreciate it.

Now how do we handle this so called troubled times that a child is going through, and in turn changing the scenario of the homes they inhabit? To bring the child to the path of righteousness rather than being success oriented is the point in case. For a child to commit suicide there has to be a background.

Societies are changing worldwide, and there is a divide among parents and children. Many a times the young , sensitive mind, unable to communicate his/her thoughts, rushes to take this extreme step. It is so unfortunate, especially for their near and dear ones, who are left feeling terrible, lamenting the rest of their lives, wondering that maybe if they had a better mode of communication, maybe if they had not nagged their child, maybe if they had tried to recognize the signs that led to this, maybe then they would still have the joy of seeing their child growing up in front of their eyes.

It is so important to talk with children these days, be more friends rather than tight lipped autocratic parents. To be flexible, to understand the needs that a child may have, and yet is unable to convey. Sometimes these problems take a serious turn, and sometimes they tide over. When a child is suffering from failure in school, he suffers from low self esteem and loses all motivation to do anything seriously, with the end result being poor relations with the family and school/society. Adolescence is a very challenging time for the youth. Millions of families are struggling with their troubled teens. In all of this, the pressure falls on the teenager. They are the ones coping hard, while we wrongly imagine that it is us. It is an oft heard topic of conversation among parents of the young uns (or shall we call it a volley of complaints?). The common factors here vary from their youngsters choice of friends, the amount of time that is spent on the phone/internet, issues of being no help at home, besides it being so sad for a parent who feels that "oh, now my child, who used to hang on every word I said is now thinking and arguing with me as if I know nothing". I say, enjoy this period of your child's growing up years. Parents have to make their child feel wanted, to encourage and be very liberal with praise. The child needs it from the people he loves most.

It all has to do with the correct style of parenting. They must be made to understand that it is their right to get clothing, food, education, safety and oodles of love and affection. But it is their privilege when they get designer clothes, telephones of their own, money to spend on the things they like, etc. SO should they feel obliged for the privileges that they get? Not grateful maybe, but certainly thankful. Maybe many of you feel that they must earn these, like the good points and bad points that they get in school. Well I differ in my opinion here. Reward and punishment has been often touted as a successful parenting style. It has but short term effects. The side effects are not very neat. It is conditional parenting. Will a child not start to expect gifts for every job well done? When does he learn that there is something called duty? When is that sense of duty inculcated within the child's mind?

We must encourage children to have friends, with whom they can talk on their own level. Besides, parents themselves should invest in a meaningful relationship with their child. It is essential for the child to know and be confident of the fact that there is a place to always return to, even if he has messed up in life. Whether the situation that the child has got himself into is reversible or not, the young mind must know he has a home where he is wanted. Maybe there will be a reprimand, but love and help too. So here the important quality is a forgiving nature. Do not create impenetrable walls for the child at home.

Many times teens are unable to enter a preferred institute for further studies. It builds tension in the child's mind. Be understanding. In todays world opportunities are numerous, and of many a variety. Children should be made to understand that. It is never the end of the road. Out of shame, the child might begin to isolate him/herself. Immediately embark upon your duty as an adult to make the child feel good, get him/her to make friends and to meet people, and also to be involved in group activities.

Several times it is the parents who are culprits when they psyche the child to be the best. The parent does not realize that he/she is isolating the child. Problems start when the parent wants to make the child special. Let them lead normal lives. If the child has to, he will excel. Let them seek the path of being an independent social being. Let them learn to appreciate people with all their differences, be it the cobbler, the carpenter or even the old man who lives across the street. Let them learn to relate to all kinds of human beings, and empathize with each one of them. Teach them to excel in whatever they do. Here, there is a difference in being competitive and excelling in whatever one does. John D. Rockefeller, a wealthy American businessman and a philanthropist, said, "Competition is a sin". Every child is different. Let them have ambition, but then being over ambitious is also a recipe for disaster. It can so easily breed jealousies, too much cut throat competition, and create so many negative vibes around. The child has to learn to take every thing in his stride, and to reduce self projection at all times.

There are times when the family cannot take success and failure normally. There is too much rejoicing on successes and too much remorse during failures. To be able to take it normally without these bursts of emotions, is what we have to teach the children. To quote Bill Gates, "Success is a lousy teacher; it reduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."

Above all parents need to be supple like the bamboo shoots that grow, accommodating everything, and bend with the times. Do not be like a banyan tree under which nothing grows, but which grows huge and wide on its own. Nobody said parenting was easy, it is a process of learning to take joy in even the toughest of situations.

Teen suicides in India are on the rise. I have attempted to point out a few causes, and some solutions. We, as a society must be supportive of our new generation and make the most of their abundant energy, their spirit of adventure.These can constructively be put to good use. They need all the guidance, and understanding from us.

I would really appreciate some feedback in the form of a discussion or comments..

From my side I put forth this song which does say a lot on parenting, and how we find ourselves and our practices as the best...don't miss it please see the video.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Empowering Children-Where to Draw the Line?

Tina's son, now eleven and a half years old, has reached the seventh grade. She is proud of her son, he is doing well in school, and has enough on hand the whole day, pursuing his hobbies. And all is going fine, she thanks God for this.. But a thought seems to be nagging her of late, She feels her son does not look as mature as his classmates, he seems to be blissfully unaware of this, and she notices that other parents who have same-age sons hand over much more responsibility to them. She on her part cannot make herself allow him to travel around in the city on his own,make him run errands for her. Children apparently love to perform small odd tasks for their parents, it makes them feel responsible. She is contemplating allowing her child to get more independent than he is now

Parents and teachers need to respect and recognize each child's abilities. They all mature at different stages. But at some point we have to allow them to make their own decisions. It does give them that feeling of accomplishment. It also allows the child's self esteem to grow. Besides we several times snub the child when he/she is giving his/her point of view, or taking part in a discussion, in a way curtailing the child's sense of confidence in himself. Whatever their opinion, we can at least make them feel that their ideas matter. In a sense children must be able to speak freely, without fear of repercussions.

Now, it is a fact that parents instinctively want to protect their children. So those who are "brave" enough to send their children to school on their own, for example, are looked upon as extra 'Daring". The other not-so-brave parents feel that times are bad, it was different during the years when they were growing up. Abductions, rape, road accidents and such, are on the increase, so why take the chance. Let the child grow up and he will learn all , in good time. Does this behavior hamper growth in children? Is it a fact that daring attitude in children, helps their horizons to widen? Is Tina's anxiety justified? Is it going to make her child feel like a lesser mortal among his very-independent peers? Is she exercising bad-parenting?

Maybe taking the middle path is the answer, maybe you could have your own view-point.. If you do, do put it forth..

Watch the video provided in the link and see if it changes your stand..Read the comments too, its got me thinking..

Related link :

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Laughter the Best Medicine?

Exams have just got over for most of the children around the country. And what a load off their shoulders!! What serious faces! And on the last day of the exam? PHEW! IT'S OVER!! I wonder how many teachers noticed that.

It made me wonder at the enormous stress our children carry on their shoulders. How much they are subjected to varies from one school to the other, and also from one child's ability to take stress to the other, but we as teachers could consider the possibilities of making our classrooms considerably stress free. Seeing sunny , cheerful faces is a pleasure. Here we can say that, we cannot ignore encouraging sobriety, reserve, and somberness among children. How much of humor is to be brought in and when, is for the teacher to decide. The teacher must consider making the classroom moderately stress free. Some heavy subjects/lessons can be made interesting/palatable by adding a dash of humor. We all know that laughter, humor reduces tension, and a tension free mind is more receptive to learning, therefore it does make sense to incorporate humor in the classroom.

Educationists, psychologists, and experts have given this area a thought, and feel that a laugh or two in the class does have its place in the classroom. I read somewhere that humor in the classroom:

a) increases learning speed

b) facilitates retention of novel information

c) improves problem solving

d) relieves stress

e) reduces test anxiety

f) increases perceptions of teacher credibility.

Therefore developing a healthy sense of humor goes a long way as we can see. It can as a side effect facilitate better adjustments of the child at home and in school among peers. So heres to some lightheartedness in our classrooms...

Don't miss reading the first paragraph given in the book that I have put up in the link. You'll see how societies in the world take laughter so seriously :):)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Troubled Teens-Violence in Schools

Recently in a school in Delhi, a young boy was killed by another, and although the reason(s) have not been stated clearly, family enmity was speculated. Whatever the reason, the very fact that youth today feel free to take the law in their hands, and actually show an incompetence in being able to handle anger, shows the rot in our education and value systems. Now this brings in a growing fear among parents at large, in a new area in their lives, and yet another one in parenting, to deal with. It has happened in one school, it could happen in another. It's a very disturbing trend.Teachers and parents must take this seriously, must start worrying about ways of curbing this, and preventing other such incidents from happening again.

Using lethal weapons, going to such an irreparable extreme, could the child even explain such an action? Could he pinpoint to what led to this, on introspection? Should we put the blame on the child entirely? He must be serving time at some juvenile jail, but WHO IS TO BLAME? Too many factors have led to this, I suppose , and it is time we discussed them all, without taking it lying down. It shall remain an on going discussion, no doubt, but that we have come to this is cause enough to lament.

A few sites can be visited to see the reasons, cures etc. Don't stop at that, don't forget it, act on it whether you are a parent or a teacher, help make this world a more peaceful place to live in. For however many years we come to this world, lets not spend that time in getting angry, lets spread love instead.

Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friends......

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Technology in education-How far are we?

Its a tech world now. We are all trapped in this heavily wired world (now getting wireless). At homes, at workplaces, be it anywhere, its technology all the way. In education, its essentially the computer when we talk of technology in education. Information is just a click away, so why not make the most of it? In the classrooms, instruction for all subjects integrating the computer still needs to be put together by the teacher, as just having the gadget around for comfort, and allowing the children to use it for reference, as the teachers most often do, would not make much sense. So what else would be its use? This is what exactly needs to be formulated I think. Besides a whole new set of economics have to be worked out by school authorities, as right from the furniture, to creating an ambience, for wired classrooms needs to be looked into.

Teaching, after all does go on in classrooms in India, without computers, in a majority of schools. And pretty well when it comes to dissemination of information. Our children from good schools, make it to the international arena of education, earning good names for themselves.

So then why this urgent need for for computers in classrooms? It simply clears doubts, informs a little more, and makes the child a little more confident of what he/she has just learned in class.

There is need for a proper curriculum underlining the use of computers, and how it needs to be integrated with specific references to the instructions given, has to be looked into. Shuchi, has in her recent articles in this forum, told us about blogging, wikis, podcasting, which are such useful tools, especially for teachers. I suddenly feel the need to start learning and bring this knowledge to use.

It seems like a vast confusing puzzle, as of now, maybe to most teachers, but it is apparent that we are not very far from using technology in education, in more and more schools in our country.

I came across this article, in the Hindu about the new technology tools that allow anyone "to become an author, a creator, or a researcher" and wondered at the timing of Shuchi's posts. Seems coincidental, but maybe its time...

Related link :