Sunday, November 30, 2014

Understanding the child

There is a lot of research taking place all over the world regarding how the children learn and what makes them to fear or like something. Some children are born brave. Here, I refer the word brave to be extrovert and do not hide anything which they might feel to say or do. I am not a researcher but being with the children has helped me in understanding many aspects of their life regarding their behavior and learning. Some children do not feel comfortable while crossing the road and the reason for that may be they might have got injured in a road accident. A very important example can be that not many people would like to cross the cemetery except the close relatives. This is because they are told about the ill effect of the problems related to departed souls. We in India find many places labeled as the point where some untimely death took place due to an accident and now frequent accidents take place on that spot. Such accidents are blamed to be the curse of the untimely death though the real reason might have been a deep curve or an improper crossing etc. but as young children listen to such conversation in the family they develop the same thought in their mind.
There can be many such examples quoted and discussed but I would like to focus attention on my interaction with a child of seven years a few days back. This experience took me back to my childhood and my experience with the children as a teacher for more than thirty two years. Though I always confess that I learn many things from my students and this has been proved right once again. The parents of a child came to meet me and shared the problem the child was facing in the class. We discussed the issues related to the children in today`s life and were of the firm opinion that the parents and the teachers must understand the problems of the children more carefully. During the interaction parents mentioned about certain qualities of the child which impressed me and I was keen to meet the child. He came to the office and entered the room without any hesitation and was confident. He did not express any excitement on seeing the parents and entering the Principal's office for the first time. I asked him whether he knew and what my name was. He answered confidently and mentioned the name. I appreciated him for this and uttered a statement that I was happy to hear the name spoken by a child because this was not the practice and the culture and most of the students will say Sir or the Principal Sir which does not necessarily makes me feel very happy (In India teachers are not called by their names but Sir/Madam). We started talking to the child and in between I asked him to eat some sweets which were kept in my office. He immediately said No to this. I tried to encourage having sweets but he was not at all interested. The parents felt that the child should not have said no to the principal so they also tried to eat the sweets which he firmly denied. I let the things left there only because the child was very sure what not to do and changed the topic to a book which his parents were reading. When asked about the book he said that he does not read this book but sees the pictures in that book and based on that can built up a story. This was quite impressive to me and more things were discussed. When he was asked questions related to subjects he confidently answered all of them. One spelling spoken by him was wrong but he was very sure that his teacher had marked that correct in his assignment book so that must be correct. Here I would like to mention that in the same book the teacher had made the correction subsequently but whatever was understood by the child initially did not get erased so easily.  It took me quite long to convince him what the correct spelling was. Through this example I wanted to emphasize on the point which all of us have heard and come across a number of times that the children follow the teachers without doubting that they can ever be wrong.
We were together for about an hour and were to disperse. While the child was about to leave the room and he was once offered the sweets as token of appreciation for being so good. Again he said no. But in spite of leaving the office he took the mobile from his mother and started searching for something. We were curious to know what he was doing with the cell phone. After some time he found a video and came to meet (I was sitting on the other side of the table) and showed the video which was related to the ill effects of consuming sugar. The lady in the video was explaining that human being get enough sugar through the fruits or the food intake therefore there was no need of eating additional sugar rather eating sweets might be harmful. Though the child did not say anything but we could understand why was he not interested in eating the sweets offered to him. He was not taught this by anybody but the video and he was influenced by that. The second eye opener incident took place immediately after this. When he was leaving the office he was told that one should say thank you to the other people if they have helped in any way. He immediately responded by saying thank you. Now he was told that it should not be plain thank you but thank you sir. The child responded that he did not say sir because when he came to the office the Principal said that he was not comfortable when people address him by saying sir. Three of us were stunned and it was after a while we realized that how quickly and indirectly the child was learning the things said by us though we did not really mean to teach him all that. The parents left my office but this child refuses to get out of my thoughts and mind. I am still wondering how many thousands of the children would have been affected by my indirect remarks made to them. This incident reminded me of all my interactions with the children and their response to that.

I shared this with all of you specially the teachers and parents to be very careful while sharing certain things with them directly or indirectly. Please do not get angry with them and scold or label them as to be undisciplined because they did not do anything which you wanted them to do because there should be some genuine reason for their not following your instructions. Always try to understand the cause of the action or reaction of the child in spite of reacting to their response immediately. Whatever the children do is the reflection of what they have learnt from us. So be careful while dealing with the future citizens of the country.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Morality in question

Recently our school celebrated Sanskaar Divas which involves the primary school and is intended to showcase the talent of the young kids to their parents and grandparents. The basic objective is to remind ourselves of the values and morals which are the asset of an individual to survive and make the society more useful and supportive group of the people. In Indian society, family fabric has been given a lot of importance which has kept the individual as a unit even in the most difficult and trying situations. We feel great when all the people share the importance of the values and morality. I do not know what would be the correct and exact translation of the word Sanskaar but this definitely includes values and morals and in wider perspective I can say ethics. I would leave the topic ethics for some other day and focus only on values and morality (I am not very sure about what is responsible for other but these are interwoven).
The first question I would like to ask and discuss is - what do we mean by morality? This may seem to be an absurd question because we have been hearing about it and following it right from our childhood. Anything which is good can be called moral but bad is called immoral. To whom morality applies and do we have to see this in all the actions and in the nature? Morality generally applies to a human being or a group of people or an organization in which large number of people are involved. The weather can be bad but this does not mean immoral because weather did not mean to be bad and harm others but if somebody intends to do wrong to others or even the nature, it is definitely an immoral act. The action of an individual having clear goal and foreseen result will involve morality because if something is done unintentionally this may not be put in the category of immorality. Morality is bequeathed to us from our ancestors and is the result of evolution which must have taken place over a period of time. There may be certain traits which are universally true and do not change with time or place. For example, honesty is imperative and telling a lie is morally wrong. There may be exceptions even in these cases also but by and large these have remained universally true and all the races in all times followed the same.
How do we learn or in real sense imbibe values? This generally begins from childhood or even before the child is born. The child learns the first lesson of morality from the mother and the other family members who around him since the child is born. He will crawl and try to get something and the mother or any other adult around would help him get the same. When the child breaks a toy the reaction of the mother will teach him some lesson which will become the value resulting in his moral development. At times the child does things which will make the mother happy and in other situation she might get irritated. We can easily make it out that the child has peculiar responses to irritation and pleasure. The way the adults behave in front of him, the child will learn the things accordingly. After the mother, comes the role of other family members. If the environment in the family is of brotherhood and respects towards each other the child will imbibe the same and if the family members do not exhibit the difference between right and wrong, the child will also become likewise. After all this, comes the school. The child learns the extended form and the nature of the social values and morals. In some cases, people have started discussing against the joint families just because the environment of extended family is not conducive for the child to imbibe values. Though I do not agree with that because joint family is the smaller unit of the society and the children learn social values in this bigger group better than in nuclear families. Nowadays you have the creche and play schools before the children are formally admitted to a school. The play schools also play the role of home and family and help children bridge the gap between the home and the school. When the children join the school they are exposed to heterogeneous group of the people around him. This includes the teaching staff, fellow students and support staff. They tend to form group depending upon their nature and belief in the values imbibed by them by this time. It is noticed that some children become friendly to the same sex group and others may be in a different type of group. Some children like to talk a lot and some remain withdrawn and confined to themselves. This makes us to believe that the moral domain of the children does not remain CONFINED TO THE ADULTS ONLY, THE PEER GROUP DOES PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THAT. They constantly evaluate and imbibe the right and the wrong through their interaction with each other. The vision and mission of the school and the objective of running the school also contribute significantly in the development of varying thoughts in the mind of the students. If the written document is different than the real work done by the school then the children indirectly learn to do the same and consider it morally right while that is not the case. The role of the teachers and the schools is equally important as that of the parents though the initial development takes place at the family level. The teachers have tremendous influence on the kids and their behavior and values do make a lot of impact on them. Many kids copy their teachers blindly and start behaving exactly in the same manner. So, the impact of school values is profound and significant for them. I have been saying that if we want our children to have national character, then this can be done the most at home and in the schools. Home and schools must work in jointly so that the children do not get confused about the values they are exposed to at two places.
The next important agent in regard to morality comes from the society. This question has been asked a number of times whether values can be taught or these are acquired by an individual by birth. People do not have clear answer to this because there are examples in the society to prove both. But the people do get affected by the norms of the society. The general public or call them the subjects for the sake of discussion, need to follow the norms called as values as set by the society. This is also true that the society norms are influenced by the ruling class. So, the ruling class must be well aware about values and morals. Not only this, they should ensure that the values are imbibed and followed by them in true spirit. Here, the ruling class is the parents or the teachers in the context of home and the schools respectively. The impact of the individual on society and vice versa is an unbroken circle and both are interdependent. So, the passing the parcel game does not hold any ground here.

But in case of the children- parents, teachers and the society are responsible for the values and morals learnt and imbibed by them. I have been sharing and emphatically telling all that our children are good, only thing contrary may be their behavior or actions and these are learnt by them either from the family, schools or the society. Hence to blame children is not right but we should introspect ourselves, as adult and make changes and improve our own behavior. Our children are born with no negatives but they learn all this here in this world which have borrowed from our ancestors and owe to our children. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Life Skills


Recent reports in newspapers show worrisome condition of the youth, especially their emotional aspect. Newspapers are full of reports which reflect a significant rise in the problems faced by the youth, for example, serious emotional disturbances have increased and resulted in disturbed relationships among students in schools because of decrease in emotional intelligence among them which pushes them to the greater use of alcohol and other drugs from an early age. All this clearly result in increase in aggression, suicidal tendencies, drugs use, and depression cases. This scenario shows the struggle that the youth go through and emotional problems they face. So providing an educational experience that could strengthen their coping abilities to counter environmental stress is an important call of present time. One of the best approaches for contributing to the overall development of children is the life skills approach. A key aspect of human development - as important to basic survival as intellect - is the acquisition of socio-cognitive and emotional coping skills. Today the behavior of a student is influenced by a lot of factors with Information Technology as one of the major factors. In a fast moving and fast changing world human interaction and relationships have become all the more important than anytime in the past. Information Technology is playing an important role in ways people interact with each other reaching across borders, ethnicity, religion and race. These interactions and relationships among people are largely influenced by the life skills acquired by them, so life skills have become more important than anything else in student’s life. The life skills acquired by people differ among them and these skills play an important role in the overall development of a person.
Meaning of life skills lie in the word itself i.e. skills that make life enjoyable and meaningful. For most children of India life skills were imparted so that they could lead a life with the motto "कर्मण्येवाधिकारमस्तेाf फ़लेषुकदाचन"-In the present scenario Indian families are moving away from joint families to nuclear families which have affected the development of children negatively, so this is imperative on the part of schools and teachers that they play an important role in imbibing value based education or life skill based education.
“Life skills mean the essential skills developed through a higher order thinking, that enable a person to perform effectively in his or her life and thus making him a socially acceptable and successful person’’. From this definition it can be clearly understood that life skills are acquired by a person mostly during his early stages of life, though it is a continuous process. With the help of Information Technology, the world today has shrunk in a small laptop or a mobile phone and that enables a person to interact with different societies, different people and acquire whole lot of skills for his personal development. Life skills are more about a person’s presentation and his attitude towards life. These interactions may bring positive as well as negative life skills in a person’s life. This is a time when close family members, friends and teachers should play an important role in bringing positivity through these interactions and develop life skills. In some situations students come across different problems, stress and their weaknesses and find it difficult to come out of these situations. Life skills teach a person to face peer pressure, analyse situation and always see a ray of hope in adverse conditions. Life skills also teach a person not only to be positive, but also show him his strength, weakness, empathy and creativity thus making him an effective communicator. As it is written in Bhagwad Gita, “Man is made by his belief, as he believes, so he is.”


Role Of Teachers In Imparting Skills
Teachers play a very important role in inculcating these life skills. To impart the highest value i.e.life skills in students, it is important that teachers should have a complete understanding of life skills. Teachers themselves should practice what they preach. Some of the aspects of life skills are self-awareness, effective communication, creative thinking, critical analysis etc.

Role of peer group
During teenage, students are inspired the most by their peer group. They automatically acquire traits of reasoning. If the group is exposed to positive traits they will be inclined towards positivity.
Role of parents
Healthy environment develops a positive attitude in child.Mutual efforts of parents and teachers develop different life skills in children. If a child is exposed to a healthy life style at home, he becomes healthy, like, if everyone at home starts the day with physical exercise he starts respecting his body too .If someone at home narrates him stories, he learns to analyse situations and learns to show empathy.
Role of Media
Nowadays media plays a significant role in building one’s perspective and in acquiring life skills. Schools opt for different newspapers and magazines so that students can read about their own age group as well as poets, article writers and achievers. They get invaluable suggestions and opportunity to express them.

Role of the schools
Schools and teachers can play the most important role in the life of the children because they are seen by the students as motivators, torch bearers and support. Some of the aspects of these strengths are creativity in writing, games, culinary skill, dancing, singing and oratory skills.
One of the most important modes to impart life skills is communication. Communication consists of listening and speaking. Communication is a two way interaction where an underlying message is clearly understood by the recipient. A person must be able to listen and understand what someone is asking or telling him and also be clear about what he is asking or telling others. Everything related to the universe communicates in the verbal or in the nonverbal forms. Even nature communicates its aggression to people.  Expression of life skills is its communication skill. An important question that arises is whether these skills can be acquired easily by listening and speaking. Teachers play significant role in developing the skills where the teacher and student both are empowered.
ओमसहनाववतुसहनौभुनक्तु ,
सहवीर्यंकरवावहै 
तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु 
माविद्विषावहै।
This is an excellent example of communication and harmony where teachers and students pray for their mutual growth.It is effective only when it has significance to a person. Communication is a weapon which can bring the desired changes in a person and his surroundings.Mahatma Gandhi’s example is suitable here, how even a shy boy came over his shyness and made effective communication of freedom. This basic understanding helps a student in the long run and makes a student an effective communicator. Breakdown in communication is one of the important factors in emotional disturbance. When communication breaks down then misunderstanding comes in and people might become aggressive or uncooperative towards each other.
Self-awareness
This term has a wide meaning but it is best defined as per Vedant ‘’अहम्बह्मsस्मि'’ that is nothing but more about self-awareness. Today students are moving away from this fact and many of them are not aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Due to this confusion and peer pressure they tend to miss and identify themselves. Developing self-awareness and knowing self so that one changes and understands what stops him from making progress. It is very important for one to realize one’s weaknesses and one should work towards overcoming them so that it doesn't hinder his life. Sometimes people are more worried about their inabilities and forget their capabilities. So it is necessary that one should focus on one’s strength and accept his weaknesses too. Some of the important basic needs of a person that he must be aware of are food, health and shelter. A person must be aware that shelter is must to protect him against environmental hazards. A person must recognise and be aware that he must eat and drink and respond to a good quality food otherwise, the body may not function as efficiently as it should and may become prone to infection and other illnesses. A person must remain aware of his priorities and goals and always strive to find ways to achieve those. Using these goals, he must lay down the roadmap and framework to achieve these goals and plan to get over the obstacles and objections that may come up against during the course. One of the important aspects that a person should always be aware of is    to know what is important in his life. This can help him to move forward and live the sort of life that is important for him .This will help him to interact with others with integrity and authenticity. Believing in one’s own capabilities is one of the most important dimensions that bring out the best positive outcome in the personal development. Self-awareness of this dimension not only helps a person to remain focused but also creates a positive environment in a team and surroundings. So all these life skills are important to cope with life and help one to become a successful person. Life skills always help in making a positive person in the society who can contribute in his own personal development as well as that of the society. But with the varying levels of intelligence and grasping power in individuals it may not be possible that the recipient receives the intended message. In these cases innovation and teaching methodology play an important role in imparting life skills depending on each individuals capabilities and learning styles. 
Critical thinking and creativity
कुतोवानूतनंवस्तुवयमुतप्रेक्शितुमक्षमः
उक्तिवैचित्र्यमात्रप्रकाशने
This is a very important aspect of lifeskills. Whichever skill one acquires to sharpen the acquired skills, one has to develop critical thinking.Critical and creative thinking are two sides of the same coin which help a person to deal with different situations of life successfully.  They can be inculcated through an effective curriculum. They can be practiced in everyday teachings by developing questioning and reasoning skills in the students.
Some of the modes that can be used to teach life skills are:
1 YOGA AND MEDITATION
"योगश्चित्तवृतिनिरोध "
Healthy practices like yoga and meditation help in the learning of life skills. Nowadays yoga isn’t related just to physical and breathing exercise but has a broader aspect  of mental stability and the state of mind too.Practicing both the habits bring positivity and energy for the body as well as the mind. The mind is like an energy factory which produces thoughts. If the mind gets the fuel of positive vibes it will be beneficial for oneself as well as for the society thereby contributing in its progress.
2 DISCUSSIONS
It is a purposeful conversation proceeding towards a certain objective. Discussions involve exchange and sharing of ideas, experiences, facts and opinion on given topics. The conversation can be used in large or small groups. Discussion can be used when:
·               Clarifying concepts
·               Clarifying attitudes and values
·               Gathering opinions from others
·               Building consensus
·               Gathering ideas
·               Learning new skills like listening critically and discussing sensitively. 

3. Debate
A debate is a discussion which involves two opposing parties with each group expressing opinions or views about a given topic or subject. Each group competitively attempts to win over the other. At the end of the debate the group with more points is declared the winner. To develop critical thinking debates are organised.Current topics are chosen for this type of activity. Those who participate in it develop the critical, analytical and logical thinking, an important aspect of life skills. With this skill they learn to respect their opponents’ understanding that they have a right to express themselves. Today the schools and teachers are well aware of multiple intelligence, in which each and every child is considered unique in one way or the other. Debaters are word smart and are blessed with logical ability. So to cater to the needs of word smart children, teachers emphasize on life skills based on word or language skills.
4. Role Plays/Just a minute
These are short drama episodes in which the participants experience how a person feels in a similar real life situation. Role plays can be used when:
a)               Developing specific skills such as negotiation, assertiveness, communication and self-awareness
b)              Demonstrating how a skill can be applied in a given situation.
c)               Organizing different programmes to express gratitude to the grandparents, parents and other members of the society. Schools for example, can organise special days for grandparents and like that. Such programmes make grandparents feel proud by seeing their grandchild’s thrilling, emotional and message giving performance. Here teachers need to be careful while selecting the theme. Through this programme students learn to perform in groups, learn to praise each other and are able to feel the emotion of characters.
Independence Day/Republic Day- participating on this day helps them to realise that they must contribute in the country's progress. Students analyse current situation of the country and give different ideas to move ahead in form of self written poems, essays and plays. By this they are developing creativity, thinking skill and communication skills.
Annual functions are platforms to make people aware of social, environmental and political changes. Students get opportunities to raise current topics of the society like save girl child, save water 'जल जीवन है ' etc.
5. Story telling
Stories are the best equipment to inculcate good habits and moral values.Through this way of lifeskill one can successfully generate empathy towards the needy or any other person.Story telling involves telling of narratives with a particular theme, based on actual events.Students get detailed information about an event of life situation in an interesting way while also getting a moral message. Stories can be composed, collected or based on specific themes on life skills for example assertiveness, negotiations or decision making. When reading or telling stories they should be dramatic and larger than real life experiences. The stories could be presented in a variety of ways for example, tone variation, use of facial expression, involvement of audience. Animal and human characters can be used in presenting the stories atthe primary level.

For middle and secondary school students, teachers need to choose a story from the community which provides incidents where a character has to make a decision. The story line should follow the character and show the consequences of the decisions made. If it was a wise decision, the character should be portrayed as a winner. If the decision made was a poor one, the story should show the character suffering as a consequence of this.

The students could be encouraged to come up with their own stories from their communities or any other. A teacher should choose an interesting and lively story. The story should follow logical and systematic steps, and should highlight incidents that are familiar to learners

Puppets can be used to make stories more dramatic especially if the story is being told rather than read. When stories are being told one should vary the tone and use different voices for each character in the story. You may also use puppetry as a method of presenting sensitive messages in an interesting way.

6 Sports -Multiple intelligence plays a vital role in a child’s life.To cater to the needs of kinesthetic children one should plan activities of their interest. They need different games to channelize their energy in a constructive way.Through these activities they learn how to keep themselves in shape, to utilise time and energy wisely. They develop sportsman spirit in them. Good sportsman has team spirit too which help him to contribute in the progress of the society.
7 Songs and Dances
Songs are musical compositions on topical issues and themes, which convey messages on contemporary issues in the society. The same helps in character building and values and reinforcing them.
Songs and dance can be used to develop and strengthen life skills, for example self awareness, communication skills and conflict resolution. Songs are useful when one wants to pass sensitive cultural and patriotic messages in an interesting manner. The teacher can compose a song, or ask the learners to compose some or use the already existing ones. The songs should be interesting, appealing, easy to learn and familiar to the students. The songs can be re-enforced by use of puppetry.Dancing involves co-ordination of body movements which generate joy and cheer among the participants. These flow activities create positive environment and help one to enhance his personality.

There are many skills and sub skills which are not mentioned but all those are included in C3 - creativity (culinary, gardening, story writing, presentation etc.), critical thinking (projects, experiments, problem solving assessment) and communication skills. There are two key elements for achieving C3, one simply setting objectives and breaking the objectives down into easy to accomplish tasks. The second element involves training one’s mind to think positive. Positivity will be generated by reading, listening to positive thoughts and practicing good habits.Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is an excellent example of combination of C3. He has put vision and mission for us to achieve life skills for ourselves and nation -:

"As a young citizen of India
Armed with technology, knowledge and love for my nation

I will walk and sweat for a great vision
The vision of transforming India into a developed nation
Powered by economic strength with value system

Iam one of the citizens of billions
Only the vision will ignite the billion souls
It has entered into me;

The ignited soul compared to any resource 
Is the most powerful resource on the earth 
Above the earth, under the earth

I will keep the knowledge of light burning
To achieve the vision developed India

May the divine peace of beauty enter into our people
Happiness and good health blossom in our minds and bodies"

At last I would like to mention that the reforms introduced by CBSE is an earnest attempt to develop life skills and teachers get ample opportunity to make the students learn that. Assessment of speaking and listening skills, PSA etc are the tools to achieve the goals of life skills .But, we should remember that only test would not enhance life skills but for that teachers will have to work hard and motivate children by providing them conducive environment with holistic approach


Monday, September 15, 2014

Seeking excellence or perfection

The new government is seriously thinking to develop the skills of the people in different fields and want education which can make them employable and not merely degree holder. The emphasis has to shift from cramming to learning and that too creative learning. The education system should be such which makes all to explore their potential and make students’ happy to go to school or college. This should trigger a desire in children to work and they should avoid being forced for the same. The environment should be such that do not HAVE to do but they should WANT to do what they are supposed to do. For example, we usually say that "I want to eat food", and not that "I have to eat", until I am not unwell. If the same happens with the children coming to the school then there must be real learning taking place in the school/college. For this the parents and the teachers must ensure that two things are taken care of cautiously, one the self esteem and the other, the excellence. Self esteem is very important for everyone especially for the school going children. I do not want to prove that the teachers and the parents harm the self esteem of the children deliberately but unfortunately it happens quite often. I would like to quote some examples where the child was hurt and this might hurt him for the entire life. A child of age six years asks the teacher to go out to the washroom. He took little longer than what was expected by the teacher. After coming back he settles in the class but after some time again feels the urge to go again and seeks the permission from the teacher. Now the teacher becomes angry and asks the child to sit down and pay attention to his studies. But the child is feeling uncomfortable and requests the teacher to allow him. The teacher thinks that he was making excuses to go out of the class and scolds and make him sit in the class. The child gets hurt and loses the respect for the teacher. Not only this he loses the self esteem and never dares to ask anybody to be allowed to do anything which he likes doing or has an urge to do. The teacher in this case has let down the child though she might not have done it deliberately. There is another case in which a father and mother had some problem and the father in the presence of the child says that the mother was responsible for all the bad habits in the children. Though the fight was between the mother and the father but the child has been ridiculed indirectly. There can be many such examples that we see around us or have come across. If the self esteem of the children is hurt then there is no way they can be creative. So my emphasis is that self esteem and creativity go hand in hand. Any person who is creative can achieve excellence. In this discussion, I did not mention the word perfection but excellence only and there is a reason for that. To be perfect is too much for anyone because all of us have some or the other scope to improvise. I read it in the book ‘Power to grow beyond yourself’ by Robert A. Schuller where he writes that there is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly becomes any of us to talk about rest of us, meaning thereby that nobody can be perfect except God. That is why we should try to concentrate on excellence than on perfection. A person can be considered to have excelled if he/she has done the best as per his/her potential. If somebody is able to achieve a target of getting sixty percent marks in his/her yearly examination and that was the best he/she could have then this is an excellent result though may not be the perfect result. An athlete was to complete a race of 100 meters in 15 seconds which was never done before, then this is excellent though may not be the perfect result. Doing best to the ability should be the focus and not necessarily following somebody else. The parents and the teachers should ensure that the children compete with themselves and not with others. The achievement of the others can be kept in mind but to follow and compete with them would not be a good idea. I have come across many cases in which the children were forced to do certain things in which they were not good. In the process they even missed which they could have done better. This is reflected in the attitude problem which we come across in the workplace. There will be cases in which the people enjoy the work assigned to them   but many take it as the burden. We all know it very well that all individuals are different from each other and have unique qualities. If not forced to do the things of others choice then the excellence will come out in plenty otherwise the life for the individual will be a stressful exercise. Let our way of teaching and learning be such that the kids perform to the best of their ability and are allowed to explore. They should not be blindfolded to do same form of things only. The problem with all of us has been that we rarely appreciate the input given by others and the reason for that is our way of handling and teaching our children at school and home. This would be a really great contribution on the part of the Education Ministry and the schools that the children are given opportunity to excel and not forced to be perfect, because if the perfection is achieved then further learning gets blocked. Our children should be brought up in such an environment that they should want to do instead feeling forced to do. Creativity and excellence should be allowed to flourish.  All children have the potential to do good in one or the other field and the parents and teachers should encourage them to excel in those areas only. Creative people will give to this world a new direction and ensure better living as per the changing requirement.  If we allow our children to excel and be creative then the percentage of wisdom will be higher than knowledge. Though knowledge is very important but without wisdom this is a waste. So, I would like to end by saying that excellence, creativity and the wisdom are the need of the hour and we should work in such a manner that this is taken care of. Parents would also have to think differently and be creative in their approach towards children and the same is expected of the teachers and the schools.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Relationships at stake



I shared my thoughts with all of you a few days back regarding the laws related to safeguarding the children from corporal punishment given to them by the parents. Interestingly as usually happens in this country not much of discussion took place on this. One Hindi newspaper did express its opinion strongly against the provision of imprisonment to the parents. The newspaper very rightly raised issues related to culture and values. This country has innumerable examples which prove that the relationship between the parents and the children has been so pious and they both have been complementary to each other for ages. This may be the example of Lord Ram and His brother’s, Shravan Kumar taking his blind parents to pilgrimage on his shoulders, Mahatma Gandhi following advice of his parents, Bhagat Singh having a lot of respect for his parents and the family and list is never ending. These are some prominent names, but there are crores of people who would have sacrificed their life for their parents or the children. Very rightly mentioned in the newspaper that it may be one out of a million cases in which a parent would have punished the child for no reason and out of anger or frustration. Otherwise no parent would like the child to be punished by them or somebody else. When this law to ban corporal punishment in schools came into force, there were questions raised that time also. Some of them were unfounded but the misuse of the law has also been seen almost on daily basis in many schools where the children do take advantage of the basic fact that they cannot be punished in the school for anything done by them. Unfortunately, in our country most of us are driven by emotions and decide things and form opinions at the spur of a moment based on recent happenings. This ban has saved the life of a few children but this also has given way to many children going out of track. They know it very well that the teachers and the schools cannot do anything to them so they are free to disobey them, as and when they feel like. I never advocate for the physical punishment to be given to the children especially in the schools but there should be some way of improving them. They should have some fear for the acts of indiscipline. These steps to be taken by the schools and the teachers should be specified in our education policy because no education policy will succeed in preparing worthy citizens of the nation if there is no discipline in life. I suggest that when a law is enacted, at the same time, the safeguard of the other party should also be taken care of. If by chance tomorrow a child does something very nasty to a teacher, then will the government enact a law against the children?
I was quite impressed by the statement that the parents and the children in this country enjoy such a worthy and wonderful relationship that they would not so easily think about harming each other, but such laws if are put in black and white will surely spoil and mar the sanctity of this beautiful relationship. This is also true those countries that have different family fabric and setup and we are trying to follow them indiscriminately. There, the children become independent at a very early age and the parents are free from all the responsibilities but in our country the situation is entirely different. The parent care and do everything possible till they settle in their life and in many a cases even after the children start earning, the parent have the tendency and desire to help them. The same is true for many teachers even in today's time when  it is difficult to find good teachers because of many reasons, the parents do not want their children to become teachers. I have shared it many times before also that the acts and laws should be balanced in nature and we should always remember our ethics and values, be it a teacher, parent or the child. This is the responsibility of all of us to save not only our culture but also consolidate it further for the benefit of the society and the nation. Why should we follow the trends in place in other countries whose culture is entirely different from ours? We must learn to value and respect our own people before we do the same to the others.  I know a number of cases where the parents lived in so called developed country and earned a lot of wealth but came back to India when their children were in the impressionable age because they wanted their kids to imbibe Indian values. By enumerating this, I do not mean any disrespect towards the culture of the other countries but where the child has a separate bed and a room almost right from the day of birth, how can there be an inseparable bond? In our country the touch of the mother and the father is considered to be absolutely necessary for the perfect emotional and physical development of the child. The relationship between the children and the parents should be nurtured further than ruining it by creating a wall of disbelief and suspect for each other. The children should be taught of the innumerable sacrifices made by their parent for their well-being. The government which talks a lot of the Indianism should pay serious attention towards this issue and revive the family culture of the past. We should work to create the schools of that tradition in which the students surrender themselves to their teachers. Teachers should also bring back the glory of this very noble mission as educators and devote themselves completely for the welfare and well-being of their students. The parents and teachers can make all the difference in the life of their children. But the law enacting and enforcing agencies should not do anything which proves to be detrimental to the strength of this relationship.
I remember the days when the parents did not interfere in the relationship between the teacher and the taught but the situation has changed rapidly in the last twenty years and the seed of doubt has developed between them (which did not leave the children unaffected). This is not good for our children. The teachers and the parents should take it on themselves that the pious relationship between them and the children is not encroached upon and spoiled by somebody else who consider themselves the champion of change and child rights. Nobody can think and do better for the children than their parents. This should be understood and realized by all. Realize someone very loving and close to you is getting spoiled and your hands are tied. Let us not reach that situation. God is with us in the form of the children and we as parents and teachers must ensure that we look after them so well that nobody has any reason to spoil this relationship. Let us work together so that our children share their feelings with us and remain as close as possible so that they do not require anybody else to lighten the bonding between the parents and the teachers. My salutes to millions of parents and teachers who sacrificed their life for their kids and my appreciation and kudos to the children who respect and follow their parents and the teachers.   

Monday, August 11, 2014

Empowering women to witness change



The newspaper reports which keep appearing on almost daily basis related to the crime against women are very disturbing and are appalling for the society in the 21st century. More disturbing are the reasons cited by many people specially dressing of the women and other things including their going out in the night or doing certain things which till date were considered to be the sole right of men only. The question which has been asked is - what is the fault of a girl child who is five or ten years of age?  We need an answer for this. She does not wear that type of clothes which many people find provocative. Though the government has tried its level best to curb this menace but it seems to be having an opposite effect. The media does play its role by reporting such incidents but that too get carried away by some high profile cases and in this process the sufferings of many women is lost in the void because they are not reported so intensely as the high profile cases are.  Though the status of women in the society appears to have improved but the reality is different. The literacy rate among the women is much better than when India got independence. This should have made the difference in the attitude of the society towards the women folk but has that really happened? I might be considered to be pessimistic but just for the sake of not being labeled that way we cannot close our eyes from the reality. I would not like to discuss the numbers and statistics but look at the real examples of the problems and issues faced by the women in our country. I am of the firm opinion that the society in which women are respected will progress and prosper fast and reach greater heights, there would be peace in such a society but our family fabric is such that she is not considered worthy of that respect in many cases. I cannot openly share the identity of the women who have suffered in silence but get scared when I think that she could have been my mother also. When mere thought of this can make me shiver than think about the plight of the person who suffers the same day and night. There are women who are well educated, having masters degree and working in reputed organizations and apparently respected in the office by all but look at the same lady`s situation when she reaches home. The lady will have to work hard in her office and also be responsible for everything at home. She is expected to do all household work, look after the in laws, children and husband as well. I do not know in how many cases the husband extend proper help to the wife in day to day household work. There was a time when women used to stay home and do the entire work and the men were considered to be the earning member. That time it was still acceptable that women were doing almost entire work of the house but now the situation has changed and the women work hard while they study and also after getting a job they have to work harder. The man probably was respected earlier because he was the bread earner of the family but now the woman is contributing equally in meeting the expenses of the family ( though that should not be the only reason of the respect towards the women). The issues which really disturbed me are so burning that I could not stop myself from raising the same here. But I do not want those cases to become so apparent publically, hence finding it difficult to put them straight for you. We must understand that it is not physical assault which our women are subjected to but the psychological and emotional trauma is equally serious. There are cases where the husband does not do anything and the lady is working but still she is subjected to all kinds of abuse in the family especially by the husband. She is expected to do all the work and then go to the work place and do the same when comes back home. In many a cases even after doing so much she is not allowed to breathe freely because there are so many restrictions on eating and other desires she might have. Most of our women suffer in silence for the sake of the children and the reputation of the family in the society. The men can be friendly with anyone including the women but the same is not allowed for the wife. This is so ridiculous and negative when it comes to the equality among men and women. Actually it is a paradox! Men can very easily destroy the respect of the woman by casting a doubt on her character. A lady has infinite patience but that should not be tested unrestrained because she is also a human being and has emotions and feelings and wants to be respected and given proper place in the society. We must pay attention to this issue very seriously. I think laws only cannot fight with this issue but the mindset of the society should be changed specially the male members of the family must be made aware that female members are equally important and be respected. This cannot be preached but certainly be practised. If in a family the husband respects the wife then the children will automatically learn the same. Also the society also should change the mindset of the family tree only in terms of the male members. The female can also take your family name forward. The day society will think in this manner, many of the problems will be solved. Empowering women is very important but equally important is to respect them and realize that it is because of them that we progress well. I salute all women of the society for their patience and devotion to their families but the time has come that they assert for their rights also. They have been doing their duties so well but their rights are to be protected and made available to them by the society, if society wants peace and prosperity in future. The women should not give in to unjust demand of anybody but should stand firm to ensure that their respect and dignity is not compromised. I do not appreciate offensive approach and so we should try to teach our male children that they respect the girls and when they grow with such feelings and learning then I am sure real empowerment of the women will take place. This is an old saying that man and woman are two wheels of life cart and both have got to be equally healthy in terms of physical and emotional strength.
I shared this blazing matter with you all because there have been many issues which I came across in the past few years where I found women suffering in silence for the sake of the children and the family. Though there are many families in which the women are given due respect and that is the reason they progress so well. But there are so many others which require immediate attention of the society and their respect to be restored. Women should fight for their place in the society without dispensing their strength and the quality of patience, as she is the symbol of warmth, perseverance and endurance.