Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Importance of schooling

The result of one the most sought after competitive examination for admission to the premiere engineering institute has been declared and as always the newspapers are full of the advertisement related to the claims made by different institutes for maximum selection of the students from their center. It has also been noticed that the same child has been claimed by more than one institute for different reasons.The children who have made their way to the merit list should be congratulated and others who could not do that well should not be discouraged because there have been incidents reported in the past also that many of those who did not qualify, went into depression which should not be allowed to happen.
 The result of class X of different boards shall be declared soon  and many students (some have already joined so called specialised institutes) will leave the schools which have helped them to become better human beings and they will join in the race of one point programme at the cost of over all personality development. The psychologists and the educationists have been advocating that good schooling of a child is as important as the good parenting. It has become all the more important in today`s age when the parents do not have that much quality time to give to their children and hence the schooling has got to be better than even what it was  before. The reason why I say so is that the emotional intelligence of the child is developed more during the schooling of the child and during  the higher education (the college and university education) develops intellect more than the emotions and the personality. So if the child is to be groomed as a good human being then good quality schooling is very important and the same should be realised by everyone including schools, parents and more importantly by the institutes claiming to be making the future of the child because only intellectual growth does not make an individual successful in life but the overall personality growth is more helpful in that.The people might differ with my opinion because for them being successful can mean more marks and more money whereas this again should not be the sole criterion for the measure of success.
The physical health and the mental health both are important but it has  been realised recently that emotional health is also equally important. The so called institutes in collaboration with some  of the schools deprive children of the emotional and physical health which we may not realise today but in future this is going to be a big hurdle in the life of such children. So this is expected that the government,which has taken some bold steps in the direction of  educational reforms, will pay proper attention in this area also. The schooling should be given more importance and some monitoring system should be evolved so that the schooling of the children is not hampered in the name of making them the so called successful citizens. The marks of class XII should be given more importance while admitting the children to any higher education institutes including IITs. The step taken by the HRD ministry to make Science and Mathematics syllabus uniform across the country will help in implementing this system more effectively and will be more reliable because in this case no state will say that their children are at any disadvantage. The evaluation of class XII in board exams should also be looked into and as far as possible it should also be made uniform across the country. This can really help the children and the parents a lot and save their money and the time both. How easy and feasible this can be is to be evaluated and analysed carefully and with open mind and if found good should be implemented at the earliest, so that no more generation of the children suffer and are deprived of their childhood and  proper schooling.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Measure of success

The newspapers reports give you a lot to think everyday and that is why despite the onslaught of electronic media, the print media has not lost its importance. Why is print media more effective( some of my friends may not agree with this statement) shall be discussed on some other and today I shall focus one of the important issues which is so close to my heart and the issue is how do you measure success and is success relative or absolute? What I have understood  is that nothing is absolute in this world and all things are relative.Take the case of the colour of the skin of the people in comparison to different regions and the countries. The Indians are said to be dark in comparison to the Britishers whereas they are considered to be fair in comparison to Africans.You may cite many such examples in different areas of life.
In a particular school, a child with sixty percent marks can be the topper whereas in the other school a child with eighty percent marks may not find his/her name in the merit list. Who is more intelligent will be different from different perspective.But to me both are successful and both can do well in life. The other qualities which are not reflected by the so called academic result ,plays the most important role in the life of a person.Those who do not get good marks are not necessarily inferior in any way to the others but too much talk on academic performance make them feel depressed and left out.The newspapers report only about those 10-15 students so much, that hundreds and thousands of the other children who must have done equally well feel as if they do not deserve any mention. I do not mean to take away the credit of the ones who have made their names in the merit list but at the same time they are not the only ones who are successful.There has been a debate about how much good it does to those children who find themselves on the pinnacle and on cloud nine all of sudden. Till yesterday nobody knew or talked about them but one fine day they are praised so much  as there is nobody better than them.This might cause a little distress in them because next time if they do not perform that well, they may get emotionally disturbed because then somebody else shall be praised. As I always say that excess of everything is bad and so is the case with this issue also.On one hand, government is trying its level best to do away with marks and reflect  the grades only in the report card and on the other hand, some of us are so much obsessed with the marks that the success of the child is measured only by that .
I was very happy to read in one of the newspapers  about the story of a young man who is the son of a newspaper agent and he himself used to distribute the newspapers from his childhood till he completed his graduation.This story is worth reading in which the young man says that each  failure made him one step closer to the success. He says that had he joined Haryana state service for which he qualified four five years back, nobody would have been taking or reading his interview today.He tried for civil service exam and first time could not qualify even the preliminary examination. The second time he qualified for the mains but failed there. Third time he qualified for the interview but could not make it to the final merit list. But he did not give up rather became more determined to do better next time, and this year he got rank within fifty and shall be joining the coveted services of the country. There were two more stories like this, based on which I can say that those children who could not have their name and the photograph or the interview in the newspapers should not loose heart and consider it as they deserve better things in the life provided they work hard and do not take things casually.The parents and teachers should stand by the side of such children also who could not perform well and should not avoid talking or interacting with them. This is really a tough time for all children and inspite of praising a few of them ,whom we consider achievers, all should be given equal affection and support.My advise to all those who are praised by everyone because of their exceptional performance(as perceived by the people ) to take it as one step forward and the others who could not see their names in the newspapers that they have many more opportunities in future and this so called little success should be taken as one step closer to the bigger success.As you will one day reach the final rung of the ladder of success and achieve immense glory.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Effective implementation more important than the schemes

A newspaper report made me to think more seriously about a topic which was playing in my mind for the last few days. The report says that the training programme for the the teachers which is being conducted for the benefit of the teachers of Rajasthan board schools lacks in facilities and the teachers have raised the problem in front of the competent authorities. The news further says that in this hot summer there is no facility of coolers and the refreshment is also of the poor quality.On one hand, the government is trying to improve the quality of teachers by asking them to qualify eligibility test and on the other hand the basic amenities required are lacking. This raised another issue that the government plans so many schemes for the improvement of not only the education but also the living standard of  economically backward people of the country.
Another newspaper report speaks about the implementation of different schemes which are meant for the benefit of the citizens mainly for the BPL families.The Nation needs to know what has been the real impact of such schemes on the lives of the people for whom these were launched. We keep reading the problems and the corruption in SSA implementation (which may not be the case in every state and district) regarding poor quality of the food served to the students and in other areas also. The government spends quite a lot of money on this but proper survey has not been done which confirms that this scheme has proved to be as beneficial as expected. When we talk of SSA ,the people understand that this programme would improve the quality of education and eventually the quality of life. But has that really happened? Though the reports on paper can prove anything but the reality can be seen on ground only. Should the children come to the school for the sake of one time  meal or education? It is understood that provision of food may motivate the children to come to the school but is it enough to get them to the school and not provide quality education? When you have the difficulty in providing proper facility for the learning of the teachers(who are not even five percent of the students` population) then what would be the condition of the students` facility? The physical facilities are imperative in the learning process because the classroom and the school topography plays a very important role in the development of an individual.
The world bank report also confirms that in our country the schemes are announced with a lot of enthusiasm but the implementation and the follow up leaves a lot to desire.On the request of planning commission ,the world band did the assessment of eleven main schemes launched by the government of India and it was found that on these very important schemes, only two percent of GDP was spent .The  other main problem is that only forty percent poor people are able to get the benefit of welfare schemes launched for them. All might be aware of a case in UP where a woman died because the ration which she was entitled did not reach her as the people responsible for the distribution did not do it properly due to reasons known to all.The reports prove that public distribution system has failed the welfare schemes the most.Many states in north India where the welfare schemes should be implemented more honestly have the maximum problem in doing the same.
The government should carry out a proper survey and do the audit of the money spent on these schemes and the real outcomes.People have perception that most of the schemes are announced for the poor then why is it so that number of the BPL families is not decreasing rather it is increasing?Also the SSA scheme has been in force for the last many years but how many children have been benefitted by that? The people reporting to the government should be honestly doing that and should not take this reporting casually.(Like what has been done by one of the most efficient investigating agencies in case of the most wanted list). Our country should be one those very few countries which really care for the poor and launch many schemes for their welfare. At the same time this also seems to be true that the implementation and follow up is not up to the mark.
One example will make things more clear.Every year the central and the state  governments announce the budget allocated for the school and the higher education. No body understand the basis of why X amount is allocated because no information is shared with the people. And if the proper budgeting is done then the question is why the state government do not know how much money they are spending per child per annum. This question has come because as per RTE act the state governments are supposed to reimburse an amount to the private schools equivalent to the amount spent per child per annum in government school. Most of the states have set up committees to calculate that now. It means that the budget for education and the expenditure on that was done on adhoc basis.This might hurt somebody but it seems to be true. Anything done on adhoc basis for long time would not produce good result.
So an earnest  request is made to the government that the the schemes announced are welcomed but proper and effective implementation of the same should be ensured.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Emotional Intelligence

While going through the book by William Powell and Ochan Kusuma Powell titled "Becoming an emotionally Intelligent teacher", I realised that this book is not only worth reading by the practicing teachers and aspiring teachers  but also for all who matter to a child ,be it a parent or anybody else. Till the last few years IQ was considered to be the real measure of an individuals capabilities which might place that person above the other one. But it was also found that a person with higher IQ level was not necessarily better than the other while performing some task or managing people. The concept of EQ is not very old but it has grown very fast and many people consider it a better way of measuring the capability of the person to do things in an effective manner. A person with better EQ has more balanced personality than the others.I dedicate this article to Mr.Powell who has been instrumental in making me learn more about emotionally intelligent people.Somebody very rightly said that we teach with our emotions as well as words.
The first question to be raised here is, what is emotional intelligence. Mr. Daniel Goleman worked upon this and came out with his books which have become a trendsetter in this new field of intelligence. There have been many more who contributed in this area and now Mr. and Mrs. Powell are working hard ,taking the base from Mr. Goleman`s work.Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as the ability to perceive accurately,appraise and express emotion, the ability to access and generate feelings when they facilitate thought, the ability to understand emotion and emotional intelligence and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.In a work place, it is also defined as a skill through which employees treat emotions as valuable as in navigating a specific situation.Goleman suggests five dimensions of Emotional Intelligence.
1.Self knowledge : The people who are emotionally intelligent always try to understand themselves better. They try to analyse and understand their strengths and weaknesses and do not miss any opportunity to improve and get rid of the weakness. They are very receptive to the feedback given by friends and colleagues.They treat the failures as an opportunity to do better.The people who do not understand their feelings are at loss, rather they might be termed as emotionally illiterate.
2.Self Management and Self Regulation : The emotionally intelligent people are good at creating an appropriate distance between stimulus and the response.They know when and how to respond to any action. This is big difference between the human beings and the animals because animals cannot distance between stimulus and the response.Emotionally intelligent people know it well when and how to react in any situation. In the same kind of difficult condition ,some people might create panic while others remain cool and think of a solution.
3.Motivation : This is an important aspect of emotionally intelligent person not only  in an organisation but also in the family.Individuals who have lost motivation are considered to be apathetic,depressed and lethargic. On the other hand, motivated people are enthusiastic and energetic and they act as the catalyst for the other people in the organisation and the family.
4.Social Awareness :This is a process of placing self in relationship with others not only to know what we are experiencing but also to have strong intuition of what others are experiencing. The EQ place us above the other species which lead to instinct of co operation.
5.Relationship Management : This is again an important aspect which let and lead us the comfortable relationship with others. The small children develop relationship without being taught depending upon the behavior of the other people around him.As they grow they become increasingly conscious of such relationships and are very choosy and at times demanding as well.A person with higher EQ knows the reaction of his/her behavior with other people in the family and with friends and always reacts to others action in a balanced manner. The people with higher EQ manage the relations better than others.
To draw it all in a summary, we can say that we start by realising the emotions in self and others. Though the dynamics of emotions is complex but this plays a very important role in case of a teacher.Let us try to make our children emotionally intelligent so that they are able to exploit that intelligence not for their benefit only but for others as well. The emotionally intelligent teacher can do this job better. Those who feel lacking at EQ should not worry much because researchers are of the opinion that EQ can be developed to any extent if one is willing to do so.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Building National Character

Our country has progressed in almost all fields in the last sixty four years. The nation is expected to be among the super- powers of the world in the next ten- fifteen years and it gives lot of satisfaction to the citizens of the country and they take pride in it. The progress made in the past and the optimism that the country shall do well in future is true, but if things are analysed properly then we are left to introspect seriously of the problems which do not allow a fast paced progress as the country is capable of. I feel that in the race of acquiring materialistic things we forgot one important aspect of the life of the people which could have been one reason of slow progress and that is the lack of national character. It may sound negative to some people who always look at positives only, but the area which is hindering our pace of progress should not be ignored. Character building is a very important aspect of an individuals personality development process. If the national character building  was given proper attention in our education policy then we would not have seen so many scams and scandals as reported in the newspapers. National character can not be built in a day or month or year but it is done over a period of time.
Take the case of other countries like Singapore ,Egypt,Thailand, UK, USA and many more. There the countrymen feel proud of their country and though they may have difference of opinion on many issues, but when it comes to doing something for the country they speak the same language including the media and critics of the government. Visit Singapore and see how they promote their country and exhibit perfect discipline. In Egypt, we were told by the guide that military training is compulsory for almost all the people. Though the duration depends upon the basic educational qualification of the individual.It is not that the people are not selfish in those countries but they hold their country in high esteem. The removal of the president of that country without much bloodshed confirms what I want to share with you all. What is meant by national character? This should not be very difficult for the people to understand. Visit the history of the country pre- independence and look at the qualities of our great freedom fighters and that will explain everything. Why to go that far, first decade after independence also had many leaders and the general public who were always brimming with national character.Those people who feel proud of their country and do not talk of their rights only but know and understand their duties as well, are the ones who possess national character. The public property is not considered by them as the property of others but as their own, this is an important trait of national character.Damaging so called public property has become so common in our country which really make everyone feel ashamed.And whenever it is done it is for the selfish motive of an individual or the group ,of the people but certainly not for the good of the nation.If a survey is done on the damage done to the public property in the name of agitations (which has become very common because no action is taken against the ones who indulge in such acts, rather they become heroes and eventually the leaders) and if this would be the character of the leader, what would you expect from the general public.
Once again, I would like to say that the national character building should be an integral part of the curriculum right from the primary schools to the colleges and that should be inculcated in all citizens of the country. Punishing few Rajas may not lead to the purpose but try to understand why such people are increasing in number. The law will take its own course but the government and the society should try to do something at social level also.Let our children be taught to follow simple laws and the rules made for the benefit of the people only. The children should be taught by examples how to be disciplined at home and also outside.Help the government in implementing the welfare schemes in the right spirit. Take the example of NAREGA or SSA. These are wonderful steps taken by the government but is it really helping the people it was meant for. In this regard, political leaders and the administrators should set an example. The ruling party leaders and  the people in opposition should complement each other for the development of the country then finding faults in each other. The recently held state assembly results have proved that if the leader has national character and do the things for the public welfare sincerely then the public responds accordingly.
 We might have to take some extra -ordinary steps to ensure that our people respect the public property and do not ever think of doing any harm to that ,whatever may be the reasons. The parents and teachers can also play an important role in this regard because they learn from them the most.Once we understand that our existence is because of this country and not vice verse then most of the problems will be taken care of. When we go out of our country,we are treated as Indians and not X,Y or Z and that is our identity of being what we are i.e; Indians.Respect your country, contribute towards character building and experience the change.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Failure: A stepping stone to success

The report in the newspaper early in the morning once again made me to think about the level of stress our children and youth are exposed to. A girl student tried to end her life because , as per the report, she had not performed well in one of the papers. I am unable to understand about the real cause of such incidents which are not in isolation now-a-days.This girl would have been a good student and as a result of that got admission in of the good engineering college.Then what made her to be so stressed? Is it the external pressure of always performing well or pressure created by self? Or is it that our children are not prepared to take the failure or achieve less than anybody else? These are the questions which everyone should ask to self and others and find an answer to it and based on that, take corrective measures. Now when even the students of colleges and universities have started taking these extreme steps,  then will the government think of having no exams in these institutes also? If we analyse the situation seriously, it will be found that our children are not being taught or trained to face the failures in life. I do not mean that failures should be praised but this is a fact that failure is not the end of life, rather if seen in right perspective it is observed that failure helps a person to perform better. The example of  Former President of USA is worth quoting here and all should understand that this is not the only example but many such examples can be found in the history and also today where the people failed to achieve a goal number of times but they were not disheartened or lost hope and they even tried hard  next time and continued trying till they achieved their goal.Take the case of the people who are involved in research work. Their perseverence for inventing new things for years together is so significant and they ultimately achieve what they want. Failure in spite of causing depression should bring out  the best of the creativity and ability of the person.
Cut throat competition and the desire of doing better than others are the basic causes of the problem we are facing today. The children and the youth should be taught and advised to do the best as per their potential without comparing it with others.If one is having potential of achieving B grade then he/she should not get less than that, at the same time should not worry about somebody else getting A grade. He/she should worry only when he/she gets less than what he/ she is capable of getting. In that case also there is no need of getting depressed but to understand what went wrong and then try again again to improve.Everybody fails in life , the only difference is most of the  people do not take the failure as the final call but try to do better, whereas in some cases it is taken as everything is lost.
Let us try to understand the reason why our children get depressed so much if they do not get something expected by them. I do not want to cast any doubt on parents efforts of providing all possible facilities to their children which they themselves were deprived of, but that at times they make  children so demanding that they become habitual of getting everything on demand and most of the times without working hard for that. Earlier the children used to try for everything all by themselves and it was only in rare cases where the parents or other people would help them.Now they have so many hands to help the children even before they need that help. Somebody rightly mentioned that if you want a child not to learn how to walk then always provide him/her the support and do not allow  him to walk on his own.It does not mean the child should not be supported but he/she should experience and try to learn to walk and which he/she will learn by tumbling down and falling and getting up and walk and this might happen a number of times. At times the child might get hurt also. If we do not allow the child to learn by self then there would be problems.
This worries me that no failure policy till class VIII would help or make the children unable of facing the challenges in future? When the child does not that know that not trying or working hard will not make any difference to his promotion, then what will happen when he/she gets promoted to class IX? I am the supporter of no fail policy but while teaching the children, they should be made to understand that if they do not perform that  well what is expected of them, then they should work hard and improve upon their performance.I do not understand why the word failure  has been tagged in a negative sense,when everyone knows that success and failure are two sides of the same coin and the coin here is life.The parents should also not expect too much from the children and help them to understand that nobody wins always .
As the results of many boards and competitive examinations will be declared in the next few weeks, the parents and other adults should help the children and encourage them to face whatever they achieve and should not let them feel down whatever is the result. An average result gives us the opportunity to understand the weaknesses and work upon them so that next time the performance is better. The children should always be encouraged to work hard and not to worry about the result because in both the cases they learn the skills of life.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Value Time

We all know it well that time and tide waits for none and once over, the same time does not come back.Every living being has been granted a fixed duration of life on this planet and no body is sure of what happens after that.There are many things important in life but to be successful punctuality is one of the most important factors which, we Indians value the least. Now a days, it is the season of marriages and many people attend one or the other function related to marriage. It happens so many times that  the guests reach on time given in the invitation cards and the host is nowhere in the sight. The guests either keep waiting or go back and may or may not come back to attend the function. It reminds me of the recently held marriage ceremony of prince Williams in which the guest were requested to reach the places of the function and the hosts were also equally punctual during all rituals. It shows that they value the time. There may be many factors for not starting the function in time but this is not the right thing done and taught to our children.Leave aside the marriage functions if we analyse how many functions in the schools and colleges or any where else start on time.It is a practice that the chief guest is told to come half an hour or more late than the time mentioned in the invitation card for the guests. You will notice that the functions rarely start on scheduled time sometimes due to the problem of the guests and sometimes due to the host not being  ready.This may appear to be a very small thing for some of us but our children learn a wrong lesson that punctuality is not a big deal and they may be casual in this respect because the elders are unknowingly teaching them this lesson.
Not only this, if you invite some guest to dinner or some other occasion, they come taking their own sweet time without realising that somebody is waiting for them at the cost of some or the work.If it happens occasionally due to some compulsive reasons it may be accepted but the problem is when it becomes a habit. Look at the meetings of the political leaders wherein people are made to wait for hours because the minister or the other leader does not reach on time.  It will be interesting to do a research to find how many times do we start any function and the work on time.
 The people who reach their office or the school on time are decreasing day by day, specially those who feel that job is secured and no action can be taken against them so easily.Another problem is with the transport system in our country. Most of the trains and the airlines are delayed. In a few cases you will find that the duration of flight is one hour and the flight gets delayed by a number of hours thereby wasting the precious time of the passengers.Same is the case with buses. The worrisome situation is that nobody pays any attention and consider these delays as routine happenings. They do not realise that the number of hours wasted in this manner cost a lot which can not be compensated in future.
I raised this point because we are in the company of the children who are the future of this country and if we can not teach them the value of time then we are doing a lot of harm to them. You all know it well that even a second  rather the fraction of a second is very important. This can be verified from Ms.P.T.Usha who lost the bronze medal by one hundredth of a second. Ask a passenger who has missed his flight by a minute or a student who reached the examination hall late by five minutes and could not attempt one or two questions and missed the name in the merit due to that.
We come across those respected parents also who talk a lot of punctuality and morals but would not feel shy of accusing the bus driver or the conductor for not waiting for two minutes, if the child was to reach the pick- up point. This does not teach a good lesson but makes him feel that the punctuality is not very important.Our children do what is taught to them by us through our actions and not by lectures.The classes in which the teachers reach on time , the children always try to be in the class before the teacher enters. In other classes, where the teacher is not punctual the student also develop the same attitude which does not do them any good .Doing things as per schedule not only helps an individual but also all the others who are attached to it.I know a person who start his functions and programmes on time irrespective of  the arrival of the chief guest or other guests . Initially there were problems and the people expressed unhappiness but this gentleman stood on his grounds and eventually people started reaching in his programmes in time.

In the end,it is suggested that punctuality should be observed by everyone in all situations ,so that nobody is forced to waste time which is so precious to all of us. My earnest request to those people who matter a lot to the society is,to be more careful in this aspect because some people have a complex that,if they reached in time their importance will be undermined, which is not so.If the responsible people reach in time they are appreciated and held in reverence.Hence, respect time and in turn time will also respect you. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Its Quality and not the Quantity that matters

Education is one tool which can help a lot in making the life of the people better. In the past, we heard and read  that man needs to fulfill only his basic necessities of bread, clothes and a house but in the present, the expectations and the living standards of the people have gone up. Now whether this is for good or bad , it is there to be and we have to face this reality.At the same time, it is important to understand what is quality life? To me quality life is a life lead by a person wherein he is able to explore his potential and exploit it to the fullest for the benefit of self and others as well. This will include availability of the bare minimum necessity met by all and no one in the society is deprived of the three basic things mentioned above.Quality life should not be taken as to own a big houses ,costly clothes and the multi- cuisine meals but the person should have enough to survive without any problem. If the people get nutritious food and even one bedroom house and reasonable clothes to wear, they should be happy. This is true that there is no limit for anything and people will never get satisfied, then let it be so. They may not get satisfied but they have the right to be happy and if someone gets the minimum required,he shall be happy. Trying for doing better is not wrong because the life can not be made still. Everything in this universe keeps on moving and changing ,sometimes for good and sometimes otherwise.
The basic requirement for all this to be achieved is the quality of the education provided to the children.Only education or higher literacy will not help as we have seen in case of the recent census report that literacy rate does not necessarily improves the quality of the life.The children would have to be taught the basics of the life and prepare for the future challenges because the years ahead are not going to  be easy for anyone. If we will not be able to correctly educate our children then they may not be able to counter the difficulties of the life effectively.Quality education prepares everyone for the betterment of the humanity and only of self. Education should be such that it tries to bring all at par and enable them to meet bare minimum facilities to live happily.Empathy towards others should be an integral part of the syllabus and no child should be deprived of the quality education and the quality life which they rightly deserve.
The government has taken many steps in this direction but the implementation needs to be more effective and should be monitored on regular basis. Enrolling children in the school without much needed facilities will not make any difference.All know it well that there are schools which do not have the facility of water or even the toilets.The girls particularly find it very difficult to manage in these tough situations. The government should not depend so much on the private sector but provide better schools which is really the responsibility of the state.The private sector is doing its bit but everything can not be expected from them.The other important thing is that the teachers specially in the government schools should not be made to do some other work at the cost of the education of children. It has been observed that some of the teachers rarely go to their classes because of the other work assigned to them by the government without making any alternative arrangement for the children.The apathy of the government becomes so obvious in this respect ,which is often overlooked, but the ones concious are still concerned.The policy makers will have to think beyond the quantity and try for the quality.Due to the onslaught of the quantity, quality should not be affected.
Right to education act is a welcome step taken by the government and all should support it wholeheartedly. But at the same time, it should not be reduced to an act of only twenty five percent reservation in the private schools as it is being projected.This is one of the most important clauses, but there are many other things which are to be addressed. Think beyond this 25% and try to ensure that the act is implemented in totality which will benefit the children of the country.More open discussion should be initiated and the views of the all stake- holders should be taken into consideration to reach a decision which helps the cause of the education of the children and not for one or other segment of the society because we must take care of the needs of all the people.People should understand the Act well and not in pieces, otherwise this excellent step taken by the government may not yield very encouraging results.
The most important aspect is that the children should be exposed to emotionally intelligent teachers and the parents should be encouraged to send their children to the schools. The parents of all children should be willing to enroll their children without any pressure from anywhere and similarly the private schools should welcome the children from all backgrounds and should not require any force but only the direction from respective departments.Because anything which is done reluctantly does not produce desired results and we do not have any right to put at stake, the future of the children. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Broaden the boundaries : Think independently

I asked a simple question to my colleagues and many of them responded with a lot of enthusiasm and the question was, from whom do we learn the most ? The question seemed to be simple but gave an opportunity to everyone to express what they felt to be an appropriate answer on their part. Some said they learn the most from mother, some learn  from the peer group, others were of the opinion that they learnt from their parents and the children . Many felt that their family contributed most in their learning. As they all are teachers so many told that they learn the most from their students. One or two said that the circumstances taught them a lot indirectly and there were many more answers like, one learns from his /her own mistakes.To me all answers were correct but the last answer was very close to my own feelings that we learn the most from our own experience with self and the other people we come in close contact with.
Though I did not want to test anybody`s knowledge but the idea was to arouse their curiosity and let them express their thoughts.In addition to getting an answer of my question, I realised one more thing that when you ask an open ended question, people are more at ease in answering or responding to that and this made me think seriously about the pattern  of the questions asked in the examination either in the school examination or public examination. If it is analysed carefully it will be found that many a times there are direct questions which have almost set answers and unfortunately the students are not given an opportunity to think and express their views but they write what was written in the book or dictated by the teachers. The educationists and the psychologist say that thinking should be provoked, which will lead to creativity. Multiple choice questions can be reliable and reduce the subjectivity on the part of the evaluator but they have very little scope for the child to think differently. The kind of questions asked in the examination mostly check the knowledge gained by the student or if I may say is test of how much the student has crammed.
This made me to think why is it so? For the answer of this question we should go to the class of a school and see what is happening there. In most of the cases, the teachers come prepared with something and without bothering whether the students are ready or not they start speaking and writing on the board. Many teachers have a habit of dictating definitions and the answers even before the children have been given the basic knowledge about the chapter.The children write what the teacher tells them without understanding anything. In some cases it has been observed that the teacher while checking the home work note book or the answer sheet deduct marks if the answer written is not as what he/ she had dictated to the kids or written in the book.If this would be the way teaching is done(no learning takes place, unfortunately only cramming is happening) then the questions will also be asked in the same manner and the children would not be allowed to think and answer in their own way. I do not say that all teachers do this but there are many in this category. At the same time they are not solely to be blamed for those but our teachers` training system and casual approach towards  these institutes also share the responsibility.Multiple choice questions are required in specific situations but what many people feel is that, the closed ended questions should be minimised and more emphasis to be given to open ended questions. For this the teachers would have to be very careful while teaching in the class. In spite of acting as teachers they should act as the facilitators and let the children learn from themselves. Though the  teachers` role will always remain important but students should also be given the feeling that they are equally important. The teachers should go to the class with positive attitude having a belief that the students are good. There may be be few odd cases in the class who might not  behave properly but that does not mean all are alike. If we want that students should learn from their own mistakes then the teachers should also be prepared to do the same because what you want from your students  you must set the right example first.
If the teaching allows the children to think independently then the open ended questions will be a great tool to measure the independent thinking of the students thereby extending their horizons in different directions and giving them a free space to express themselves.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Balance the extremes

Everyone acts and reacts differently in different situations which is very natural and is expected accordingly.  Different approach may not be the problem but extreme approach will always be a serious concern.If there is no balance in the life then it will not be an enjoyable experience for those people but at the same time extremes can not be ruled out.These extremes only force people to react and do things just opposite to what prevails today.There was a time when untouchability was so much in the society that a section of the people found themselves unwanted. The father of the nation made people aware and helped in fighting against the menace of untouchability. Though this has not been completely eroded but has come down substantially. These people who were not allowed to take part in different customs fought against it and now even others have accepted them as respectable human beings. In this case also it has been observed that some of them misuse the rights given to them, this is one example of extreme. The second case is of the dowry where the brides family would become poorer after accomplishing an important task of their life that is, marrying the girl in a good family. Now people are aware of the ill effect of dowry but there are cases filed by the bride or her family against the groom and his family in the name of harassing for the dowry.Law against dowry is being misused by some people. This is another example of extreme.
The third example is of our own country which was mainly agriculture based and most of the population used to live in the villages and they were happy. Now we are moving very fast towards industrialisation and agriculture has taken a back seat. The people who lived in the villages are migrating to the cities in the search of better job avenues and the villages are deprived of the better people. There are facilities in the cities but the villages remain  short of them. Again two extremes. Fourth example is in the field of education . On the one hand, we have international schools which have all possible facilities and infrastructure for the all round development of the students and on the other side the government schools, many of which do not have the basic facilities also. It has been reported in newspapers that there are government school where the children do not have the facility of drinking water whereas, in  some private schools the food is procured from five star hotel and provided to the students and they get mineral water.
The fifth example is of the girls and their early marriage. As per latest report approximately 50 percent girls are married before they are eighteen years of age. On the other hand, there are number of unmarried girls who are more focused on their career and do not marry till they feel that their future is secure financially. This trend is more in metropolitan cities but the trickle-down effect can be seen in the smaller cities also.Early marriage or late marriage, both are not approved by the medical science with regard to the child`s health as well as mothers well-being.My sixth example is of a commonly observed concept. Those families who can support many children have one or two kids whereas the others  who are economically very poor have four or five children and may be more in some cases and find it difficult to bring up the children in an appropriate manner.
The list of the extremes seems to be quite long, but I would like to end with the seventh one which is very important. Earlier the girls used to remain confined to the house- hold work and were not allowed to move out as freely as the boys .This extreme forced the girls to take a bold step and in the race of proving themselves equivalent to the boys they went beyond the limit of the balance. Some of them are trying to do what boys were doing earlier though they knew it well that it  was not right. In this race, the girls many a times fell a prey to the circumstances and by the time they realised it, the harm was already done. I am not able to express what I mean here however, the newspapers and TV reports make this clear to us. From well dressed sari, kurta salwar to bikini and shabby attires, promoted by so called bold actresses and dancers explain the same. Earlier motherhood was considered the most important phase of a woman's life but now it is just a child`s birth. In the past, the family and the children were very important to the lady of the house but now it is the career and job that has taken the top priority. I should not be misunderstood here but see it in right perspective and you will realise that this extreme is also neither doing good to the girls nor to the family.
Hence, it is important that everyone should try to strike a balance in life so that, all live happily and let others also live a happy and a healthy life. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Leadership qualities

Whenever the word leader or leadership is spoken people tend to relate it either with the politicians or the person on higher positions in an organisation.This is correct but what many people feel is that every person is leader in one or the other situation and that is why it becomes very important to understand the leadership qualities because the decision of the leader can make or mar the future of  many people. When I say that everyone is a leader in one or the other situation, that will be clear by some day to day examples. The leaders are the ones who lead other people or take a decision not for self but for the family, society, any organisation or the country. The prime minister of the country is one important example but at the same time everyone of us takes one or the other decision everyday which affect many people. Take the case of support staff in an organisation, that person may be at the lowest position in hierarchy but takes decisions which may not be noticed by anybody.Take the case of the receptionist or any other person in the front office, they take decisions in their own way like telling the guest where to sit and provide a glass of water and replying to some of the queries asked by the guest. The same person is also leader at home where he/she takes decisions how to run the family and help others to grow.They decide about the budget of the family and other day to day work to be accomplished by them for the welfare of the family members.For that matter not only the support staff but even other people act as leaders at home and in some other social organisations they might be associated with.
Now the question is what makes an individual a good leader? Is a leader born or can be made? First take the second question and you will find that some are born leaders and when an opportunity comes their way they make full use of that.There are many people who think that leaders are born but the other group of the people think it the other way round and are of the firm opinion that the leaders are made. This may be structured plan for creating a leader and many a times the circumstances create leaders.But as mentioned earlier that everyone acts as leader, hence it is true that people are born with leadership qualities and these qualities get further developed by the people knowingly and unknowingly.
 Now, let us try to discuss the qualities of a good leader.A good leader is always ready to listen to the views of the other people in the family or the organisation he/ she is working in. A good leader always considers him/her as part of the team and not above the team. He is ready to take blame on himself for the consequences of a decision taken by all which also might have proved wrong.. I always feel that no decision when taken is wrong but the consequences may be  beneficial for the people.At the same time good leader always gives the credit to others in the family or the organisation for any work done or right decision taken.A good leader should always be impartial, firm and fair.He should treat everyone with respect and the dignity of the team members should never be undermined. He/she should be receptive to the criticism of the self and try to correct if necessary after analysing it carefully.For a good leader everyone should be equal, irrespective of the position, age or the potential . This is because no two people can be similar always.A good leader should know the strengths and weaknesses of all the people who constitute his/ her team but that does not mean to divide them in good and bad, but to ensure to involve all in different areas where they may be good.A good  leader is the friend for all and not of a few of the members when it comes to taking a decision for the entire group, though he/ she may have different kind of personal relationship with people of the team. A good leader never mixes the personal relationship with professional relationship.A good leader has faith in all the members until and unless proved otherwise and then also he tries to correct the person who might have been proving to be a negative force to the team efforts.A good leader is always a learner and does not let any opportunity go in this regard.A good leader is emotional but does not allow the emotions to rule him. He is the master of the emotions and not its servant.He is always ready to share the joys and sorrows of the other members.Good leader is never angry with any member of the team but many be happy with work done by that member and also he does not carry forth the wrong done by anybody forever.
The one who can balance self in any situation will prove to be a good leader and the best comes from him in odd situations.
These are some of the simple things which all have but either do not get an opportunity to showcase them or the childhood incidents play a negative role in letting him do that well as he is capable of doing. In the end, I would like to say that everybody in the family, organisation and the country is important and a good leader always understand it very well. I shall mention something in context of a school(which is applicable in all situations and organisations) by saying, that if a school can not do well without a potential head than the same can not happen without the support staff members also. This person  may be a waiter or the lowest paid  person in the school. A leader always appreciates the efforts of all and not only of a few individuals.To sum up,the very essence of leadership lies in grasping and holding a vision to lead the team for the benefit of an organisation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Exploit the emotions for the benefit of the children

It is a known fact that no two individuals can be same but we still compare two children against each other at home and also in the school.You will find the children with different IQ and EQ level and they behave accordingly. Some children react to very small things said or done to them and there are many others whose reaction will be very mild or sometimes no reaction at all.The teachers and the parents must try to understand the child and the reason behind a particular reaction. No child should be condemned and made to feel inferior to the other children. Praising a child for some achievement is good but at times too much of praise might have negative impact on other children and also on the child being praised.
A child had been doing very well up to class fifth or sixth and then all of a sudden parents realised that the child had become quiet and was showing the signs of withdrawal  and was not willing to go to school. The parents try their level best but no results. Then they approached the teacher and shared the problem of the child and tried to know what had gone wrong. The teacher tried to talk to the child and helped him to come out with difficulty, he might be facing but this also did not help.Then the matter was brought to the knowledge of the principal of the school and after enquiring about the child`s performance and behavior he started talking to him. He had many sessions with the child to know the problem but the child did not give any hint. Then the principal realised that talking about the problem all the time might further disturb the child which may aggravating the problem hence he decided not to discuss that matter further. He took the help of the teachers to find out a solution so that the child starts liking to come to the school. The principal started behaving with the child as he cared the most for him and liked the child because he was never involved in any fight or act of indiscipline as other children might have been doing. The teachers were also asked to visit the child`s house and the principal also visited him at his home and tried to show to the child that as he(the principal) was the part of the family.The child started feeling comfortable and started coming to the school regularly. Though the child never told the problem very clearly but it was that he could not get good marks in one of the tests and the teacher in the school and the mother at home had conveyed it to him that he should have done better and this disturbed him. As initially nobody noticed the change(the boy was otherwise also reserved by nature) it made him to remain absent from the school. In this case the parents took initiative and the teachers responded positively, hence the child could come out of the problem and did very well in all the classes and passed out from the school with a brilliant result.
In the other similar case the child who was probably in prep class would not eat anything either in the school or at home except some items which were in the category of the junk food. The parents were really worried and rightly so. They approached the teacher to help them. Here also the teacher concerned tried but was unsuccessful initially, but did not give up hope and kept on motivating the child. She used to sit with the child during fruit break and recess time and eat with the child most of the time from the tiffin of the child and sometimes the teacher would share her tiffin with the child. The teacher worked with a lot of patience and she was successful in changing the food habits of the child for his good.
What does it teach us? Any action or any word said by adults can make a lot of difference in the life of the child.So we as teachers and parents should be very careful while dealing with the children and never compare them with anybody else, not even with their parents.Also if there is a will and teacher and parents work together then every child will improve in all aspects. So, deal with the children with open mind and they can be improved, though in some cases it may take longer time than the other cases but patience and perseverance is mantra to win over a situation.      

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Control emotions specially anger

There are many channels which air the programmes related to spirituality and spread teachings of the great saints from all religions. Those who watch such channels will agree that all the topics discussed may not give us lessons on virtues but most of the topics teach all, the right path and the human values.These channels are becoming popular day by day.Why is it so that despite the present era being termed as materialistic age, then also many people are watching and reading the material related to peace and value?
Many people rightly say that this curiosity has always been in the nature of human being but that was over powered by the shine of wealth and worldly things. In all the teachings either by the saints or incarnations of God, control on emotions has been taught. To have emotions and also to express them at the right time is very important. In today`s world when everybody is focused more on the self achievement in terms of money or the position, the emotional intelligence is proving negative than giving a positive result. All the people must come across such situations when they did not understand the reason of somebody shouting at them, even the person who was angry might not have been knowing the reason himself/herself. This harms everyone but when taken in context of the children adults should be very careful. Some real life examples will explain and convey my experience in daily life(you may also have experienced the same a number of times).
Once a child who was not doing well was shifted from one section to another and the teacher was told the reason. She took it positively and felt as she is the one who can help that child to improve and do well in the class.In a similar case, another teacher reacted negatively and expressed her feelings( anger) in the presence of the child. She felt as she was being punished by giving one more child who had not been doing well. Now in the second case, the child felt really unwanted and thought that nobody likes him. The slight anger which was expressed without realising the impact had  negative effect on the child whereas in the other case the child came out of the depression and did very well later in the session.
Take another case in which the father of a child would come to school with lot many complains against either the teacher or the other students. He was in such a rage that whatever he spoke was not comprehended by any of the listeners. The pitch was so high that the other children got disturbed and many of them were depressed because they could not understand why this man was shouting. The son of this gentleman was otherwise efficient but was not able to do well an academics and the father wanted to get the best from him. Because of this, the child started telling lie and without giving a correct picture to the father. The mother knew the truth but ,she was not in a position to advise the father because she was well aware of the anger of her husband. She could not stop the father at times when he would beat him ruthlessly at home. It continued for many years because most of the teachers and the head of school did not react negatively because they were more concerned about the well being of the child.Fortunately, the gentleman used to behave properly in front of the head always and treated him like his father. The same child did well in his board exam of class X and joined a particular stream in class XI.Now the father was comfortable and at ease with everything. One day he approached the principal and said that he wanted to share certain things with him related to his behavior in the last four five years.He told the principal the incidents of his childhood which were shocking to the head and then he could realise why this man behaved in a peculiar manner. It would not be appropriate to write all incidents shared by him because many of them were really heart breaking. His childhood was most difficult for him because he stayed away from his father and the relative who were responsible to look after him treated him in an unpleasant manner. He used to do all household chores and his cousins used to relax or enjoy with friends. This gentle man was at times beaten badly  for very small mistakes committed by him and at times even without any reason. This treatment during his childhood made him behave the way he behaved in his later life. The impact on him was so much that despite the fact that he knew that what happened and what he was doing to his child was not right but could not control himself. He is  a good person but his childhood experience made him to behave the way he did.  After listening to him the head had all the sympathy towards this gentleman. The head kept interacting with the family even after the child left the school and kept advising the father and mother the way they should behave with the child because he never wanted that another such father is made out of an innocent youth.
This may not be an isolated case but there are many more. I shared this with you all that anger should be controlled by everyone particularly while handling the children because this may have a chain reaction which may not benefit anyone but cause harm to our own people.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Team Work

We have been listening and reading that man is a social animal and it means that man always wants to be in the company of the people . Sometimes I wonder why is it said only for man because even the animals also live as a group and follow certain unwritten rules and regulations? They also express their feelings and emotions as man does. The only difference is in the thinking which in case of humans is new and different and also in speech.Human race has undergone many changes in the past and the same will continue in future also.
If a country or an organisation has to progress then it is very important that there is team work among the people. Though they may think differently but the common objective should be same. Individual thinking and input is important but working as team is most important. It has been observed that an organisation may have excellent brains but, if there is no co-ordination among the people then the results are not as good as expected.For example, take the case of a school or a college. The individual  teachers may have wonderful skills and knowledge of their subjects but if they do not interact with other members and understand the vision and the goals of the organisation then, it is almost certain that the students of such school will not get that kind of education which might have been envisaged by the founders and the management. Individual excellence is good ,but if not shared with others then that individual is put in the category of being selfish who may not be good team member.
Though it is necessary that there are responsibilities assigned to the people who  help in imparting the education to the students in a school or a college and these responsibilities are not put in an order of the hierarchy, but that should not become a hindrance in the over all progress of the school.It should be understood by all, particularly those  who have been put in a position higher than the others, that if a school can not run without the head of the school or other people placed in senior positions, then the same is applicable to the last person in the order also. The support staff is as important as anybody else in the school and it is the responsibility of the management and particularly of the head  that all are treated equal and not on the basis of the rank or the post.But how should it be done?
There are many theories devised by the management gurus which at times may appear complicated to comprehend. The fundamental theory should be that everyone has to play some important role in the life of a child and hence the team work is not confined to the four walls of the school building but goes beyond that. The parents are the ones who play a very significant role but most of the times, they are not really considered as the part of the team which is responsible for the upbringing of the children in the school. Also think about the drivers and the helpers who are responsible for the safe transportation of the children to and from the school. They are as important as anybody else because the safety of the children outside the school is in their hands. The lady helpers in the junior classes play a very important role in the life of the children during their school days. I remember how the children of a residential school used to cry and become emotional on completion of their schooling and at the time of their farewell ,they would talk about the matron who had looked after them when they were admitted to the school at the age of five or six years.The house attendants  and the people responsible for the food of the children are equally important members of school team and they also play a very significant role. .
 The list is quite long and it may not be possible to write for every single individual who contributes in the progress of a school or the college. No school can do well only because of one individual, even though that person may be extraordinary. But if ordinary people work as a team then that institution will certainly progress .So, until individuals come together and work as a team, the achievements will not be very good. So this becomes imperative on the part of the schools that the lesson of the team work is taught to the children  by practise and not by preaching, because the children will learn those things what they see.The activities in the schools should be planned  in such a way that they involve individual excellence but it should lead to team work. For example, games and sports, group songs ,group dance ,educational tours and excursions play an important role in team building and these should be an integral part of the school calender.It is not meant here that the children are always to be taken outside the class for every task in the guise of building team spirit ,but that can be done while teaching in the class also. While teaching any subject in the class or outside the class, the teacher can plan activities which along with the knowledge of the subject  inculcate team spirit in them.
 Team work is very important in every walk of life and this leads everyone concerned towards achieving the goals set and once these goals are achieved  all the members of the team are benefitted. The heads are requested to treat every member of the school community with respect and their dignity should never be undermined because whatever is achieved by the school, it is because of  the contribution of each and every member including some people I mentioned above and many more who could not be listed here.  I am sure ,everyone can comprehend what has been written but this is just a gentle reminder , not only to the heads but also to the team members. At the same, it is also true that the  most important role is played by the head of the school and the college in building a team.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How long will it continue?

All India Engineering Entrance Examination conducted on first May 2011 proved to be a nightmare for more than eleven lakh children who had worked very hard for this exam for about two years. Nobody expected what had happened yesterday, in their dreams also. Despite the best possible efforts made and all possible precautions taken by the examination conducting body to conduct the examination in a fair manner, this problem emerged and the children, their parents and also the examination centres had a tough time. Though it is good that the examination could be conducted for most of the students on the same day but there was a lot of confusion in the mind of the parents and the children.The stress caused by all this must have had an impact on the performance of the children because it was dry heat with temperature soaring to more than 45degrees and the candidates were exposed to extreme conditions.Even those children who were to appear in second paper got only one hour in between the two papers.Thousands of the children could not appear in the aforementioned exam because on those centres another exam was to be conducted in the afternoon session. There are many questions being raised by different people which need to be answered and also the examination conducting bodies and the government should evolve a foolproof method ,so that, because of some corrupt and selfish minded people the children do not suffer. We are sure that CBSE must have taken all steps in this direction but a stringent measure must be taken for the same.
Till now nobody is sure about what must have happened but one thing is for sure that this is an organised and well planned act of serious crime by a group of people who have some vested interest. If this can happen in case of one of the most efficient examination body then the condition of rest of the examinations can very easily be understood. CBSE and the government must find out who is involved in this and expose their modus operandi. There is one important thing which I have been wanting to share with everyone but could not really do so because of some reasons. If a serious thought is given then you find that a parallel system to school education is active in this country. Though our policy makers are trying their level best to reduce the stress and the pressure of academics on the children but this parallel system is not letting it succeed, rather the steps taken by policy makers are proving a blessing in disguise for that parallel system which boasts of preparing the students to crack any competitive examination.This system is doing a lot of harm to our education system reforms and converting the children into an object meant to cram-up things and have only one goal of qualifying an entrance exam by whatever means. When I say whatever means,everyone probably can understand ,but let it be more clear. All know what started in a city which nowadays unfortunately is called as education city or the hub of education. CBSE had to take action against some of the schools which had the so called arrangement with the institutes claiming to  prepare children for the entrance exam. What emerged as a small plant(may be initially it was not intended to be what it has become over a period of time), has now become a huge tree and has its roots and branches spread all over the country. It has become a huge business and all kinds of attempts are made by them to prove that no child can qualify or pass any entrance examination without  their supports. The claims have been disputed many a times which was proved a few years back when two well known institutes fought in open for claiming a child to be from their institute.The parents of aspiring children are lured and they get impressed by full page ads given in the newspapers by the institutes and in many a cases it is found that the names of same children are claimed by many institutes.The claims are made that whatever the child has achieved,this is all because of that  institute and as the efforts of the child, parents and the school( if the child is really attending a school) do not have any contribution in that. Earlier the children of classes XI and XII used to be lured by them and then the students of IX and X were also added to the list but now as per the advertisement seen in the newspapers they are luring the children from class VI itself.Who should be responsible for encouraging all this? Will it not affect the overall growth of the children? Despite knowing it so well ,why the responsible people are turning a blind eye towards it? The parents and also the schools are the stakeholders in this critical issue,as they fail to see beyond the tall claims and false promises made by these institutes.
This is also very true that all institutes and the schools are not involved in these malpractices but those which are, should be exposed.Few things are suggested below for the consideration of the policy makers.
The quality of the school education should be improved. In the name of reducing stress the quality of the syllabus and the teaching learning process should not be compromised. The standard of the teachers training institutes and the higher education institutes should also be raised so that schools get quality teachers. The parents must also understand that education is not just to get into any professional degree from a college of repute but also to learn the values of life. If the children will be taught to achieve something at any cost even if the means adopted are wrong then they will not learn good things. In the end, I would like to request all that the children should be taught and encouraged to achieve anything by fair means only and not by using unfair means, otherwise the fight against corruption will never succeed because these children only will be the torch bearers of a promising in future.