Friday, July 29, 2011

Importance of parent teacher meetings

While attending a conference yesterday, I came across a statement from one of the speakers that as he studied in a village school where there was no concept of PTMs so his father or mother did not even know how was he performing and what was he learning.This was many years back and now the situation has changed  at least in the cities and towns.This was alright in those days because thirty years ago learning was considered to be taking place in the schools naturally and there was no need of the parents to get involved in the school affairs.The teachers were considered to be the one responsible enough to look after the learning of the children on their own. One of the important features of the right to education act is that all schools should have school managing committee. The independent schools had this system earlier also in which there is representation of the parents and teachers as well.The government schools also had such committees but now as per the act, government schools are likely to have this committee in which seventy five percent of the members will be from parents or the guardians of the children studying in that school. Not only this, the chairperson and the vice chairperson would be from the member parents.This shows how important the role of the parents is even outside their home.
The schools which  have the parent teacher meetings on regular basis are able to look after the children in a better way than the schools where PTMs are not very regular or are not  taken seriously. I have come across many teachers who feel very stressed on the designated day of the meeting with so many parents .This happens due to lack of trust between the teacher and the parent and that is why it is more important to have such meetings between the teacher and the parents as often as possible. Also such meetings should not remain restricted to fixed dates but the parents and teachers should meet informally also.The parents and teachers should not wait for this day only, if they feel the need to talk to each other,they must meet as and when required. 
This is very important for everyone to understand the objective and the importance of the PTMs and then only this will prove beneficial to the students,parents and the teachers.PTM is not the forum to find faults or prove your point but to understand the views of each other. The teacher would come to know the expectations of the parents and the parents would come to know about the views of the teacher.It is not that they will be in agreement with each other on every point but this discussion will help to find solution to the problem either of them might be having.The parent and the teacher both must understand that the objective of the meeting is to evolve the ways and find new methods so that the performance of the child becomes better than what it has been.They must do away with the old concept of considering home and school as separate identity because in today`s time parents play as important role as the school or the teachers do.This has been seen that the children whose parents remain in touch with the schools are likely perform better than the ones whose parents do not  meet the teachers. The behavioral problems of such children have also been reported less.This is because the children take the meeting between their parents and the teachers in positive and know it well that anything wrong done in the school or at home will be known to the parents and the teachers. Not only this,a very important aspect of the meetings is that it not only builds trust between the teacher and the parent but also the children develop more respect towards the teachers and have faith in them.Such children are more comfortable with the teachers and that is the reason there is a remarkable  improvement in their performance.
The other important benefit is that the teachers and the school can take help of the parents in certain areas where they were not able to do much for the good of the child.For example a parent who is good at counselling the children can be invited to talk to the other children of the school.This will not only help the children but also bring the parents more close to the school.
My advise to all the teachers and parents would be that the PTMs should not be used to bring out the negatives of the children but to have a healthy discussion on all the aspects of the child related to his/her achievements or the areas in which improvement is expected.But, unfortunately in many cases the teachers and also some of the parents rather than using this excellent opportunity to develop trust, use it as the forum to criticise either each other or the child. In some cases it has been observed that the father starts shouting during discussion in the presence of the child as well as the other parents. Now this is not only the insult of the teacher and parents but this situation is embarrassing for the child also. Some of the teachers are of the habit of criticising the child in the presence of other people and again this does not do any good to the child. The teachers and the parents should be careful while discussing anything in the presence of the child.Even if the child has to be counselled for any improvement the same should be conveyed in a dignified manner. Some parents come to attend the PTM with a pre-conceived notion.
At times the children do not inform the parents about the PTM because they are worried that there will be nothing else but their criticism. This is something very negative and shows that the child neither has faith in teachers nor in the parents. All must try to understand it and try that the children have faith in both the teachers as well the parents.PTMs will be able to serve the purpose for which these are held if the objective is understood well and we show respect not only towards each other but also to the children .  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daily routine of the students of classes XI/XII

I had shared with you all the pain and the difficulties of the children of the higher classes in the schools specially the ones who have opted for science stream and want to become engineers, doctors, lawyers or charted accountants either because of their own interest or to fulfill the wishes of their parents. Given an opportunity, these children do share their problems with adults, specially the teachers and family members other than the parents, because parents tend to ignore this particular problem, though otherwise they are very concerned about the well being of the children.Those children who are able to take the pressure of managing two centers which are helping them in shaping-up their future or securing it, are not complaining much, but this number is very less.The other group which is in majority finds it very difficult to manage at both the places.The parents know it well, but either it is the societal pressure or their own unfulfilled desires which make them blindfolded towards the suffering of their children for two years and for majority of them, even after that . Now a days, this system has started as early as in class IX also.The children have been questioning me and I am sure the other teachers as well about why are they being pushed to do all this? They at times even ask, why not their parents should be made to realise their sufferings.I agree with the children and would like to do the same but never assure them that our talking will make much of difference to their life because most of the parents are well educated and well aware of the problem.But one thing should be understood by all that schooling is very important and that has been explained so well by so many people because schooling is not only to make the child learn a few subjects but many more things which help the child to be creative and be a thinker.
 When we talk of creativity, that can not happen till the child has time to think and if you look at  the routine of these children they do not have time to do anything for self.You all are aware of the routine of the school going children and the same is being mentioned for the reminder of all those who tend to ignore it. If given a serious thought, then it might help our children upto some extent.But before the routine let us try to figure out the time available to the child for thinking and self study.The children need to spend approximately  eight hours for the school (it includes commuting to and fro the school and the time spent in the school). Four to five hours are spent in the tuition/coaching centres.The child needs at least seven to eight hours of the sleep (as advised by the doctors for proper rest of the body).Approximately three hours the child need for the daily routine work like eating food , taking bath or watching TV ( most of the time while eating only).If we calculate these hours then they have already spent twenty three hours in all these chores. Everyone is aware that there are twenty four hours only in a day then how much time do the children have for thinking and self study? They are left with only one hour, my dear friends and respected parents! Please note that the time for the play and interaction with the family members has not been counted which is vital for the proper development of the personality of the children.
 The schedule for the day of the children which seems to be so hectic and so mechanised as if the children are machines or robots and not the human beings.
Most of them get up at around 5.30 or 6.00 am and get ready for the school as quickly as possible and many of them do not take proper breakfast because of the reasons known to all.Then they board the school bus or any other vehicle and reach school by 7.00 or 7.30 am and be in the school for about six to six and a half hours. Then again board the buses for home and reach there by 2.00 or 2.30 pm ( in some cases even by 3 pm) depending upon the distance of the school from home.They then throw the bag in their rooms and get ready to take a quick lunch and get ready to go to the tuition or the coaching center because in most of the centers they have to reach by 4 pm. Be there for whatever time they are required to be and leave the center and reach home by 8.00 or 8.30 pm (sometimes even by 9 pm). Once again change quickly and get ready to eat something and by this time it is already 9.30 to 10 pm. And if the child has to take seven to eight hours sleep he/she should sleep latest by 10.30 pm.
Now you all can understand that in this one hour available to the child, how much effective self study is possible when the child has been listening to others for the rest of the day and he must be totally tired and fatigued by this time.
All must understand that no effective and long lasting learning can take place without the children trying to learn themselves. The tutors and the teachers may be excellent but only listening to them will not make the children learn, so my request to all concerned is to think about the children and support them in getting enough time for themselves and their self study. Here, I would like to remind everyone that schooling is very important and this should not be replaced by other so called educational centers. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Self-confidence: A magical power

Every individual has the potential of doing something good in life and if the potential is understood well by him/her then the task to exploit that becomes quite easy.Those people who believe in themselves could perform much beyond their capacity. The belief in self is the key to success and the lack of it will make the difference between success and failure.I read a story somewhere(it may not be a true story but gives wonderful message) in which a person with a very low self esteem goes to a saint and asks him for help so that he also becomes as confident as the saint .The saint allowed him to stay with other disciples.This person observed that the other disciples were able to perform any task given by the saint very easily. One day, he also asked the saint to give him some task which he thought could be performed by him. The saint told him that you are capable of walking on the water and if you have confidence in my observation and your capability then try it. The man had seen other people doing some amazing tasks so he felt confident and tried to walk on the water and to the utter surprise of the saint and others he could do so and experienced it he was walking on the solid surface.This is the miracle which can be done by having self belief and self confidence.
This story can be very helpful to the teachers and the students. The teachers are the ones who can enhance the self esteem of the children.They come across many students who are not confident about their capabilities and need someone to help them realise their strengths and if done so in the right manner and at the right time by the teachers that can make a difference.I shall cite two examples here, though there are many like this in my life and many other teachers must have also experienced the similar kinds. But before that I would like to caution all that this should be done with a lot of care and proper calculations.There was a child who was considered to be an average student in academics but as always happens,the father and the mother being doctors, wanted the child do very well and become a doctor.He had not done well in class XI and the worried parents approached the teacher of physics and told him that if the child could do well in this subject there was a possibility that he would get admission in some medical college.The teacher concerned tried his level best but not much improvement could be seen. One day the teacher sat with the child and told him that he was capable of securing ninety marks in this subject and if he did not get, then his talent would be wasted. The teacher supplemented this statement by another sentence for the knowledge of the child that he had given a word to his parents that he(the boy) would definitely get that percentage of marks.The teacher could see the difference in the attitude and the efforts of the child and he scored nearly the same marks as promised.What made it to happen was, undoubtedly the self confidence and self esteem.Another such example is of the games field. The same teacher is very fond of playing with the children because he feels that he is able to understand the children better while playing with them than in the classroom.Though winning is not the only criterion of the teacher but the sincere efforts to win definitely has been his important goal in life.One day the players of his team(they were the students) were not playing up to their strength and they lost the two games of a volleyball match . In the third game also they were trailing and the teacher player  was not really happy with that. He told the student players that he did not mind defeat, but not in this manner. He told them that you all are better than the other team players but not realising that, was making the difference. The other statement the teacher gave was that if you did not win this game that meant they did not want the teacher to be the member of their team. This worked as a magic and the team which was at the verge of defeat won the third match. Now this again was the awakening of  self belief and self esteem in the minds of the players.
What I want to convey and suggest to the teachers is, that they should try to make children realise their strengths and help them to exploit that to the optimum and for this the teacher will have to use all his wisdom and experience. The teacher must be aware of the consequences of all his actions in and outside  the class but the most important of that is to have a positive and unbiased feeling towards the children even if you are expressing anger to them for some wrong deed of theirs. Most of the teachers form their opinion about a child by over hearing certain comments from other teachers, which is not the right approach. If the teachers think positive about their children they will definitely be good and perform better than expected by others. One word or one sentence uttered by the teacher can make a difference in the life of the child.     

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Meaning of love and affection

Everyone of us is in pursuit of happiness and joy, and work very hard to achieve that.The meaning of joy is different for different people.Though it is not possible for everyone to reach to the ultimate state of blissfulness but we can manage to remain happy and enjoy life.The nature has organised everything  in such a wonderful and disciplined way that if respected and followed in the same manner, there should be no unhappiness in this world. But the problem is the greed and unlimited desire of achieving more,that  hinders the path to real happiness.Everyone thinks and this is true also that the parents do everything possible for their children. In the last twenty years, the parents in rural as well as urban areas are spending much more than what they used to spend before(mostly for the future of their children).As per the report in one of the newspapers the expenditure on education has gone up by approximately 150%(this figure is after taking into consideration the inflation impact otherwise the the figure is more than 330%). This proves how much concerned today`s parents are to secure the future of their children. But the question is; is it really making the parents and the children happy or they are adding more worries to their daily life? This will have different answers but one question raised by one of the teachers deserved to be referred here which she had asked after reading 'my thoughts', on 'Reach out to your teenagers'. The question was basically about a child who had been behaving in an undesirable manner and was getting disturbed when somebody would try to correct him. Even the parents were approached, but no solution to the problem could be found.This very concerned and devoted teacher took it on herself that she would take care of the child and help and support him to improve.After reading 'my thoughts', she asked the child to talk to his parents and the prompt reply of the child was that they do not care for him. The teacher did try to approach the parents but without any positive results.Though this child has everything, but the quality time of the parents.
During this period only, I was reading one book reflecting the thoughts of Osho and read one incident shared by him(which must have taken place more than 30-40 years back).Osho says, that once a American researcher and philosopher told him about a survey done in America in which large number of the women(those who had given birth to the kids very recently) were asked questions. The first question; did they really want a child?(The question was more explicit which I am avoiding to mention here). Most of them said- No.The second question was;were they happy carrying the child during the pregnancy? Most of them said no again.The third question; did they feel good when the child was born? Most of them said no.The fourth question was; are they happy bringing up the child and the answer from most of them was again no.
Now in this situation, think critically, that the child who came into existence and on this beautiful and miraculous planet without the love he deserved( if I use difficult words it might offend some people and that is unwanted) because he was not really wanted.The researches have proved that the child imbibes everything happening around him/her before and after the birth.The child who was neither loved before the birth nor afterwards, all can very well imagine with what kind of feelings and so called affection he/ she would grow and what would be his/her contribution to the society. After the child was born those parents started providing  gifts and other materialistic things and as the child had not experienced the love of the mother before, hence he misjudged these materialistic things to be the love and affection of the parents and followed the same in the life.Now, when the child does not express any affection towards such parents, they complain.My questions to them is, do they have a right to complain? They are getting the same what they gave to the child. The child when grows up provides all those materialistic things what he got, and that too without any emotions. This is not an ideal and happy situation. Nature created the opposite sex to keep the balance and that is why the concept of birth and death came into existence,which every human being should understand. Everything done for pleasure does not necessarily give that to us.
In India, marriage  has been considered a very sacred and important institution which is mentioned in our constitution too.This is also known to all, that in the earlier days motherhood was considered to be a boon and a blessing and any woman who could not beget a child was considered to have missed something most important in her life.There used to be celebrations right from the day the good news was shared with the family till the child was born and everybody used to keep the would be mother happy in every aspect. Even after the birth there were many rituals and functions held in the family till the child was of six years of age and in some communities even after that.This way the child learnt the importance of love and affection and followed the same in the life.
The incident about America which was mentioned above took place around forty years back. But unfortunately the same problem  seems to have reached our country also.People talk about the metros that the boys and girls do not want to get in the pious relationship known as marriage and even if they agree to it because of the family and societal pressure, they do not want to have the children because they may prove to be an obstacle in their path of so called progress of earning more money and reach higher positions.The concept of DISK (Double income single kid) and DINK (Double income no kid) has already hit the rationality of the younger generation.Though the situation in our country is not that grave but the signs of the problem are too evident. Great people say, learn from the mistakes of others also and this is the right time that our youth (boys and girls both )understand the importance and sanctity of the institution of the marriage and welcome the child with real love and affection, rather shower on them all the warmth of their emotions and see how overwhelmingly the children reciprocate. If they do so, they would not be required to pack the rooms of the children with costly gift items.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Smart faculty proportionate to Smart Classrooms

The school education in India is undergoing many changes and reforms and this is a positive sign for the children of the country.The government is making all possible efforts so that all children get education and are able to contribute in the development of the country in an effective way. Our country is full of diversity which exists in almost every walk of life.On one hand, we have the rich people whose names appear in the list of the richest people of the world and on the other hand, there are large number of  people who do not have access to two square meals in a day. On one hand, people have large bungalows, big farm houses,lavish lifestyles and on the other hand,there are many people who sleep on the roads under the roof of stars.If I mention all, it will take a lot of time and space. Hence my thoughts will be confined to one of the most important issues and that is education; and here also you find such a disparity that the meaning of all the reforms take a back seat. In our constitution, the children of the age group six to fourteen years were given fundamental right to free and compulsory education and it has taken about sixty years for the government to implement it in the right earnestly. In the meanwhile, the education of the country has gone through many changes. Initially the government schools were preferred by the parents for the education of their children and the private schools were limited in number. Neither all people could afford these private schools nor they wanted their children to study in these schools.The teachers in government schools used to be very  qualified and devoted to the welfare of their students. Over a period of time, there has been a rapid increase in the number of  private schools and one of the reasons for that is, the government schools did not increase in the proportion to the increase in population and also the quality of the teaching was not improved according to the need of the hour.The lack of quality and the quantity of government schools made the parents to drift towards the private schools( that does not mean that all private schools were/are better than the government schools). As on today ,the condition is that the very low income group parents also want their children to study in private schools and spend most of their income on children`s school education by curtailing expenditure on other essential daily needs.Once again, I would like to state that there are still many government schools that have qualified and devoted teachers and on the other hand, many private schools have an average infrastructure and not very competent teachers. We all read stories about how some of the private school teachers are exploited when it comes to remuneration.
Having said all this, I would like to focus on the quality of the education in the schools irrespective of whether it is a private school or a government school.The children have the fundamental right not only to education but also to quality education and the government is bound to provide it to them . Leaving things in the hands of private schools will not solve the problem because private schools are not necessarily established for the noble cause as every private school administration talks about, but there is some expectation of returns in terms of money.Initially great people like Sh. G.D Birla Ji and others were really concerned and many schools opened by them were really for the service of the nation and not for any selfish motive. But now the situation has changed and many businessmen have come forward to invest money in this sector. Again I would like to mention that most of them are really doing it for the cause of the country but all are not like that.
Another important change has come in the way teaching- learning takes place in the classrooms. Earlier the blackboard and the chalk were the only  tools which were available to the teachers but later on that changed to green boards and then to whiteboards and also chalks were replaced by the markers and now the whiteboards are being replaced by the interactive boards.Not only this, the traditional classrooms are being named as the smart classrooms, by adding a few software tools . This could be possible due to the emergence of the technology in big way and at a very fast pace.The Internet has made the information available on the click of a button. Many people rightly thought of taking advantage of the available technology and the concept of the smart classes came in the picture. You might have noticed that many schools write this information more prominently on the main gate than the name of the school. Smart classroom are the ones  which  have the electronic gadgets like computer/laptop,interactive boards and the projectors etc.This has revolutionised the concept of a classroom but one thing which remains unchanged is the importance of the teacher in the class. Let us look at the other extreme where the children do not have even the basic needs fulfilled like the furniture,toilets and the activity rooms etc.But that is not hampering the spirit of some teachers and the students and because of that only, many students perform extraordinarily well in their board exams and many of them are even able to make it to the civil services at center and state level.They are the students from these schools of rural set up.The only problem with these village schools and the children is that they lack the knowledge of language which has become the need of the time and they are also not exposed to the information related to the other avenues which they can explore. The concept of the aptitude test and counselling is beyond their reach.If these things and information is made available to such children they will perform much better than what they are able to do today.
Hence,these innovations of smart classses can be used as aids and tools by the teacher. Moreover, the teacher should be the master of  technology and not vice-versa.To me all class rooms will be smart even without these electronic gadgets if there are smart students and smart teachers, not in their appearance but in their thinking and behaviour.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Classroom management

It has been heard many-a-times from many new and old teachers that the children in the class do not let them teach or create one or the other disturbance and this phenomenon is across the globe and not only in our country and it has been there for centuries. But at the same time, there are many teachers who never have any such problem in managing their class and have always enjoyed being with their students.Everybody will agree that  one of the most important qualities of a teacher is to first create an environment of learning in the class and then only learning can take place. There may be different reasons for negative behaviour of the students and it is the responsibility of an intelligent teacher to analyse and understand the cause and take corrective measures.I would like to mention a few reasons because of which there can be disturbances in the class.There are different kinds of disturbances reported from the classrooms, the children not listening to the teachers, talking in groups among themselves,some of them using foul language in the class,some drinking water(which may not be treated as the disturbance if the child is really thirsty),eating the grub during teaching,throwing chalks,making paper aeroplane and flying them ,not taking the notes,doing the work of some other subjects,asking questions very often and not letting the teacher proceed further and the list is endless.You will notice that some of the so called disturbing factors are not really the disturbances but natural reactions or requirement of the children
Now, let us try to understand, why all this happens in the class of some of the teachers.
First, the children might not have got influenced by the speech and the personality of the teacher(communication problem).Second, the teacher might be trying to be too much authoritative in the class.Third, the teacher might not be very confident about himself/herself.Fourth, the subject knowledge may not be upto the mark.Fifth, the students could not feel connected to the topic being discussed or to the teacher.Sixth, they might have become habitual of behaving as they have been doing the same in the other class in the previuos periods and could not control themselves ( though these teachers might not be having above mentioned problems)and so on and so forth.This is true that the new teachers are always tested by the students and if they could influence and impress the students in the early days then the problem of class disturbance will never haunt them .One thing to be understood by all is that whatever may be the reasons and the causes, it is the responsibility of the teachers to manage the class in whatever way they feel it appropriate but without being angry or shouting or using any other method which would create more problems than the solution.I do not mean that the teacher may not be strict in the class but being strict does not mean harming a child but the intention should be to improve a child.
I would like to cite two example of two great teachers who could manage to control the class by counselling and helping the so called disturbing children in the class. In one case the teacher showed exemplary patience and power of tolerance that despite the child had insulted her a number of times in the presence of the whole class and did not allow her to solve the problems of the other students but she did not react negatively rather kept advising(it was more of a request than the advise)the child and could make other children feel that this teacher cares for them and is not egoistic for her own respect. To do this you need to have a big heart and love for your students and understand the nobility of the teaching profession.The other teacher got even more insulting treatment than the mentioned above(which I would avoid mentioning here) but she also had a high degree of patience and despite the fact the child initially was very rude to her, she has managed to earn the respect of the same child now after about six seven months. When I tried to understand these children(they were labelled as very indiscipline children in the school), they had serious problems in the family. The parents were not able to give time to these children except sitting with them once in a while and at that time also nothing else was done but scolding for not doing well  in studies or not showing a proper demeanour. The two teachers could get the reasons of their inappropriate behavior and hence had sympathy towards them and decide to help them to become better behaved children.I am happy to share that both the children are showing considerable improvement in the behavior and studies.There may be many more such examples which sometimes are shared by the teaches and most of the times go unnoticed.
I, on behalf of all, convey my sincere gratitude to such wonderful teachers.
Now, I would like to talk about the quality of the teachers, whose mere presence make the class attentive and there is no problem what so ever. First of all, they are emotionally intelligent teachers and secondly, they use this powerful emotional presence very effectively .The teachers with this presence demonstrate congruence between verbal and non verbal behavior which means there is no difference between their words and the body language. For such teachers what is said and what is done is complementary.We must understand that the teachers use two types of voices which are credible and approachable voices and the  teacher should be master at using them.The credible voice is the voice of authority.This voice is used when the teachers give instructions or establish a class routine.It has only a small degree of modulation and tends to go down at the end of the sentence.For example, the teacher saying, "Would you please finish your food, now!"The approachable voice is invitational and pre primary and primary section teachers master it so well ,though the teachers who are successful at senior level are also intelligent at using them properly.It has considerable modulation and usually curls up at the end of the sentence. For example, the teacher saying, "Children would you like me to read a story for you?"When we want the children to think critically the approachable voice would help us the most.If we use credible voice it would be interrogative and will curb thinking but should not be considered to be negative because proper and appropriate use of this voice is also very important.
The intelligent and appropriate use of the credible and approachable voice is so critical in the management of the class that it can mar or make the learning in the class. As mentioned above the use of credible voice should not be contemptuous as it is really very effective to maintain the order in the class.This voice makes every one attentive and prepare them for learning.This is not necessarily to be used in the beginning of the class always but as and when the teacher feels the need of using it and this should be done very carefully.The use of approachable voice will facilitate the development of the creative and independent thinking and the children will pay attention and participate in the class room activities willingly, which will result in better and endured learning. The teachers who are not able to differentiate between the use of two voices and use it inappropriately suffer and may not be happy  with their children and at times even might give up the profession .
This is one of those topics which is very close to my heart and the reason is that if understood with open mind it shows the direction to the new as well as the veteran teachers.So think upon it seriously and try to understand the reasons behind, why some children behave in a negative manner and how you can solve the problems of the class by mastering the proper use of your two voices.Those who master the appropriate use of these two voices will prove to be wonderful teachers.
In the end, I would like to say that unknowingly all teachers use these voices but  they may not understand the implications of the improper use of these voices, because of lack of knowledge of the impact of credible and approachable voices.The sooner we realise this,the better it would be for the teaching fraternity, as it will facilitate a smooth teaching in the class.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reach to your teenagers

The children in today`s world have many sources to get information and are not solely dependent upon the teachers and the parents or the family as they used to be before. In earlier times the food outlets and the entertainment opportunities were also very limited and the children used to have food and go to watch films etc, with the family members and that was the reason there was a lot of interaction which would take place between the parents and the children.Not only this, in the schools, the students were dependent more on their school teachers and even if they needed some extra help the teachers were available to them after school hours also.The "Guru-Shishaya parampara" as we know it, was an immaculate system of education. The teachers were completely devoted and dedicated to their students and anchored them for nearly everything under the sun.The students who were seeking tuition were limited in number and they were even shy of letting anybody know about that because this was a rare act.Moreover,it was also considered to be only for weak learners.  The interaction between the students and teachers was not confined to academics only but was much beyond that because the teacher was treated as one of the very important person in the life of a child and most of the times as a member of the family.This way neither parents ever felt that the children were away from them nor the teachers.
But now things have completely  changed and what was considered lowly and disgraceful earlier is done with a lot of pride and this I am talking in context of the tuition culture.The situation is this that the one who does not go for tuition is perceived from a different angle as if the parents can not afford it or the child is unable to cope-up .The truth is that tuition and coaching is not necessarily the need but has become a  fashion in today`s time.The teachers have also changed in their approach either due to changed  circumstances or on their own.This has resulted in a few necessary evils .In the race of achieving more and doing better in terms of marks or the money, the children have been forced to move away form the parents and the teachers.This is more in case of parents and that should be the cause of worry for everyone of us and there are many people who have expressed their serious concern on this issue which is putting our children in difficult situation and pushing them into something which neither they are happy with(apparently they may be appearing to be happy) nor the parents and even the teachers. Then what should be done to check this? I have a few suggestions which I keep sharing with the teachers and the parents.
Till the age of 10-11 years the children are very close to their parents and the teachers and their life revolves around them. The impact of other things might be there in some cases where the parents might not be approachable to them due to certain reasons.When the children enter this important phase of life which is known as teenage, then the influence of the friends and the outside world starts fascinating the teenagers because now neither they are in the category of kids nor the adults. This is basically the transitional phase from being kids to becoming adults. I can say that this is the molten state of the matter and in this state if proper handling is missing the child may go in any direction.Now the children start behaving in a different manner than what they used to do before and at times the adults misunderstand this as the maturity of the children.The teenagers starts avoiding to share with the parents and the teachers and that makes them drift away from them.If we do not take care of our children at this stage they might be influenced by those factors which may cause harm to them. You must have noticed that it is during this period, children tend to remain confined to their rooms and enjoy themselves with the friends and the entry of the parents in their life is considered by them as an intrusion or threat.
There are many examples shared by the parents and also teachers that their child does not share the happiness or the problems or any other issues which he/she used to do before. They should understand that there are physiological and psychological changes taking place in the body and the mind of the child. They tend to be more interested in talking to the people of opposite sex(not necessarily in negative sense which most of the parents and the teachers take it).The teenagers feels happy in the company of each other and that should not be misunderstood for something else.When two boys or two girls can be friends to each other then we should not see anything negative if a boy is talking to girl or vice-versa. There are many cases in which the children approach me asking this very question as why were they seen with doubtful eyes while talking to some boy or girl.
The other most important thing the parents and teachers should do is that they should try to reach the teenagers so that you can understand them and their problems in better way. If they would be comfortable with you then most of the prevailing evils which might harm the children will be taken care of. Do not allow the gap between the children and yourself so much which blindfolds you of the life of your child.If we do not understand the implications of this age then remember there are many evils ready to engulf our children.So my advise to all parents and the teachers would be that even if the children are not reaching to you (which is a natural phenomenon in this age) you approach them because the children are the most important assets for us and our country.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Experience, reflect and learn

I happened to read a statement given by somebody that human kind does not learn by experience, which was something new to me because this is what we have been  told that the experience teaches human being more than anything else.But the next sentence cleared my doubt and the confusion and the sentence was that the human kind learn not only by experience but by reflection upon the experience.And this made me to realise that some people who have vast experience in one or the other area, do not perform any better over the years what they have been doing and there may be others who do not have that long an experience  but still do better than what they had done previously.Though this is applicable to all the professions and the people, but will be more relevant in case of teachers, parents and the students.
Many examples can be taken from the day to day life. There is a farmer who does the same work all through the life but if he reflects upon the reasons regarding the crops yield and the quality, he will be able to decide what to do next time to get better crops or what other kind of crops would be useful in that particular climate.Even the so called uneducated farmers are able to innovate and that is not only because of the experience but because of analysing on the previous crop quality and reflecting upon the way to improve the production.Take an example of the businessmen and you will realise those who reflect seriously on their previous experience are able to incorporate a change in their approach and may get better results in future. Learning does not mean that one will  always be able to achieve  what was aimed to, but will definitely learn more than the ones who have not contemplated upon their experiences .This makes me to understand why the past is also important because that will guide our present and decide the course of our future .Only two examples have been cited here, but if we think seriously, this will be true for every profession and in every situation and as mentioned earlier the teachers can be benefitted the most if they  learn to reflect upon their experience, because they are the ones who experience many things everyday right from the teaching learning process to other behavioral aspect of the students,colleagues and their own self.They must reflect upon their classroom experience everyday and learn from them to make things better for the students the next day.
Suppose a teacher planned  to do an activity in the class and there was some problems which he/she did not anticipate, then inspite of forgetting about it, the teacher must try to understand its reasons and devise another method to avoid the same mistake in the class in future.If the children do not pay attention to what the teacher is talking in the class then the teacher must reflect upon this with open mind without any prejudice towards the children then only he/ she would definitely be able to come up with something different and more appropriate which might draw the attention of the children towards what is being discussed in the class.  Great teachers keep saying everyday that whenever they go to the class they feel they knew very little yesterday and the if the same topic would have been discussed this way, the students would have learnt it better.This is true for those teachers who reflect upon their previous experiences  in the class . The teachers who think to have completed the job for the day and do not try to understand what was the impact of their interaction with the children would not be able to do anything different or worthwhile even if they teach the same subject and the same topics for the whole life.
An effective innovation can not be done until and unless one reflects upon the previous experience.
You must have noticed that some teachers make their presence felt by everyone very early in their teaching career while the others waste a lot many years but still are not known for the good.I firmly believe that the teachers are the fortunate ones who can learn the most from the students around them everyday and by reflecting upon their experience can learn even more. So the children are the best source of learning for the teachers and that is why they should be appreciated and encouraged so that we can learn more from them.
The other people who can learn more from the children are the parents because children are a blessing and they are fortunate parents to observe and learn from their own children.I take one example of a parent who had some problems in his office and when he came back home he did not talk to the small child  though the child had been waiting for him the whole day. One day, the father treated the child in an impolite manner because the child wanted to play with him but the father was tensed due to his own problems. After that incident the child stopped going  to the father and remained confined either to his room or with the mother.Perhaps, the father realised that the child was not coming to him at all and tried to reflect upon why was it so? The moment he realised his fault of not treating the child well on that day he learnt his mistake and started behaving with the child in a very dignified manner which changed the equation in the family.In the similar manner,the children too can learn many things from their peer group.They can sieve the most fruitful of the achievements of their friends such as qualifying a competitive or any other great success and attach a meaning to their life. Such incidents must have happened with many of us a number of times and when we reflect upon our experience, we learn, otherwise  no learning  takes place and the problems remain the same rather they multiply.Hence, experience isn't interesting till it begins to repeat itself as it is not what happens to a man but is what a man does with what happens to him.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teach the students learn to learn

This is a common problem with many teachers that though they work very hard with the students but  the students neither learn it well nor perform up to the mark in the test/examination.There is other side of the coin where the students say they had tried their level best but could not do that well as expected. Now the question is why is it so, that despite the efforts of the teachers as well as students the learning is not taking place? If the students were learning, then they should have performed better than what they did.This brings in focus a very important point and that is, are we teaching our students learn to learn or they are just being flooded with a lot of information in the name of teaching -learning?
Every one should understand that learning is not the storage of the information in the brain but it is the churning of information that makes the learning happen. The more children think and analyse and try to apply the knowledge gained, more they will be able to learn. One child asked me a question, why is it so that in one class they enjoy the most whereas in the other class they feel bored? This question needs an answer from all the teachers, parents and the people responsible for the education of the children of the country. Framing curriculum and talking of instructional directions will not make children learn necessarily but we all should understand how to make a child learn to learn.
The teachers and parents know it very well that all the children are not alike and they have their individual identity and unique qualities. Despite knowing this, why do we try to teach all in the same way? Why do not we differentiate not only in our teaching methodology but also the curriculum? Why we do not give them the freedom of learning in their own way? These are difficult questions but must be addressed at the earliest because if not done so the children and the nation, both will suffer.We must also understand that the learning does not take place in the classroom only but it is an ongoing process and the children learn every time from every one and in every situation.It is not that the teachers teaching in the class is the most important but the learning of the students is more important.The child learns from parents,teachers,neighbours,books,magazines,newspapers,television and most importantly from self.Group learning is important but self learning is equally important and the child learns more when alone because that time he/she is able to concentrate and churn the knowledge /information received from every where. The child must be able to learn even without somebody teaching him/her.
For this environment in which the child is supposed to learn  must be as healthy as possible. Another child asked me a question ,who is responsible for that environment and the answer to this is all of us including the learner, but in the class major part is to be played by the teachers and at home by the parents.If a teacher is able to draw the attention of all the students in the first five minutes in the class then half of the battle is won in preparing them to learn.Here it is the responsibility of the teacher to make the child understand why should they  learn and how they can learn to learn.Until the attention of the children is focused on what is being discussed no effective learning will take place and for that blaming children is not the right approach. The mere presence of some of the teachers is enough for that environment of learning whereas in the other case even shouting of the teacher does not make any sense.
If the students are given an opportunity to think, learning is sure to take place so if they have to be taught how to learn to learn then thinking critically is very important. Just filling them with the information will not let real learning take place.As I mentioned, the teachers and the parents should act as the facilitators and not as the masters only to dominate the students.Friendly and congenial environment is the key to success and same applies for the learning to take place. If we can motivate the children to learn that will create interest in the subject and the child will be able to learn even the most difficult topics/subjects easily.
I am sorry to say that our students are not being allowed to learn but to store the information and that is detrimental to the growth of the child and has negative impact on the learning of the child.We must give them the space to learn self also. If they will be surrounded by the tutors and the teachers all the time then they will never be able to learn though the exception are always there and some people might achieve so called success(not really the learning) in securing good marks and give an opportunity to the parents and the teachers to celebrate what the child might not have learnt. This topic seems to be unending but  I have to stop it somewhere with a hope and request to the teachers and the parents to teach the children learn to learn and  allow them to learn from different sources and let them decide what is good which should be retained and drop the remaining information. The children also should be guided to distinguish between the significant and the insignificant.Certainly,while sieving the acquired knowledge,the most significant must be retrived thereby enhancing learning . It is one of the most important issues for me, so I will be eagerly waiting for your valuable feedback and  suggestions and also the ideas how can we make our children learn to learn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tolerance becoming intolerant

This topic was discussed before also though in a different context but the incident which took place a few days ago in an educated and respected family of Jodhpur city( which is considered the cultural capital of the state) has disturbed everyone and forcing them to think about the negativity and intolerant human nature.This is not an isolated incident rather has become very common particularly in bigger cities.If it (intolerance) is allowed to grow at such a rapid pace then there will be no system in place and all relationships will be in danger.The major repercussion is that nobody is helped in this situation and the whole family and the fabric of the society is at stake.Now the question that arises is, why is it happening and what can be done to control this? There are many reasons for the same and one of them is the lack of understanding each other and the second is that people have become more self centered. The slogan given by the government "Hum do hamare do", was in the context of controling the population. I think the slogan has been interpreted in a manner that one has to cater for the four people and not for others in the family and the society.We do not know the real cause behind this very unfortunate incident that took place recently but this has definitely ruined the future of a good family. What was done by the person involved must have been done in the fit of anger because such things are not usually planned. We also do not know the kind of relationship the family members had but one thing is for sure that there was lack of understanding and lack of tolerance. Impatience and intolerance in basic human nature and issues bloated out of proportion are the  causes of any such incident.
This is not happening in the families only but small children are being affected by that in the schools also. The bullying and the use of foul language is increasing day by day. Bullying is not always physical but even the mental and psychological bullying disturbs them negatively.The children who are not able to react, bear it without telling anyone, but this has a negative impact on the mind of the child and it may come out any time in future when he/she finds an opportunity to be more powerful than the other one.As I always feel that schools can play a very important role in teaching the children lessons of tolerance,benevolence and forbearance. Though the task is difficult but if the parents support the school then it can be accomplished very easily.The teachers and the parents should be the role models for the children and should not react or lose temper in their presence.This problem started 30-40 years back in other countries but is now our country is also hit seriously by the same.Rightly said by somebody that prevention is better than cure then why we should not try to prevent it at school level where the children are taught the lessons of life.The teachers can help by being considerate towards all the children and not only the ones who are doing well. Sometimes the children who are found not behaving well are either ignored or some very negative remarks are passed which make the child behave in a negative manner. A suggestion for the teachers here, that if they find a child involved in doing something wrong then their prime motive should be to correct and improve the child with positive mind and not to really punish the child.If the child has done something with which the teacher is not happy then also he/she should not react in a negative manner. I know this might be a difficult thing to do for some teachers but remember, if the teachers in the school and the parents at home will not have tolerance then why and how can you expect the same from the child?
The parents are advised not to react for small deeds of wrong done by the child that he might at times share with them. There are many examples where the child told something at home which might have been unpleasant in the school and as the father had come from the office and had stress starts shouting and saying certain things which should not be spoken in the presence of the child because the child is going to learn the same .So if we as parents and teacher have patience and tolerance the children will definitely be learning the same.Some parents and teachers are so impulsive that they do not even analyse the situation and react. The reaction out of frustration would always produce negative result and create more problems.This race of getting more is also contributing to this problem frustration and intolerance.
One more issue which should be taken care of seriously is that the boys and girls should be taught  to adjust well in the family. In the past, the boys were treated differently and the girls were the ones who were considered to keep the family one after the marriage. Now as the girls are also being brought up in a liberal environment same as the boys, hence the boys will also have to learn how to adjust in this new age and changing world. Everyone has personal ambitions and wishes but the responsibility towards the family and the society should not be forgotten.The girls should also not forget their role and should be very proud of being what they are than try to emanate the boys.
In the end, a request to all concerned, that the children should not be turned into machines to perform and achieve everything as per our expectations; but they should be treated as individuals to manifest the potential within them. As is said,"Take care of small things and the big things will fall into place".

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dual role of a teacher in the school

Everyone is aware of the changes happening in our society which is not a new phenomenon but the pace of changes nowadays is really fast.  People move from their native place to some other location and the children also accompany them. This may be due to the transfer of the parents or better business facility elsewhere.Earlier if a person joined some company or other organisation he/she used to retire from there only but now even the change of the jobs take place very frequently. In this transition, the parents adjust to the new situation within no time, but the children may not be able to do so easily because they are very possessive about their teachers and the friends whom they are forced to leave due to the reasons not known to them.Though the parents want to do everything possible for their children but due to the lack of time on their part they are  unable to fill the space which is meant for the parents in the life of the children.The parents get busy in their new life  and the children are admitted to some new school where they meet new teachers, new students and step into an entirely different environment . In this situation the most important role can be played by the teachers of the new school in making such children adjust well and feel comfortable.
The teachers will have to play dual role, that of a teacher and also that of a parent who can understand and help the children. As mentioned before, most of the parents spend money for the children but very little time due to their own problems and constraints.There are some children who share their problems and the difficulties faced by them to the teachers but many of them are not that confident to approach the teachers and suffer in silence.Here the teachers also must be watchful and take care of such children who remain quiet and start getting alienated from rest of the group. The teachers must look after them as they look after their own children at home and counsel them as and when required. Some may consider it to be good that the children are exposed to different environment which helps them to adjust well in any situation. This is true, but if the teachers do not support them and provide parental care then the children might suffer and this may not be good for them.
The role of the teacher was almost the same in the past also but the time has changed and now  most of the children are under pressure of studies and of doing well in every field. That is why teachers have got to be more close to them to fill the space created by the absence of the parents in the life of the children.Many children have shared it with the teachers that they are being forced to do something by their parents which they are not at all interested in. Everyone should understand that if the child is not happy, then the very purpose of doing anything for them is lost.The teachers must act as the mentors, parents and the friends of the child and if done so, then they will be able to contribute in the life of the child more significantly and give to the parents and the society a happy and confident human being.I should not be misunderstood here that the role of the parent is being undermined but because of the lack of time on their part, the teachers will have to play an active role and this is applicable to all the children and not only to the ones shifting from one school to another one. I was forced to write this because of the story of a child who shared it with one of the teachers that his mother never gets up in time to prepare breakfast for him because she comes late in the night and is not able to get early in the morning .The teacher came to know that the child was not bringing any thing from home and was getting weak over a period of time. The other child who lost her mother in an accident was in a state of shock and this was a caring teacher only who could take care of her not only as a  teacher, but also by treating the child as her own daughter.
I shall take liberty of mentioning about another such teacher of the school who teaches in the pre primary class and is liked by her kids more than their parents. It has been observed that if the children meet her in any function the children love to be with her and not with the parents. This is the role which I have been talking about.In the class of the same teacher, one day  a child was not feeling well. Though she took a complete care of the child but when the child reached home the mother of the child in order to update,tried to contact the teacher. The teacher could not attend to the call  because of some reason and when she saw the missed call of the mother of the same child who had minor health problem in the class, she got worried. She thought, if there was something wrong with the wellness of the child. She tried the number of the mother several times but there was no response and as it was raining and the child was staying far away from her home so she could not approach her.She was really worried and kept trying till she came to know that the child was in good health. Then she sent a message to the head of the institute " Sir, my child is fine." The Principal felt very happy because the words used by her(my child) were so touching that he was overwhelmed. The principal of the school considers himself fortunate to be working in the company of such wonderful teachers and salutes them.
I am sure the true example mentioned above will make my concern clear enough to all the teachers and they will understand their dual role in today`s world.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Teach co-operation and not competition

The education system of the country is undergoing a sea change as policies are being devised to make it child friendly and also the emphasis is on providing education to all the children of the country, which is a welcome step in the direction of inclusive approach towards all, irrespective of the social and economical background.The education policy of the country decides the direction in which the country will be moving.In the last few years the country has seen growth of the private schools and the colleges and is enrolling large number of the students in them. This has brought the change in the quality of the education provided and along with that, the competition among the institutions and also the students has increased. A healthy competition is good for the improvement and the growth of the country but competition of proving one better than the other in education may not always yield positive results. Education is mainly responsible for the development of the thought process and the personality of the citizens, so that they can contribute at national as well as global levels,and does not only remain the means to provide  livelihood opportunities.
This objective of the education to enable individuals to contribute in the development of the nation can be achieved when children are capacitated 'learning to learn'. We have to see it seriously, is our system helping the students learn to learn?'Learning to learn' is as important as any other development taking place and this can be facilitated by the spirit of co-operation and not by competition.Competition with self is healthy and this improves the student automatically without the feeling of guilt or inferiority complex. Learning to co-operate at school level will go a long way in making the children worthy citizens of the world. Co-operation is the need of the hour at local and the global level. It hurts every citizen of the country when our leaders do not speak the language of co-operation even on national issues. Every time the country faces challenges from within or outside , the leaders speak as if fighting with each other and not focussing on the problem the country is facing.Ironically, the youth of the country watch these proceedings live. All must understand (including those who have put self or the party interest above the national interest) that our existence is because of this great nation and if the country loses the respect then we also lose the same for them.
In this the parents can also play a significant role in helping the schools in implementing the policy in the right perspective.Some 15-20 years ago the children were taught to help the other child who might not have been doing well due to different reasons.If a child was absent due to sickness or some other reason, the other children felt very happy to help that child. In many schools one bright child was made to sit with a child who was not doing well because of compulsive reasons and the bright child would help this child and in process would learn more and gain more confidence. But in today`s world of competition, some parents object to this system,asking why their child is forced to sit with the so called weak child because they may be worried  if the other child also learns he/she may come to the same position . This is the implication of the competitive world and takes away the child from the concept of co-operation. When somebody helps the other person who needs help, this certainly develops the attitude of co-operation and in the process who is helping does not lose anything but gains more confidence and pride.
The family, society and the nation can progress with an attitude of co-operation only and not really by proving one better than the other.Now the question is, how can education help in inculcating the spirit of co-operation? For this the emphasis on academics only will have to be reduced if not completely removed.The children must be taught to learn the lessons of the peaceful and the happy and stress free life instead of enabling them for a money chase or better positions .This should be integrated in school curriculum that the children learn and help each other rather than being self- centered and not share the things with others.The race of competition tend to make us selfish.The government has taken some positive steps in that direction by introducing 'right to education act and this will go a long way in bringing different groups of the society together and they will be able to understand each other which will result in helping each other and not what has been happening till now.The private sector in education has by and large done a good thing to the country but these institutes should not try to unnecessarily prove themselves better than the rest, otherwise the concept of holistic approach will be lost and our children will be pushed into an endless pandemonium of suffering.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Teacher as a counsellor

On this day of Guru Purnima  when many people are wishing their teachers and convey their gratitude, I also join them to convey my sincere gratitude for what all Gurus have done for  me  and many other children of the country who are now contributing to nation building.This article is dedicated to all the Gurus and also to the ones who will be working for this noble cause in future.
Everyone in the society is trying to attain happiness by different means and ways. Some people feel they will be happy if they earn a lot of money and others are seeking happiness in the power and the prestige. For a teacher there is no bigger happiness then seeing his/her students doing well in life.Though the things are changing little bit now but the teachers cannot afford to seek happiness anywhere else but in the progress and well being of their students.A real teacher was always respected,is being respected and will be respected in future also, so we as teachers should stop complaining for certain problems being faced by us due to the change in the attitude of the society.Osho wrote about a teacher who goes to the class and repeats the same sentence every day asking the children to pay attention to him or ask them to concentrate and should not get distracted.In the same class there is a child who is very attentive and at the same time concentrating on the chirruping sound of the birds outside the class.Then how can the teacher ask him to pay attention when the child is doing the same? Osho says that the child is attentive but the teacher is the one who is disturbing him. The question raised by Osho is why is the child impressed by the bird and not by the teacher?The bird is not asking the child to pay attention towards her but there is sweet and attractive sound which  influences the child .Should we teachers not ask this question to ourselves on this day when all are paying their respect towards this noble profession?
The important issue raised here is that a teacher is not only to be the source of the knowledge of subjects but has to play much more important role in the life of the children.That teacher will be called a real teacher for whom the students are eagerly waiting to welcome him/her in the class and at other place as well.If it is so then no teacher would require to repeat the sentence which I mentioned above. The teacher should understand the child`s mind and act accordingly. The teachers do not necessarily have to obtain the degree in child psychology because they learn(if they really are willing to learn) from their students so much that they do not need any other teacher for the same.A child can not learn in the class if he/she is not interested to learn and this is the responsibility of the teachers to create that interest.The teachers can prove to be very effective counsellors for the children who face some problems in their day to day life. My experience is that at times the teachers prove to be better counsellors than anybody else because they have the first hand knowledge about the child and his family and friends.The other person will always first try to understand so much about the child and at times may not get the correct information and there is a possibility that the solution given by that person may not work.It should not be understood  that the role of the counsellors is not important but what I mean here is that if the teacher  really enjoys being with his/her students and vice verse and the teacher and the student seek happiness in the company of each other, then the teacher would prove to be a very effective counsellor.
The teachers plays a very important role in the life of the children and recent research done by the scientists in Britain proves that the children get influenced most by their teachers,parents and the peer group than by so called celebrities.So the teachers should realise this responsibility also and should not resort to sending the children to the counsellors of the school or outside, until and unless they find it absolutely necessary because when the teacher tackles a child`s problem  it is known to him/her only but when he/she passes on the responsibility to somebody else then the faith of a child in the teacher is lost and he feels disturbed because he/she considers himself/herself to be having some unusual problem that is why is being referred to somebody else. The teachers are expected to be the mentor and guide of the children and they cannot be one until they are able to help the children in their problems which might be termed as psychological because of any reasons.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Role of father in the life of a child

It is well known fact to all that the role of the family is very important in the upbringing of the child. In that the importance of the role played by the mother and the father is considered to be more effective and long lasting because the mother and the father have an impact on the life of the child in both situations, that is before and after the child is born.A lot has been written(and rightly so) about the importance of the mother in the life of a child but not much credit is given to the part played by the father.There may be different reasons for that but one reason might be because the mother remains closer to the child than the father and due to which most of the daily needs are taken care of by her. Also in the earlier days, the father used to be out to earn for the family and had little time to be with family which created the perception that the mother is more important than the father in the upbringing of  a child. The fact is that both, the mother and the father, play an important role in the formative years of the child and even after that. Over a period of time the father has been made synonymous to someone whom the children should fear and it is because of him only that the children would be disciplined. At times it appears true, but in most of the cases the father cares for the child and love him/her as the mother does.This is true that the children are afraid of their father and convey most of their feelings through the mother and now it depends upon her how she conveys that to the father.The role of mother many-a- times, becomes of the mediator between the child and the father.But all should understand that father should not be projected as someone whom the children should be afraid of.  The children should not be scared by the statement that if this work is not done, it will be reported to the father.Sometimes when the father comes from the office or some other work he might be stressed due to some reason and the moment he enters the home he is conveyed about the unfavourable deeds of the child  at home or in the school. As the father is already very disturbed and without realising that his negative reaction might disturb the child, reacts negatively and if it happens often, then the image of the father is tarnished in the eyes of the child and he/she carries the same perception through the life, though the reality is this that in majority of the cases the father likes the child as much as the mother does.Here I would like to suggest to all the fathers not to pass on your stress and the problems of the office to your child.Everyone understand your problems but that innocent child who might be waiting for you for quite long does not really know about that. When you are doing so much for the family at least give some quality time to your child. Children around are so full of life, energy and agility that they become a source to reduce your stress if you deal with them patiently.
The situation has changed now because both the parents are working in most of the cases hence the role to be played by the father has also undergone a major change and now he is not the tool to make children afraid of him but more of a support because the mother is also spending sometime away from the child.The father has to fill that vacuum created by the absence of the mother because if that is not done then somebody else will fill that space and this may not be done by the virtuous people always and ultimately the child and the parents both will suffer.
It has been observed that generally the elder child is introvert and the younger one is extrovert though both are born in the same family to the same parents and might have gone to the same school. One behaves almost opposite to the other (exceptions are always possible). The educationist and the psychologists have tried to understand and analyse. They have their own theory but what I have observed is that, in case when the first child is born the parents are young and are in the process of establishing themselves ,in the process they are likely to ignore the child or may not react to him/her in a positive manner because of their own stress and pressure. By the time second child is born the parents are almost settled in their field of work and are able to give quality time to the child. Now sometimes, the elder starts feeling that the parents like the younger one more than him/her and this happens more for the father than the mother.The father does not do it knowingly but it happens unintentionally and that makes an impact on the personality of the elder child.
So, this is very important for the father and the mother both that the children should be exposed to the positive environment irrespective of whatever is the situation of the family.The mothers are also requested to ensure that the role of the father is no less important and this feeling should be inculcated in the children.After all father is the head of the family and he should be loved and respected equally by all the members of the family, particularly the children.He may be harsh at times but he is never hard- hearted,he is as humble and as soft as the mother is,but all you need to do is to understand him and give him due importance.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Liberal education

It is said and believed that schooling is very important in the life period of a child and this seems to be true also because schools have been the most important place for the children to be sent to learn the lessons of  life.Though the concept and the objectives have undergone changes as per the change of the time but basic objective remains the same.But in the last few years there has been change in the mindset of some parents who feel that their child was not benefitted in anyway in the school. They have got strong reasons behind this thought. If analysed in proper context then schooling is considered to develop the thinking process of the child and make him/her a creative person, full of positive energy. If it is so, then why some people are disillusioned by the present schooling system? There must be some reason  for that too and if seen critically we tend to agree with such parents. The educationists and the psychologists have tried to understand the impact of the school environment on the child`s growth and it has been found that in many cases it impacts the children in negative way. There are many examples cited in this favour where the children have learnt more of negatives than the positives. For example, there was a child who was very good at painting but as the school she was studying in, was focusing on academics hence she was neither appreciated nor encouraged to pursue her interest, rather was forced to pay attention towards scholastic areas.  The parents did try to convince the school administration but as is the system in our country, academics is given the maximum importance so the school explained the same to the parents. The parents tried to encourage the child but this did not have any positive effect and the child started deteriorating in all areas. Then the parents withdrew the child and started Home schooling which has produced good results for her. In other case, the child was a wonderful writer and very creative but this aspect was not given due importance in comparison to the so called most important aspect- academics.Though the government is taking some corrective measures at school level but these are not enough until the system of higher education is also taken care of. The other complain from such parents (who advocate home schooling) is that the children learn indiscipline and the foul language spoken by other children or other people and it becomes an uphill task for these parents to counsel their children.According to their point of view, indiscipline is increasing in the schools day by day and there is no effective measure adopted by the schools , that is why they do not want their children to be exposed to such environment.They may not be absolutely true in what they think; but something should be done for encouraging concept of  liberal education because we otherwise are also lacking in terms of infrastructure and the availability of teachers .
The other issue I would like to discuss is, the qualification of the teachers to be appointed in the schools.Before RTE came into effect NCTE had some basic qualifications prescribed and now these have amended and the teachers have to qualify the teacher eligibility test. Since the time the test was declared there have been one or the case filed in the courts by one or the other person or group of the people because of their grievances. One of them initially was related to commerce graduates who were not allowed to take these eligibility test and subsequently after the intervention of the court commerce graduates have been found eligible for this test.If we try  to understand our system upto class X, all students have to study the same course and the choice comes their way in class XI.So the teachers who are expected to teach up to class V or class VIII should not have any problem as far as the subjects are concerned. The important thing which should be tested is  the aptitude and the attitude of the candidate for the teaching profession. If a teacher who is commerce graduate and has an aptitude for teaching why he/she should not be given the liberty to teach whatever he/she is competent in ? In the past also when B.Ed degree was mandatory to be a teacher, some of the teachers who had not obtained the B.Ed degree proved to be better than the so called trained ones.Then the degree is not necessarily the tag for teachers to be good but the aptitude and the attitude of the teacher is the attribute that should be recognised.What I want to convey to the policy makers is ,why cannot we have the concept of the liberal teacher also.The eligibility test should not focus only on subject knowledge but it should focus to test the competencies and the skills of the teacher candidate.We want teachers who enjoy their work and can motivate and encourage the students to exploit their potential to the fullest because Swami Vivekanandji said that education is the manifestation of the potential an individual has within and the role of the teacher is to help the child in that.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Understand the pain of the children

The problems being faced by today`s children have been disturbing, but all find themselves in a situation of helplessness.I have known many parents who have sacrificed their own career in the name of making the future of their children.To be concerned for the children is the paramount responsibility of the parent but too much of interference in their life is not good and this has been happening in the name of making the future of the child secure. Some may not agree but the facts cannot be denied.If you have wish to confirm, then meet the children of the age group 10 to 16 years and you will realise the stress and the pressure they are going through.There are many children who do not express their problems and bear the same for the sake of making their parents and family members feel happy and in the process forget to live their childhood.Those who try to express are snubbed by the elders as they do not want the name of the family to be spoiled because of the reason that their child was not capable of doing something great in the life.
There are examples where the elders make the children to agree to some particular course of study(though the child is not at all willing to) and when he/she is not able to cope up with the pressure and conveys the same to the parents the parents accuse him/her that it was their fault because they chose the course (though the course was indirectly forced upon the child.)
Many examples can be cited where the children were forced to do something against their will and aptitude. One student told me that when she wanted to opt for a particular combination of subjects her parents said that nobody had done that in their family and if she was allowed to do that all including the grandmother will feel bad.That innocent child had to submit to the respect and reputation of the family. When the children take the subjects they are not able to understand then the coaching or tutors are made available (again in most of the cases against the will of the child) and the problem in spite of getting solve gets aggravated because the children are not able to manage both, the school and the coaching center. There are many students asking the teachers and counsellors how to cope up with the demand of attending the school and coaching center and doing the work of the both? Many children shared that they do not get time to eat properly and are not able to have enough sleep. On one hand they have the book and in the other hand, the bite of the food to be swallowed(not really to be eaten). In other cases, it is the mother who is is putting the bite in the mouth of the child because the child is solving some problem and both the hands are occupied.These are not the hypothetical cases but the real ones. If you have a doubt then sit with a child and try to understand the problem with open mind. If the children are given an opportunity they will definitely come out with the truth and share with you the pain they are going through. I would like to caution all that this is true in those cases only where the children have not been allowed to choose the subjects that they wish to opt for and not the other fortunate ones who were encouraged by their parents to do the course of their choice.
All must understand that in today`s time no subject or subject combination is good or bad but depends upon how good an individual is in that field. The parents and teachers must realise this and help those children who by chance have opted for subjects in which they were not really interested. In our country the education system is slightly rigid, hence these children do not have an option of changing the subjects so easily, so adults must help them to manage their time and if possible avoid forcing them to go for tuition etc.Let the children grow and flourish in a natural manner,in their field of interest,by giving them an opportunity to choose their stream of aptitude, rather than curbing theirs and imposing your own desires.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teach honesty by example and not by lecture

Sometimes we make promises to the people without realising whether it will be possible to keep them or not. But at times we promise certain things to the other people knowingly with an intention to deceive them due to some vested self interest. Neither it is a good habit nor is it acceptable. Take a real example in which a parent promised something to his son which he knew was not possible in the name asking the child to study hard and if the child got some particular percentage  or more then that the child was offered something of his choice. The child worked hard and got the marks more than what the father had asked for. Now the father went back on his words and told everybody that this was to make the child work hard and achieve good result. The intention of the father may be all right of motivating the child to perform well but the promise made should have also been kept. Now the child is so much disturbed that he does not want to believe any statement given by his father rather he has become so rebellious that he does not believe anyone. Though the father achieved the short term goal but in long term he has done tremendous harm to the child. This is one case mentioned here but I am sure we do the same, a number of times with our children,other family members and the people who come in our contact.Even when a teacher makes a promise to the students and does not fulfill it,what example is he/she setting? While teaching it happens a number of times that the students are promised a recognition and when the goal is achieved the promise is either forgotten or broken. There are many other incidents which might reflect the same story casting an everlasting impression on the minds of the young children.
When our children experience such episodes they are likely to get detached from elders.They already have so many things around them which make them to drift away from the family members and if we make such commitments this further multiply the problem.This example is when the child is awake and in senses talking to the elders we should be careful even when they are not really involved in any discussion in the school or at home. They are being exposed to everything that the elders do at home and get affected by that most of the times unknowingly.This was the example of a child who appeared in the public examination but even very young kids are also get affected by what we talk or do around them.Earlier we were of the opinion that the children get influenced by our thoughts and actions when they are not asleep. But the recent study and research done by the scientists in the Europe has confirmed that an infant as young as of age three months respond to the actions and thoughts around him. The scientists have mapped the responses of three months kids in different situations and they found that the children responded and were influenced even when they were sleeping.So we should not do anything negative in the presence of the children even if you feel that they are sleeping. This would not be true only to the child of three months but to all around us, though the degree of the effect might differ and the response may also be different.
What I wanted to remind all of us is that every action and the word spoken by us makes a difference to the lives of the people around us. And this is a fact that most of the time we are in the company of our own people so we should be absolutely careful of all our actions. This does not meant that we can do negatively in others presence but I am sure if we take care of behavior and the actions when our dear ones are around us, then we shall develop  good habits and shall behave in the same way in their presence also.If we follow this seriously the life of all the people will be very comfortable and we shall be able to enjoy this world better than what we do.Honesty is a virtue which should be taught by practising and not by preaching.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Australian system of education

Education is one such concept that opens the vistas of mind of an individual. Systems of education might differ from one country to the other country but the goals remain the same. On my recent visit to Australia, I discovered that school education there focuses not only on completing the last year i.e; Year 12 obtaining knowledge and perfection in the choice streams but also takes into consideration the higher education or college education.The targets of school education are not confined to the boundaries of school but go beyond to give a direction to the students to exploit their potential to the optimum. Using technology in the form of smart boards and projectors,use of teaching aids and projects,make the teaching faculty well-equipped to teach the learners with all their enthusiasm.Even the government schools are equipped with sufficient number of laptops which the students use during their school hours.
The different states have their own educational system and have developed own curriculum.There are two types of schools one the government schools and the other private schools. In government schools there are open and selective schools. In open schools there is no screening or admission criterion but selective schools (which are more in demand) may adopt to some screening.The private schools are divided into two categories one independent schools and the other catholic schools.Even the private schools are divided into the Roman Catholic schools managed by Christians and the secular schools managed by the other  groups and there are some schools run by minority groups like Muslims and others. The ratio of government and private school is approximately 70:30. But it differs in different states of Australia.It will be different in Queensland or Victoria or New South Wales depending upon the choice of people.Of course, a few private schools are funded by government, but all Catholic schools receive grant from the government.Secondary schools that have classes from Year 7 to 12, follow different curriculum in different states but the same curriculum is adopted across a particular state irrespective the category of schools.Here the state department of education is main authority and are very strict and particular in proper implementation of the school programmes.The would be teachers have to obtain approved degree/diploma and get self registered with the education department (As the doctors get registered themselves in our country before the can practice).Any one who is not registered can not be engaged as a teacher in any of the schools The Australian government is working towards reaching a national curriculum but at present Victoria curriculum is considered to be the best.Another important aspect of their system is that the government and private schools are almost at par and most of the people want their wards to go to government schools though there is some drift towards private schools in the recent past..
A few systems are quite parallel to Indian systems ,like up to Year 8, the students study wide and varied fields including music,food technology,drama,media and many other co-scholastic fields presenting opportunities to create a stimulating learning environment.In Year 9 & 10,these subjects are reduced directing the focus of students towards their ultimate goal,preparing them for their choice of stream in the last two years i.e; Year 11& 12.One concept which I really was impressed with is, the 'Accelerated Learning Programme' in which a student is allowed to to the next difficult level of the subject within the same session.It gives immense amount of motivation to the learners to be a part of this programme as it gives them an opportunity to prove their mettle in a particular course.Moreover,there are points added for the same at the time of admission into a college.
Along with the dedicated and enthusiastic teachers quite interestingly the schools barely of the strength of 800 to 1000 students, though there were few with a strength of 1400 students.The strength of each section is not more than 24 which seems to be the optimum.,Most of the schools are administered by one principal,three deputy principals and three assistant principals.To share the administration ,academic and welfare part of students,they are committed to their mission and each one of them cater to the demands of a situation.The teaching faculty is equally committed to the profession and with the use of technology are able to innovate and teach. Remote Labs keep functioning even when there is no access to the actual site labs.Hence, the students can manoeuvre gadgets and equipments sitting at one computer.
As regards college education, most of the students venture into the graduation courses and not necessarily technical courses but the Feeder Institutions facilitate the students for admission, training and degree at all levels.If one does well at a particular level,he/she becomes eligible for the second year of college.These Feeder Institutions prepare the candidates in a manner that they develop competence in their field and find it  less challenging to complete their courses and earn degrees.In totality, along with education the country is able to produce competent and successful citizens.Everything seems so good in other countries but here I certainly would stress on the fact that people of our country are more laborious and dedicated. Be it physical or mental labour,we are able to sustain ourselves in all odds and come out to be successful in all our  endeavours.Salute to all Indians!