Friday, September 30, 2011

Questioning, discipline and creativity

I was watching a TV serial based on the life of Lord Krishna and the latest episode had information related to the true friendship between Lord Krishna and Sh. Sudamaji. When Sh. Sudama comes to Dwarika to meet his childhood friend they sat together and remembered the days of their childhood and recalled an incident of the time when they were taking education from their Guru (staying with other children in the gurukul). One day the Guru Mata asked them to go to jungle and collect dry woods for her. As it was evening time and she was a little worried about the safety of the two children, so she asked them if they would be able to get the woods she was asking for? Immediately they asked a question that had they done something wrong. The Guru Mata asked them that why they were feeling like that. They told her reply that, she being their Guru Mata, can order them and should not ask whether that work can be done by them or not. I was really impressed by the response of the two children who could have also very easily asked why should they only go to collect the wood and  not somebody else from amongst the other children.
This brought me to the contemporary world where we allow our children to ask for the reason for everything they are supposed to do are asked to do. Many cases are reported that the children do not listen to their parents and the teachers. I remember an incident of yesterday when two children were discussing something while they were out of the class, during their terminal examination. After seeing the teacher, they went away in hurry because the teacher had heard the conversation which was taking between the two of them. They were not supposed to help each other during the examination time( the examination was on and they had come to drink water). When the teacher asked one of the students what were they doing, he replied in a strange manner and responded by asking, what happened? The child knew it very well what the matter was. It was after two or three minutes, they admitted their mistake and said sorry unwillingly.See the contrast between the two incidents, one related to Lord Krishna`s time and the other of the recent time.
 I always advocate that the children should be allowed to question if they are not comfortable with something being asked to be done by others. There are many other people also who think the same way because of the belief that the habit of questioning would help children to be more creative. But the episodes of yesterday on TV and in the school have forced to me think and I share the same with you all whether too much of  questioning is helpful or harmful in the development of the children? Will that be helpful in enhancing their creativity? If we think about the child-adult relationship twenty or thirty years back, even that time also the children were not able to ask as many questions as they ask today. The other question which comes to my mind is, are the children of today more creative than the children of Lord Krishna`s time or the children thirty-forty years back? I do not have a straight answer for that but we need to know the real picture. The children used to be so obedient to their parents and the teachers and still did very well in their life. Most of them proved to be so good to the family members and the society and did find new things which gave a direction to the society. So is the freedom of questioning important or the environment in the family, school and the society more important or is it the proper balance of the two?
Many people may not feel very comfortable with my questions, but it would be good to discuss on this issue because the future of our children and the nation depends upon our approach towards our children whehter the children should be allowed and encouraged to ask too many questions or the children be advised when to ask and when to follow the advise.. Till date I used to think that the children should ask questions whenever they feel like but now I  have to seek more knowledge on whether too much of inquisitiveness will  prove harmful? When I was discussing the same with one parent whose son was not listening to them and used to end up with unpleasant argument for everything he was asked to do,a startling fact surfaced. The example given by the father was that one day when he had come back from the office the mother of the child asked him to give a glass of water to his father. The immediate response of the child was why he should give water and not his sister who was also present in the house. The parents were unhappy and when they asked the child why was he behaving in that manner he told that his teacher had given him this feeling that he should make a query whenever he is not comfortable doing something. In the other case, a mother called the school teacher and told him that her son had taken some money which was not required in the school and when she asked him not to take, he did not listen to her. She requested the teacher that the child should not come to know that he was informed by her otherwise the child will be angry with her. The teacher called the child and after talking to him for a few minutes asked to get his bag The child immediately asked the teacher,why should he bring the bag? The teacher tried to convince him but the child refused to get the bag because he knew that if the bag was brought then he might be caught for bringing the money which was not supposed to be brought. The child was right in questioning,though at the spur of the moment,he could save himself from being caught in an embarrassing situation,but morally and ethically he was wrong.When the teacher asked him about the money brought by him, the promptly replied in a negative. The teacher forced him to get the bag and the money was found as told by the mother. Later on the child admitted that he used the freedom of questioning to save himself. Now when I look back, I think being respectful and obedient does not make you unimaginative and less creative a person but being the opposite, might be source of negative traits in the person. Debating and asking questions in a positive sense will help the children. We must be careful to distinguish between being obedient and questioning for everything in the name of freedom of asking questions.They should be encouraged to explore newer things but at the same time should also be taught to be disciplined and  respectful towards all. That can be done when we are clear about the things and the process which will help our children to learn these things. They should be brought up in such a manner that they know why should they respect others, why to stand in a queue, why to fasten the seat belt while driving or in the aeroplane, why not to over speed the car or any other vehicle and so many more things. If we can teach them all these things and at the same time encourage them to question, but also teach them in which situations the queries should be made, then our children will be able to use their potential and abilities for the benefit of the people and the country.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Face to face or on facebook?

The wave of tech magic has swept each and every individual and has also broken down all the communication barriers.Computers,mobiles,cameras and other intelligent gizmos have influenced human beings more than anything else.They are designed to be so immersive and interactive that this generation does not need anything else around them except these gizmos.Moreover, the impact of these gadgets is certainly stricking and ultimate for the youngsters. Some people think that technology is good for the children but look at the result of the same and it will be realized that it is not so. We have discussed about the reason of the same. Controlled and appropriate use of the technology might be good, but the way it has influenced the life of our children is not doing any good to them. I am given to understand that the social networking site like the facebook has a condition that the user should be minimum eighteen years old. If this is true then no child studying in the school should be able to access this site because most of them are less than eighteen years of age. But in reality it is found that maximum of the school children have their account on this site. Even if we ignore the age criteria and discuss about the way these social networking sites are being used by the children  does not lead to a happy situation. The children are spending most of their time on computers under cover of doing some project but it has been observed that many of them are not actually involved in projects but waste their time talking to their net-friend who may not be really known to them. Many cases have been reported in the newspapers that the children had one or the other problem because of the interaction they might have had with the people who emotionally blackmailed them. This is also true that there are many users who do not disclose their identity and mention wrong information about themselves and when the reality is surfaced, the young children get affected by that the most. The language used in the text, is also not refined. Looking back ten to fifteen years earlier, the children used to sort out their problems with other children in the schools only and not fighting on the same issues at home because they were staying away. Now when they can reach to each other through these networking sites, the problem keep on hanging in their mind and they get an opportunity through the sites to blow it out. Many cases are reported in the schools where the children used abusive language for each other and the situation worsened  to the stage that even the parent fought with each other. Not only this, as these sites do not confirm the real identity of the person opening the account.Many people open the account in a fake name and when some problems come, this particular child does not have any knowledge about the same. Not only this, abusive language used for the teachers and fellow students, is doing lot of harm. The problem is that the other children who did not have access to such negatives are also getting an opportunity to read such words which are not good for anyone. In the name of socialisation, the very important phase of the childrens' life is being poisoned by such actions. They are not able to understand but we as adults should control this trend which would not do any good to the children. I have come across a case where the mother of the child is the teacher and the same child does not wish her  teachers` day or on her birthday face to face but does the same through facebook. They both live together in the same house but birthday wishes are conveyed through electronic media. And interestingly the mother is also conveying her thanks through the facebook. Who should be blamed for this situation, we need to get the answer? There have been reports where perturbed mentality people misused the information provided and the photographs uploaded on such sites and that lead to very ackward situation specially in case of the girls.  A proper survey needs to be carried out so that we can know whether social networking sites are doing any good to our children and if not some strict measure should be taken so that the children are saved from the negatives they are facing because of the access to such sites. The government should not let it go into the thin air in the name of freedom of choice of the people specially the children. The adults still can manage themselves because they are emotionally stronger than the children. The results of the survey should be made public and the views of parents and teachers should be given due importance.
If we talk in reference to the adults, there also things are not really very amicable. We have seen people as the facebook friends though they remain with each other for most of the time of the day. This is true for the teachers as well as the parents. I do not understand why you should chat on facebook when you are able to talk face to face. Some people argue that there are certain things which you cannot say to somebody on his/her face. But then also you do not need the support of the networking sites. You can write a letter or talk to the person over telephone which is the better way of conveying your views or the feelings. It has also been found that the people are becoming addicted to such sites and are not able to live without being friendly with the unknown people. The problems of the family which used to remain within the close relatives are becoming the source of discussion among the unknown people also. The people are giving a vent to their frustrations through this mode and in the process making other people frustrated for whom negatives must have been written on these sites. Not only this, fake IDs have lead to other problems also. As mentioned above many of the users have given wrong information about themselves due to which one cannot really know to whom he/she is talking. In one case, when two people met after their long drawn friendship(  I am using this word though the relationship was of different kind) on such sites, they were ashamed seeing each other because the two of them had a very pious relationship in the real life . They both were so much disturbed that it took them a long time to become normal. Such cases cannot be discussed on the public domain and that is the reason people do not come to know about the ill effects of the misuse of the social networking sites.
 We must try to ensure that our children are saved from the wrong happening to them in future due to the so called networking sites which are mushrooming at a fast pace. The children who are not of the legal age should be advised and counselled not to let them be trapped in a quagmire of technology from where there is no escape.The paradox of sitting at home and reaching to the world is taking a toll on this generation.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Predictable and unpredictable stress

A great educationist was asked to express his views on the new policy of promotion of the students according to which no child shall be declared fail. This is done keeping in mind the stigma which is created in the mind of the children when declared fail. The thinking behind the policy seems to be very genuine but one question being asked by many people is to be answered. In the last ten to fifteen years, CBSE has taken initiative to reduce the stress of the studies on the children. The pattern of the question papers and the evaluation system has been changed so that all the children could pass irrespective of their learning capabilities. But have these steps reduced the stress level of the children? Are the numbers of cases in which the children take extreme steps reduced or have risen in number? Has the quality of education improved or deteriorated?  Now a dangerous trend is coming into picture and that is, the children are prepared in such a manner that they are not exposed to any tough circumstances or demanding situations. But the fact is, life is full of challenges and the children are not really exposed to all that but whenever they encounter the same they are likely to surrender. As per the views of this educationist, the policy may prove to be counterproductive to the children as well as the nation. He says that quality of education will decide the quality of the life of the people and if a compromise is made on the quality,things are going to be difficult for all. This may seem to be good to show to the people that we care for our children but in reality and in the long run it will turn out to be disastrous for the country. This view is shared by many educationists and the member of the society but either they fell isolated or are not heard by those who decide the fate of the country.
All this and more made me to think about what should be done so that neither the quality of the education is compromised nor the children are exposed to unnecessary stress and tension. I think the quality is important but education is not only the curriculum and the evaluation but also the most important aspect is the quality of  teachers and the teaching learning process. The other important factor is the kind of treatment we give to our children at home and in the schools. All children are good and nobody can be labelled as poor because he/she has some potential to perform well in one or the other field. We know all cannot be Sh. Ramanujam or Dr. Abdul Kalam ,but we need people for all walks of life like; Music, Arts, Dance, Web Designing, Animation, Creative Writing, Quizzing, Debating and so many other professions depending upon the potential of the individual child. But the most important of them is the virtue of a good human being. For this the teachers and the parents will have to look after the children and appreciate them for their qualities which every child has in plenty but many of us are not able to see those qualities.The latent talent should be identified and groomed. The children should be made to learn that nothing can be achieved without sincere efforts and hard work. The feeling of becoming a millionaires by answering twelve or thirteen question will have to be erased from their mind. Also, the success should not become synonymous to earning money. The teachers in the schools can make all the difference in the life of the children. The students must be treated with respect and should not be exposed to humiliating situations,which pushes him/her into any inferiority complex. This kind of stress should be avoided completely. The stress of  humiliation is very dangerous whereas the habit of working hard and achieving this by self hard work is positive. So the first thing which the policymakers should pay attention to is, the quality of  teaching . The teachers should be more humane in their dealing with the students. No child should be humiliated in front of the other children. The teachers should not have any pre-conceived notion about the child. The children can prove you wrong if some other teacher recognize their potential. I remember a case when a teacher had casually passed a remark which made the child to think negative about the subject she was trying to do well in. The incident was that one day the teacher was asking the children about their future plans .One child said that she wanted to be a scientist and the immediate remark of the teacher was , first pass your board exam and then think about becoming a scientist. Though the teacher might have been right while saying so because that child was not doing well in her studies and specially the science subjects. This sarcastic remark of the teacher disturbed the child so much that she gave up studies completely. She was fortunate that the other teacher and the parents of the child noticed the weird change and came to the rescue of the girl otherwise this remark of the teacher would have handicapped one creative member of the society. The children should be saved from unwanted stress because that will hamper their learning abilities. Many researchers have shown that the children who are exposed to uncontrolled and unpredictable stress cause learned helplessness. Sapolsky Hiroto said that unpleasant and unpredictable stresses create learned helplessness. He did an experiment in which one group of students was exposed to loud and unpleasant noise. For one group the noise was escapable and for the other it was inescapable. After sometime, both the groups were given some learning activity. The group which was exposed to escapable noise could perform better than the other group. He and his team did follow up experiments by taking numerous different learning activities and the result was the same. It shows that if the children are made to learn how to manage stress then certainly it will make learning better. The conclusion drawn here is that; to make children stress free will not mean no test or pass- fail policy but to enable them to learn without exposing them to unpredictable stress. Once they have the habit that stress can be controlled then they would not be worrying about pass or fail. In this endeavour, the teachers can play the most important role. They should not ridicule any child but appreciate whatever efforts are made by him/her.The basic understanding of the psychology of children will prove to be handy here. But at the same time, the children should clearly know what is the minimum level of learning they should achieve. Our children should be given an opportunity to become self sufficient and self reliant rather than being dependent on others for everything.As independent children can grow up to do great things even when odds against them are high.A positive self image will shine through our children if we foster independence,confidence and other life-skills.Also help them to grow stronger emotionally by building their self esteem to enable them to become less vulnerable to stress.Anxiety,stress,obsessions and depression are as much a part of adult life as of a child.However,the tolerance and ability to cope up with stress not only depends on genetics, but also the developmental age.Thus it is important to understand the manifestation of stress in children and help then to overcome it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happiness not synonymous to material gains

We have been talking about the factors which affect the children during their childhood and subsequently when they grow as adults. While thinking about this, one issue came to in my mind. Are these the children only who are affected by the external environment or the adults too are sailing in the same boat? I could not get a proper answer of the same, but one thing which I found common in both the cases is that the material gains or the facilities do not give happiness to people. When I say happiness, the reference is to the real happiness. There are many cases in which the aged parents live with their children who might be doing very well in their profession or the business. These old parents had been through a difficult life during their childhood as well as adults while working hard for the better and secure future. Now when they are old and alone and if their children have moved to some place which is different than the one in which they had been living, they find it difficult to adjust in the new environment. Because the life has become so fast that their children and the grandchildren may not be able to spend enough time with them. Though they may be very fortunate to have the children taking every possible care of them in terms of providing them material comforts. All the facilities have been provided to them and apparently it appears that they should be very happy with all that. But if you try to understand the real situation, you may not only get surprised but will be shocked also. Most of the old people want to spend some time with the people of their age and talk to them or maybe they want to sit with their children and grandchildren but are unable to do the same. This pushes them to the situation of isolation though they might be having every gadget starting from the phone to music system to LCD TV and other fanciful and costly things. But the happiness of heart and soul will be missing. And this made me to think again about the topic we discussed yesterday. The artificial things might give temporary happiness but the natural environment provides real happiness. The fact is that if the children and the other adults are exposed to machines only, then the human values are likely to get a back seat. The old people and the children behave in similar way in most aspects. As the children want their parents around them, similarly the old people also expect their children to be around them at least for some minimum time to be spent with them. But what do we see around us as on today?  The young people are neither able to give time to their children nor to their parents. And all this is the result of the futile search for more material gains which is expected to give them happiness. To get artificial happiness, we try to do the same at the cost of the natural happiness which the nature has in plenty but being destroyed by the greed of  man for gaining more. What is that more nobody knows. Earlier the children used to write with a pen which needed to be dipped in the ink-pot, every time one wanted to write.They would write a few words and again the same process would be followed. This used to teach them patience and natural way of learning. The people used to sit on the floor and have their meals. This was a better way of eating  sufficient quantity and the digestion was also better. Now the dinning tables and the buffet system have changed the whole scenario. The change is inevitable but it should be incorporated very carefully. The computers and the calculators have made the task of the men easy but what has happened to our real learning? The use of the brain is reduced to the extent that everything is available to the people on finger tips.  On the one hand, we are reducing the use of brain and then we are trying to find and build a gadget which will sharpen the brain of the children. The children are provided with all those things which they may not need. For the time being they feel happy but get bored by them very soon. Take the case of watching TV, you will notice that more are the number of channels available less you stick to one or two channels. The problem may not be of changing the channels but you get bored by that very soon. At the same time, look at the children who are fortunate to have the parents and grandparents with them and they always feel happy in their company. I have not come across any case where the young children feel bored with their parents and the grandparents until they have been kept away by the parents in the maze of costly toys and remote controlled gadgets. You might have noticed that even in the schools  the natural play and the activities of the children have been pushed back and artificial things have surrounded them. In the name of smart classes, the teachers role is being reduced and the child once again is exposed to the machines. All this is done in the name of the progress and getting things which are expected to make everyone happy. But that is not happening and no one is a raising voice against that ,despite the fact that everyone understands the harm done by the so called progress. In our country, the revolution due to the result of  IT has provided a handset to every person. The government is facing a difficult time because of the issue which is the result of the IT revolution. Many people say that it is great to have mobile hand set in the hands of everyone, poor or rich. They all can remain in touch with everyone. One advertisement will prove the negative side of this so called revolution in which two people who live in the same house have their backs towards each other and talk with the help of mobile. This revolution has increased the distance between the people rather than bridging the gap. Poor people are fighting for the two ends meal, but all in the family have individual mobiles and they must be spending quite an amount of money on this. If this was not made available to them, at least they would have used this money properly either for the food or the education of their children. The mobiles and TV etc are getting cheaper (which are not so necessary for the life) but the food, education and the health services are getting costlier. These artificial things are adding to health problems as well. Look at the old parents who are not able to spend any time with their sons and daughters(specially the one who are earning a lot) because even at home these people are forced to work on their laptops and computer and if there is some time left that is devoted to TV or I-pod or other gizmo's. Though the aged parents and the children are paying heavily for the artificial and materialistic gains but at the same time the young generation is also not really happy. We all have to think on this topic seriously and should work in a manner so that the real happiness and the achievements are not lost in the blind race of acquiring artificial material gains.This also reminds me of the significance of Gandhiji's statement when he said that there is much for the need but not for the greed of man.So we must first try to achieve some joy,delight,happiness and satisfaction in whatever we do and then seek other gains.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Let the children learn naturally

Since the time the joint family structure has lost its existence and in many cases both the parents are working there have been problems of different nature. The parents of the newly born children acquire information about the parenting from different sources like the magazines, books and the television etc. Many a times the information may not be correct and might have been in different context which proves counterproductive to the growth of the children. Many parents share it with the teachers that they spend a lot of time with their kids and try to do everything possible for them but still the children do not perform as per their expectations. When we talk of the performance what does it really mean? Most of the people particularly in our country equate it with the academic achievement. The same was the case with other countries as well and that is the reason many people did extensive research in this field and came out with wonderful results. Nowadays the children are being forced to do accelerated learning which means learn as many things as possible in the shortest possible time. That makes the things more complicated and difficult for the parents as well as the children. Why does it happen so?
There may be many factors like the desire of the parents; family pressure, peer pressure etc. and some of them have already been discussed in different articles. The other important factor is the information which the parents or would be parents search and get from print media,eletronic media or any other source. All the information gathered from these sources may not be right because sometimes the research done includes very limited number of people taken for case-studies. In some cases, the research may not have been completed and the results of some areas are published and the people jump to some wrong conclusions. One example might clearly my point. It was considered that music can make the children more intelligent and many parents in America rushed to the music classes for the newly born child because they were told that the brain develops the most by the age of three. The parents thought that listening to the music will increase the IQ of their children.But,there is an interesting story in this theory also. One research study was published in the year 1993 by Professor Raucsher and her colleagues. She and her team did the experiment on about eighty college students. They were asked to complete a task before and after listening to the music. It was found that the students who were exposed to the music could score more than the ones who were exposed to the silence. The researchers were not sure whether this was applicable to all task situations or it was task specific. They also found that the effect of the music was only for eight to ten minutes and after that, all were same. The media grabbed the opportunity and published the story in a manner as if music makes all the difference. Later on, another study in 1999 proved that  music does not have any effect on the IQ level but the mood of the person exposed to melodious music, might be affected. This is one example in which we find that the anxious parents get impressed because they are desperate to do everything possible to make their children learn things which help them to perform better than the other children.
What I feel is,that the efforts made by the parents to expose their children to some artificial situations and forgetting the natural way by which the children learn more, is the problem.It has been observed that the children are provided with many CDs and the video games to improve their skills. But the parents forget that the natural games and the activities will help the children more than the artificial games. Even if the natural games are scheduled in the time table by the parents and the teachers which do not allow the children to feel relaxed but are taken as another task to be performed by them, they will not learn anything until they feel completely involved in doing that activity. When we talk of the stories narrated by the grandparents in our country and the children would gather near them listening to these tales and fables,it was an excellent way of learning. The children used to play hide and seek by making use of the space and the things available at home,was again an activity based learning. The father or the mother talking to the children informally while doing some work in the garden or the kitchen would make the children learn,experience and express.
The problem faced by the parents in today`s time is that they are in the rat-race with others and also with self. They are not chasing others as per their strength but competing with others whose strength may not be known to them. They pass on the same to their children also and the pressure keeps on increasing. Our country has become a centre for marketing and that situation has made many enterprises to venture in the  schools as well with alluring marketing strategies. You find so many gadgets available and the salesman will make you feel that if the same was not procured by you or for your child he/she will miss on something great and will be left behind in this race of learning more. Everyday a new product is launched in the market in the name of making the learning easy and enjoyable. Most of the claims made by these companies are without any scientific studies. They try to prove that their product is better than other products available in the market. I do not mean to say that all are like this, but it is very difficult for the parents to understand what will work for their children. I asked one honorable person who was arguing for his product to be introduced to our children,if he had made any scientific study which confirms his claim and if it was so then what has been the improvement in the performance of the children. The answer was yes, but unfortunately that person never came back to us. So, the parents must understand that whatever children learn in the natural environment is the most enduring and enjoyable by the kids. Costly games and all artificial things may not help our children rather will help the companies which market them. Very rightly said by somebody that Einstein never used flash cards but still contributed the best to the society.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What influences the society?

Our school celebrates grandparents’ day in which the grandparents of a particular class are invited. This is an annual event and the day is dedicated to the grandparents and they are remembered for their contribution and the sacrifice towards their own children and grandchildren. The concept behind the celebrations is to give them opportunity to see their grandchildren performing well in front of their grandparents who do not otherwise get opportunity to come to the school.The children of the age group five to seven years are able to do all that which the parents and grandparents cannot expect from them. In addition to this the children learn so many things when they practice for the show. They become better on their vocabulary and do make some improvement in their language because there are so many words which they speak a number of times during the rehearsal. They also learn many things related to the history,environment,importance of books etc; depending upon the theme of the programme. Though such things are taught during the classes also but learning is more enduring and enjoyable when acted or learnt through activities. Such programmes help the children learn to work in groups and help each other.
Grandparents are the treasure of experience and love and affection for all. They are the ones who guide the present generation for the future and if heard seriously then this always proves beneficial for the society. We all know that change is inevitable and nobody can stop it. What is important to be understood is, what should be the pace of the change.   The last few years have seen a fast pace of change and that is increasing the gap between old generation and the young ones. Our children do what they are exposed to and the onus lies on the old generation to ensure that our children are not too much influenced by the negatives around them. I was wondering that when the children of the age group five to seven can learn what the teachers teach them to do during a function then why are they not influenced for good manners and habits? Everytime a child is found doing something which is not acceptable why should he/she be blamed for that? Should we not share that blame for not being an influence against those negatives which we feel will harm our children and the society? The programme yesterday was based on the glorified history of our country and the teachers had made it as easy as possible, so that kids of class one could understand and perform it easily and the same was enjoyed by the grandparents as well. I think it happened unknowingly that a song from a film which was made on the same topic was taken and the children enjoyed acting on that. The programme was appreciated by all the grandparents and they were really happy to see their dear ones coming on the stage and playing their parts so well. After the programme was over one of the most respected grandparent gave a suggestion that the film songs should not be used while presenting any programme in the school otherwise the children can be influenced negatively. This was a very well made observation and I agree that the schools are the places where children should not be exposed to anything which might have a negative impact on the minds of the young children. When we discussed on the same topic it was said by some honorable guests that some songs from the films are really good and there was nothing wrong if the children sing them. Of course, the vulgar and the negative meaning songs are not acceptable even if these were non filmy. Another question that was discussed was,do the films influence the society or the films are influenced by the society? This question is similar to what we have been hearing from the childhood, whether the writer influences the society or the writer is influenced by what is happening in the society? There has been debate on this in the past also and the same still continues. We are not in a position to give one answer for the question, but sometimes it appears that both influence each other. In addition to this, the debate  made me to ask one more question, if the schools influence the society or the happenings and the expectations of the society influence the functioning of the schools? This also does not have a straight answer but I feel, the schools can influence the society through the parents of the children. But that brings one more issue to my mind. This has been observed in many families that the parents do watch certain programmes and the films in the presence of the children which may have negative impact on the children. This has also been observed that some parents dress-up their children, especially the girls in a costume which they will not allow to be worn by her at home when they take them to some dance competition. That makes me to question myself whether schools alone would be able to inculcate all good values in the children without the support of the parents. And if all the films and the filmy songs are so bad then why the government should allow the film industry to exist? We must all be aware of the step taken by NCERT and the CBSE to introduce topics related to films and film stars in the curriculum. What I feel is that the parents and the schools should work together to filter the negatives from all that is influencing our children. It may not be possible (and that is not desirable also) to stop the changes but the pace of the change should be controlled so that all are comfortable with the change, the old as well as the new generation. Let us do our level best to give values to our children by actions and by the speeches. The schools will have to play a more active role regarding the issue raised by our respected grandparent. I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to him for giving us the direction and we seek the same from him in future also.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why are you a teacher?

The topic of the day may seem to be surprising to some of you but this is an important question to be discussed. One learned person told me yesterday that he may not punish a child for a bigger mistakes but the small mistakes would not be allowed to get away without telling the child about the same. The reason for this was that it was easy to take care of small mistakes and if not checked on time will become bigger which are really difficult to be handled. Here the teachers play a significant role in moulding the future of the society for the good of the country.This made to think about a question which is often asked while a perspective teacher is interviewed for the appointment in a school. The question is, why do you want to be a teacher? I shall not discuss about the numerous answers which are given by the candidates but the most common of them is that he/she loves teaching the children. This may be true in many cases but that is not reflected in the day-to-day behavior of many of them when they become teachers. The fact is that we all like children and often remember our childhood activities and life during those days. So when someone tells that he/she loves children and that is the reason he/she wanted to be one, I do not really get very much impressed by that. This question is asked so many times by everyone around including the children. One day a child of class VI raised his hand to ask some question while the teacher was discussing some topic in the class. She thought that the child had not understood something and gave her the chance to ask the question. To her surprise the child asked her, why had she become the teacher? The teacher was surprised and laughed away the question. But the question remained in her mind and she discussed the same with her colleagues. They all were really baffled to find the answer of the question. The teacher concerned tried to satisfy the query of the child and in the process also was looking for the reason which made the child to ask this question. She could not answer his question, but did get the reason behind the child's asking this question. One day when this child was in his room and the mother of the child was talking to her friends then the issue regarding the performance of their children came up and one mother spoke certain things against the teacher(the child used to like this teacher the most) which were not really in good taste and the child felt hurt because he always appreciated and loved this teacher and wanted to become a teacher like her. When he heard a few negative remarks about the teachers, he got confused whether he would also be criticized like his teacher if he ever becomes one? The child still wants to work as teacher but is looking for the answer which can motivate him to become one. This child has made me also look for the answer of his question which does not seem to be easy.
 In the past. the people who became teachers were really keen to be and they got the support of the family.  Most of them were quite happy with what they were doing and the society was always appreciative of their efforts and teaching community was respected the most . You have many examples to support this statement. Over a period of time, things have changed but not necessarily for betterment. The role and the importance remain the same, but the respect has become invisible in the smoke of the materialism. The teachers could not highlight themselves so that they would have been visible to all even in this dark cloud of the material gains. The society also did not play its role in constructive manner which has lead us to the situation when nobody wants his/her children to become teachers. The statement may not be liked by some people but teaching has become the last choice for today`s youth and their family. It does not mean that best brains are not coming in this field. There are many teachers who always wanted to become one but endeavoured for other professions because of the pressure of the family members. They really love teaching the children and do not worry about what is being said about the teaching profession. This made me to think about the force that motivates them to be a teacher and do well for their students. It is the passion and some teachers must have left an impression on their mind in the childhood.  Many teachers are motivated to do well seeing their children doing better. When a teacher sees the satisfaction and the sense of achievement on the face of his/her children,it becomes the most important motivating and satisfying factor for him/her to do better. For some teachers to be in the company of the innocent and cheerful faces is the motivation. There are some teachers who get motivation because they learn everyday from their students.
We all must realize that the teaching profession was important, is the same and will have the same place in future also. The approach of the society might change but the fact is that a good teacher is must for everyone of us. There is a hidden aspect of this profession. Though it appears that the teachers and the teaching profession do not have that respect from the society as in the past but look at the worry of would be parents of the schools and the colleges, for their children. They remain in search of the institutions which have the best teachers. Though we are facing the onslaught of the technology and virtual classes but that is also not possible without good teachers. So the answer of the question of that innocent child and many other people about, why am I a teacher is, that I enjoy teaching the children and get the most opportunity to learn from them everyday. There is no other profession, where I would have got so many happy teachers (they are the children) around me as I have in the school. I learn from them and also from their parents and grandparents through the children.They are the source of motivation for the real teacher and that is why one should feel proud of being a teacher. Though money is important for all but that is not everything in life. Think about the satisfaction of doing something for the future of the nation. The society would also be able to do very good service to the nation if the teachers are not ridiculed in the presence of the children, otherwise it may have a negative impact on the impressionable young  minds.  The teachers should be proud of being teachers and focus on the development of their students. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Different styles of parenting

Yesterday I came across a difficult case which has made me to think about why some parents find themselves in difficulty while handling the unexpected behavior of their children. It may not be appropriate to discuss the case here but let us try to understand the possible ways of parenting and you can decide yourself which style might prove to be good for you and your child. There are some factors which cannot be controlled by the parents, like genetics and the impact of external factors including media and the society in which the child is growing, but one factor which I feel influences the children most can be controlled and modified if need be, and that is the parenting style.
A research psychologist at the University of California, Dr. Baumrind has studied different parenting styles for about forty years. Many researchers used the findings of Dr. Baumrind and refined them further. Her focus had been to identify the parenting styles which can turnout autonomous children who are independent, capable and loving. In schools as well as at home we observe different kind of behavior of the children. Some of them are very shy and introvert and depend for the external help for everything they are asked to do or want to do. Such children are not independent and lack in expressing their emotions publically. The other set of children may have a violent nature and get agitated on very small things and do not feel comfortable if they are advised to do the things which they do not want to do. They are bullying in nature and they do not hide their emotions. There may be other category of the children in which they do their things but do not hesitate in taking the advice from the elders. They will always be loving and caring in nature and also capable of doing the work independently. Based on her findings, Dr. Baumrind identified three styles of parenting- authoritarian, permissive and authoritative.She found that the families in which there is warmth in relations the children grow with positive attitude and if the case is otherwise the things are different. She found that the way the parents connect with their children makes all the difference.Let us try to understand these three styles of parenting -
   The Authoritarian Parent.
The authoritarian parents are very much involved in the development of their children and rely on a strict set of rules within which their children will have to behave and work. They always want their children to follow their instructions and directions and do not do anything not permitted by them. They do not give any scope to the children to put forward their views. Their thinking is ‘you do it, because I told so”. The children in such families are regularly punished for not following the instructions of the parents because these parents are demanding in nature. Such parents demand compliance and no arguments. There will be no apparent problem in such families till the children enter the adolescent age but after that the house might become a war zone because the teens have reached a stage where they want to experiment certain things which may not be allowed by authoritative parents. Though the children from such families may appear to be disciplined but will always have low esteem, poor social skills and high degree of depression. They might lack in curiosity because they were never allowed to see the world with their own eyes. Such children remain very much dependent on others. The alarming fact is that children brought up in this style prove to be more aggressive than the children from families with other parenting style.
   The Permissive Parent.
The permissive parents tend to be more like friends and do not ever force their children to do things which they do not want. The relationship between the parents and the children is quite warm and friendly. Such parents are more responsive and least demanding. They are very much involved with their children but the problem is that they do not insist on the appropriate behavior of the children. They do not take the criticism of their child in a positive manner rather will blame other people for anything not done by their child. If the child behaves poorly the response of the parent would be, “It is just a stage she/he is passing through” or if the child has got low grade the response will be," The teacher did not pay attention to my child”. If the child is not able to do well in games the response of the parent would be," The coach never liked my child”. These parents avoid any confrontation with their children. The rules are not enforced and children in such households are given few responsibilities. One positive outcome of such parenting is that the children might be more creative. They are likely to be lovable individuals, social and enjoy self esteem, but at the same time may be impulsive, immature and may not appreciate the point of view of others. These children tend to be manipulative and have lower achievement in academics and higher rate of substance abuse.
  The Authoritative Parent.
The authoritative parents are warm and accepting and connect well with their children. But at the same time they set clear limits and expectations. They have transparent but strong boundary drawn between themselves and the children and they are not supposed to cross these limits and interfere in each other’s domain. Such parents place high value on cooperation, social responsibility and self regulation. Authoritative parents promote autonomy but with responsibility. They encourage their children to solve their problems themselves, before any help from parents or somebody else. Such parents do not want the things to be achieved through their children which they themselves could not achieve. This liberates the children from being forced to do something of their parent’s choice or liking only. Dr.Baumrind`s research proves that children from authoritative families have more balanced attitude about achievements and failures. High or low grades  do not make them to feel either very happy or sad. These children are likely to have a healthy sense of self and have better interpersonal relationship. They are less involved in bullying etc, and always appreciate others for anything done for them as mentioned before.
What I conclude from all this is that the parenting is one of the most important aspects of the life and the ones who take it seriously and not as the routine will be able to help their children become healthy individuals who will prove to be an asset to the society.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Importance of workshops and seminars for the parents

There always are pillars to strengthen and support a building,likewise,when we discuss about the school going children,then the parents, teachers and society are automatically perceived as the building blocks or the pillars to support the children and make them stand upright and firmly grounded. The children are considered to be an integral part of the life of  parents and teachers. In this triangle of pious and important relationship children are given the maximum attention. The life of the parents and the teachers revolve around them.  Once the children reach the school they are to be paid maximum attention and that makes the role of the teachers very important. This has also been observed that the teachers and students are taught about the life skills and the role they have to play to exploit their potential to the optimum of their ability. For this purpose many activities are held and they are exposed to a variety of problems and the opportunities to learn the lessons of life. For doing so many conferences, workshops and the seminars are also organized which give the teachers and the students an exposure to learn outside the classrooms. Many learned and experienced personalities are invited to interact with the teachers and the children. They are sent for the educational tours and excursions for first hand experience. In the last few decades, the concept of the counsellors, psychologists and the psychiatrists has increased because of the escalation in the stress level of all concerned. Different boards, specially the central board of secondary education, New Delhi has taken many steps to guide the teachers and the children related to adolescence problems and how to face and solve them. Such programmes are mainly for the teachers and they do get benefitted by this but the problem which I find is that the other important partner of the triangle is almost ignored in this situation. The parents play the most important role in the life of the children but because of the demanding life style in the present age they find themselves wanting help for  their children with regard to certain age relate issues and problems and that is the reason at times they are not able to play their role effectively as expected from them. If we take the example of the recently introduced (by CBSE) continuous and comprehensive evaluation scheme ,then it will be observed that though the teachers and up to some extent the students, were made aware of the changes introduced by organizing workshops,orientation and the training programmes but the parents were not made the part of the same. Though CBSE did try to take the views of the parents but that was mostly done online and the fact which should be recognized and admitted by all concerned is that many parents are not able to take full advantage of the same and that is why most of them could not understand the new evaluation system. This surfaced when the result of class X was declared in the month of May- June 2011 and there were many questions which were asked by many parents . This was just an example and there may be many other areas where the parents are required to be made aware by extending the training programmes for them as well. The individual schools can take an initiative in this regard and that will be a great help to the parents and ultimately to the children. I have come across cases where the parents are not aware of the promotion policy of the boards and in some cases even of the schools. Many parents are not aware of the minimum attendance required to appear in the board examination. The parents find themselves in difficult and awkward position when, at the end of the session they are told that their ward cannot appear in the board examination because of the short attendance. Though the schools have set of rules about which the teachers and the students are told but the parents are left to themselves to be made aware of such rules through the school diaries or website etc. The parents who are already aware of such things pay attention to that and follow the same for the benefit of their children but others remain almost cut off from the school. In some cases, the children also do not help and support their parents to know about these issues. Many schools have the rule that if a child has to remain absent from the school for some genuine reason then the parents should apply for the leave in advance. In case of the sudden sickness the school should be informed through telephone, application or mail so that the teachers know that this child was not well or could not attend the school for some other reason. In case the parents are not able to do so due to some emergency then the child should come to the school with the application from the parents when he/she joins the class after being absent for the number of days. This will ensure that there is complete and proper communication between the parents and the teachers. But unfortunately either due to lack of information or the casual approach this is not followed in many cases. Though we believe our children and have faith in them, but the influence of so many external things may make them to behave in a negative way and if teachers and the parents do not work in tandem, then this might become dangerous for the safety and the security of the children. I always say that the parents and the teachers should  be there to help and correct the children as and when needed. I do not wish to say that they should invade the space of the children, but all efforts should be made so that they are given no space to be driven by negative forces which are always there to take the empty space around them.

For this, the schools and the government bodies should take initiative and provide the parents with latest information and proper guidance so that they can also contribute in the development of their child in an effective manner and do not only remain the source of providing them the facilities and the money . The parents also need guidance and training so that they are able to keep pace with the changing world.  That is why, I feel a strong need and requirement of the workshops and the training programmes for the parents to make them aware of the changing patterns, effective instructional strategies and also foster positive attitude and beliefs about learning and academic success of their wards. Though it may not be easy to begin with, but if given a serious thought and trial, there is no doubt that it will prove to be very beneficial for the parents and the students in particular, and the society at large. It will not only give them the skill to leverage success but also empower them.                 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Matured behaviour:A wise gesture

While watching a TV serial based on Mohammed Gaznavi of Afganistan who invaded India a number of times to ransack the Somnath temple.This one episode made me to think about the stress somebody can create for self. When he was defeated for the first time and came to know that one girl child was responsible for his defeat, he decided not to let the wound that was inflicted on his neck get healed and made sure that it remains as it is so that he does not forget the pain of the defeat and keep trying to win. This made me to realize that in day to day life also many of us do not allow ourselves to come out of the problems which might have come our way either by chance or created by somebody knowingly or unknowingly. This happens so many times in our life.

If we analyze it seriously then it will be found that most of the times stress is self created and the person keeps on hurting self without realizing the repercussions of the same. I have been sharing it with the teachers and the parents that if they were not happy with someone due to one or the other reason then anything done by the other person will be seen  in a negative sense. For example, if two good friends had some misunderstanding on some issues and unfortunately it grows to the level that the direct communication breaks down; then it is generally observed that anything said or done by one, hurts the other one, though it might not have been said or done for or against him/her. The teachers particularly come across such situations very often in their daily life because they interact with a lot of human beings every day. A teacher who had worked very hard for the betterment of his/her students may not always get the desired results. This should not hamper the spirit of the teacher rather he/she should feel grateful to this situation because every situation helps us to learn lessons of  life. If the teacher was doing everything possible for the child and still the child and the parents blamed him/her then in spite of feeling hurt the teacher should try to understand if there was anything wrong own her part or this was the perception of the child and his/her parents. If it is found that something was lacking on his/her part even then  he/she should not feel bad rather try to do better. In case the child and the parents were not right in their approach, the teacher should not feel dejected and should move ahead without letting him/her stop doing good for the children because you cannot have control on the thinking and perception of the other people in all situations.
The people who keep everything to their self and associate everything with success or failure will have problems. Success or failure are relative terms and it will all depend upon the situation and the mature person would be able to differentiate and take a step ahead as per the requirement of the situation. This has also been observed that some people make up their mind about some issues or someone and they are not able to change their thinking because of negative thoughts dominating their minds completely.This is not very healthy for the individual or the other people,family or the organisation. Suppose a teacher had been doing well and the management appreciated the efforts of the teacher which made him/her very happy. Sometimes this teacher becomes so habitual of the appreciation or the attention he/she was getting that the entry of the other person becomes intolerable though the other teacher might also need the kind of the opportunity and the appreciation the this teacher was getting but the negative state of the mind   does not allow him/her to take things in a positive way. Sometimes the situation becomes so pathetic that the person who was doing well gets into depression which is neither good for that person nor for others.
I wrote about the dilemma of a sincere teacher yesterday and I would like to suggest her to move on and think only about the positive side of the case discussed and should not be bogged down by the negative side. My advice to the teacher is that she should not think of being let down by the child or the parents but be confident that this case has made her more mature and a better equipped teacher than what she was before this. It happens so many times to us during the day that if we keep thinking about the same things which drive us to negative side of the life then we  shall never be able to live a happy life. This is true that we should not let us forget our intention of achieving something in life but no negative force should be strong enough to defeat out strength and  will power. So all those people who get disturbed very soon should see the world with both sides and look at others perception and problems also. We should not behave like small kids but act as a mature person who is responsible for the future of the young generation. What I mean will be clear by the following example. You might have observed that till a family has one child the whole attention is paid to him/her only. The parents do everything possible for this child. When the second child is born then naturally some attention is diverted to this new member of the family also. Now if we observe the feelings of the elder child,we find that he/she starts feeling ignored or neglected and from within develop negative feelings towards the newly born baby. Though the parents do not ignore him/her but such feelings come to the mind of the elder one and he/she consider the other child responsible for this and sometimes starts hating him/her. The mindset of the children can be understood because they may not be matured enough to distinguish between two situations but we as adults are expected to be matured enough to distinguish and take the right path. Why should we allow ourselves to be the slave of the situations rather create the situation for the good of self and others. Our students and the colleagues are the best source of knowledge and  support to us, so let us exploit their strength and do not allow the other side to hamper our path of progress and happiness.    

Monday, September 19, 2011

Unity in diversity

I read an article in one of the Hindi newspapers in which the writer talks about the problem of distrust and hatred among the people in Pakistan.The other information shared by her is regarding the percentage of the people speaking different languages.She mentions that the official language of the country is English and the national language is Urdu.Interestingly Sindhi language is spoken by about forty five percent people  and only ten percent of Pakistani speak Urdu and there are some more languages spoken by the people.In addition to this, there are many dialects which change at a distance of about eight kilometers.Her contention was to know, why should there be divide amidst people of the country based on language or the dialects in which they communicate?If we see the situation in our country the number of languages spoken or the dialects used by the people to communicate is more than what it is in Pakistan.Though we are two different countries but the roots are the same and we behave nearly in the same manner.The only difference appears to be due to religion followed by majority of the people.Our country follows the path of secularism and Pakistan declared itself as the Islamic country.While reading the article, I realised that almost the same incidents take place in our country also.The people fight in the name of language and the region they belong to.For many of them the language spoken or the state they belong to becomes more important than the country.All know the problems created by one of the political parties in the name of the language and the region, and the people were asked to communicate in the language of that region even if they knew the national language Hindi.The country has been suffering from the politics of caste,creed and clan and that has not let the state of harmony develop between different castes.In the name of helping the people belonging to a particular caste the political parties have been putting the unity of this country at stake.I do not know how many political parties have tried to bridge the gap between different castes but apparently they all have fueled the divide fire.The fight among the so called low caste people and the so called high caste people is not new in this country.In addition to that, the divide based on the lines of religion is also a problem.Though our country was declared secular in nature but most political parties have been playing with the feelings and emotions of the public based on religion.Within religions you have a further divide and when it comes to caste there are so many bifurcations that it becomes difficult to count them.The unfortunate part is that people start supporting and behaving on the lines of caste,region and religion as the case may be.All are aware of the resolution passed by one state assembly in the name of region, requesting the president to reconsider mercy petition of the murderers and the other state assembly is in the process of doing the same in the name of religion.One of the chief ministers of the most populated state of the country starts crying when she is interrogated in any case.Her repetitive statement has been that the high caste people are conspiring against low caste people and she gets the support of the people on this basis only.They do not think in terms of the wrong done by her but  caste is the deciding factor.Recently one case is in the headlines of the media and you all might be aware of the same.One ANM disappeared from her home on first September 2011 and even after twenty days there is no clue about her whereabouts, though the police claims to have been trying its level best.We are worried about the safety of the woman whose husband and the children are under a lot of stress and  tension.As the name of the minister is appearing in the media reports and he belongs to a different caste.Initially the people belonging to the same caste of the woman, started talking about the low caste theory and were blaming everyone and not really trying to solve the case because she belongs to the so called low caste.When these people protested, the people belonging to the caste of the minister are also paying back in the same coins, in favour of the minister.The basic question is, why should everything be associated with caste or religion?Why should we forget that a woman is missing and the government and its agency are morally and constitutionally bound to find her and help her family members.Why should it be given a caste colour and divide the people further?We have already seen the result of the divide and internal fight which has never been good for the people nor for the country.People ask a question to all  the political leaders and the religious leaders.The castes and the religion may be important but why should the nation not be put above all this?If we respect our nation more than any other thing ,then many of the problems will be taken care of and then only this very strong and most famous expression-' unity in diversity' will prove its real worth otherwise it will fade away with the tide of time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dilemma of a sincere teacher

The moment the word teacher comes to your mind, the picture of someone like Guru Dronacharya, Prof.S Radhakrishnan,Guru Vashisth,Shri Bandhuji and many more like them come to the mind of many of us.The status of the teacher in our country has been bigger than any other person.Even Kabirji also mentioned that teacher is to be remembered before you remember God and the reason given by him for the same was that this is the teacher who gave the disciple knowledge about God.This has been the tradition and the culture in our country that the parents would believe the teacher first than their own child.The teachers also lived up to that reputation.I remember my own example.During my graduation, I had some problems in one of the topics in mathematics.I approached the teacher and he told me, if possible I should go to his house at five in the morning, which I did and my respected teacher was so kind that within a week the doubts were cleared.The most important thing was that it was all done without any extra money paid to him because he never believed in tuition etc.When I asked about the timings his answer was that as I was considered to be good in mathematics, so he never wanted that other people should come to know about the extra help I needed.This is one example, but I am sure there are many more like this in the life everyone of us.
But now it appears as if the things have changed in the last few years.The parents and the teachers have started thinking differently.The role of the teacher was to be a mentor for the children and encourage them to do good and learn values in addition to the subject knowledge.Unfortunately in the last ten twelve years the money factor has polluted the pious relationship between the teacher and the taught.Some parents have the feeling that because they pay for the services of the teacher hence it is the responsibility of the teacher to give at least ninety percent in return.The relation between the teacher,parent and the child cannot be based on the money or monetary gains.
When I write this,I do not mean it for all the parents or all the teachers.There are many teachers who are ready to do everything for their students and also there are many parents who express full faith in the teachers and do not ever complain against them.Another important aspect is that everybody in the society expects the teacher to show the right path to the children and be the role model for them.The teacher is expected to be like a parent also.So, my worry is that while helping the children for the hard times, do the teachers not have the right to be apparently annoyed with something the children had not done right? In the society everybody asks for the rights and do not talk of their responsibility, but in the case of teachers everybody talks of their responsibility and not the rights.Why should it happen so?This reminds me of many cases in which the teachers had done everything for their students but one day if some harsh words were spoken even for the good of the child, that was blown out of proportion and all the sacrifice made by the teacher in the past was forgotten by everyone. I shall mention about one great teacher who despite being insulted by the child in the class a number of times kept trying her level best for the child including the visit to the child`s home and asking him to come to her house after school hours.This teacher came in contact of the child two years back and the head of the school shared it with the teacher that this child had been having problems, mostly self created, for the last many years and despite the efforts of many people involved he had not shown much of improvement.This teacher took the responsibility gladly and promised to herself that she would do everything possible so the child improves his behavior and does not involve himself in any quarrel etc.The teacher has been trying her level best for the last two years and did find some improvement in the behavior of the child some times.But that was temporary and this child again started doing certain things  which are neither good for him nor the other children.His actions are unpredictable and he catches fight with others for no reason.He himself accepts that he gets angry very soon and cannot control that.The teacher counselled him and was always  prepared to listen to his problems and give the solution for the same.The other children also could feel that she was more helpful to that child.Initially they did not feel bad but now after two years, they are grown up and feel that they were not being given the same love and affection as the other child.But the problem is that this child does not respect this teacher also and insults her in front of the whole class.As the teacher still does not say anything to the child which makes the other children feel as if this child is the real son of the teacher and that is why she is trying to help him so much.The other teachers are not able to help him because he had not been behaving well with them.This teacher is worried not only that she could not improve this child but because the other children have also started feeling negative about her.She overheard the other children saying that when she cannot tackle her own son(this boy is being mistaken by them as her own son) then how can she improve other children? The teacher is in a difficult situation because despite her efforts  she has not been able to do much for the improvement of this child.Also the parents of this child are not supporting her much but given an opportunity they will try to blame her(not accepting their own fault).The teacher is confused and seeking the advice about her approach in future though she still wants to do everything possible for the sake of this child.I would like to appreciate the efforts of this teacher and many other teachers who are doing great for their students without expecting anything in return but the respect.   

Friday, September 16, 2011

Virtues and values

While going through the magazine of a reputed school which was sent by the principal,I was really impressed by the quality of the photographs which motivated me to scan through the whole magazine and read it carefully.It was good to see that it did not have many articles but the reports related to the activities held in the school during the year.The achievements of the students in different fields including academics were shared with all readers.All those involved in the publishing of this quality magazine deserve compliments.At the same time, I read another school magazine and the newsletter which also had detailed information regarding the achievements of the teachers and the students.Twelfth issue of our school magazine was also published recently and I read that also carefully. It is good to share the accomplishments of the children because it encourages them to perform better and the other people including their parents feel good.While I was happy with all what I read and did write and congratulated the principal of the school. One thing which I found common in all these magazine was that the achievement in academics were more prominent than any other area(though there is mention of achievements in extracurricular activities also) which seemed to be quite natural because schools are considered to be developing these aspects of the children`s personality.Then I thought of reading the vision and mission statements of the schools and again there was one thing common in almost all schools and that was all schools promise to produce global citizens having values and compassion towards others, so that they are able to contribute to the peace and harmony in the society and the world.I read the magazines once again and was slightly sad not to have any mention of such reports or achievements(except one in which the school staff had organised a blood donation camp)  and that made me to realise that we were missing on something very important which is the base of the vision and the goals of the schools.I am trying to recall whether our school magazine ever had the mention of any incident where the children had done some great thing for the society.There are a number of good things the school going children do apart from the regular activities and the academics but these things rarely find any mention any where.When we talk of saving environment or preserving our culture and heritage, school going children are considered to be the ambassadors for the same.Then why do not we write about present students or the pass out students, who might be serving the society silently?Why are we so much impressed by their academic achievement or winning a prize in some reality show?I would try to know how many schools have the information about their old students who might have contributed for the cause of the society and the nation.These achievements should also be shared with other people specially the students presently studying in the schools and the colleges.For example, the people should know which school Mr. Arvind Kejrival and Ms. Kiran Bedi had studied in and those schools should be proud of the contribution of this young man and this brave woman who have shown the right path to thousands of the young people of the country.Why should people not know how many children from a particular school proved to be an asset to the society and how many proved otherwise. While rating the schools and colleges on a scale, this factor should also be taken into consideration in addition to other parameters which are considered nowadays.The parents also should judge a school on this parameter as well.They should try to find how the students of the school or the college were behaving and what are their feelings towards the society and the country.Achievements cannot be judged in isolation but if they are combined with values,they state a more glorious fact that our children are being taught the virtues needed to create and maintain a utopian society.By this, I am not undermining the field of academics or extra curricular activities, but at the same time they prove to be hollow without the sparkle of values.With the support of basic human virtues,an individual can reach newer heights whereas without them they crack down in adversities or when they are under pressure.
Thus,the schools must rethink about the contents of the school magazines and should definitely highlight the students contributions towards society and humanity at large.Even if a child donates a sum of money or a few things in kind,in the orphanage,it certainly is an act of benevolence and kindness,so it should be recognized by the school and highlighted through the school magazine.Though the schools inculcate values among their students, but at times,many schools do not highlight their contributions towards society.Here, we should understand the fact that today's age is the media age and as the achievements are shared,the contributions also must be shared.By this the children get motivated and inspired to do more for the society,as they read about the glorious contributions of many like them, in the magazines or see on the television.Remember friends, virtues do not come from wealth but wealth and every other good thing which men have come from virtues and values.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Difficult Conversation

It is a well known fact that man is the social animal and he cannot live without communicating his feelings and expressions to the people around.Whether it be a child or an adult,there are gestures used by all to convey their piece of mind.An infant uses his mewling to get the attention of people around,a child expresses through language and emotions so as the adults.The awareness of life and understanding all its nuances is communicated through verbal interactions.Though there is always a purpose of communication but at times the informal communication may not have a specific purpose.Generally, verbal communication is aimed to elicit immediate and desired response whereas written communication aims to facilitate decisions and actions.Communication is such a genre that requires power to persuade and convince the person with whom you are talking.It takes place at home between father-son,mother-daughter,sister-brother,husband-wife and at the work place between employee-administration,colleagues,teacher-student or student-principal and so on and so forth.
Easy conversation as is suggested by the word is quite easy to carry but to initiate a difficult conversation is an uphill task that is why it is difficult, but once done with open mind the results usually are very helpful in solving many differences.Though difficult conversation is not easy but a sensible,mature and intelligent person will make it to be easy.This is useful for everyone in the family and the organisation.Many unsolved or latent issues can be resolved through this kind of conversation.It may require numerous meetings as merely one meeting cannot really give a positive result.One instance of a parent couple will be an apt example here.These parents were totally annoyed and angry with the whole system in the school whether the teachers or the principal or anybody else.They were not ready to listen and understand anything that was conveyed to them.The most difficult task was to initiate a conversation and break the deadlock.One really has to have a demeanour full of patience to start this kind of conversation.The parents were totally rigid about the whole episode.Finally the principal decided to take the initiative and visited the parents to have an informal talk.As a passive listener he allowed them to speak their minds out and gave a patient hearing to all their grievances.Though it took a few months and consistent discussions,till the parents were fully convinced.The principal had to be polite yet firm at a few places while the interaction took place.The result of the whole discourse thankfully was healthy and positive,which was difficult to presume.What was needed here was effective listening and effective communication along with an unbiased approach.In yet another instance concerning a faculty in the school the difficult conversation had to be initiated.Now here also the teacher was quite fixed in his ideas about certain issues.It was again challenging to convince him for anything said or done,but the principal had to break to ice in the interest of the organisation.So once again the difficult conversation was triggered between the teacher and the authority as giving it up would not have solved the problem.It was the concern and maturity that was required to understand the flaws of conduct on the part of the teacher and on the other hand, patience and perseverance on the part of the administrator.After a few talks over the table,the teacher could be made to understand the areas that demanded improvisation and he also accepted the rigidity in his ideas and attitude.Thereafter the results were satisfying as the teacher tried to bring in a positive change in himself.
These instances not only state the fact that communication always bridge the gaps but also develops healthy understanding between people.Notwithstanding the fact that a difficult conversation can turn into a congenial conversation lest it should be dealt with precision,maturity and understanding of human nature.And it also oils the wheels of activity in an organisation,facilitating optimum performances along with good relationships.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Instructional supervision

School is a place where everybody learns including the children and the teachers.This is the place which evolves every day and those who are keen to know more find themselves feeling hungry for more knowledge and every morning is new and different than the previous one.If it is not so then school does not attract the people to it becomes a kind of compulsion for many to go through the rituals of the day to day life.The school should be a happening and dynamic place where children and the teachers do something different and more enduring every day.For this there are certain important steps to be followed by the management and the administrators.The curriculum of the studies should be interesting and challenging for all concerned.The activities planned should involve cognitive,affective and psycho motor skills depending upon the age group of the children.The facilities available should be appropriate .These should be age appropriate and requirement based and not for a show off to the parents and other people.The teachers should also be self motivated and committed to their profession.The most important objective for them is to consider themselves to be  learner.They should become the machine to deliver the same content every year to the different group of the students.This is true that the ones who are concerned not only for the learning of their students but also for their own learning prove to be more helpful to the students than the ones considering themselves knowing every thing.In the last few decades, the picture of the schools have undergone a change and the teachers are being encouraged to update themselves on regular basis so that they could keep pace with fast changing world and education does not remained untouched by the waves of this change.Now the question is what more should the teachers learn and how should they update themselves ?The first important issue is the content to be taught in the class.The teachers must understand the importance of the topic taught in a class and its level.They should know what would be the impact of this on the learning of the children and what behavioral changes they expect after the completion of the topic.Unfortunately not many teachers know why that much content is to be taught in class one and this much in class five.They are doing it because this has been decided by NCERT.Even if it is decided by some outside organisation it is very important for the teacher to understand the answer of all the 'why's'.Not only the reason for the content but also the teacher must know how to teach and what activities will help the students understand the topic easily and the understanding will help the child to achieve enduring knowledge which is not forgotten after the assignment or the examination.The teachers also must know what actions on their part help children be comfortable in the class and the school.They should also be aware of the the latest techniques being used by successful educators in different schools.For this regular teachers' training programmes are very important and all schools should have them in their yearly schedule.In addition to this, day to day supervision of the curriculum transaction is also very important because training is one part but to help the teachers to implement that in an effective manner is other very important aspect of effective teaching learning process.For the effective instructional supervision we need to have some experts who can visit the classes of the teachers on regular basis and based on their observations the teachers can be helped to improve.The supervisor should not act as the fear factor to the teacher but a support to help him/her by providing an honest and frank feedback.Some people ask a question that do you really need supervisor? I strongly feel that change is desirable,necessary and indeed inevitable. We know that number of new teachers joining teaching fraternity is increasing day by day because more schools are being established and the existing schools are expanding.The supervisors can play a significant role in the induction of new teachers and also they can help the experienced teachers to improve as per the need of the hour.I do not mean that the experienced teachers are not good enough but the truth is that there are many teachers who are never guided or advised either due to their being adamant that they know everything or the head feeling may not be comfortable saying anything to the so called experienced teachers.The instructional supervisor is expected to know how to develop curriculum as per the requirement and decide about the teaching learning strategies.The instructional supervisor will also be able to help the teacher to understand the problem faced by the children.I give one simple example. A teacher who has been teaching for many years was supervised by the head of the school because he himself asked for the same.The principal visited the classes of the other teachers but did not feel it necessary to visit this teacher`s class because he was one of the most experienced teachers and the children were quite satisfied with the teaching of the this teacher.When the principal visited and observed the class he found that the teacher was paying more attention to one side of the class and the other side was completely ignored.The questions asked were also directed to a few students and other students were listening.When the principal discussed with the teacher he was shocked to realise his mistake which nobody had told him before.There can be many more things which even the experienced teachers might be doing for long unknowingly.The instructional supervisors can help them to understand their flaws that improves upon the curriculum transaction.
Now who should be the supervisors.There are some schools which have hired people exclusively for this purpose but most of the educationists in our country feel that the head of the school,the HODs and the team leaders or the class representative should be trained and be used for the purpose of the instructional supervision.The role of the supervisor should not be taken as the role of the inspector but as the one who will help the teachers. The supervision should also not be related to the evaluation of the teachers because the moment somebody is evaluated, the helping attitude is lost in the process.For the evaluation of the teacher other methods can be used but supervision should be used to help the teachers to perform better in their class and finally help the students.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Importance of the language

Every year we celebrate 14th September as Hindi Diwas(Hindi Day) and various programmes are organised in the schools,colleges and other organisations.So many promising things are said and claims made for the upliftment of the language which was declared as the Rashtra Bhasha(the official language of the nation) in our constitution.There will be articles in the newspapers and all shall be told about the origin of the language and a few things related to why should we promote Hindi.When people talk of the constitution of the country they usually miss about the status given to Hindi by the great leaders of our country who framed the constitution.The problem is that language in India has been synonymous to English language and the people who are well versed in English are considered better than the ones knowing Hindi .Nobody disputes the fact that English is necessary to communicate with the people when you are living in a global world.But how does that make us to give a step motherly treatment to our own language? It has been observed that even on this day the so called great people glorify Hindi, not in Hindi but in English.This is not a good sign for our national language.Look at some other countries and you will realise that they do consider English to be an important mode of communication but during the official functions and the programmes their leaders take pride in communicating in their own language.The Chancellor of Germany was in our country a few months back.The whole programme was conducted by our people in English but when it was her turn, she spoke in her own language.This shows that the leaders of other countries have a lot of respect for their language.
In the last few years, it has been observed that the schools and the parents of the school going children are encouraging their children to learn as many foreign languages as possible because that would help them in being successful globally.The central board of secondary education has also introduced many languages in its curriculum. But one thing which should be noted is that the number of the language to be taught and to be learnt are increasing but then what is happening to our own national language? In the name of making it easy NCERT and CBSE is reducing the quality and diluting the beauty of the language which has been described by the genius in the field of languages as to be one of the very few languages which has a scientific base and a unique charm while being spoken and heard.This is one language which has culture and moral up its sleeves and the ones aware of this language learn many moral values without being formally taught by somebody.I take one very simple example.In Hindi if you address someone who is elder to you or more respectful, then he/she is addressed as "Aap" and the one who is younger is addressed as "Tum".There are many examples which will prove the point made above.Like in English we have one word "Aunt" and this apply to all whether we address to Chachiji or Mausiji or Buaji and similarly "Uncle" is the word in English used for all whether he is Chachaji or Mamaji . You can very well understand how respectful the hindi words are.Our children have been put under a lot of stress to learn so many other things at an early age but the language(particularly Hindi) is ignored.We must understand that it has taken thousand of years for this wonderful language to develop in its present form and nothing should be done to harm it. We have almost lost our mother language Sanskrit and we do not want Hindi to go the same way and have the same fate as Sanskrit.Hindi is the lifeline of the nation and without the lifeline, the survival for us will become difficult.My request to all concerned is that languages should be given the same respect as any other subject in the schools and the colleges.My worry is that in the name of making language easy are we heading towards diluting its very essence, to a situation that will take us back to the sign language.Hindi is a pious language which is equivalent to our own mother and motherland.Let us realise on this day that Mother,Motherland and the language Hindi are the ones which show us the path to live and serve the humanity.