Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Importance of positive energy

Sometimes, you tend to ignore a reminder or an advice even if it comes from someone you trust or rely upon. The reason, we overlook it or do not take it seriously might be that we weren’t expecting such a thoughtful piece of advice from that individual. This person could be your junior, son/daughter, student or any other member of the society. This could be a person who is not considered equal to you in terms of position, socio-economic background or experience. But the same person might make your thinking chords ring on some very important issue regarding the work you do or the kind of thought process you have. My firm belief lies in the idea that children are the noble souls and they should be treated with affection and their bringing up should be as gentle as possible. I take pride in the conviction that children are the real essence of an individual’s life. But, in the race of being number one and running after the accumulation of as many materialistic things as possible, we tend to lose that politeness and understanding which our kids deserve and crave for. This particular belief of mine has been enhanced and made more concrete by many students, with whom I have worked but one child became a living example of this idea.
 A few days back, he came to my office with a request regarding the role children can play in implementing the vision and mission of the school and in this process; he presented me a book titled “The secret Life of Plants” by Peter Thompkins and Christopher Bird. He insisted that I must read pages 19 and 20 of the same which talk about the impact of the human feelings and emotions on the plants and leaves. I take the same example to talk further about the impact of the behaviour of the parents and teachers on the upbringing and the value system that is being imbibed by the kids. This is regarding the dilemma of Vogel which he shared with her spiritually gifted friend, Vivian Wiley, about psychic energy. Vivian picked two leaves from her garden and kept one of them to her bedside and the other one in the living room. Every day she would get up, look at the leaf by her bedside and wish that it continue to live while she did not pay any attention to the leaf kept in the living room. After a month she asked Vogel to come to her house with a camera. Vogel could not believe what he saw. The leaf which was not paid any attention was turning brown and beginning to decay but the other leaf kept in the bedroom was still vital and green as if it was freshly picked. Fascinated by these results, Vogel also took two leaves from the garden and kept them on two glass plates. Every day, before breakfast, he would look at the leaves with concentration and wished that it remained live and green while the other was ignored. Within a week, the ignored leaf turned brown but the other two were still green. The results thus expressed in the book directed my mind towards human behaviour and what their response could be to such contradictory treatments. The people who think that trees do not have feelings are mistaken but yes, they cannot express them as we can. The people who look after the pets can stand by me on this statement that the animals also get affected by the way human beings think about them. Of course the feelings of the trees and animals can never be ill or bad towards a loving human being that is why it is always good to remain amidst the nature.
Now, if the same analogy is applied to the human race then what would happen? On a daily basis, we come across the cases in which teachers and parents come with lot of complains regarding their children. In most of the cases they are really frustrated while in the others they do not understand what to do with those kids. This is a fact, that every individual born in this world is unique and has the potential to grow and develop as someone capable of helping innumerable human beings. There are many examples which prove this idea, like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Luther King Junior, Nelson Mandela, Swami Vivekananda and a hundred and a thousand more. They were also born as any other kid but the kind of bringing up they had from their parents made a lot of difference in their lives. The teachers played an equally important role. What I am trying to emphasize upon is that the teachers and the parents must ensure that no child is ignored but more importantly it is a must to make sure that no child is ridiculed. We have seen in the experiment done by Vivian that the leaf which was ignored decayed very soon but imagine if that was criticized and poured upon with negative thoughts (like it would not survive for two days etc) then what would have been the effect. I am very sure that the leaf would have perished faster.
Now look at our children, whom the parents and teachers generally criticize. They want them to improve but their treatment often lacks positivity. Negative will always produce negative result. The parents and teachers must realise the power of positive thoughts. Even if they scold a child, their heart should pray that the child will become better and improve. Some people try to show that they love their children but still the response of the kids is not positive. I would request such people to think and analyse what were they thinking internally while trying to shower a lot of love through words and actions. In most of the cases it will be found that they were full of negative thoughts about the child. So, it is very important to change the mindset and believe that the kids would become what we make out of their potential and not necessarily what we want them to become. I have seen teachers and parents wanting their children to do this and that but rarely found them taking an initiative to make sure that the child is using his/her potential to the fullest. And the easiest method of making them do is to think positively about them even if you are angry or upset with them. Always have an attitude full of positivity and believe me positive changes will take place. Though, this might take some time and you may not get immediate result but please remember that our children are an important part of the cosmic energy which when grown with positive intent can make a significant difference. But, at the same time if they are nurtured with negative thoughts, it might prove to be dangerous to the entire universe. The teachers can play a more effective role here (the parents role is no less important). They should try to understand the reason behind every action of the children. No child wants to be scolded and they do not do anything for that but that just happens because of the reasons that are at times not known to the parents and the teachers. Always remember that if a leaf can remain green and live just by positive thoughts of an individual then how much difference the positive thoughts can make in a child’s life. This might take a little time but be assured that this will bring about positive result.
My advice and request to all the parents and teachers is that please do not think negative about the children. It’s high time that we realize that negative thoughts will only multiply if we are inadequate in handling them and understanding them properly. Also, please do not ignore any child because that would be an insult and disrespect to the Almighty whose marvellous creations these children are. Plant the seeds of positivity and you will see the children bloom like flowers, whose fragrance will cure the ailments of a morbid heart.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Act what you say

While addressing the gathering of Samajwadi party the Chief Minister of the state Mr Akhilesh Yadav mentioned an important thing indicating the conflict with his uncle. The statement was that if he had been equipped with a sword then it was inevitable to use the same. It was as if taking a horse to a pond and not allowing it to drink water. This was something which is so true in case of the parents and the children, specially the school going children. The general feeling in the mind of the people nowadays is that the children of the day are more demanding and less respectful towards their parents and the teachers. If I say that the behaviour of the children in the school is the reflection of what they have learnt at home, proves to be true in today’s scenario. Similarly, some people might argue that this is vice versa and I think nobody is right or wrong. So, this proves that the family and the school have significant impact on the child’s personality. But what we usually miss is the impact of the kind of environment the children are exposed to. The schools and the family are also affected by that. The laws of land and the media have a considerable impact in making the children understand the values and their responsibilities. Before I miss on the important point I wanted to make let me come back to the statement of the Chief Minister of UP. He says the sword was given to him and now being asked not to use the same. See in the context of the children. They are provided the best of the gadgets by the parents and then expecting that they will not use the same is not right. Similarly if a child has been gifted a two wheeler and then it is expected of him not to use the same, is not fair. On one side, we pretend to be open to their views and ideas and then expect them to be obediently following what we say and do not question us. Here the ‘Us’ and ‘We’ are for the parents and teachers both. On one hand, we tell that the children can decide their future themselves but on the other, we force them towards our choices of professions which we think would be safe for them.  On one side, we want our children not to be exposed to any hardships but at the same time want them to learn to live in any situation. We want them to be healthy but how much efforts parents make to provide them the healthy and balance diet. We want our children to develop reading habits but how many parents and teachers practice the same themselves. We want our children not to use mobiles etc but we are the ones who purchase the best possible mobile for them. The parents want the schools to be strict with the indiscipline cases but unfortunately they are the ones who come for the support of such cases. The teachers want their students to be punctual and reach the class in time but many of them do not report to the school or the classes in time. The unit tests etc., are forced upon the children in the name of being very important but the teachers take quite long to share the results of the same with the students and the parents and in the meantime the importance of the same is lost and the next time students may not take the same very seriously and naturally will be blamed for that. I can go on and on with so many examples proving the dual standards on our part with regard to the actions towards our students.
But if we think this is in case of students and teachers only, it will be wrong, actually it prevalent in our society. Even the government policies are full of such dichotomy. The society wants the police to be very effective in curbing crimes but they should be very loving and kind towards the ones who commit crimes. The paramilitary forces and armed forces should be having a humane approach towards militants and terrorists but at the same time there should be no incident of terrorism.  These might seem to be extreme examples but they make a lot of impact on our children. We must be very careful as society and the government that what we say is practiced also. The children are clean in their thoughts and as pure as anything can be on this planet but our approach of duality pollutes them. They are a pure soul when born and that can be kept intact if the whole system works for that. We must ensure that the kids are not made soft target for experiment rather they can be allowed to do experiment themselves. They are not the objects but a source of change which can make this world better place to live for all. The national character for any citizen is important but we must not forget the world character also which is the key in today`s time. The concept of professionalism and being better than others is alright but without others being around us is no life. So, the concept of living together must be the focus of all. The children in their childhood do not differentiate between themselves but we do make them get away from each other in the name of region, religion, caste, rich, poor and so many other categories and in the process the concept of humanity is lost somewhere.
 I took up this point for discussion because our children are the ones who will suffer in future because of the wrongs done by us today. The education system should be such that it is kept away from the politics of day to day life. Our politicians should stop playing politics with education as per their convenience but ensure that the education remains as the learning for the life and which makes individuals to see the entire society and the world as their own family. The units are very important but without an entity units in isolation are of no use. Let us teach our children learn to value the existence of others. Let us not confuse our children but challenge them to do better things. Let us not keep them the followers only but make them learn how to lead. Let us try to change the concept of politics so that our children take it as the means of serving the society and not hate it as something corrupt or not for good people (the PM of the country himself shared the same).

The CM of UP is young and dynamic and his thoughts do reflect the feelings of the young children of this generation. Though he may be criticised by some but yes this is the democracy and we must appreciate the same. But a line must be drawn for this also. As I mentioned before, education at home and the school is something which can make all the difference in the life of the children. Let the parents and teachers understand it well and act accordingly. This planet is still worth living and the best in the entire universe and let us try to keep it the same rather make it better by making our children learn good things and values. Let us try that our children become the torch bearers as the country men were in the past and we are proud of that. Let us ensure that the emotions are not covered or overpowered by the professionalism which is taking a dangerous shape in a swift manner. Emotions are the only thing which differentiates men and machines. Let us think and speak what we preach and not do other way round. Let us be just in our approach towards all and in our actions too. Looking forward to your comments.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Collaborate and liberate

The advisory circular by CBSE to its affiliated schools is a welcome step and all concerned should pay attention to it and try their best so that the problem of weight of bag can be handled and solved for the benefit of school going children. This should not remain confined to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) affiliated schools only but should apply to all across the school board. The weight of bags and the stuff taken by the children to school has been increasing year by year. The text books, notebooks, art & craft copy, moral science books, grammar, literature, practical books are few in the list of the material carried by the children to the school. Not only this, as the schools are located away from the home of the children, they have to carry Tiffin boxes & water bottles also. The weight of the water bottle is around 500 grams and when it is filled with water (if it is one litre capacity bottle), then gross weight  becomes about one & half Kgs. and this starts right from the age of three years onwards (pre-primary). My experience is that the students in senior secondary classes still are alright with the belongings they take to the school (if they attend), than the children of lower classes and in this also the condition of middle scholars is the worst and primary scholars are next in the line as the sufferers.
The other advice given, by CBSE, to schools is that the project work should be done in the school only.  This is a good idea but has somebody tried to understand how much time children have in the school?  The advisories without foreseeing the practical feasibility leaves everyone wondering and that is the reason, the noble intent also remains non-implemented. There was a circular by CBSE a few years ago where all the schools were asked to have at least one /two periods of games & sports for all children every day. Some people did raise question that how was it possible? I shall try to understand the same by considering a simple example. Suppose there is a school with four sections in each class and it caters to the students of classes I to XII. Then the number of sections would be 48 and number of students as 1970.  If the school has 40 minutes period and 8 periods a day and break (recess) of 25-30 minutes, then total time (excluding assembly & activities) is around 360 minutes which comes out to be six hours.  If we add the assembly time of half an hour and activities, then this comes out to be more than six & a half hours. I would like to find out how many primary, middle & secondary schools have this much time duration every day. Also the number of periods suggested by Central Board of Secondary Education for different subjects (excluding games & sports, dance, music, art & craft etc) works out (in IX –X) to be 39 and if added two periods each of games & sports, music, dance and art & craft and it is added then it is 47 periods. If we consider it to be a six days school, then it will be possible to manage this, but if it is five days school, then how does one adjust? This is when there are only two periods allotted to games & sports and if allot one period every day then the schools will not be able to have all academic subjects provided that number of period as required and desired. Also many schools do not have proper infrastructure in terms of games & sports. Every day, if there is one Games period, there will be eight or more sections in the play ground with approximately more than 240 students. But are there enough grounds available in all the schools or even the optimum size of the play ground? For this the timings of the schools should be increased to at least 7½ hours every day then only it is be possible.  As mentioned earlier, the idea of no Home Works and project work to be completed in the schools is great but that would also require more time to be spent by the students in the schools. The problem of middle school children is further multiplied due to sixth subject as third language because of which they need to study an additional subject in comparison to primary & secondary school students. Also, the other reality should be paid substantial attention, whether we admit or not but most of the children right from primary classes onwards are forced by the parents for extra tuition, once they come back home. Though there is no survey done but people say that almost 50-60% children of primary schools, 70-80% of middle schools and more than 80% of secondary & senior secondary students go for tuition and the fact is most of them do not have any need of tuition, but the parents feel that if tuition is provided then the child would learn more and they (parents) would also be able to engage themselves in the work of their choice, otherwise the child would keep disturbing them. This way the students listen to others the entire day and get little time to think themselves. I wrote about the importance of Home Work before also and proved that Homework should not be given or taken as a punishment to the children but a joyful experience of learning. I have heard people talking in some functions and parties that now-a-days half yearly/SA-1 exams are on for kids, but in reality as if this was their own exam. Why does this situation come? First because the expectations of the parents to see their child as the topper and second because many children had not learnt the subject/topic well and even if they had done so in the class, the lack of practice & revision of the same as Home Work or otherwise made them to miss the learning. I shall keep repeating that nothing worthwhile is learnt until an individual tries self. The solution of the problems by others seems to be very easy but when done self that makes things real and that is why the children should be given time to think and rectify if they commit mistakes. This they will be able to do if they have time. The Home work or project work should not be taken as a burden rather as the reinforcement of learning which has taken place in the school. So, the amount of Home Work or number of project works should not be only for the grades but for learning reinforcement.
Furthermore, the weight of school bag is one serious problem when it comes to health but mental health is also equally important. Reducing and alleviating the things without realising the importance of that on the future of the children is also not right. I would like to suggest that the number of books and notebooks to be brought by the children should be checked by the school teachers and the parents. Sometimes the children do not change the books of the previous day but add anything which is required next day. Here, the parents and proper coordination among teachers can help children in the best way.  I would suggest that the teachers may not ask all the children to bring books but they can share it in the classes on alternate days/ weeks. As such, as a teacher, I do not see any advantage of the books in the class when the teacher is there and he/she is well prepared.   Also the number of notebooks (Home Works etc) can be easily reduced. For example, in spite of having grammar and literature notebooks separate, this can be one and same in other subjects. The other method of reducing the bag’s weight can be to do away with the practice of teaching all subjects every day. The schools can teach three subjects for three days and two/three subjects on other three days. This can be in continuation or alternate days.
The parents can play a significant role by checking the bag of the children every day. Most of the schools have proper water coolers etc., so the size of the water bottle can be halved.  In spite of giving the heavy metallic bottle of one litre capacity, they can be provided light weight bottle of half litre capacity. The size of Tiffin box can also be checked accordingly.  Another thing is the bag capacity should be such that even if the child wants to take more stuff to the school it should not fit in the bag. Because it has been observed that sometimes the parents purchase big and heavy bags for their children which even have the massive stroll weight.

The school should also try that the children upto class II are not given any structured Home Work. The books & notebooks of the students of these classes should be kept in the schools. I know some parents would always like to know the progress of their child. For this the parents can be allowed to access the notebooks on Saturdays (if the school is five days week) or after the school on some days fixed.  This may take some time for the people to adapt to the system but this is not impossible and our children will be benefited immensely by the same. The health of the children is more important than anything else. Let them live their childhood and develop themselves as healthy and mentally alert citizens of their motherland.   

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Do incentives motivate - In Games and Sports?

In India, 29th August, is celebrated as National Sports Day in the memory of  Maj. Dhyan Chand, who was born on this day in the year 1905 in Allahabad, UP. I am really keen to state a few things about him.  Maj. Dhyan Chand had two brothers, Shri Mool Singh Ji & Shri Roop Singh Ji (who also became an excellent Hockey player).  He joined Indian Army at the age of 16.  There is a belief that his name was changed from Dhyan Singh to Dhyan Chand because he used to practice in the night when the moon would appear which was after his duty hours (In the earlier days nobody knew that he was good in Hockey, hence no excuse for the practice during duty hours).  As the Hindi meaning of Moon is ‘Chand’ hence he was called by his friends as Dhyan Chand. He retired from the army as the Major and his promotions were mainly due to his extra ordinary skills of the game of Hockey. It would not be an exaggeration to state that in those days and even today Hockey is synonymous to the name Dhyan Chand.  He represented India in Olympics and won Gold Medal in 1928, 1932 & 1936. We salute this man who brought glory to this game & India and was a force to reckon with in Hockey in those days. If we talk about present, this particular game has not been followed and played by many. The performance of Indian Hockey Team in recent times and particularly in Rio Olympics though was satisfactory, but they needed to learn something from the wizard like Maj. Dhyan Chand.  Not only Hockey, there is a lot of criticism regarding performance of our players in almost all the games except a very few like Badminton, Shooting etc. There was a lot of hype before the players and officials accompanying them left for Brazil but as the game progressed there was disappointment all round and as usually happens in democratic India, people started finding faults in every other person and organisation. This country is moving fast in the art of criticising after the event and now our PM has also announced the formation of a task force which will suggest the ways so that the performance of our players improves in the upcoming 2020, 2024 & 2028 Olympics. This probably has satisfied all intellectuals who discuss aggressively on TV Channels & in their drawing rooms. But I think, if we wish to ensure the performance of our players then they should be caught ‘young’ and for this the children at school level should be identified and encouraged. This should be done in both types of schools, Government as well as private.  The mindset of the public and the parents should also change towards games & sports and it should not be seen as the area of those who are not able to do anything else.  We should encourage those children who are good at any of the games.   These children should be given some scholarships at that age also and not shower the prizes and money only after they win any medal for the Country. If we see, in the last few Olympics or the World Games, the efforts of individuals have yielded some results and India could have its name in medal tally of Olympics from 1996 onwards. It may not be great to mention that there was no medal won by any of our players in three consecutive Olympics [1984 LA, (USA), 1988 South Korea and 1992 Barcelona (Spain)].  Before that in 1980 in Moscow Olympics, we got a medal (Gold) courtesy Hockey Team that too because about 64 countries had boycotted these games because of the invasion of USSR on Afghanistan.  Many people do not understand why should we have not been talking about the same before the Rio Olympics and why only after that. In London Olympics (2012) our ranking was 55 but before that in (2008) China Olympics, this was 50.  Why did we not take corrective measures from then or even before that also?  Anyway let us leave talking about why this did not happen or that did not happen but try to understand whether the kind of prizes in cash or kind which are given to our achievers in Olympics and other games (Cricket may be an exception) help the children and youth to select games as their career and an important way of serving the nation and bring glory to the people of this great country which is second largest in population.  The entire nation is looking at P V Sindhu and Sakshi Malik’s medals, prizes, money, titles and other benefits conferred upon them however, did anyone even try to know the number of practice hours/ days or years invested, by these players, to reach that perfection and flawless performance.
I have mentioned a number of times in different contexts that if this country is to be moved forward and has to excel in any field, then the children and the schools should be given the maximum attention. Schools are the only place which can change the destiny of this country for better.  The government should spend money on providing infrastructure so that the children get encouraged to take games & sports as a career.  Physical Education teachers should not only be responsible for the discipline in the school but as a very important person who can motivate children towards games & sports and train them at young age to perform well in the area of interest of the child. The government should ensure and make it binding on schools that no schools will be given permission to operate if there are no proper grounds and qualified physical education teachers.  Many of you will agree that inspection teams do look at Labs and dance rooms etc., seriously but at times the sports infrastructure is not given that attention as required.  There are schools which mark the field with racing tracks, goal posts, flags etc., to impress the team on the day of inspection and there is no follow up once the affiliation is granted.  It would be interesting to find out how many schools in our country have proper and adequate games & sports facilities and how much budget is allocated to the physical education department and how much of that is spent properly every year.   During the period of dim phases (due to Rio Olympics debacle),  I tried to look in and around and was sorry to note that all these people who cry for the medals, want their children to go to other field but not games & sports. When the parents were approached many of them said that there was no career in this field hence they want their children to pursue academics than ‘wasting’ time on the ground. They may have point in that but most important thing is that games & sports are very essential otherwise also.  They enhance the personality of child and ensure overall growth of mind & body which is so important for an individual.  This is good that our players  should be acknowledged and appreciated but will the money or BMW cars showered on them help to perform superior now than before?  Has this motivated the potential players to come out and perform better in future? Though to say either way is not easy but some examples may be an indicator.  Mary Com won the medal (Bronze) in London Olympics and was showered with the same kind of things. Though she had won five times World Amateur Championship before that, but was noticed by the people only after winning the medal in Olympics.  Now observe what happened after that. How many players got motivated & opted for their career in boxing? Abhinav Bindra won the Gold Medal in 10m air rifle event in Beijing Olympics in 2008.  He was also given a lot of encouragement after that but what happened thereafter? How much could he perform or how many others were motivated? So it is not necessary that the Government gives enormous amount of money to the winners after they win a position but this is true that the Govt. has the responsibility and duty to prepare them (players) to win medals. Whatever money has been given to the players is alright but if that was spent before they win medals, we would have got more feathers in our cap. I am not against the support the winners need but the discrimination after winning. This money only should not be incentive but the support to the individuals and teams before the tournament/competition is very important.  

I would like to mention the following points for the consideration here:

1.      The education boards should ensure that games & sports are authentically played in the schools.   
2.      The schools should give incentive to the children who do well in games & sports.
3.      The parents should be counselled and advised to encourage and allow their children to be the part of games & sports.
4.      The Education Department organises many events every year. They should provide proper training and incentive to the children (all those who participate)
5.      More money should be allocated for games & sports.
6.      Qualified coaches should be engaged by the schools.
7.      The most important of them is that favouritism should be completely avoided.
8.      Any achievement in games and sports should be given the same credit as anybody getting while qualifying for IITs or the likes.
9.      The teachers should also help the children to strike a balance between studies and games & sports activities.
10.  And the most important of all this is that the children should be made strong physically and mentally so that they can face all the challenges of life. AC classrooms & buses are alright but these do make our children physically weak. The natural environment will make our children healthy and they will be able to perform better.

The HM of our school drafted a letter addressed to the CBSE (few years back) and shared the same with us. This seems to be an excellent idea which desires the option for the children from class V onwards where they can opt for games & sports as a subject in lieu of some so called major subjects (like EVS & Science etc).  This does not mean that these children will pursue their career in this field only but can think of changing at later stage in VIII/IX class. In classes,  VI-VII such children may not be forced to study EVS or Science that much as other students do. If some of them are still keen to continue sports as career then same can be continued in IX & X classes and in the higher classes as well. For such children preference should be given to be employed in Army/Navy/Para-military forces & Railways and other fields also.
In the end, I would like to reiterate that sports facilities are important and should be given their due by all concerned. This will really help our nation through its healthy children & citizens.   

Monday, August 15, 2016

Adopt and adept the panorama of freedom

The facebook post by an IIT Professor and a news story based on that should have awakened the conscious of all those who really worry about the plight of the children in the name of making them super stars. An article ‘overburdened school-going children’ by Rashmi Pramanik in the book ‘Childhoods in South Asia’ should also be an eye opener for all such people. The answer to the question of the child that ‘How would he find time out of 24 hours at his disposal when so much time is spent (much of that can be wasted)’.  School going children were already over loaded with the number of books and other stuff to be carried by them almost every day. Then the sudden explosion of knowledge from different sources made available to them.  Internet has already made their life difficult by giving the platform of social sites which take away substantial time from their already busy schedule.
The school is a place where the child should be given opportunity to explore and create but unfortunately they also became the source of information. The teachers most of the times are more concerned to finish the syllabus in time (and in some schools before time) so that they teach more of the next class. The situation seems to be alright in primary classes but secondary & senior secondary are really appalling  I agree that academics is more important in higher classes but what has happened is that academics has taken over all space specially in classes XI & XII. The children are discouraged by the parents to participate in co-curricular & extracurricular activities so that they focus more on so called core subjects.  For overall development of the students’, debate, declamation, story & poem writing, dance, music, arts & sports are very important areas of learning. The worst thing happened in the name of help and support after school is by the tuition centres and coaching centres.  If we go back in time, then it would be realised that initially coaching centres cater to the needs of the students who have cleared their class XII and were appearing for some competitive examinations.  I can also recall the doctors who did their MBBS/MS earlier (in 80s) used to feel proud of writing their degree as BSc, MBBS but now if a child does not make it to medical college while doing class XII he/she is considered to have lost one year of life and they are forced to waste and kill their entire childhood just for saving one year or perhaps to become a doctor. Same is the condition for the admission in Engineering or Law Colleges. They are pushed by the demand on the part of parents, friends, relatives and also advertisement in the newspapers. The school hours in India have always been around 6-7 hours and this gave enough time to the students’ for self study, games & sports and pursue any other interest one might have had. But now the problem is that school timings remain the same (which is right also) but additional time to be spent by the children is required at tuition centres & coaching centres. The child in this case who asked that important question to the professor is not an isolated case but most of our children are experiencing the same torture.  When I talked to them individually, most of them do not want to follow this routine but peer pressure & expectations of the parents do not give them courage to leave tuitions.  The situation has been worse due to lack of enough number of committed & devoted teachers available in the schools. I do not say that there are no good teachers, but they also get pressurised and influenced by the scenario outside in the society. School teachers are paid good salary but this is very less in comparison to the money earned by the people in tuition or coaching centres.  There is rumour that coaching centres pay to the tune of 50 lacs to 1 crore a year. No school can afford to pay this amount of salary, so the people do get attracted towards coaching centres, but I always say that such people cannot be called teachers because they are merely tutors. I always objected to the term used for educational institution as industry or business. The problems have further aggravated since the time this has been treated by the people as business.  I would like to share one example with you all. I usually avoid meeting the people from coaching centres. But one day somebody who was responsible for sales promotion of one organisation with a reference came to the school. My question to him was what has he come to sell here? As expected no convincing answer would be possible. We talked for some time and discussed the problems of education. I am of strong belief that actual education can neither be sold nor purchased and if it was not so then how can somebody be called a salesman in the field of education.  Only thing what could be sold is tuition/coaching centre but not the education. Education is such a pious thing which brings out best in a person and makes him/her a human being with values. My sharing this example does not mean to hurt anybody but all should be careful about the words and thinking towards education and children. Education is not a toy or some other materialistic thing but learning of life and for life.
Though this example was out of context of the topic but the problem is until we all understand the reality, our children will keep suffering and for this we should not blame tuition/coaching centres but all will have to share the blame, the parents, teachers, education system and also the society. I have raised this issue a number of times that how many parents wish their children to become teachers? You will find that very few of them would like that to happen. But whoever is responsible for this plight of the children, we owe an answer to the question of this child.
We need to realise that every child is an individual and should be treated that way and given opportunity to grow accordingly.  All can not be engineers from IITs only and Doctors from AIIMs or Advocates from NLUs. The doctors, engineers and lawyers and judges who were there earlier did not necessarily come from these institutions only but from not so much talked about colleges and universities also. Why have we made engineering synonymous to IITs? Why a child who is not able to crack IIT seems to be weak and not capable of doing great. This country needs good teachers, armed forces officers & personnel, politicians, central & state govt. officers, educated farmers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, musicians, painters, dancers, sports persons, journalists & the list is very long. Then why only few are given so much importance? We shall be able to answer this child if they are given opportunities to explore these areas also.

Now I come to the teachers who are teaching in schools. I always say that any child doing well required two important people in life, parents & teachers. The parents try their level best, the way they think right but teachers have to make children feel that they are very important. Most of the private schools pay well to their staff but there may be a few which may not be doing so due to many reasons. But a teacher takes a job in a school then his entire life should revolve around the children and he/she should be accountable to the growth of the children only. The teachers are accountable to the management also but the focus here should also be the children.   So if a teacher is full time engaged in a school then he/she is responsible for the children twenty four hours.  There may be some children who do not understand that fast as others do in the class so the teachers must give them extra time either in the school or outside as feasible. If a teacher has called a child after school hours then there should not be any monetary consideration in that. I think this makes the things clear to all the esteemed teachers. The question to the answer of the child can be found out easily if the schools and the management follow the spirit of true education and educational institutions. They should not allow themselves to be ridiculed by people outside by tagging them as dummy schools. There used to be good schools or not so good schools, but now dummy schools are also in the existence though fortunately I have not seen one myself.   To blame coaching centres only will not be right because if all schools decide that they would provide all possible help to their children then nobody would waste money and time.  Coaching & tuition would have come into existence because schools probably did not discharge their duties well.  
Another answer to the child’s question would be if Government can create more quality higher educational institutions on the lines of AIIMS, IITs or NLUs. Why not all our schools, colleges and universities should be quality institutions so that all children get equal opportunity to get quality education. Why should there be only one college in Delhi for which the children of a school train themselves so hard that they take practice exams 20-22 times a year. This I am writing based on a report in a news paper regarding 50-60 students from one school only of South India getting admission in the most sought after college of Delhi. If they took practice paper 20-22 times then calculate the number of days they would have spent in that only. Where was the time for them to be creative or to play or do physical exercise? The parents and teachers must ensure that children pursue the field of their interest and not because of what others are doing that. As mentioned before, we need good people in all areas and our children have potential to excel if allowed to follow their dream which in turn will let them live their childhood. Parents when asked that they should allow their children some physical exercise, usual answer is that there are no playgrounds near their residence or they cannot expose their children to do cycling etc., because of the traffic. But when it comes to sending them to the tuition centres then they do take risk of providing them two-wheelers and expose them to the possibility of accidents which at times may prove to be fatal.
All children do not need tuitions or extra help but it seems to have become fashion now-a-days, but unfortunately this fashion does not seem to be fading as quickly as other fashions do.
My advice to this child and his parents would be to see life beyond some colleges/universities also. Follow the routine of the school and find time for yourself. Listen to yourself also in spite of listening to others throughout the day. Find out time to think because creativity comes from thinking only.  Parents please repose trust in your child’s ability but do not force him/her to do more than his/her potential. Teachers please help these children to come out of this difficult situation by doing the best you can for them, thereby providing them enough freedom and nurturing their creative minds.             

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Understand the difference/relationship between 'needs satisfied' and 'needs felt'

My previous article on the topic ‘Preventing violence in students’ attracted so many comments and most of the people specially the teachers by & large agreed that teachers will have to own greater responsibility to help children to learn values and save them from being trapped in a negative situation. But at the same time, some people did mention that the role of the family in ‘Indian context’ cannot be ignored and I fully agree with them. The social support system and the ‘needs’ satisfaction of the children has been fulfilled by the family from the ancient times. The family has always played a key role in the growth of the children in a manner that they become competent to face the challenges of life. The family here becomes the axis which is most important to achieve this mission. The children, particularly up to the age of adolescents are largely impressed by the way family fulfills their needs to develop core competencies.  Even in the disadvantaged groups (like SC, ST and BPL) the warm, close and healthy parent-child relationship and healthy family support help these children develop well.  The parents become the most effective source of support (especially emotional support) to the children & adolescent. They are real shock absorbers of the normal & natural jerks (stress) the children face in their life.  But when parents are unable to provide such support then the children tend to suffer and are deprived of the shock absorbers they need from time to time and are not able to develop the competencies required in the life.  This is a well known fact (proved by studies & surveys) that the families in which exchange of thoughts and ideas take place their children develop proficiency faster than in a case where it does not happen. The life stresses in the children can be reduced simply by providing the shock absorbers in the form of proper communication between the family & children. (Chowdhury & Baral, 1999, say that family is always considered the potential source of supportive relationship and represents the basic protective system in child’s development).

Though the India family is considered to be a homogeneous unit, but the country of this size      (in terms of population) and diversified magnitude may have variables in the family unit also.   It may change from region to region, caste to caste, religion to religion and also on economic background.  The article by Aprajita Chowdhury in the book ‘The Childhoods in South Asia’  reveals that Indian families play a significant role in shaping the development of individuals , as it is a big support for nurturing, emotional bonding and socialization. I do come across the question that “we, as parents try our level best to support our children but they never follow what is important for their development”. We know that in family, we have mother, father, brother/sister and other members like uncle, aunt, grandfather/ grandmother and other close relatives.  And the influence of other family members cannot be ignored.  If we talk of the geographical areas, then in case of Jodhpur, the families are more closely knit than in other parts of Rajasthan.  The South India has different set of family system than north or north-east part of the country.  But the impact of the family unit on the children can never be neglected or ignored. The joint family always provide better support to the children in times of adversity than the nuclear family. Some people do deliberate upon the changing facets of the new generation, that they are never satisfied with what they are provided or they do not behave as the older generation behaved. All of us should understand that post liberalization the social fabric and family dynamics have changed. The people have moved from their own native place to serve other part of the country or even outside the country and the impact of that cannot be avoided on the children. The economic and social dependency dynamics have also undergone a sea change.   Earlier the sole bread earner used to be father but last few decades have seen the progress and growth made by women and that has also contributed to the change in family dynamics along with a change in the inter relationship among family members.

Though I have not come across any study among the children from disadvantaged group where they were asked to know what makes them learn things easily & what not, but a case of disadvantaged adolescents in Berhrapur, Orissa can be an example (Aprajita Chowdhury). According to Dash (2000), ‘disadvantaged adolescents’ are those whose basic needs and internal necessities are not fulfilled. Their rights are denied or violated. This results in their not reaching to the optimum level of growth and they suffer due to no fault of theirs.  Till I read this article, I always thought that family support to such children was less than the ones coming from advantaged group. Though I am still not in a position to say what is right but after working so long with the advantaged group of children, I think both the groups are at the same level in terms of family support, rather disadvantaged group is at advantage.  Before I dwell upon this for the children from advantaged group, let us try to understand the study done in Berharpur on disadvantaged children & try to understand who contributed the most for the need satisfaction & how that lead to the development of competencies.  

The study collected information from a sample of students from two groups of disadvantaged children from classes VI to IX. The peers from the class selected two students who were vulnerable and who were non-vulnerable. Then the same was confirmed from the teachers also & total 60 students were shortlisted (30 from each group). Then approximately 35 needs which normally happen in adolescents were identified & the children were asked the following questions,
1.      Whether they ever felt such a need?  
2.      When felt the need, whom did they approach?
3.      What did these people do?
4.      Were they happy with the action & response?
5.      If not, what did they do after that?
Then in addition to many other interpretations the researches tried to find what was the relationship between needs felt and needs satisfied.

The children in non-vulnerable group were found that the mean of needs satisfied was higher than the mean of needs felt, whereas in case of vulnerable group the needs satisfied were less than the needs felt. This implies that if the ‘needs satisfied’ are more than the ‘needs felt’ children tend to develop more competencies than in the other case.

When the graph was plotted for the needs satisfaction and the agent (person or the unit) who fulfilled the need was indeed an interesting one.  In this case, it was found that both the parents were most influential and in that too the mother was more effective than the father.  This has following sources/agents in descending order;
Mother      father       brother/sister      friends    teachers     relations

This proves that in disadvantaged group, the teachers as source, have less impact than the mother, father & brother/sister; so my concept that teachers make a huge impact seems to be negated by this study. The role of mother and father is the key in providing the support and help to the children so that they become confident in facing challenges of life.
Though this study was conducted for a particular set of classes and it might change in case of primary and secondary students but I think the role of parents cannot be understood better than what is taught by this study.
Now I can correlate some cases of those family members whose children would not have been able to do that well as expected. There have been number of cases where the parents’ behaviour and approach was not worth appreciating and they would shout on everyone around without understanding what really happened. They would just react violently (not physically but shouting) and the child would be listening. There are parents who do not encourage their children to share things with others or help others.  The children of advantaged group at times suffer because of that as parents & family remain in hurry in consolidating the wealth and position of power achieved.  Such parents’ think that the need of these children is money and materialistic things which they fulfil to the best of their ability but forget the real needs of the children. They are not able to spend quality time with them. They do not listen to their real problems of loneliness because of the predicament that joint families are breaking and both the parents working. The most important thing to remind all is that the children are an important asset for us as well as society. They should not be considered as only the achiever in life but also the human being who need emotional and social support more than financial support.

Some parents genuinely do this but still their children do not behave and learn then what should be done.  In such a case, the impact of the environment outside the family also plays a noteworthy role. The relatives & the neighbourhood also impact the children.  In these cases the duo of parents and teachers together can nullify the negative impact of the external agencies.
The following is suggested to the parents
1.      They should not always try to live their dreams through their children.
2.      Balance between financial needs and emotional and social satisfaction of the children.
3.      Behave in a manner so that children learn the values of hard work and honesty.
4.      Remember what our former President, Late Shri APJ Abdul Kalam once said, if this country is to be made corruption free then the mother, father & teachers can make positive impact on their children. In this case also the parents contribute to 66% of the impact on child’s progress.
5.      Be their friend but do not forget that you are parents also & the children follow you as their role model.
6.      Let them learn the value of the money you would have earned.
7.      Respect everyone around you if you want them to learn this most important value.
8.      Do not try to get more from them than what their potential is.
9.      Let them pursue the area of their interest and not the one which interests you.
1.  Appreciate and motivate them to do better but not beyond their capacity.             

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Preventing violence in students

There is growing concern among the people regarding the cases of violence and intolerance among the school going children. This seems to have been on rise in the recent past and our policy makers seem to have no clue about the same or they deliberately ignore that.  Their promptness can be seen when some case is reported in the newspaper, and the blame game starts but fades in the background of noise of some other incident.
The recent incident reported regarding a child of Std-I, who had a fight with II Std. child of a school and one of them succumbed to death as a consequence of the injuries sustained by him due to the fight, is alarming. They must be of age of 5-7 years and that kind of violence? But should it surprise us? Have we not been anticipating that to happen and if yes, what precautions & preventive measures have been taken?  One day or one week debate in the newspapers or the articles of the child psychologists is not going to be of much use but we must make sustained efforts for improving the life of our children.  These children are born innocent but this world makes them to behave in a manner which is condemned by the same world. A question is always asked after such incidents. Are the parents responsible for this or the schools?  I am sure no school would be teaching violence to the kids but the same is true for parents also because no parents would like his/her child to be violent or intolerant.  The real problem is that our children are expected to learn values without seeing values.  The societies’ role is also very important and media can plan such a big role but expecting everything from media is not fair.
I did mention in my previous articles that someone or some agency will have to take responsibility of these children and for this, to me,  schools and teachers are the ones who can make a lot of difference in their lives. There are issues on the part of parents also but the teachers should own the responsibility for providing congenial environment and make them learn values by which are bequeathed by teachers.
One suggestion given by many people is that the moral teaching should be done in the schools. {This is not new but the problem is that the same cannot be achieved by giving lectures}. The teacher would have to transform self to Guru who burns self to enlighten the path of children. The teachers should keep themselves away from the impact of the society or rather be capable of impacting the society through their influence on the children who will be their torch bearers in the future. When I began this article, I did not have clue of the shape of the article, but I realise that the role of teachers is most important. They will have to own the responsibility and ignore the financial status which affects almost the entire society. I do not say that financial safety is not important but then teachers can put a limit to how much is much enough.  They cannot place themselves in the race of the other people and forget the responsibility which is on their shoulders. The teachers will have also to act as the protective layer over the children so that menace of violence which we see all around us does not impact them. The parents can help the school & teachers by avoiding the exposure of impressionable minds to the violence being shown on TV channels of any other media specially the social media. They must follow the guideline and advisory issued before the start of such programme. For example, recently there was a lot of controversy about a film. The matter was settled in the High Court and the film was given Adult Certification which nobody less than 18 years can go to watch in the theatre. But as per the media reports, there were number of minors with the parents in almost all shows of that film exposing the kids to certain abuses, who in turn would get disturbed and some of them might pick those abuses and use in daily life. The teachers and parents cannot stop the TV serials aired which show the violence (verbal as well as physical) but they can ensure that our children are not exposed to them. The teachers will have to reach out to parents and do not react to any of the actions of the parents because for them, the welfare of children should be of prime importance.  My experience is that sometimes some parents might behave in a manner which may not be appropriate (this might be in the fit of anger due to something wrong been done to his/her child) but for this, the child may not necessarily be responsible, so the teachers should not react to such issues and always focus on the welfare of child. No action of the teachers should harm the child in any way. The parents also do not intend to disrespect the teachers but that just happens.  But yes, there is a request to the parents also, please do not always try to realise your dreams through your children. Let them enjoy their childhood in the fresh air (which is becoming polluted everyday) and not in the coaching centres or the tuition classes. Let the children explore the world by doing things themselves and commit mistakes because that will make their learning enduring.
Some teachers and schools might argue about why should they only be responsible for taking care of the behaviour of the children and not the parents and other agencies also?  This is true, but the fact is that the teachers have the power of transforming the children more than anybody else and also Guru is the one who shows the path not only to the children but also to the society.  Teachers’ understand the child psychology better and it can be of great help to them in times of crisis.  It has been proved that the children do have more faith in their teachers than anybody else. My intention of putting more onus on the teachers is not to relieve others (including parents) from their responsibility but to avoid shrugging the responsibility as has been the case in recent past.  So think positive and start working with enthusiasm and positive frame of mind.  I have some suggestions for parents and teachers;
·        The teachers must treat every child as an individual who gets influenced by the environment he/she lives in.
·        Try to understand them and take corrective & preventive measures.
·        Motivate the children to share their problems, if they have any and help them to come out of those problems.
·        Be the role model for them. It has been observed that teachers criticise their colleagues in front of the students or reach late to the class themselves.
·        The parents should avoid exposing their children to serials & movies showing violence etc.
·        They should avoid fighting with others in front of the children.
·        The parents are said to be the first teachers so they should also be the role model for the children.
·        Be the part of all their activities but also give them some space wherever required.   
·        The most important for them would be to talk to their children about the great personalities of the present and past and the hard work put in by them.
·        Work for the overall growth of the children (physical, psychological & emotional) and do not make them the machines for earning money.
·        The most important of all that parents & teachers must work in tandem so that children do not get confused.
·        Understanding the potential & attitude of the children is very important and after that help them to develop the same.
·        Do not make contradictory statements which will erode their faith in teachers/parents.
Let all teachers know that the good & positive things are not achieved easily but for that a lot of hard work and dedication is required. The teachers will have to unite with the child and prepare him/her to become strong to face all the challenges of life.