our daughters, education, choices

Ross Douthat has written an essay (hat tip to Sriram Naganathan, for the article) – The secrets of Princeton. This is a reaction to the essay that an ex-Princetonian Susan Patton wrote: Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had.

I would request all readers of this blog to read the above two articles – as they have a solid bearing and have valuable insights. Ross’ has more incite than insight, that is – but in the name of preservation of perverse diversity and promotion of Armed Chair Intellectualism, I would give Ross his due too, though I want him to get his just desserts.

My warped opinion follows:  The articles are an interesting read. They confirm my suspicions. Susan Patton’s essay is cool, honest & genuine.

I believe in meritocracy, elitism and all those politically incorrect & inconvenient terminologies – and of course in the basic ideas of that dismal science – economics.

I don’t much care for equality of opportunity (it exists anyway) but I care for the creation of equality of status.

I also believe that each child / adult can be (and SHOULD be) elitist in more ways than one. It is important for self preservation, especially in these times of the meteoric rise of mediocrity and continual institutionalization of sheer lumpen stupidity.

MartinLK always comes in handy – as he says ““If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

HONEY-AllLaborHasDigni_fmt

It is a fantastic idea to be an elite sweeper, as our Bapuji (also) was.

But am digressing, as is my wont, and let me get back to the Susan Patton ammunition.

When I talk to my village girls (they are in their 9-12th grades) – this is what I tell them. You are bright, superior children. You are the elite! You should go out and construct your own splendid lives. It is possible. Don’t settle for anything less than an equal. Go out and meet with boys and girls from the rest of the multiple worlds that we inhabit, who are your intellectual equals  And you make a choice. Don’t get hitched to a random useless drunken boor of a joker who has got nothing better than a perennial whine and thundering idiocy to boot.

In fact, we (wifey & I) are going to give the kind of advice that Susan would have given her daughter is she had one – to our daughter.

Thanks Susan, for your bold take on the subject.

a retreat – shanti in education

 Amukta, the very clueful and networked educator, has been a good friend of the Nammashaale  team and us, for years…  she has been slogging out for the cause of good, real education – at various levels, for so many years now…  Please sign up for the retreat, if you are so inclined.

From: Amukta Mahapatra <email id redacted>
Subject: Retreat for Educators:shanti in education
Date: Friday, 23 November, 2012, 7:47 PM

To those interested in schools…education…learning…issues around children and young people –

 SchoolScape, Centre for Educators
 and
The Blue Mountains School, Ooty
announce
a retreat – shanti in education for teachers, heads of schools, teacher educators…
The retreat will be held in the school premises in the town of Ooty, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu from Fri 15th to Mon 18th February 2013.
The programme will include anchored discussions and reflection; a picnic, short and long treks in the Nilgiris biosphere.
Please see the Retreat Feb 2013 – Invitation and register as soon as possible, using the format given, as the school having limited space during term time, allows only for a limited number of participants.
The school website is being redesigned and will be up in its new avatar in a few days. Till then, the old one will give you an idea of the school, which was at the forefront of bringing quality education with contemporary pedagogy and practices as far back as 1961, when it was started, by F.G. Pearce and his wife Anasuya along with some of their colleagues, who left Rishi Valley to start a school in the blue mountains (Nilgiris).
I joined The Blue Mountains School in 2011 and have been in the process of rebuilding and reinventing the school, to cherish the principles for which it was started and establish a culture that is democratic; based on an integral way of living and learning.
Please come, if it is possible, for a few days to explore issues, concerns and practices together – so that each of us is refreshed and rejuvenated by the weather of the Nilgiris, by companionship and by conviviality in body, mind and spirit.
Once you register, we will be in touch with you to discuss what you would like to present or offer to the group.
with good wishes and hoping to hear from you soon

Amukta

This info via, Ramgopal Koneripalli –  who is slogging it out at the CFL, Hyderabad,
<END OF PLUG>

a handout for my lovely pupils… (and to myself!)

Generally, I deal with batches of adolescents from a few schools these days – as part of the game of a double edged sword called ‘education.’

The subjects that I pretend to teach range from history to sciences to choir music to computer programming. It has been fun.

Following is the sample text of a handout that I dish out to any given fresher to my sessions, for your edification.

=-=-=-=-=

I believe…

that you are a smart cookie.

For that matter, any and every individual is very smart, there is no exception whatsoever to this rule… of course, I am not being factitious here!

One may be bored or tired or lazy or whatever, but the fact is that every child / boy / girl is smart & super intelligent…

Why do I believe so? Why should we believe so??

Remember? In the first session we talked a little bit about the various parts of the brain, and the fact that all of have, more or less, the same amount of brain cells and that all of us at sometime or the other use 100% of our brain capacity (as opposed to the funny urban legends about most of us using only 5% of the brain) etc etc.

but we focused on a part of our fore-brain called Cerebrum.

  • This is the seat of our consciousness.
  • It is the center of mental activity.
  • It receives messages from the sense organs and enables us to observe our environment through them.
  • The information gained through the sense organs is stored in memory / cerebral cells (we all have the same number of them) – and are used when necessary; we commonly refer to it as the ‘memory power.’

The most important aspect of this cerebrum is that it is the seat of:

  1. Intelligence – all of us have the same amount – irrespective of what urban legends say.
  2. Emotions – all of us are capable emoting normally, with a few genetically wired exceptions.
  3. Reasoning power – we all have oodles of it!
  4. Imagination – ah, this is where some of us lack depth – but we can learn to imagine!
  5. Will power – and yeah, some of us may not be persistent cookies – but we can always train ourselves to enhance our will power.

So, it is the lack of the last two – the imagination and the will power – that largely makes us & molds us into mediocrity and poor performance – whereas all of us can be great models of excellence in our chosen fields…

In other words, there are no ‘born geniuses’ – the genius in us is always, without exception, brought out by the continuous application of our imagination and will power.

First things first…

There are some quotes in this section – for us to reflect on and internalize…

Ricki Riscorla (The principle of 7Ps)

Proper prior planning & preparation prevents poor performance.”

[Ricki was a much decorated US marine and a great leader, doer & and a humanitarian – he believed in planning and training and leaving nothing to chance]

Richard Feynman (on knowing and problem solving)

… you do not know anything until you have practiced.”

… You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, “How did he do it? He must be a genius!”

[Dick was one of the finest scientists that graced the earth – and an incredibly multifaceted one at that; besides being a Nobel laureate, he was a code decipherer, drummer, saxophonist, lock-picker, juggler and what not]

Yo-Yo Ma (on how to learn – coupez la difficulte en quatre)

When the problem is complex, you become tense, but when it is broken down into basic components, you can approach each element without stress.”

… then, when you put them all together, you do something that seems externally complex, but you don’t feel it that way… you know it from several different angles.”

[Yo-Yo is a great Brit cellist and a fantastic meta-learner]

Laura Ingalls Wilder (on perseverance and cheerfulness)

Things that have to be done, must be done cheerfully.”

[Laura was a famous American author of ‘Pioneer’ books – especially the series called Little House on the Prairie’]

Ralph Waldo Emerson (on Self-reliance)

If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards… it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances. “

[Of course you may already know of him! He was an American author of many other facets]

Robert A Heinlein (on the capacity of the human potential)

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

[He was an American, popular science fiction author and a great engineer among many other things]

Perhaps you can use the Internet to research and know more about these folks and much else.

=-=-=-=

The idea of this series of sessions (a few times a week) is to get an overall bearing on the basic building blocks of science & math in general – but with a particular reference to social sciences and the things around us.

The examples for the basic ideas / thoughts will mostly be from the sciences – but they are mappable to the rest of the knowledge realms.

Rules of the game:

  1. In every session a few basic ideas will be discussed – and some examples will be given.
  2. There would be some homework (not too much at all!) based on the ideas – post every session – that you will work on over the next couple of days. The submission of the homework is your feedback on what’s happening and this is important. Please give it the attention that it deserves. Non submissions will have definite consequences.
  3. Punctuality is an important attribute of life; lack of this will likely have its consequences.
  4. There would be simple but unannounced tests – and so regularity and rhythm in ‘studying’ will help a lot.
  5. Negative feedback in respect of 2, 3 and 4 will indicate your non-interest and we would need to discuss this to take some appropriate action.
  6. Look, nobody’s forcing you to ‘learn’ – and of course, nobody’s forcing me to ‘teach’ either – you and I are here, only because we want to be in this arrangement, voluntarily. If you feel that this not true, let us discuss.
  7. Believe me, learning (in terms of being curious, questioning and validating assumptions, unlearning, relearning, and thinking) is fun, if we are able to focus.

The idea of giving you these quick ref notes is to give some pointers – you may have to take your own notes to help yourself; as you see, these ref notes are not even grammatically complete!🙂

Now… on to the rest of the notes, and to life and learning, please!

maria montessori said so…

There was this series 12 lectures that was delivered by Ma’am Montessori in the year 1948 – and broadcast from the All India Radio Station, Chennai.

The transcript of this series was brought out by the Publications Division of the Govt of -India – as a 38 page booklet.

Now, thanks to Arvind Guptua this document has been scanned and made available on the web here.

And, for good measure, you can also download it from here:  montradio.

Enjoy and relish the precise approaches and statements of the lady, vis-a-vis education.

outsourcing parents…

I came across this gem of a cartoon at the Right Cogency blog.

It might appear to be hilarious, but it is so true.

As a country that thrives on doing outsourced work, our citizens also have become better and better at outsourcing and its associated service level agreements and small-print criteria. Of course, we parents also have become good at outsourcing the education of our children to the school, when we are not constantly hovering around our wards, while looking for other opportunities to outsource as much as possible of our duties and responsibilities.

And, this reminds me of  an old whiner acquaintance of mine, who was wont to repeat ad nauseam – ‘they say, it takes a village to bring up a child’ – that is as long as he is not part of that village! Luckily, he has become an ex-acquaintance! Oh what a relief.

disconnected posts.

The school of helicopter parenting — https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/the-school-of-helicopter-parenting/

How about better parents?  — https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/how-about-better-parents/

a parents’ guide to the montessori classroom

… of course, the Montessori system of education is a fantastic one.

But when a wide-eyed  but earnest wannabe touristy parent lands up at school (armed and dangerous with a ZERO knowledge of what happens in any canonical Montessori system, or for that matter – in any system of education) it is rather difficult to explain things over (and over (and over(and over))) again – what with the regular admin and teaching ‘load’ that one may have the school.

Like what a person who called herself ‘Cribbie Jones’ landed up at the school during the fag end of 2011 – had to say:

Submitted on 2011/12/02 at 9:09 am

Found the school. The lady who showed us around had no idea what syllabus, what teaching method they use. She knew nothing but to take down our details. I had called the school 2 days prior to take an appointment to meet someone who could help us with the most important details of the school. There apparently is a parent co-ordinator but that person wasn’t around. A teacher was loitering around and we thought we would chat with her…and all she could say was…umm..we use the Montessori method and hehe that’s all!! That is all????????

The school is impressive in terms of space and building etc., very nature oriented and comfortable. However there wasn’t even a BOARD to mark the school out. And no one to really help out with information about anything to do with the school. Needs solid work!!!

Sheesh! Obviously Ma’am Cribbie Jones (PBUH) feels that since her highness had landed up to meet the plebians at nammashaale – she has to be attended to, hosannas have to be sent heavenwards, paeans be penned and sung in her praise, a march-past of the police constabulary be given and what not…

Gawking and clueless tourists are a problem anywhere, I agree, but cribbing tourists are a different class altogether. If they happen to be parents and are hunting around for an ‘alternative’ school, they are the worst – believe me! Mommeee!!

But, Ma’am Montessori’s books are turgid in prose and vast in scope – and one cannot read it like the way, say one can easily read Ulysses. So, this would rule out some 100% of the aforesaid parents. So what does one do.

It is at these vexatious times that one wishes, a cutesy little intro book can be given to (read: ‘thrown at’) the essentially clueless and opinionated parent – to give him / her a gist of the ideas.

A Parents’ Guide to the Montessori Classroom by Aline D. Wolf, exactly fills this void.

This tome is eminently recommended, It gives in a simple (but not simplistic) language, how a typical Montessori environment looks like, how children ‘work’ with their materials and what not – all this in circa 60 pages.

How I really wish all the wannabe Montessori parents, read this book – to start with.

So, Ma’am Jones, please read up and do your homework. Canonical Montessori classrooms are the same, all over the world.

Rest of the parents, please don’t even to try to keep up with these Joneses.

Thanks.😎

‘right to education’ act not against home schooling and alternate education…

sayeth our Indian Ministry of HRD. Nice! (but there is some bad news about NIOS)

RTE not against home schooling and alternate education: MHRD

In response to a public interest litigation, the Ministry of Human Resources Development on Thursday filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court stating that the Right to Education Act does not come in the way of home schooling.

The affidavit, however, said National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) for children in the age group of 6-14 years will only be allowed to run up to 2015.

“Parents who voluntarily opt for alternate forms of schooling may continue to do so. The RTE Act does not come in the way of such alternate schooling methodologies or declare such form of education as illegal,” the affidavit stated.

The Minsitry’s response came after the High Court directed it to respond to a petition filed by a 14-year-old girl, Shreya Sahai, who opted for home schooling but contended that Section 18 of RTE Act does not recognise any other mode of imparting education except the one through formal schooling.

“The benefits of all children aged 6-14 years and their parents who feel threatened because their right to choose a mode of education for primary education stands violated as the Act restricts the same only to a formal school,” she said.

All other modes of imparting education, except a formal school, like home schooling, alternate schools of education and the schools not subscribing to the norms and curriculum mandated in the Act stand declared illegal under sections 18 and 19 of the Act, said the petition.

“Subscribers of the academics check tests conducted by the government-established NIOS feel threatened of the discontinuance of the same in view of the impugned Act,” the petitioner said.

The petition sought the court’s direction to quash the RTE provisions as they are violative of the fundamental rights of children, the petition said. It also asked for home-schooling and alternate education schools to be included in the “specified category” and also allow NIOS continue imparting education to children.

The matter will come up for hearing on August 8.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/rte-not-against-home-schooling-and-alternate-education-mhrd/976880/0

(This link via young Ramgopal Koneripalli)

children of the earth, architecture & activism

Once in a while one gets to hear of good & heartwarming experimentation in the realm of education, what mostly passes for homeschooling not being among them.

Here is a report on one such effort (not homeschooling) by a group called ‘The concerned for working children;’ please do read it at your leisure.

Caldwell Namma Bhoomi ML

(This document reached me via Amukta Mahapatra; thanks ma’am)

jayateerth mevundi

When the great Bhimsen Joshi passed away, actually it was a personal loss for me. I really loved his music, more so, his Bhairav based renderings.

Now ladies and gents – there is this Jayateerth Mevundi (of Kirana Gharana), a really worthy chela of Bhimsen. (perhaps many of you already know of him and his mellifluous voice, silly me!)

For the past one hour I have been listening to Jayateerth’s rendering of ‘Jamuna ke Teere’ in Bhairav…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zioDWQ50JY0&feature=relmfu

Splendid. Mesmerizing. Lilting. What else!

Enjoy.

why does this bother me?

I’m an Article About the Internet That You Repost on the Internet
by Teddy Wayne May 14, 2012
http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2012/05/14/120514sh_shouts_wayne

=-=-=-=

… because it is so true…

😦