Monthly Archives: March 2011

suppandi says: ‘my child does not listen to me!’

An old sailor gave up smoking when his pet parrot developed a persistent cough. He was worried-that the pipe smoke that frequently filled the room had damaged the parrot’s health.

He had a vet examine the bird. After a thorough check-up the vet concluded that the parrot did not have psittacosis or pneumonia. It had merely been im­itating the cough of its pipe-smoking master.

— Anthony de Mello in Prayer of the Frog Part #2

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sometimes Ms Suppandi complains that her child fibs too much, or uses foul language, or is lazy, or does not study much, or does not write well at all, or is good-for-nothing, or procrastinates a lot, or watches TV too much, or behaves in odd, worrisome ways… sheesh!

But, I would think that the child still has a chance.

Previous Suppandi Chronicles entries in reverse chronological order:

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’tis elementary, sirs and madams…

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the adults (Radha and Swathi) in the lower elementary environment, today I (and many other parents and at least one grandparent) got to see the magic worked on by the children. *ganderbumps*

 

a view of the elemenary environment

a view of the elemenary environment (from the west entrance)

The adults called it an ‘open day’ – and the lower elementary parents were invited and most made it.We were lucky,

The idea was that some 16 children would prepare and very seriously present a few structured activities based on a few key montessori materials, to a visiting group of parents – and oh, it was lovely. Really… They were all in the flow of the materials and the knowledge of some of the things that are so intuitive and fantastic  in a good montessori environment.

a view of the elementary environment (from the south)

Materials such as for  pegboard, checker board, clock of eras, bead chains, grammar box, logical analysis, montessori protractor, layers of the earth, chordates & non-chordates, you are here, golden bead material (dynamic) etc etc – were presented with such aplomb and poise by children who were between 6 and 8 years of age.

I expected the children to get bored after some 10 times of presenting the same materials to the adults, but apparently they didn’t mind that. Apparently, when one child was asked “oh, it must be tiring, won’t you want to take a break and come back a little while later?”  The child replied, “I am slightly tired but have more energy. When my energy is completely spent, I will take rest…”

There was also this primary child, who gave me a surprising lesson a few years back, and ah, this child has come to elementary  – and not surprisingly, he has retained his self and intelligence – it was lovely to see him in focussed action on the peg board – he was presenting an approach to LCM to us.

I can go on and on and on about every child, but…

a view of the elementary materials room

With another child an adult had an interesting interaction. This child was with the  ‘you are here’ material. This is a set of concentric oval shaped sheets, with increasing average radii, and the idea was to say that individuals are recursively part of bigger entities, and the context goes all the way to the universe (from home, street, city, nation, earth, solar system, milkyway galzxy and then on to the local group and…). The child kept asking ‘where are you now’ eliciting answers. But,, when she reached the solar system and asked where you are now, and adult (not a teacher, thankfully) couldn’t control himself and said perhaps in a rather uncalled for  jocular vein,  ‘I am in galaxy, on MG Road’ – the child was flummoxed for a second but recovered. I didn’t. That’s because, I am a Suppandi.

Sometimes, I feel that we adults inhabit different universes – and mostly our universes are intentionally limited by us to only a few realms of possibilities. Whereas some of us adults limit our universes to MG Road, the children soar high, being very ‘centered’ that they are, they reach impossibly fantastic heights…  They may even do some inter-universal travel in their life times…

Therein lies the hope, I suppose.

Also, I find it impossible that the idea (nay, a dream) called nammashaale is able to exist! Long live the dream. I frankly do not want to wake up…

(Thanks again, children! That was lovely!!)

a view of a part of the elementary library

suppandic parents like us…

Have you read the curtain raiser? If not, please do. Of course I am going to be endlessly judgmental about our Suppandis. And, how many times have I mistaken the Suppandis that I have met with, for normal, thinking adult humans…

Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
— (attributed to) Mark Twain

I really regret to inform you folks that only once in a while these days, I get to meet ‘interestingly’ weird fellow adults; and, only a very few of these interesting adults(!) are fellow parents, with their noble intentions (but warped perceptions). This is truly &  really sad, there had to be gazillion ways of infusing humour into our everyday lives & humdrum existence, but I have to dejectedly agree that – that’s the way life works. So, I make do with whatever the environment (or the universe) offers in terms of joy, the mirth, ah…

Unfortunately, most other parents are quite normal, genuine and gentle. When there is mutual respect, trust and understanding (not necessarily agreement) there is a scope for useful & productive dialogue – but (considering the previous paragraph) it is not belly-achingly laughable fun to interact with them. These dialogues are unabashedly useful and serious. Bleh!

So, in the grand tradition of the blog, this series of  posts is more about the few belly-achingly laughable folks -and not about the seriously good folks who are in a majority.

I would like to imagine that all these are fictional narratives and say that ‘any resemblance to living or dead or living-dead people is purely coincidental etc etc’ as a disclaimer, but considering the fact that I myself am a part of the interesting minority – unreasonable and curmudgeonly people in the community that is, even my weirdest imagination does not amount to much. The reality is so funny. Umm, NO, it is more of surreal reality than anything else.

=-=-=-=

Like in any other institution, one has to deal with all kinds of these sort of ‘interesting’ people, while in the enervating business of getting involved in a boutique school – most of whom (I mean the ‘interesting’ people) do not bother to do any homework whatsoever, who talk a lot and whine much more, who have lots of ill-informed opinions, who do not have a healthy respect for any reasonable schemata, leave alone being accommodative of contrarian notions — the types I used to derogatorily (when am I ever going to grow up!) call halfbakery.com. (and yeah, anyway you know I am not that important to the school and so you can easily guess that I do not represent the majority / dominant views at nammashaale, just in case…)

Anyway, one way to release the enormous tensions created thusly (I mean, dealing with the ‘interesting folks’) is to objectively(!) view them with a sense of humour,  just to restore one’s own sanity and the basic faith in human sensibilities.

The gist of the encounters with some of these extraordinary people I got to meet with, would be narrated in the weblog in the form of a series of stories (many of them are parables, lifted left and right from all kinds of sources, which I hope to duly acknowledge)  and/or rather laboured contexts.

Again, coming to think of it, may be these stories are applicable to all of us in one way or the other and may be useful across contexts, say, in the game called life. At least, I found these parables to be very useful to understand, well… um, myself.

In the grand tradition of Tinkle Comics, the representative father in this series will be called Mr. Suppandi – the much maligned person, the butt of ridicule and a target of insipid jokes. Perhaps his wife would merely be Ms Suppandi.

So much for a rambling introduction…

(more later…)

suppandi chronicles: a curtain raiser

From every parent (in India, at least) an Inner Suppandi is screaming to get out…

— Sigmund Fraud (from the International Bust seller: Set Your Inner Suppandi Free, Pencilguin Publications, 2011)

For those who do not know that they have an inner Suppandi residing inside themselves – Suppandi is a character developed(!) by the infamous Tinkle Magazine of India – supposedly for children. But I know of many adults (who steadfastly refuse to grow up) who are avid readers of the pulp-comical magazine. Hmm…  Suppandi’s character has been developed as a person who is slightly off – but being very obedient to the word to his master, he gets into all kinds of tragically weird situations. He is generally unskilled and unaware of it. But, very many readers of Suppandi think that he is a fun read! This says volumes about how demented, dimwitted, repressed and malnourished these readers are.

Imagine the state of the next generations that will be created by these SuppandiDasans. I shudder at the very thought…  It is going to be a merciless and no-holds-barred attack of our own national plague – Suppanditis – on our very own fellow Indians. *ouch*

The fact is that, it is much easier to become parents than to be parents.  And these parents who have become parents think that they are being parents  — and then assume that they have to go to an alternative school for their children. Therein lies the trouble.  Caught in the dialectics of their becoming and being, their inner Suppandi gets materialized and released. This is of course dialectical materialism (may Hegel pardon me!) and is really tragic, but apparently looks like a funny situation. Am really sorry about sensitizing you to this.

Of course, it is also true that it is also easy for one to become a teacher than to be a teacher.  I know. In fact, quite of few of my distant relatives (umm, not very far away from the jabbering simians up in my family tree) are into this tuition and cheatingteaching domain and are doing a roaring business (psst, do monkeys roar?). Anyway, I understand that apes living in cages in the zoo can’t afford to pelt stones at the so called human beings who would even otherwise throw stones at them… Okay, let me not get philosophical and self-critical.

Now, occasionally, the became parents interact with the became teachers. The result is pure fun – the clash of the inner Suppandis. These situations make one love life in a small school. Really.

I am going to share a few of these situations with a little bit of embellishment and suppandification (suppandifiction?) soon, if you would pardon me.

So, stay tuned (if you must).

delusions of gender

The so called ‘traditional wisdom’ has it that ‘little boys will be little boys’ and so by extension, ‘little girls will be little girls.’ How I have always resented, if not deeply hated the set of unjust assumptions and squirmed whenever such statements were uttered by folks who should know better… But, whatever little that I could do – either in my class or elsewhere –  and whenever I see a hint of this asinine stereotyping, I try my best to debunk it.

In fact, I would say with arrogant conviction that, the girls in my classes tend to eventually outshine, outsmart, outmaneuver and outclass the boys  – this would be in ALL subjects. It is also due to the fact that I intentionally demolish any signs of stupid attitudes like  – boys are good in math, they think – and girls are good in creative activities, they ‘feel’ etc.  I try to encourage the girls and the boys to think beyond stupidities such as ‘pink is for girls.’ (I am not saying that boys are generally less endowed, though that would be tempting for me! In any case, I feel that the boys receive too much of unjust ‘gender biased’ encouragement from their parents than what a few inches extra that they have on them would demand and merit.)

Again, I keep pointing to the anomaly that in our particular cases of mammals, we seem to be having far too many males than needed. May be emperor penguins also have this almost 1:1 mapping. In any case, there are NOT too many of such species.

Anyway, at the possibility of a guy sounding like one going for gender cleansing (actively advocating lesser number of (lesser)men and (lesser)boys than what they are at present) – I would just point out the one question that every self respecting boy and girl should think about and reflect on:

In the case of mammals like us, what can the Female gender cannot do that can be done by a Male gender form? Primarily it would be only about fertilization. I think, this one difference does not merit any major inherent difference in capacity – intellectual or practical. On the contrary, what are the things that males cannot do, that only females can do. That list is endless!

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about recommending a book: Thanks to Sowmya, I chanced upon this excellent , erudite and passionate book. I strongly recommend ‘Delusions of Gender’ by Cordelia Fine.

Grand Dame Fine systematically demolishes the myths regarding a host of stupid assumptions masquerading as ‘sceintific wisdom borne of indisputable proofs’ – especially about brain related mythologies – that females are differently wired. That they have different capabilities. That they can NOT do certain things – etc etc. Bah!

It is good to read a book, that confirms one’s convictions – peppered with acidic sarcasm and wit.

Thanks Cordelia, for this fine book.

the joy of music and dance

Some of us oldies would recollect that a few years back, there was this concept of ‘Flash Mobs’ all over the world, inspired by the ideas of of Howard Rheingold (if my memory proves correct) – these are groups formed adhoc in a given location, to do some adhoc things and then disperse. Apparently these kinds of things still go on – and some of them with a very good preparation and prior planning (no adhocism here at all!).

Here is an improvised sequence ‘Do Re Mi’ – from that film The Sound of Music (1965) – performed by a Flash Mob. (I never did like the melodramatic film, but the songs definitely are lilting – especially this joyous rendition…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYAUazLI9k&feature=player_detailpage

“More than 200 dancers were performing their version of “Do Re Mi”, in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of “The Sound of Music”

There is this medley of melodies/songs – supposedly an ad for ‘T Mobile’ (a mobile service provider under the banner of Deutche Telecom) – spontaneous and lovely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM&feature=related

Please take some 10 minutes off from your schedule and enjoy these short films!

battle hymn of a chinese (=Indian) mom

Every once a while, these kinds of news reach my mostly unread mailbox, and I get an immediate urge to respond. But I have noticed (thankfully) that someone or the other of sane people out there, would always respond with solid data / emotions / intelligence to the nonsensical and banal  – the stuff that Amy Chuas are made of…

Oh the powers of distributed computing and ranting…

Anyway, my long suffering friend Azfar forwarded this tiger mom’s book (Battle hymn of the Tiger Mother) extract published by WSJ – and asked for my rabid comments. This was a while back.

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:onXNCQ0mvlMJ:online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html+amy+chua+WSJ&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Another copy of the same content: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html?mod=ITP_review_0

I was frankly too horrified about the cocky surefootedness of this mom but generally mumbled something like ‘each unto his/her own’ etc etc. I thought I would eventually write a rejoinder, but realize that, of course, I can’t do a better job than Christine Carter, definitely…

How to raise an unhappy child
http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2011/01/20/how-to-raise-an-unhappy-child/

Lovely. Thanks Christine.

You may be interested in knowing about our desi editions of Helicopter Parents.