Monthly Archives: November 2012

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>
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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!