Category Archives: caveat emptor

work ethic (of children) comes from home…

(this is really an unfairly loooong post, but please go through it and let me know what you think. I think it is very important that we parents really bother about this idea of a ‘proper work ethic’ in our children and the +ve or –ve contributions that we make to our children, either directly or indirectly)

children, moving…

It has been a little more than 3 months since the school started the first term of the current academic year – and this term has drawn to a close already… A reasonable time to reflect on things and pontificate, I suppose. Every year, in nammashaale (or for that matter, in any other school) a few children get out and a few other children get in.

This is the same case with all structures, institutions and organizations which have people working together towards some common goals – and in these cases too, individuals who ‘fit in’ stay back and those who cannot, move out. Mostly, there is a pattern to this, sometimes there is not.

The end of the previous academic year too saw a few children leaving the school, some because of normal extraneous reasons (parent job changes etc) and some because of the fitment issue. The reason why this post is dedicated to the topic of ‘work ethic’ is that, I observed some interesting developments in the school centering around these cycles.

Children settling down…

Every year (or even within a given year) when the children get back from the holidays / breaks, they take a week or so to settle down and start working in their own rhythms and embark on concurrent / concentric waves of learning as is usual in a Montessori environment. But this year, the children appeared to happily settle down just within a day or two and it was such a pleasure seeing them – like the diligent & colourful ants at work.… There were / are also very few political and social issues compared to the previous years, very interesting…

I was wondering what could be the basic reason for this ‘fast settling down’ and now I think it is because of the significant attributes of the children who got out in the previous year! And, I sincerely hope that these children (who got out) are doing well elsewhere too – as all children have immense potential embedded in them – but, depending on their attributes, require different kinds of environments and pedagogic approaches …

IT (un)professionals

Now, I have seen these cycles (of folks getting our/in) happen in the corporate world for a significant stretch of time – and but for a few really exceptional stellar cases, the chaps who get into circulation practically every year in the job market, fall into two neat buckets:

  1. ‘alleged’ dolts with no capacity to perform in any realm whatsoever
  2. allegedly ‘good performers’ who always hop for a salary hike.

But, instead of the real reasons such as the above, we often times hear of random nonexistent sham reasons for these shifts such as:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Better working conditions
  • Work not challenging enough
  • More learning opportunities

However, I personally know these silly reasons to be pure hogwash. Actually, the main reasons for chronic job hoppers are only the two in the above paragraph.

The reason why I brought up these IT guys and their ways (yeah, I know what I am talking about) is that there are striking parallels between many of us parents and the IT detritus. Sadly so.

posturing parents & small schools

I have also seen these cycles happening for a few years now (at nammashaale, I mean), and have some observations. This is more about the patterns that I read in the data that I get to see – and not about any particular case.

Every school has a philosophy and a few methodologies for delivering on that philosophy. The philosophy of a given school may meet with a good impact on the child if the child is prepared, primarily at home. If not, chaos (both for the child and the school) results and the sooner the tangle is resolved, the better it is. The subtext here should read: So, if you are personally offended because of my observations, please give yourself one real, deep, hard look – it may hurt, but once in a while it is a good idea to introspect.

Back to the question again, some children / parents get out; some others get in, so… is there a pattern?

The interesting thing here is that, to get to know the ideas, philosophies and people behind a given school – there are a good number of sources and possibilities, if a given parent is diligent enough and is prepared to dig around. So, for the parents who want to ‘put’ their children in a given school it is rather easy to collect relevant data about the school. And, these (meaning us) parents know how to preen themselves so that their vocal and loud ideas are seen to be in alignment with those of the school – purely with a view to getting a foothold into the desired school system. To be slightly charitable to these preening parents, I agree that parental anxiety in seeing to the placement of their wards in a school considered ‘good’ by them, sometimes gets the better of them. Sadly so.

However, for schools, that too for really small schools, it is not possible to have this luxury of background and reference checks on parents. This by itself is not bad – but when a school establishment meets a preening parent (as above), their children are expected to be a good fit and the admission process is actively looked into – as the agenda of these small schools is primarily about dealing with the children and exposing them to the ideas stemming from the philosophy of the school, rather than looking at the wannabe parents, critically and stuff.

So, thanks to the incorrect perception & lack of analyses, I think, small schools (and the folks behind them) make the sad mistake of assuming certain suitable characteristics in the children, based on the oral positions taken by the parents in the first few interactions, that is, before the children join these schools.

However, since verbal posturing (and social activistic talking, swagger & infinite hubris) often tends to get diluted when a real test (that would ‘separate men from the boys’ so to say) comes along – then, friction arises between the aforesaid parents and the school community. In this context, the given child suffers.

yoga of learning

Now, there are many paths to ‘education’ or yoga if you will – but all the real paths have one common denominator – the requirement of a proper work ethic of the child.

The work ethic of the child is seeded, developed and matured from the home of the child and parents contribute a lot to it. I would even say that the work ethic of the child is completely picked up from the ‘indirect presentations’ at home – whether it is integrity or dishonesty or a myriad other ‘personally lived values.’

In the earlier times, perhaps the children had the luxury of more adults (as ‘role models) stemming from the advantages of the joint-family system, to present the ‘lived’ values of work ethic – from various perspectives. But in these days, the work ethic of the child is primarily derived from its permanently busy (or absent or indifferent) parents or from TV. I am not even talking about the helicopter types here! (gasp!)

When a child with a proper work ethic engages with her learning – she cares about the work and loves it. The working and learning of the child deeply enriches her. Approaching work with care and awareness, even the most mundane tasks are transformed into an exciting series of opportunities to reflect and grow. Not surprisingly, this idea is reflected in all the fine spiritual traditions from around the world.

The attitude towards work, in my opinion, gets reflected in three types of yoga (not at all mutually exclusive), there could be more – but as of now, I could think of only these three buckets – my limits of knowledge have been reached, of course! And, honestly I do not know how to translate the Sanskrit word ‘yoga’ into English – may be, it incorporates the ideas of learning, education, discipline, integrity, tremendous focus, zanshin and what not)

  • Bhakti yoga – the learning mode in which the child really respects and loves the knowledge and is in awe of it and therefore works towards it.
  • Gnyana yoga – the mode in which the child seeks and thirsts after knowledge and hence does work
  • Karma yoga – in which the child would do the work for the love of it, not necessarily going after knowledge.

A given child exhibits some or all of the above at some point or the other and develops a robust sense of work ethic, that will make her a happy and contented individual – she may eventually be on a path to ‘right livelihood.’

In all these cases, the knowledge accumulation, skills development, ‘centering’ and integrity of character happen because of significant contributions (either positive or negative) from parents – and this happens right from the womb to the time of children going to school to beyond. The school can only build on the basic character that has already been imprinted into the children. This work ethic is what determines how learned or ‘educated’ or happy, a child becomes. Many of us parents don’t realize this. We expect the schools to cater to need of the development of character to the children. We feel that if some character issues are there with our children, then, the school is not doing a good job. How foolhardy we are!

It always amazes me as to what lengths we parents go to, to look for reasons away from us, while we happily ignore the famous words – ‘I have seen the enemy, and it is I.’ All that most of us are interested in, is in the delectable possibility of blaming someone else for the all the wrong things that are happening to our children…

Okay – Sometimes, it may so happen that a child is not benefiting from the school system – and this has nothing to with the preening parents or the school system. But to my limited knowledge and my rather sketchy experience in ‘education,’ there is nothing else that would help the child flower, than the existence of a proper work ethic that is inculcated in the children by their ‘living’ parents, who really live their values. May be there are more factors than this work ethic beast, that would help the child get ‘educated,’ I am willing to listen, discuss and all that – but as of now, I would think that, in a reasonable school system the existence of a proper work ethic in the child is the only thing that would be a sine qua non. Given this backgrounder, eventually we parents realize that the things are not working for our wards. At this point of time, it is very convenient for us parents to blame the school.

However, we never, not even once look at the possibility of our own splendidly negative contributions to our children. This is tragic. However, there are some exceptions. Some parents do realize their mistakes in judgment and move children over to other suitable schools, the ‘extraction’ is done ethically – the current school heaves a sigh of relief and hopes that the children and their parents will be happy wherever they plan to go to…

It is definitely to the credit of these kinds of parents, that they somehow or the other realize it – and take an appropriate action. Water finds its level. What we get out of a system is determined by our genuine aspirations, or karma if you will. Eventually,  some of us parents will get our children fit into a system that the we want the children to get in – not that it is the requirement or the need of the child.

Frankly, I would say that, whenever there is a severe cognitive dissonance in

1) what parents want in their child,

2) what the child is developing into and

3) what the school wants the child to be working on

– there would be ample symptoms and happenstances to point to the dissonance. However, it is easy to feign asinine ignorance by all of us because it is oh so convenient – and you see, we don’t want to unsettle the apple cart.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts” — Marcus Aurelius.

But, at this point, what should be done is:

  1. The school should discuss with the parents about the untenable and mutually destructive proposition that is happening and request the parents to take the child to some other suitable school – within a definite time-frame.
  2. The parents should discuss with the school and see whether there were perceptional mistakes & errors in judgment – that are resulting in chaos and if there is no easy way to ‘fit into the system’ they should move to a different school – within a definite time-frame.

But, what usually happens is:

A: The parents are completely dissatisfied (validly so) with the school because of the perception mismatch – but merely wait for the academic year to get over so that they can move out to a ‘suitable’ school. These undercurrents (actually many of these are overcurrents) are picked up by their children, and they begin to behave in bizarre ways in the school. Their souls are also dyed with the thoughts at home. They see everything that is wrong with the system, and only the wrongs – because there is no perfect system in the universe (Bapuji would use the term ‘gutter inspectors’ here). They spread a lot of negativity in the school, disrupt the proceedings, become disrespectful of everything that the school stands for…  These children also take these feelings and go to their parents. The parents endlessly gossip and spread their negative perceptions around. The result would take three courses of action:

  1. There is a very catastrophic cascading of ill-feelings and negativity buildup at home and finally everything bursts open – and this would result in arguments and mindless mudslinging – and a whole lot of rumour mongering and wildass meanderings. All eminently avoidable.
  2. The parents keep quiet, prepare for some school admission somewhere else for their wards and start defaulting on fee payments – and there is so much of unnecessary clandestine happenings, needlessly so. This leaves a lot of bad blood. Of course, the children would realize the lack of integrity of their parents, but then, they would reserve their opinion to a later date, hopefully.
  3. In a very small number of cases the parents would calmly discuss and take an appropriate action. (I am hallucinating here, this never happens, which is rather unfortunate)

B: The school community is uncomfortable about dealing with the situation and they do not want to request the parents to move on / take their children out. They are filled with a sense of needless guilt and spend a whole lot of time analyzing and agonizing over why things are not going the way they are supposed to. The school’s primary interest is in the child and so the community feels helpless in addressing the needs of the child as the souls of these hapless children are already dyed with unnecessary thoughts. Eventually the cookie crumbles, the child leaves, there is some collateral damage, bruised psyches. All needless.

I feel that the following are perhaps true:

  • In a reasonably wholesome educational system that would involve a Montessori angle (or one based on Waldorf sensibilities), the lateral entrants are not a great idea – this is because, the lateral entrant children end up introducing a lot of noise into an otherwise stable and synchronized system.
  • The school suffers because the ‘lateral entrant’ children have possibly different values, different kinds of work ethics that the school and its normalized children cannot grapple with.
  • The children joining at the lateral entry points also suffer because their expectations from the system are at variance with what the reality is at home – the suffering happens at home and also at the school.
  • The small schools should be resigned to the prospect of some children leaving at various levels every year – this could be a part of cleansing actions from the sides of the parents and/or school – and the vacancies created by these leaving children should not be filled with lateral entrants. This would mean constantly strained financial resources at the school.
  • Economies of scale do not work for small ‘boutique’ schools – as invariably scaling up would require that there is so much noise-injection into the system. (Personally, I would hate any entity begging for alms and aids. So I would think it would be great if ‘foreign aid’ or even random local aid is not resorted to at all, in spite of all the hardships…)
  • Parental involvement in a given school is a double edged sword, tragically so. The reason is that, many individuals take things very personally and respond to gestures from the small schools in prejudiced ways.  Just because they think they have something to offer, they think the school should make use of it. They almost never pay any attention to the philosophical fitment or particular pedagogic orientations that whatever they want to do at school has to conform to, at all! And when they are somehow informed that it is difficult for the school to make use of the parents’ offer – they take it as a personal insult and react in juvenile ways.
  • Parents and School systems should watch out for early warning signs and try to have reasonably frequent dialogues with each other, with a view to sorting out issues; pressure cooking does not help, of course.

——————————–

Inculcation of proper work ethics in ourselves (and hence in our children) is such an important thing for our schools, society and families… I would even say that it would constitute the very basic of our social fabric.

I am in general an optimist, in spite of my sardonic and sarcastic statements and I hope that we as a parent community and citizens would get our act together and behave responsibly.

So ends this pontification. 🙂

Comments (and brickbats) are of course welcome!

( part of FAQs on ‘education’ series )

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whisper campaigns on wings (sanitized version, really!)

A Rosicrucian master’s take on the prime way of life: ‘To love where I am, love who I am with, and love what I am doing’

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This period of October to January is always an interesting (actually endlessly entertaining) part of any given academic year. Do you want to know why?

This is the period in which the angst laden parents (luckily, they are in a minority) have grave self doubts and plan to check out the other schools – and ask you what are you going to do, given their perceived situation.

The fact that many schools start dishing out their application forms for new admissions in this period, does not help the situation. Parents take their company provided vehicles and religiously visit all the alternative and no-alternative schools and simply exhaust themselves. If the current school is perceived to be having an X attribute, they want it to have a non-X attribute – for any given value of the attribute and drive themselves (and others) nuts.

The following table roughly indicates the thought(!) processes going on in the minds of these kinds of parents:

Current status perception Wanted status

( Given value of X)                                                    (non – X)

Concentration on arts                                                 Concentration on Sports
Concentration on Sports                                            Concentration on arts
No exams                                                                          Yes Exams
Yes exams                                                                        No exams
Open                                                                                    Close
Close                                                                                    Open
Textbooks                                                                         No textbooks
No textbooks                                                                  Textbooks
Discipline                                                                          Freedom
Freedom                                                                            Discipline

….                                                                                         ….

This sad listing can go on and on, but I suppose, you get the drift…

However, the real reality in any given simplistic dyadic interpretation is somewhere between the extremes and most of us don’t realize it, unfortunately. We look for ideal solutions. Fine.

The oscillations of these species of parents between (x and non-x) are sensed and picked up by the children. The children want to be close to their parents, naturally. Some of these kids invent scenarios, interpret things out of context and some clueless parents zoom in on the trivia and get agitated about the current school to which their kids go… Some of these parents even set up a temporary cabal and share their adventures with like mindlessed folks. Oh fun.

And, of course BSNL, Airtel & Co benefit a lot in this merry-go-around. It is all economy and growth, stupid. May be NammaShaale would benefit by getting a commission on all these cabal calls. Hello? Where is the business development manager(alliances), when the school needs one??

Seriously, I think this is likely to be a problem only with the parents of kids who go to the so-called ‘alternative schools’ – who think that they are ‘thinking people’ and so have the correct solutions for all problems & ills of the world including the incessant birthday parties. They never come to terms to the fact that they (at least, most of them) are merely armed chair activists and so, are never at peace with themselves. I am a parent of this mode.

Au contraire, the parents that send their kids to the so-called ‘mainstream’ schools, have no such delusions of grandeur and noodle-headedness. They and their kids plod thru with whatever current status they are in, trying to maximize on the available opportunities. I am also a product of this mode.

Frankly, I don’t know which mode is better. You judge.

Oh well. We have been on the receiving end (mostly) of these interesting conversations for the past few years. We don’t have a TV set at home, but enough soap operas and saas-bahu drivel are specially enacted for us by a few fellow parents with complications resulting from noodle-headedness. Oh yeah, some of these parents are not even NammaShaale parents!

Not only that these parents are confused – they, at least some of them, spread the paranoia around, ably aided by hilarious imagination and little truth. . The relentless and mindless Indian whisper starts and the result is oodles of entertainment. Really…

Eventually, as it happens, these uncalled-for perceptions and rumours, reach the ears of the persons against whom the whisper campaigns are mounted, and the result is a total disbelief for a few seconds, and a while later, hysterical laughter on part of the targeted individuals! I am giving a few instances (well, some of them really, really happened, believe me!) of the paranoia and illogical logic of some of us, to provide some fun.

Please note that if you replace NammaShaale, say, with ‘Prakriya Green Wisdom School’ or some such reasonable school, these species of parents would have the same kind of complaints! So much for socialism!!

  1. Teachers in NammaShaale go to school only for two days a week at best. On any given day, you can be sure that only support staff would be present. Even if the teachers come to school by some random chance, they spend of a lot of time in meetings. No wonder my child is not self directed! (Um, I would think – if actually children are not with adults in the school by and large, then there is no other way for the children to be adult directed anyway. Please note that, meeting-surfing can be done only at the corporate ‘premises’ of your spouse; in a school, it is next to impossible to sail from meeting to meeting, pretending that some honest work is indeed being done! May be you should try to act as a teacher in the school for a month!)
  2. Teachers in NammaShaale don’t go to school for two days a week! I wonder how the children are faring! (Ma’am, you can hallucinate and wonder, since you have too much time in your hands, but I know for a fact that most teachers, except yours truly, work for nearly 7 days a week, one way or the other. And, they actually slog it out… I wonder whether you would even survive a week in this kind of a set up.)
  3. My child tells me that he does not study at all in school, and all he does is slicing vegetables & rolling rotis, what kind of a school is this! I am horrified that he enjoys it too! (at least, he will be a good, helpful husband in future, unlike your husband – what do you think?)
  4. My child is using some words that in our household that we don’t utter! What is this? (the child knows it gets a reaction from you, he is just testing, don’t worry; on the contrary, feel free to use some slang that is not immediately intelligible to the child – learn to swear in say, Mongolian)
  5. The school is going to be taken over by the Highways department, and they want to setup a NammaDriving school there! Don’t you know? Already a lot of the school land is acquired. (True. The school is actually planning to shift to the Barton Center on MG Road. Don’t you know this? Actually the school feels that it would be closer to nature this way! In any case, the surreal estate prices at Hennur-Bagalur Road are likely to be cheaper than on MG Road.)
  6. There are no organized sports activities – how will the children learn teamwork and goal setting? (Sir, actually the children all they want and more about this teamwork business in the class environment itself; but may be you are talking about the extravagant and funny ‘offsites’ periodically conducted at your MNC for fostering the team spirit, please beer with the school! On the contrary, you don’t even know of the efforts taken by the school to bring in ‘organized’ sports, coaches and all that…)
  7. The classrooms are open – there is too much wind. There is too much atmosphere. Too real.
  8. The classrooms are closed – they are too cold.
  9. The school environment is noisy; there is too much traffic on the road. (May be you should stop using your car and avoid going to the airport at all, don’t you realize that you are also contributing to your issue?)
  10. The school is in a faraway desolate place – it is so silent; in an emergency how can you reach the nearest hospital? (you see, NammaShaale has tie-ups with hospitals in Chennai and Hyderabad; in an emergency, we can quickly whisk away the patient to the 5-star hospitals there; you know, the school is nearer to the Devanahalli airport as opposed to the Bangalore city hospitals and by our remarkable strategy, we would beat the Bangalore traffic snarls all hollow! The patient will actually get the medical attention ASAP. Agreed?)
  11. There is too much Kannada, Hindi and non-classroom work.
  12. There is too little of Kannada, Hindi and non-classroom work.
  13. The school buses take the road on which we stay, but they refuse to stop at my doorstep to pickup my children; the drivers are uncooperative, they switch off their phones and drop the children off in random places! (Ma’am, surely you know that it is slightly difficult for the buses to go all the way to your 4th floor apartment; we tried, but the lift/elevator sizes are very small at your apartment block. Again, the drivers are drivers, they are not telephone operators)
  14. The children are not allowed to take their iPods and Sony PSPs and PDVD players to school! What kind of a pathetically paleolithic school is this? Shouldn’t we move with the times? (please go to VidhyaScalpting school or some such. They gladly allow these gadgets, I think)
  15. You know, from next year, the school is going to be managed by a Parent-Teacher association and the decisions taken by this PTA will be final and binding on the folks who are running the show! We would soon register the PTA as a society. (Good luck on your planned coup d’etat, sirs and madams; operating a school is no monkey business, it has only hygiene factors)
  16. The school is not inclusive in the decision making processes. We want to be part of all meetings in school! We want to take part in the deliberations, which will affect the school and its children. (Madam, there are very few structured meetings required for a school of this size. Besides, we know how a normal meeting will go – there will be more of eating then meeting. And, actually we have had quite a few of these eating-meetings, been there, done that. The school actually believes in getting the job done, period)
  17. Everyday my elementary child comes back with soiled undies! Can’t the child be cleaned properly after he uses the toilet? Aren’t we paying the fee?? (Madam, your son is only ten years old. Hence I understand that he may not know how to clean himself, it is quite sad that the school is indifferent about this. But, tell me, who cleans his father at his office? Does he send his output as a mail attachment to his VP-Admin or what?)
  18. My child does not have the time, there is way too much work. She has to attend classical dance, hindustani music, language, tennis, badminton, vishnu sahasranaamam (or bible classes), ballet, keyboard, swimming and kabaddi classes thrice a week. The school is harassing her – they are asking her to focus. How can the child have energy to do so much work at the school too?(Madam, please stop this driving up and down nonsense, ferrying your child to various classes – you are leaving a lot of blackholes in your wake; our poor earth will soon get sucked in to your blackholes, much, much before 2012!)
  19. The school is not making my child focus on anything at all. There is way too much of freedom for the child. There is too much of child directed inactivity. (What? You feel that she has to go for IIT prep classes at the ripe old age of 6 itself, is it?)
  20. The child is focusing on only a few things, that too very deeply; she knows too much about some things and not at all about other things. (So, she has to know a lot of things, with an equal lack of depth, is it?)
  21. The adults / teachers are not responsive. I tried to contact them, but their cellphones are switched off. (May be the teacher was actually spending time in the class environment as opposed to being accessible to you on a 24×7 basis? What audacity! My sympathies are with you.)
  22. My child says, he does not like the school, and that adults are abusive, fellow students bully, and the toilets are not clean! O tempora, O mores! (Madam, the child says what you want to hear. You try to spend sometime at school observing and come to your own and your child’s conclusions)
  23. And, there is this cross-eyed male teacher who always looks shabby with unkempt hair growth all over. He does not wear coordinated dress. Look at him, he is supposed to have retired prematurely, no, immaturely, from the IT industry and is working in the school, can you believe it? Am sure he is a failure and a dropout fringe element. And, I know that he is a drug addict and may be has AIDS too. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of my children to get exposed to this wreck! (you may be correct about him, ma’am, but he is not a representative sample of the adults in school. The other teachers are actually good.)

As I said elsewhere, there are perceived issues (and non-issues) in every and any school. I think NammaShaale (insert your current school’s name, for that matter) has been fair and reasonable in addressing the genuine concerns of the parents – most of us know it. If you want to solve or pitch in, be a part of it. If you don’t want to contribute, you can whine or better, stop unnecessarily worrying –  if you want to get out, please get out. It is your life.

But, I sincerely think that the paranoid parents should take decisive action, check out the truth, weigh the situation realistically, think logically, ditch emotional/sentimental bullexcreta and move their ponderous posteriors, in whatever direction that they want to! It is a matter of your children, dammit. Don’t we parents all hallucinate that whatever we do, we do is in the best interests of our children?

Now, if you would excuse me, I gotta go check whether ‘Royal Mysore InterGalactic Boeing school’ is issuing application forms for new admissions; you know, you have to sleep near the gate tonight so that you will have a chance to get the app form tomorrow morning… They are in the IB league, you know, not even your silly IGCSE. grrrr

Spouse! Where in the hell are my raincoat and sleeping bag? What?? I forgot to bring them back when I went for my night-out at the HairyheadLose School this time last year?? @#$%$ Do I have to go to Kuberan School also today? Oh NO.

Again: A Rosicrucian master’s take on the prime way of life: ‘To love where I am, love who I am with, and love what I am doing’

Comments welcome – but not on phone. No sir. Illa ma’am. Don’t worry. I won’t publish your name.

we expect too much from teachers…

… and also from schools, and very little from us. Of course there are a few exceptons, as I would mention always, but then…

(this would be part #8 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series)

I think, we as parents (mostly clueless, that is – it takes one to know one and all that…) have these romantic notions of an ideal school being populated by ideal teachers and ideal peers for our children – and keep looking for it. And, when we can’t locate one (obviously, what do we expect!) we keep complaining ad naueam about the status quo.., We are not satisfied at all with the situation, and spread the happy news of our disaffection, discontent and cynicism all over the place – and for some unfathomable reason, the inherent spreadability of any negative news defies ALL physics that I know of – it spreads so fast, in spite of not having much of truth, and absoutely inertia-free!

We expect to find bleakness and negative situations, and voila, we find them in mind boggling abundance!

I think teachers are like the rest of us. They are neither despicable demons nor angels waiting to service us. They are part of the great area of gray! There are good teachers and bad teachers – and the multitudinous majority of them are in between. There are capable & conscientious ones and there are utterly useless (‘kaamchors’) system beaters…

There are good teachers, who have incredible passion towards teaching, who have the capacity to ‘connect’ with children when needed, and who are NOT of the ‘emotional’ type but very warm and respectful towards the children; the last point – in the sense that these good teachers do not get personally hooked on to the children and get into tiring/draining situations. I am happy to know of a few of them.

I am also sad to know a few bad teachers. But they also teach me many things – but nothing that they profess to teach. I am talking about the ‘other things’ – the tacit ones here..

And, good teachers need not necessarily be from schools. Even we can be (I like to hallucinate – but think of all the axes of requirements of being a ‘home schooling’ parent, ohmygod! ayyo!!) but, it is a choice one has to mindfully make.

On a related thought stream – why don’t we expect ‘too much’ from ourselves, instead?

In the long lost mists of my childhood, we used to chant that verse (from Taithriya Upanishad? I don’t remember, I could be incorrect) – that begins with ‘Maathru Devoh Bhava.’ – many of us would be familiar with that, I think. But I also realize that those days are probably over. The old order changeth, yielding place to the new or to chaos? Now, I’ll tell you what we would do – or at least, what I would do.

‘Old’ upanishadic saying

Our (at least, my) current interpretation

maathru devoh bhava toxic co-dependence needs to be avoided; and my god, she happens to be my spouse’s mother-in-law, Grrr
pithru devoh bhava – toxic ditto – and my god, he happens to be my spouse’s bother-in-law too; he is responsible for all my failures. Grrr
achaarya devoh bhava teachers are bad, clueless – and don’t they merely work for a living? We need passion man, passion. But you don’t ask me how passionate I am about things that I profess!
athithi devoh bhava we don’t want ‘unannounced’ guests at all; if at all these thithis want to come, they had better inform us well in advance, and then do a reconfirmation before they land…

I am not saying that modern psychoanalysis and its loud cousin – the psychobabble is all bull excreta, but I increasingly feel that – all these techniques are being used to analyze the others endlessly, instead of even beginning to use them to look at ourselves, at least occasionally!

I was truly startled (when I went to a Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) training – the guide/guru was really good – Richard McHugh) a few years back, to realize that almost all folks, my fellow trainees, were more interested in analyzing others rather than using the good techniques on themselves – but this may have been an aberration. But it was fun.

A shrink’s world almost never shrinks, and in any case, it NEVER shrinks much enough to include only the shrink. That is shrink-rapping for you!

Probably, aeons back, teaching was a respected profession. But I don’t think it is true anymore. The way we (as a society) treat our teachers, police force (am giving just two examples here)  is so bad – they don’t get paid well, they have bad working conditions, bad/outdated equipment, they have long hours, do all kinds of extra work (teachers: election, enumeration; police: random security duties) – and yet, we expect them to perform much more and be answerable to all kinds of real and imagined fears and insecurities.

If these two segments of society are given the salaries of say, the lowest of the lowly computer programmer (I would hate to call them engineers) and treated with respect – I think, within a generation, our society would vastly improve. But am obviously smoking marijuana.

And, yeah – did you say ‘ Achaarya devoh bhava?’ My foot.

(part #9 may follow)

home and school: dialogue continued…

This one deserves a special post. Thanks Jayashree, for having taken the time and energy to come up with some very interesting and valid standpoints. I appreciate that.

The original post for which Jayashree posted a rejoinder is here: home and school – a complete partnership.

(this would be part #7 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series)

> Jayashree Ashok Says:
>
>April 26, 2009 at 11:15 am e
>Thanks for this post and summary. This post in co-
>incidentally similar to the points I’ve been putting down for
>ourselves and our children. It was nice to read a group meeting
>summary with such points.

Our pleasure – the thing is, as mentioned in the post it is our perspective or thought at that time – we made some quick notes before the meeting and in the meeting quite a few other points were raised. Quite a few of them were good, but we did not capture the other points in this note – may be we should have done that too! In this context it is NOT a group meeting summary, As I wrote in that post, if we were to do that now, there would be some additions and modifications, but then I just wanted to present it as a set of thoughts for record etc etc.

>We all talk a lot about life education. What does this really mean?
>Most of the time schools aim at looking at only the material aspects
>of life education. That too in a limited sense. Does life education
>include courage and strength to live life to the fullest? Does it
>include giving to others? Fully participating in our communities? Is
>life education only individual centric?

Yes, yes, YES. It should. But, it need not be only be undertaken in school. I tried to handle some of your ‘dyadic’ questions in this post (Education: A taxonomy towards understanding this beast better) – and later, will try to coherently to present some more stuff.

I am not very comfortable with the dyadic perspective of material vs spiritual ways of looking at things – I am of the opinion that a lot of things in life are either 1) merely two sides of a given coin, for a given value of dyadic extremes or 2) in the great & lovely gray area between those two extremes. In the taxomomy post, I have tried to present my understanding/case. If you have the time, please go thru that post and comment on the same too – I would appreciate that.

>If home and school are indeed places where we expect children to
>learn life skills – then we really need to have more discussions
>around this.

I agree. Your comment/rejoinder is welcome, and as Hegel would rather not admit, with some happy marriage of thesis and antithesis, a reasonable synthesis can result. Dialectic materialism (or spiritualism), here we come!

>Today, I’m not sure many schools – including Namma
>Shaale even look at preparing children how to face challenges –
>internal and external to themselves.

I agree. I think no ‘school’ as in outsourced and externalized ‘education’ – away from realm of parental responsibility will work in splendid isolation. Schools are NO magic silver bullets, especially when there is a cognitive dissonance between what the parents are and what the school does. With my limited knowledge and perspective (read: tunnel vision) I don’t know of any school that is a silver bullet.

Children are like sponges as I am tiringly fond of saying and the primary environment is home, and will continue to be so for many more years – till the time when all the babies (excepting those of diehard & maverick homesteaders) grow up only in bigger and bigger plastic tanks, finally to be released may be for propagation purposes – with all morals, ethics and what not, getting directly programmed into their brain, while they are still in their tanks.

So, whatever the school does, it can only supplement and (in some cases) complement what is done at home – whether it is indifference or indoctrination or general restlessness or hedonism or whatever at home.

I also think that a given kid’s mind is like a palimpsest – layers over layers of experiences and internalizations – and most of these layers are formed with the parental/familial influenes, even though I am aghast at this thought.

So, if I feel that my child is not getting benefitted in school in some realms or in all realms of that beast called ‘education,’ I would look at what I cannot contribute to that outcome that I don’t desire to happen to the child, at home. Does it sound slightly puzzling? I feel that life is self-fulfilling prophecy, in other words.

To reiterate my point(lessness?), home environment is the primary environnment from which children pick up their values, ethics, the giving nature, stewardship; the school can help a lot, but looking at my personal experience of teaching and dealing with puzzled (and puzzling) parents & ‘students’ in random spurts over a couple of decades, I feel that:

1. If the aims, goals, ethics, norms and values of parents and school are congruent – the outcome is good (and the goodness is magnified) for the child – in fact this is ONE greatest service that a given ‘school’ can do to the child.

2. If the above are not congruent in parents and school – the child suffers, but if the parents have good ‘sense’ then that good sense will prevail on the child too.

3. If the above are not congruent, and if the parents have questionable ‘sense’ whether or not the school has reasonable sense, the screwed up nature of the parents gets reflected – in the child.

4. In any case, what a given school could do is to either magnify the basic effect of parents (it could be positive or negative in both parents and school) or smother the effect(in positive or negative ways). I think the ultimate responsibility is ONLY with parents.

The following table summarizes once again the major points of view in terms of ‘Good’ sense & ‘Bad’ sense (this is dyadic once again, but will suffice for the discussion and adds a lil’ bit of spice too!), though categorizing them as points of view A or B should also be okay. Anyway, it is all about the congruence of points of views of the school and the parents – whether it is good or bad, it would depend on perception, I think. (of course, with the caveat of ‘all other things being equal’ and all that)

Case no

Parents’ ‘good’ sense

‘School’s’ ‘good’ sense

Probable outcome on children

Comments

1

yes

yes

Enhanced ‘good’ sense They would mostly make it peacefully and nicely to the world.

2

no

no

Where do I even begin… Realm of the serial killers of the 2020s and 2030s or/and would be scamsters

3

no

yes

The school can try, but ‘apple does not fall far from the tree’ Cognitive dissonance in the child. The home environment being primal, would override the good effect of the school.

4

yes

no

Sad for the child. The school reduces the ‘good’ sense of the parents. Cognitive dissonance in the child; there is something to be said about the perceptions of these parents and how could they commit such an error of judgment…
5

kind of

kind of

Foot soldiers of the middle 2000s. The majority of the population is in this area.
Of course, there are grand exceptions, but then they only prove the rule; also, sufficient allowance should be given to the ‘flaw of the averages’ and all that, while interpreting the above table…

>I also want to point out that not just parents – but teachers are
>also role models…something rarely acknowledged by the teaching
>community.

I agree, but teachers are only representative sample of folks living and working elsewhere and in other fields. Therefore there are good teachers and bad teachers and Non-teachers as well – and this categorization would be applicable to everyother field, including parenting. But, I don’t know whether teachers are in denial about them also being considered as role models – whether positive or negative. I don’t know of a good/varied representative sample size of teachers to come to a decision here. But, I know you have had a very significant experience of interacting with schools and teachers, over many years. Now, assuming that they are in denial by and large, what next?

>It is not sufficient for just parents to take up this
>responsibility.

I agree. But, the teachers in my opinion cannot afford to have (Spouse says, perhaps they should NOT have at all) emotional investment & stakes in a given child – it is deleterious to the student/child in the short and long run. I think this should be with the exclusive domain of the parents.

It is important for children to interact with ‘well meaning, but not too very close‘ kind of capable and warm folks – and I think teachers could be essentially that. This factor helps the child in having a healthy view about the external universe (is anything external at all?) – that is, not negative/cynical at all but encouraging.

>Teachers need to be diligently aware self aware of
>what they are communicating to the children.

I couldn’t agree with you more – but still believe that the home environment continues to be primary and primal – so if the child sees a lot of layered meanings and inconsistencies in the teachers, perhaps the home environment ‘prepares’ them for that world-view. As a friend of my spouse says, children are our best bullshit meters. They know. My child knows how phoney I am, whenever I am being one.

>Our children spend a
>large chunk of the day at school. Children learn – all the time –
>from parents and teachers and peers. The question is really – what
>are they learning?

🙂 You know, I get cynical sometimes, but try to shake myself clear – when I consider whatever the smouldering hell that I learnt – in school, home, ‘professional’ career, entrepreneurship etc etc… At one level, I am much more comfortable & happy with plant life – and may be, just may be, I am learning too.

Life, I celebrate thee!

>Thanks much!

I thimk you should put together the stuff that you have been thinking about (on education, life and what not) and publish your nice points of view. In the mean time, please plan to take over the blog and do some EFT for/on me. I need it.

(This dialogue spawned thought continues in the next post – which would be  art #8 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series)

time ‘spent’ on education

This is part #5 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series; pointers to the previous posts are given at the bottom of this post.

Let us do a little bit of a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation.

Let us assume that the average longevity of a human being in India is 65, which is actually a shortivity, given the unhealthy food practices of the majority of our population – what with the happy and generous rationing of ‘polished white’ rice (read: sugar problems), ‘refined’ oils (read: more cholestrol without vitamins/minerals), HighYieldVariety wheat (read: pesticides, fungicides, weedicides) and ‘white’ sugar (read: pure poison) all over India, thanks to the illustrious public distribution system, a legacy of the British rape of India. 

But, my diatribe is actually about education, so back to the topic… 

Of the 24 hours available per day, we do the following:

  • Circa 9 hours on sleep
  • Circa 3 hours on ablutions, eating, cooking-cleaning (strictly reserved for females), entertainment, sports (strictly reserved for males & exclusively spent on training our fingers on various keyboards, remote controls, steering wheels, Sony PSPs, cellphones)
  • Circa 2 hours on commute to wherever the hell, and back 

This compute leaves on an average, about 10 hours per day, to everyone of us, to lead our lives, derive some meaning etc. But we choose to spend close to 8-10 hours (in our adult lives) on the beasts called ‘work.’ – presumably to make ‘both ends meet’ or to ‘make a living’ or one of such thingies. Most of us even pretend to enjoy the ‘work’ that we would otherwise endlessly gripe about with our close friends and hapless spouses… 

So, actually most of us don’t live at all. May be, except on weekends, which if we live in Bangalore, happily spend hanging around Brigade road or on Commercial Street or in a neon lit mall or in a multiplex – if at all we call these things life.

Aha, but then, I must NOT forget the stranger who keeps tabs on & ogles at us right in our dying rooms –  TV! 

Give us our daily dread. Amen. 

If this is a typical pattern with most of us, then, I would say that, it is high time we became manure and fed the microbes.  Thankfully some of us are not ready for it, yet – but then… 

What about the children then? They don’t have these ‘work’ or ‘profession’ or whatever, at least. THEY should be enjoying THEIR lives, yeah?? 

Now comes the compute for the children who go to school:

No of days in an year:                                                     365     

Less: Saturdays/Sundays                                              104     

Less 2.5 months of various holidays

@20 days per month                                                        50       

Days in school                                                                    211 (approximate, of course) 

         

Age band (in years) of Children / adolescents / adults

Years spent

Hours per day spent in school

Days in school per year

No of hours ‘spent’ in school

2.5 – 5

2.5

3

211

1582.50

6 to 15

10

8

211

16880.00

16 & 17

2

7

211

2954.00

18 – 20

3

9

211

5697.00

         

 I have assumed that children begin schooling at two-and-a-half years of age and keep ‘studying till their twentieth year at least. In many cases in reality, many young adults keep ‘studying’ till they are 25 or so…

   
Total no of hours ‘spent’ in school

27113.50

Total no of calendar years on ‘education’ in school/college – till 20 years of age, say

3.10

   

This 3.10 years means days & nights full of study and study… and it should not be mistaken with a normal year.

 

Years spent

Hours per day spent in homework / tuitions

Days in these activities per year

No of hours ‘spent’ in these ‘out of school’ activites

Now add the ‘homework’

15

2

300

9000.00

Add: ‘tuitions’

13

2

300

7800.00

       

 

Grand’ total hours on ‘education’ via homework/tuitions      

16800.00

Grand’ total years on ‘education’ via homework/tuitions      

1.92

       

years

Great grand no of years spent, with a bunch of certificates to prove it, at the end of this ‘education’…      

5.01

This, in real terms will workout to, about…      

8.67

         

The children (at least, most of them) spend a significant part of their impressionable years in things that provide them with an illusion of being ‘educated.’

In the first twenty years of their lives, they spend more than 40% of their time in actitivties that are suppose to be providing them with ‘education’ and ‘life skills’…

Why do we do this? If we pause (don’t you ask for a remote ccntrol…) to think for a moment, it would be obvious that children also lead exciting lives (!) like the rest of us. They too don’t live their lives, poor things. But we should understand that we are training them for becoming like what we wanted to become in our youth, a couple of decades down their line. 

After all these years of grueling ‘education’ one would think that all these ‘products’ of the education mills would be able at least to do things like, hold your breath:

  • identify the stars/planets in the night sky or
  • locate the edible plants in their own backyards or
  • apply whatever things that they ‘learnt’ in their ‘studies’ in real life or
  • … even cook a decent meal…
  • be happy and peaceful??

No, Nyet, Nada, Ayyo, illey saar! 

And yeah! A few years back, I went to a ‘con’sultancy firm’s office in Whitefield (a suburb of Bangalore, housing gargantuan and soulless buildings and (mostly of course) IT companies) to visit an old classmate of mine – and a few of his friends; eventually, we started talking about the elite school we went to etc etc. And, one of the guys was truly a believer in the idea that the guys who went to our school were SUPREME and of course God’s own gift to mankind and all that… And the fundamentals (‘fundas’) that they have etc, and of course they are brainy. To be honest, this guy was ‘academically’ good during those wasted days of my youth, certainly better than mine – essentially an acadummy

I was endlessly peeved and I asked him Do you remember Eigen values and Eigen vectors that we studied and how useful they are to our practical  lives. He was flummoxed for a second, and said Of course, I don’t, but not all things were useful to study, I got good grades in my math courses but where do we even use Eigen vectors, huh? Again I asked him Do you ever help in the kitchen by ‘rolling’ chappathis/rotis or even pack food, harnessing the lunch_packets with elastic rubber bands. He said No and asked What the f**k is the connection? 

I didn’t say what the connection was, and controlled my temper. 

The thing is that ‘brand’ recall is a great camouflage that helps a lot in covering up; in a world that is brand/stereotype oriented, we get only cardboard cutouts. A sad state indeed. 

It is another matter that this chap is working in the ‘States’ with a 5 figure dollar salary (as per his father) and visits his Bangalore based parents 4 times an year, on office ‘account’ or ‘expense.’ 

If this is the state of education and our ‘educated’ elite, who are seen to be successful and the vanguard, then why even bother to ‘educate’ our children? 

I suspect that the reason is, actually we want our children to be like us, oh what a noble & paramount objective to shoot for, my eyes are filled with tears now… and at best we may wish for – them leading cushier lives than us, but doing as less ‘work’ as possible and doing things that we wanted to do, once upon a time. Ta da

I have a reasonable (read: ‘brand’) academic background, plodded thru some 16 bloody years of ‘education’ and sometimes I feel whatever the heaven, that I have to show for it!

But then, education systems are not all that bleak… There are ways and ways and positive things…

(continued in the next installment #6)

All parts of the series, uptil the current one are here: FAQs on ‘education’

education: frequently avoided questions – part 4

This should be titled:

Education: A taxonomy towards understanding this beast better.

 

Previous parts of this series on exploring education and its drivers (slightly sarcastically), mainly aimed at us clueless parents are here!

part 1: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/education-some-questions-and-answers/

part 2: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/education-questions-and-answers-part-2/

part 3: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/education-questions-and-answers-part-3/ 

This is part 4 of the exciting (!) series. Seriously, now.

 So what do we mean when we say education? What are the daemons in our mind that immediately rev-up and fill our mindscape with some ideas – whenever someone says ‘education?’

Do we want ‘education’ at all? What kind of education do we want for our children? Are our ideas on education based on the kind of education that we had when we were young, and frankly would have preferred NOT to have had it at all in the first place?

Did we admire the ‘education’ that someone else received  (that we didn’t) when we were young – and consider that ‘education?’ 

Does a certificate from well known school/college/institute with a brand-recall circumscribe the context of ‘education’ for you? 

Does education mean that, it is a stepping stone that would enable one to aspire for some other goal or brand, such as the Indian Administrative Service – IAS? 

Does the ‘education’ that you are seeking for yourself or for your wards, is seen to be a silver bullet that will release you &/or your children from the detestable social &/or economic status that you find yourself or perceive yourself to be in? Or is there a difference between perception and your own cute reality? 

Or, in the happy situation, do we NOT have any ideas about education at all? Okay, I agree that we may not have had time to think about education – because we feel we have not had the luxury of reflecting on anything serious – between making a living and actually living? 

Fine. Ignorance was not built in a day, it is a hard-won attitude that one has to cultivate. I know, it took me ages to groom myself so that I could become eloquently ignorant and imperiously indifferent… Ha! 

Seriously now, in this next installment of this blasphemous series of rants, we would look at the common ways of stereotyping education in terms of what sociologists call, Ideal Types. 

An ideal type is formed from characteristics and elements of the given phenomena, but it is not meant to correspond to all of the characteristics of any one particular case. It is not meant to refer to perfect things, moral ideals nor to statistical averages but rather to stress certain elements common to most cases of the given phenomena.” (The methodology of the social sciences’ – Max Weber – a fine text

Simply put, the world of ideal types merely allows one to stereotype, simplify and attempt to slot things – such as white and black, so that we can easily pretend to understand things. But you see, the world is NEVER defined in terms of black and white. 

It has myriad hues – it is a true celebration of gray areas. 

One example of this ‘ideal type’ is the varna system in India (or ‘caste’ if you will, which is a Portuguese terminology from that culture, which does not even begin to describe our varna system or its subset, the jaati system). Varna ideal types constitute 4 main categories, all of which conform in one-way or the other to the canonical ideal type classification. 

If we just give it a little thought, we would be surprised to find that – we would hardly, if ever, find exact mappings of real individuals to the ideal types. But, we carry on with our lives as if the ideal types are all real – waging our own passionate and petty wars in support of or against one of these ideal types. 

Again, the stereotypes of the ideal types themselves are quite badly formed, with negative attributes lined up against a particular thing and positive ones against the other. So, we end up avoiding the gray areas – which represent the truth in its splendid glory, which is sad. 

In fact, we have always generally avoided ‘going to the sources,’ because of our splendidly cultivated ignorance and laziness – we always have borrowed opinions. Like Raama and Raavana in Raamayana – we make Raama a personification of virtues and Raavana, a truly veritable evil. But if one dares read Ramayana from one of the 100s of versions of it, he/she would realize that Raama and Raavana, are both characterized as normal folks – each with his sinful acts and acts of selfless braveries, large heartedness and petty mindedness and much else.  A celebration of gray, with past possibilities of learning, for us to strive to become better… 

Take that great epic – Mahaabharatha – that grand celebration of gray areas. Or take the case of the Bible – old as well as new testaments; all characters, including Sri Judas Iscariot and Sri Jesus Joseph – are portrayed as normal and therefore splendid people – what with very cute contradictions in the various versions/narratives of the apostles. All very human… 

Take the case of our good ol’ Buddha. He deserted his family to ‘seek’ – to make a fresh beginning and to deal with intense introspection. Very human, though sometimes I don’t understand him. (I like my Kabir better) 

They are NOT cardboard cut outs at all! Probably what makes them (Raavana, Raama, Judas, Jesus, Gautama et al) great is their constant striving to become better beings, in spite of all kinds of debilitating issues & contradictions they have had – both personal and environmental… 

But the hagiographies that followed and the need for some folks to establish an institution around the images of these persona, for their own benefit – have resulted in untenable and lifeless black and white images of the folks/characters involved.. How sad! We talk about Hell and Heaven! Angels and Evil spirits! As if all these are separate and mutually exclusive entities, ideal types – if you will…when we actually, if at all think of these, we would realize that we are both – sometimes simultaneously! We are both evil and good… 

In clear black and white pictures of anything, no searching for meaning or ‘seeking’ is possible. 

I like gray areas.  Of course, the fact that my hair is graying rather silently with the forehead rapidly increasing its domination over my pate, also does help. 

Even with respect to having opinions on a book or an issue or a film – we always borrow the opinions of others, never having the time or the attitude to look at the sources and form our own opinions.

At this juncture, I recollect reading that tome – ‘The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich – and feeling that, eventually we are probably headed in a direction wherein we will all settle down to a second rate life, if at all! 

Okay, just like the way we have ‘understood’ and randomly & selectively interpreted and continue to interpret a fascinating epic like Ramayana, we do this mindless act of stereotyping without any rhyme or reason and we have forgotten that, to understand something in an intended context, one has to go to the sources… But, these are the days when one prefers ‘notes’ and ‘question banks’ to the actual & canonical texts. So we find it easier NOT to think and simply mouth the opinions of others. 

What happens in this depressingly underwhelming process is invariably – as John Pilger would say – the ‘normalization of the unthinkable.’ The main casualty in the approach is non acceptance of  well considered or heretic points or even realistic / pragmatic points of view. May be heretic views are the correct ones or may be not. 

Note to myself: Should see Rashomon again. And of course, the lyrical Shichinin no Samurai – the Akira Kurosawa masterpieces; great concurrent accommodation and treatment of various points of view, with subtle nuances – seen through the prism of individual beliefs and deeply felt realities… 

Okay, all these thoughts and beliefs operate at the subconscious levels – making us perceive and make sense of the world in our own prejudiced and half-baked ways – and as I’m fond of saying, form the ‘metaphors we die by.’ I am very much not an exception, so caveat emptor! I like to wallow in reasonable ignorance. 

When I think about the applicability of the sociological category of ‘ideal types’ – a few examples float up immediately and I tell myself that we would bother only about ‘education’ here – and in terms of all of them being seen as forming dyads located on the opposite ‘extreme’ sides of a given phenomena: (they are not in any particular order, but I sincerely hope that, a reasonable taxonomy would develop eventually – based on the following axes for the understanding of education) 

Philosphical moorings 

  • Literacy Vs education
  • Theory of education Vs the Practice of it
  • Quality Vs Quantity
  • Form (‘certificate’) Vs content (‘education’)
  • Arts Vs Science (OR Creativity vs Concepts)
  • Big picture Vs details (OR Bird’s eye view vs Earthworm’s view)
  • Competition Vs Cooperation
  • ‘A picture is worth 1000 words’ Vs ‘Write an essay on the parliamentary system in 1000 words.’
  • Oriental Vs Occidental accents
  • Spiritual VsMaterialistic accents
  • Education as teaching: How to make a living Vs How to live 

Education theories 

  • Tagore? Steiner? Piaget? Gandhi? Goldman? Dewey? Montessori? Bruner? Aurobindo? Vygotsky? Or that bane of Indian education – Macaulay?
  • Connectivism? Cognitivism? Behaviorism? Constructivism? Contiguity? Gestalt? Experiential learning?
  • Learning theories? Andragogy? Symbol systems? Repair theory? 

there are as many theories about education as there are folks on earth! 

Behaviour modalities in education 

  • Punishment Vs non-punishment
  • Direction by the needs of the self Vs behaving as dictated by outside instructions
  • Development of self esteem Vs Addiction to rewards & mere tokens
  • Self validation Vs External validation
  • Blooming under privacy Vs Wilting under an atmosphere of surveillance 

Parental involvement 

  • Complete outsourcing of education to the ‘school’ Vs Symbiotic relationship with the ‘school’
  • Schooling vs Unschooling Vs Homeschooling … 

Practical pedagogy 

  • Medium of instruction: Mother tongue Vs Some other tongue (English)
  • Rote memorization Vs Learning with understanding
  • Physical Vs Mental activities
  • Left brain Vs Right brain
  • Exams Vs No-exams
  • Work Vs Play
  • State board Vs CBSE vs… (what a delightful variety)
  • Computers Vs NO-Computers (or a Sony PSP vs no gadgets)
  • Vocational training Vs NO-vocational orientation. 

Educational/Class Environment 

  • Democracy in classrooms Vs Autocracy
  • Open environment Vs closed environment
  • Textbooks Vs No-textbooks
  • Class/Period/subject switching every hour Vs child directed activities
  • Older children in the environment (‘mixed’ age group) Vs Children of the same age (‘narrow’ group) 

Schooling systems 

  • Montessori Vs non-montessori (OR Waldorf vs non-waldorf OR Nai Talim vs non-nai taleem OR <insert your favourite theory, including Piaget’s>)
  • Big school Vs Small school
  • Local schools Vs ‘International’ schools
  • Valley Schools (such as The Valley Schools) Vs Mountain Schools (such as a Montfort or a Lovedale)
  • Non-missionary schools Vs Missionary schools (mainly those gazillion factory schools that call themselves ‘Christian’ schools that are neither Christian nor Schools)
  • Professional teachers Vs consultants/experts
  • Government run ‘public’ schools Vs Private ones
  • ‘Mainstream’ schools Vs ‘Alternative’ schools (I think I dealt with this in the first installment
Economics of education 
  • Education as business Vs Education as service
  • Opportunities based on availability of funds Vs others available irrespective of funds 
  • Education as one giving respectability Vs one getting dowry
Politics of education 
  • Equality of opportunity Vs Equality of status
  • Education: Breadth first Vs Depth first
  • Education as providing: Models of excellence Vs Models
  • Schools providing skills for being: Sociable Vs Antisocial
  • Education as a force to: Transform the world Vs Transforming oneself
  • System beating/cracking Vs ‘following his own drummer’ Vs ‘also-ran’
  • Us Vs Them  

From the next installment, we will jointly try to address and understand where we stand and where we may want to go – with respect to the above and a few more. 

And, we may begin to understand that both polarities in most of the above (so perceived) dyadic relationships are important, if we are seriously talking about education. We may eventually find out that, in most of these so called dyadic cases, we are, in effect, traversing a Möbius strip – which apparently & on the face of it, has two sides, but actually has only one side. 

In some of the above dyadic ideas, we get more pointers to reach clarity about the others – they by themselves are not critical, but they help a lot towards understanding things that impact education or at least our understanding of it. 

We would also discuss the broader social context in which ‘education’ operates – coexisting and symbiotically working with other ‘systems’ in society. 

Of course, your mileage will vary, depending on where you are and where I am – and therefore where we are NOT. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts / anger / annoyance in the interim. The forum is open. If you are silent, you will be forced to listen to my untempered views! Caveat, caveat!

 

Part 5 will follow sometime later…

All parts of the series, uptil the current one are here: FAQs on ‘education’

home and school – a complete partnership

Many moons back, we had this meeting at NammaShaale (I recall that there were a few such angst laden aperiodical meetings) and am sure many schools have these kinds of congregations to thrash out the vexatious issues and stuff…

Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to post the quick notes (fr0m our archives)  that we made for ourselves, when we went for this meeting/discussions.

By no means this listing claims to be complete,we would like to revisit this too  – and I recall that there were many parents who actively participated and presented their considered views.

It is reproduced here verbatim – it is kinda dated, but probably would be useful, as long as there are schools and parents…

—- begin —-

Parents meeting : The roles of home and school – a complete partnership

Namma Shaale – 20th July 2008

Goals of education 

  • Aid for life
  • Ongoing process for life
  • In childhood, it is formalized

 As adults, we need to help the child develop the following three:

  • Strong sense of self – to help the child deal with present and future challenges in life
  • Right values towards self, work, one’s life, fellow human beings, and fellow living things and the world around us – to build a sense of a loving, respectful, thinking, evolving community
  • Skills and meta skills to live one’s life fully at every stage – to find joy and meaning in work

 School’s role in education 

We think that the school should provide the following

  • Strong sense of self and the right values 
    •  Reinforce what comes from home – provide everyday examples of valued behaviour and responses to the world
  • Skills: School is the main influence in the child’s life. While meta-skills are more important than skills, we feel that meta-skills cannot be learnt in isolation – they have to be learnt only through the underlying skills.

 Some key meta-learning skills:

  • how to learn
  • how to work alone
  • how to work with others (including other adults)
  • how to set goals and outcomes
  • how to plan to get the outcomes and work for it
  • how to be flexible and roll with the punches
  • exposure to diverse occupations, terrains and folks
  • how to identify and set standards, evaluate oneself and course-correct as necessary
  • joy and wonder in learning

 Some key skills:

  • Basic language, math, science, geography, history background
  • Ability to connect and weave webs among these separate topics

Parents’ role in education 

be role models, live the values that are preached take responsibility for child’s education and not outsource it to the school
respect and love,  the child keep channels of communication open with child
provide richness of environment constant dialogue with school
provide choices and respect child’s choice pitch in – aid and help the school as necessary and appropriate

Sowmya Arunajatesan & Ramjee Swaminathan

—- end —-

Please feel free to comment.

education: frequently avoided questions – part 3

The serious series ‘education: some questions and answers’ continues.

You can read the previous versions here, if you want to:

part 1: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/education-some-questions-and-answers/

part 2: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/education-questions-and-answers-part-2/

 —– begin, again —-

This Raju and his wife Ritu used to work for the same firm, more than a decade back; she was in my team, and then they got married, migrated to USA – then, remigrated (the chap got bumped?) back to India an year back or so; so Raju is forced to ‘search’ for his roots, ‘give back’ to India AND ‘contribute’ towards nation building… And I thought this young Ritu was a smart & vivacious girl, but the downhill movement must have started when she ‘fell’ headlong in love with this chap… Sometimes I feel, the hormones are really merciless, if not malicious –  what did the brain chemicals of Ritu see in this fat slob of a paunchyderm,. I used to wonder… But then, strange are the ways of love.

 

Once again it was business as usual with this Raju studbull – Indians don’t value time, roads are dirty, in ‘States’ there is no corruption, the new International Airport is so faaaaar away, Bangalore has become hotter, Real estate guys are cheats – etc etc…

 

He: <continuing his drivel> See, I followed American elections closely – I knew Obama would win, things are more open there you know – and look here, I don’t even know who the president of India is… <chuckles>

 

She: Ramjee, listen, we are looking for a good school in South Bangalore for our children and you know we stay in Jayanagar. Raju works on Bannerghatta Road, you see… We are not very happy with the school situation there, in that area…

 

Me: I understand your plight. The Inn is not free is it? Must have got booked well in advance. By the way, how old are your children? And, what exactly are you looking for?

 

She: 3 and 3, they are twins. I want to have a good education & solid basics for the children, I want them to be happy.

 

Me: It is slightly late for this school – but may be you can try Arunodoya – a good Montessori school in Koramangala – but I don’t think it had elementary environment then, a few years back – may be, you can check it out seriously? I have heard very good reports from knowledgeable people about the phenomenal lady and this school she runs…

 

She: No, we just want to put our children in some decent school once for all and forget about admissions etc till they reach their 10th std…

 

He: <removing his iPod headphones, momentarily> I want my home to be near my office.

 

Me: Um, oh… Ritu, may be you can try Prakriya GreenWisdom School on Sarjapura Road? But I don’t really know whether they take in kids this early. But you can always check it out… And then there is this GEAR school, you can find out more…

 

She: We checked Prakriya out, it is too far from here and our children are too small and I am not sure I can send them even by their school bus. And we don’t have a third vehicle for dropping and picking up children – because getting drivers for the cars is very difficult these days! They ask for raises all the time, you see – you can’t depend on them.

 

Me: But you can shift your home to somewhere on Sarjapura Road? May be even HSR layout or may be Kasavanahalli? You like the school, yeah?

 

He: But then, I would have to drive for a longer time to my office, that would be difficult, you know about Bangalore traffic.

 

Me: So Raju, what you are saying is, you like the school but you like your office more. And, you don’t want to disturb your dumb routine just for the sake of your children. Why then did you even go in for your children? Do you do some great and original work at the office? After all, you are a dumb seat warming manager straight from the Dilbert Cartoons, who happens to work for a dumber MNC, yeah? …

 

She: Ramjee, he is not like that, don’t get angry. He helps around in the kitchen. I mean, he reads his newspapers, does his emails, follows baseball and soccer matches, participates in conference-calls – in the morning, so that I am free to do the housework, cooking and attending to the twins; our family believes in sharing the responsibilities, you know. In the evening also he shares in the responsibilities of the household – he has his ‘drinks,’ watches TV, listens to Iron Maiden, checks his emails while having dinner, and I am completely free to take care of our lovely children and cook the dinner and to plan the next day. We are one happy family. Every week we go for shopping, multiplexes and visit commercial street and eat out. Raju even takes us out once an year to some exotic place! We love it. Last year we went to Pattaaya… He is soooo nice to us!

 

And, and… Raju does not beat me up even when he is totally drunk, unlike my father.

 

Me: Ritu, just a second please – I just want to verify whether you have a navel, can I?

 

She: <Horrified> Why? What Ramjee, I think I have one… <deer in the headlight, the works>

 

Me: I just was wondering whether you were from some other planet. May be you aliens do things differently there??

 

She: You are always joking Ramjee, we never know whether you are serious or being funny…

 

Me: You see Ritu, I feel you like the school and love the children. I suggest that you move to some place near that school on Sarjapura road or any other school anywhere else… See, you are an educated and a resourceful girl and can face life head on and be happy.

 

She: Ayyo Ramjee, but what will poor Raju do?

 

Me: Considering the way things are and you and your children are – I suggest that you look for a new husband. Life is full of choices, Ritu, for Godssake WAKE UP! I think Raju has already contributed what he could, to the family – I mean sperms.

 

He: <busy sending an SMS message on his cellphone and listening to his iPod music> I love my family. We are one great family, aren’t we, Ritu?

 

She: I never thought of it. What a new way of looking at life, you may not realize it Ramjee, I am constantly tired and frustrated… May be my expectation levels have been SO low! So darn low that, I can’t even recognize a normal person, even when I see one.

 

Me: Good that you are able to actually see things, Ritu, good luck! It is a magical world!

 

She: Okay Ramjee, how about you?

 

Me: ME? uh oh, NO dear, am already hubbily married, have kids and in any case I am only as young as your grandfather’s granduncle…Sorry. Besides, running a harem is not in my future plans. But I can introduce you to really nice guys, I promise…

 

He: <busy on cellphone> Chodo yaar, ab bolo – what is new on Forum mall multiplex this evening? Online booking kar sakthe?

 

She: Okay then, let me take leave of you – may be I should go to that Shubha Mudgal recital that I have been planning to go for more than a decade – but didn’t because of this guy. Bye…

 

Me: Bye, you don’t anymore want the second or the Nth car or what?

 

She: Yeah. I trust BMTC more – let me take a bus.

 

He: <checking his SMS message> Yippee! Newyork Yankees won the league – here come the Yankees! <Whistles the tune>

 

<She and I exchange dirty glances even as I bring a garrot…>  

—– x —–

So much for poking fun at this abominable category of  ‘you have marvelous children, but how on earth did YOU folks manage THAT?’ kind of parents.

It is amazing that, there are so many nice children, in spite of the best efforts of us parents.

 

This gives me hope. I would hate to admit it, but, I now think (after years of being a raving and ranting Atheist) that there is a possibility of the existence of God, after all. Or as Scott Peck would say, there could be no other explanation for this nice phenomenon but ‘divine grace.’

 

 From the next part, we will be serious

Next part: education a personal (and opinionated) taxonomy.

 

 https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/education-education-questions-and-answers-part-4/

 

All parts of the series, uptil the current one are here: FAQs on ‘education’

education: some questions and answers(!)

I am not the educator or even the educated type. My spouse defintely is.

We stay in a delightfully absolute boondocks near Bangalore, so get only occasional visitors. Many a time, however and of late, these visitors happen to be couples who are in a dilemma (um, more like a pentalemma or more)  about what school to choose for their wards; frequently we would be asked questions about education, and what parents should do to their children so that their children turn out fine, or what schools we can recommend, or how do we work with children, whatever. Luckily for them, my lack of credentials does not make me shy away from irresponsibly answering questions, of course! This, in spite of the exasparated and repeated interventions from my spouse, asking me to be sensible & sensitive…

Okay, mostly the questions from these folks are the same (and follow the same pattern) but they are all couched in polite language and much euphemism; but, yours truly being a guy from a small town, likes the barebones, unpolished & unadulterated essence of such communication and hence the way of recording of questions that are asked and the way they ar answered (in this write-up) may appear as if they are raw, but believe me, they are actually raw.

I have rather painstakingly(!)  recorded all the actually-meant-questions and our actually-tempted-to-say-answers , from all the conversations and talkathons we have had (but frankly, would have preferred NOT to have had them in the first place) – so that if someone wants to visit or talk to us about schools, education etc, we will merely point them over to this page and spare us the tragic agony of polite conversational nonsense, that would otherwise follow…

However, the ‘Kanti Sweets’ boxes by which we would become richer (& fatter), with every such visit of the Mrs and Mr Clueless,  may please be couriered to us. We even accept cash.

Hope you don’t enjoy the following as much as we didn’t enjoy them…

Is Nammashaale good? Or Anveshana? Is Prakriya good? Or NPS? Or Vidyaniketan Or Vidyashilp Or Bishop Cotton?? What about Royal Concorde? Macaulay English School? Is our local, homegrown Montessori school good enough?

The operative answer should be: Are you good enough for your child? May be you should try to change your child’s parents to some folks better?

Frankly, it all depends on what your views on education are. What? You don’t have an opinion at all? ^%$#@*(!

To help you decide, here are some photos of the Macaulay school and  one of its typical students – and  a writeup. Enjoy.

http://pratiloma.blogspot.com/search?q=macaulay

What are the advantages and drawbacks of mainstream and alternative schools?

There are no mainstream schools. There are no alternative schools. There are only good and bad schools. Like there are good and bad parents, of course YOU know what I mean?

Each school has a vision (that may or may not be openly articulated) based on the background and capacity of the founding group – and then there is this question of effective implementation of their vision. If you agree with both of them, you go ahead.

The vision of the school and you parents should have a significant number of commonalities. If not, cognitive dissonance will result, and your poor child will suffer – the only (and costly) mistake that the child committed would have been that – it was born of you

For example if you are a go-getter (nothing wrong with that) and believe in that cute philosophy of dog-eat-dog, then your child should go to an appropriate school so that the great family tradition and traits get passed on…

I think, professionalism and integrity are the ones that would separate good schools from bad schools – wheter or not they are Montessori or Waldorf or KFI or DPS or our friendly neighhourhood ‘International’ schools (that come in all shapes and sizes and number of swimming pools)…

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the big, branded schools?

There are quite a few advantages; for example, one can completely outsource the education of their wards to these factory model schools. These schools have a minimum standard / quality that they would turn out, irrexpective of the sensibilities of the child and the delightful variations in in each child.

The children of these schools are like High Yield varieties/cultivars with features like – uniformity, minimum standards (whatever that means), a lot of  additional inputs and reinforcement needed. These children would eventually become the fodder for the economy.

Some of these children would even tragically end up in the elite schools too (though they may have wanted to do something else), thus proving that the ‘system beating‘  techniques are likely to be well entrenched in them. This is becoming an important life skill, next only to the ability to use an iPod or a Sony PSP.

In fact I know of many such factory schools, where the children are prepared for nothing else or better than competitive exams like IIT JEE and stuff.

Actually there are no disadvantages to this mode. Schools and ‘Tuition centres’ would take care of everything about academics; if this is not sufficient enough, the so called peer-pressure will make the children perform like a troop of monkeys, but at least monkeys have fun. Summer camps would take care of  the children duting holidays. Lay’s chips would take care of the pot belly. Malls will take care of the much needed walking. Mediated entertainment will be their primary mode of relaxation. Zombiedom is Nirvana, what else.

Parents can have all the fun. Outsourcing will set the parents free. Every year the parents can bribe the children with visits to say, Pattaya kind of touristy places, if need be – and nothing else needs to be done but for paying fees at various places and ferrying the children up and down.

All else will lumber along in delirium.

What are advantages and disadvantages of a small school?

In a small school, I think there is a better chance of the founders’ vision getting translated into action. Another advantage would be that it is possible to make meaningful interventions in school. Of course, the culture and values propagation, and ability to respond to changes are likely to be much more coherent & resilient than in a big school with its ossified processes and all.

It is possible to do a self evaluation on the strengths (going to parties and more parties, or going ‘shopping’ incessantly are unfortunately not considered, sorry) of parents and weaknesses – and one can judiciously choose schools that would offset and complement what one can do at home, with children. This is a definite plus point in small schools, with their own cute strengths and therefore a few lacunae. Children may get the best of everything, this way. But, if the parents are also part of the HYV (hopefully NOT HIV) crop, then their key strength would be ‘career climbing,’ which would have very little relevance to a child.

The flipside would be that there will always be funds crunches (it is the economy, brilliant) – sometimes really crippling – but it is fun to surmount these issues. Another is about the aspect of not being a ‘well known brand.’ But, this vexatious question is handled separately, further down.

The children here could be compared to Open Pollinated seeds/cultivars and hence form a delightfully diverse species collection, very colourful and full of life and possibilities; very self reliant and rugged too.

God (if she exists) knows we need more such Open Pollinated seeds to preserve our rich dirversity. Small schools also invariably have something called character. But this notion probably is old fashioned.

How can my child ever learn the important social & life skills such as bullying, settling down in a pecking order, getting stuck in FaceBook, glueing oneself to toys (such as personal DVD players, iPods, Sony PSPs, Plasma and high defintion TVs), hanging around in malls etc, if they don’t study in branded schools?

I understand your dilemma. You want to pass on the valuable and traditional social skills in the family, to the next generation. What a laudable goal! I really like your concern that – how much less violence will be on the streets, how much safe it will be for others, if your children stayed inside your homes,  glued to their gizmos. My eyes have actually become glassy, where is that darn tissue when I need it.

I agree that the some errant children are getting distracted (all this can be blamed on their incorrigible tendency to get fresh air and sunshine) and are actually doing things and are happy. How can they! I am still investigating what’s wrong with them. Fortunately for my research, they are in a minority. Thank you.

How can I NOT proudly refer to my children as Silkians as the famous ‘Rook Silk’ students are referred to, in their afterlife, I mean, after they complete schooling?

You exactly caught-on to my dilemma too. But I think we can continue to call and refer to our children by their given names. I know it is a difficult & distasteful choice, as opposed to the cult choice – but we know we have the can-do mentality.

Don’t you know that many students from IdIoT are called and idolized as IdIoTians? Won’t our chests brim over, thereby bursting our upper-inner garments at the seams, if our children also join such elite schools?

Please note that when children join such elite schools, they pass out of them. This is a very well and internationally known syndrome called passing-out-charade.

Also remember, they immediately go abroad and never come back, which I think is a blessing. The advantage is that they don’t wreck havoc here in India, what with their paper degrees. The flipside of these jobless folks, has actually three main components.

1. They send (mostly unearned) dollars back, and send up the inflation rates in India.

2. They keep uploading photo albums on picasa or yahoo-photos every hour – and send mails to you urging you to see them, distracting you to bored-death or worse still, goading you to commit suicide.

3. They send you invitations to make you join FaceBook, Yaari, Orkut, LinkedIn etc etc – every week from a new social nutworking site – and keep sending reminders every week in respect of all the other 268 previous invites. In the dark depths of the IP network, nobody can hear you scream.

But, but… What about the BRAND?

What about the brand? You see, if you subject your children to unnecessary branding, then that is a crime punishable under Indian Penal Code. Honest. Instead, please call it tattooing. Aamir Khan likes it. Your children will like it too. When their bodies are filled with tattoos, then you don’t have to invest on clothes at all for your children. They will look naturally beautiful.

What do I do, my neighbour’s son Pappu always gets higher marks than my son Laalu. They both go to the same school, we fathers work in the same IT company. Our wives are both Interior Decorators.

What do you do? If I were in your position, I would swap the children. Or swap the fathers, so that Pappu gets the same fate as your sonny boy Laalu. May be the children belong to different zodiacal signs? May be Pappu is a Genetically Modified organism?
(I suggest that you look for reasons as far away as possible from yourself; believe me, this attitude helps, because you can never get the real reasons elsewhere)

What can I do to help my child learn fast, more, a lot and win medals??

I know you splendid parents very well and your incredible capabilities and therefore – KEEP OFF the child. He will then positively become a good learner, faster learner and a lotter learner. He may even be a muddle winner, as the state of the education is like that only.

My child is always lazy and sleeps too much, till 7.30AM everyday. She does not finish her homework on time. My neighbour’s daugther does not have these problems. That girl is always cheerful. What do I do.

I suggest that at least one day a month, you should let the child be… The child should be free of the Abacus, Painting, Singing (Hindustani & Karnatic – two classes per week), Dancing (Bharathanatyam, Kathak, Ballet, Bombay butt-wiggle, Odissi – only one class per week), Swimming, Pottery, Badminton, Chess, Meditation, Skating, Blading, Tennis, Squash, Violin, Guitar, Piano (only Cambridge certification), Veena, Drums etc etc, all conducted in different places – kind of classes – at least for one day.

May be she can then sleep for full 8 hours, one day a month? I think this easing of one day would go a long way towards reducing the probablity of her becoming a serial killer, by say 1%.

If you continue to make her class-surf like this, she will become a Naxalite. She will annihilate all Class Enemies, starting from you. Grrr.

Another way to solve the issue is to address and confront the neighbour kid, to check her weird behaviour. Keep scowling at her, make faces at her. She will eventually become sullen, at least towards you.

My son is lying a lot, how can I solve this vexatious issue! 😦

Next time around when your hapless boss rings you up, dont ask your son to pick up the mobile phone and say things like ‘my daddy is in the bathroom’ or ‘my daddy has gone out, he forgot to take his mobile.’

My son watches a lot of TV. He does not do anything else at home. He just sits and watches TV. What do I do, Oh what do I do…

First, you get up from your couche. Shed all the manly responsibilities of the morning – such as reading newspapers, commenting on politics, checking stock prices,  checking mails etc -and You start helping around in the kitchen. Sell your TV. Or junk it. The world did manage to work before the advent of TV, yeah?

My daughter is not getting sufficient physical exercise. at all. All she wants to do is to laze around. What do we do.

Resolve to be able to see your toetips in the standing position, without the intervention of the mighty curious midreef of yours, at least in the next year. You set an example of daily physical fitness regimen. All else will fall in place.

When I compare my son’s scorecard with that of my colleague’s son, I feel inferior. How do I address this.

I understand and agree with your feelings. I think you ARE inferior. Go get a life.

I think your wife should loudly start complaining about your performance in bed, while comparing your performance with that of, say your neighbour.

Seriously, you should suffer a major Performance Reprisal at your office.

Go away, or else I  will eat you up live.

——— end ———

This is only the first instalment, and depending on popular demand, if I dont go in to hiding, we may have a few more. Ha Ha.

4th April 2009 update: Part 2 of this rant here: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/education-questions-and-answers-part-2/

All parts of this series of ‘essays’ uptil the current one are here: https://nammashaale.wordpress.com/faqs-on-education/

James Clavell on Education

James is a guy better known for his novel – Shogun and a few others. But, not many folks realize that he was also an able teller of short stories. For a parallel case from the realm of the debilitating pulp, Jeffrey Archer (whose name should be familiar) also happens to be a reasonable short story writer.

But, am digressing…

I had read this story of James Clavell –  The Children’s story,  many years back – and now, thanks to the efforts of Arvind Gupta, this is available online and I read it again, oh, the horror, the horror… with shades of the ‘animal farm,’ ‘keep the aspidistra flying’ and ‘1984;’ it is a very short *horror* scienc_fiction (or is it really?) bereft of blood & gore or hitech hijinks and so please read it – it would take just 10 minutes, max. It is also a telling comment on what ‘education’ can do to our thoughts and ourselves.

This brings up Dharampal and his great research work on Indian Education prior to the advent of the Brits –  ‘The Beautiful Tree’ – but would reserve it for later…