Category Archives: ChildrenFirst

maria montessori said so…

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

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

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

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

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


children of the earth, architecture & activism

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

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

Caldwell Namma Bhoomi ML

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

being a non IITian… [oh the horror!]

Let me make this clear – I personally feel that, being an IITian is not such a great or an uniquely exalting thing, or something to be in awe of, at all.

One meets all kinds of brilliant, smart people – in all walks of life. So obviously, an IITian stamp(!) is not at all required for one to be ‘smart.’ On the contrary, I have met with enough people from these hallowed (sometimes I think of them more as hollowed, especially these days)  institutions who are quite sad, at many levels.

Yeah, I understand that one cannot randomly generalize like this, but this is what my ‘informed’ opinion is, okay?

I also believe that all children are good, fundamentally intelligent beings – and that there are NO exceptions whatsoever to this fact – but generally most of these young folks suffer because of the intended / unintended effects of a few factors – but, primarily and definitely it is the Parental focus that is to be appreciated / blamed for the positive or negative fate of the child.

There are these abominable helicopter parents on the one hand, and on the other – there are these parents who only perform their biological duties and hence outsource everything else to the world. Many children get caught in these kinds of abnormal socio-familial dynamics and emerge either as arrogant, entitlement oriented brats or as psychological wrecks / fringe operators in the society.

… of course, it is the question of statistical probability that determines whether a given young person is able to perceive various choices, has the requisite status (economics, I mean) to pursue a choice, has the necessary environmental inputs/factors – and then, acquires the required focus (or the ‘desperation’ if you will).

However, it is true that many children (and most of us darn adults) drift desultorily along and go by the default parameters / choices and achieve the nirvana of splendid mediocrity, in more ways than one…

Okay, let me get back to the positive outcome of the aforesaid statistical possibility. As a bye product of this process – a given child / young person may choose to go a school of her/his liking, because she/he would be able to ‘do’ it. That’s all – there is no magic here, at all. There is no need for any puzzlement here.

So, a focused child driven by a good work ethic would get what it want – it is so simple, eh?

… But, there is a problem here and it has been happening for the past nearly forty years. JEE, the Joint Entrance Examination for IITs has been happening – and it neatly, mercilessly, laconically categorizes the young and hapless aspirants into IIT and non-IIT classes or Jatis.

The kids who get through the JEE and clear it, think that they are superior to every other critter and hence are God’s own  gifts to mankind.

The kids that do not make it to IITs however – sulk, rubbish IITs, sometimes mostly feel inferior and inadequate.

In both cases, it is quite sad and hilarious.

But, one should remember that, these kids would still be middling & muddling teenagers / adolescents when this happens – who perhaps have the right to have such immature feelings and knee-jerk responses – seeing themselves and their lives in black vs white categories.

I sincerely believed that they have the time to grow up. And of course, they would grow up, making peace with themselves, their metacognition abilities gracefully guiding them all through…

Well,  I am wrong. I would hate to admit to this, but I am incredibly & infuriatingly wrong. Some folks simply refuse to grow up!

Every once a while I meet a person who feels deeply scarred, humiliated, lobotomized, discombobulated etc etc because he did not get into these darn IITs. The way he continues to handle this unjust catastrophe is, to rubbish anything that is remotely connected to the IITs – and lament that he did not get in because of x, y and z reasons – and of course all these reasons would have been beyond the capacity of him to address, at that time…


… And so, I met this parent – let us just call him Suppandi – 5 years back or so for the first time – at that time I was not ‘working’ in nammashaale, I was only a parent whose children went to nammashaale.

We do not ‘socialize’ much, being anti-socials that we are,  but Suppandi insisted on ‘interacting’ with us and we got to talk to each other a little bit.

In his own words,  he had been generally ‘successful’ which actually means that he is quite comfortably rich. A petite spouse,  kids, stayed for a long time in USA, did some IT related work, ventures, stock markets etc etc – the usual self-absorbed boring, dull stuff that 99% of NRIs do, only more so in the case of returnee-NRIs or ex-pats as they are referred to incorrectly – returned & started focusing only on children (his, obviously). Fair enough, I would fall in to this category myself, give or take a few years, a few billion dollars, lots of gray cells and loads of salt, what else!

Now, one would think that this gent will be happy and satisfied with life (as the ol’ Psalmist said: ‘my cup runneth over‘) – and would routinely take to wind-surfing or scuba diving or mountain climbing,  writing some good Telegu poetry – whatever. One would expect him to enjoy life.

Wrong again. He was so bitter, whining, cribbing and disconsolate. The reason: He did not make it to the IITs! He became much more bitter and hostile when he realized that both my spouse (the horror, he could not make it, but a female has!)  and I have some vague & abominable IIT connections.

Oh the horror, the horror

He can see the world as comprising only of those who have been to IITs and those who haven’t. The former would evoke his derision and snide comments – mostly rightly so. The latter would be treated as fellow underdogs, who somehow haven’t been given their due.

Oh well, incidentally we both were in our early 40s (bloody hell!) when we met. Normally this would be hilarious – but I feel that it is a deep-seated malaise.

How can a guy who is ought to be ‘happy and satisfied’ hold this silly grudge and defeatistic attitude, even after so many bloody decades?

And then, I read about these Kota sweatshops training a zillion children, who are waiting to be sacrificed at the altar of IIT – JEE.

And, for every arrogant automaton which makes it to an IIT (with no better skill(!) worth mentioning than gaming the system), there are going to be tens of self-confessed whiny losers who are going to litter our society.

Well, this is a new form of social stratification, I suddenly realize.

I also realize to my horror that the male child (only the sonny boy, mind you!) of my friendly suppandic whiner has no other go but to to go to IITs. Poor child. Poorer IITs.

I weep.

I promise to myself to go get a life.

I melt in the crowd of unvarnished masses.

how about better parents?

Sometimes, you have to agree with even Thomas Friedman, when he makes sense – especially when, he is not making sweeping generalizations. (link thanks to Mary)

While what he is revealing is not earth shaking, I know that, sometimes we adults (I mean, Suppandis) read and agree with the opinions of only our erudite and ‘well known’ scholars. We don’t have respect for hometruths or bare facts. So.

But here’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents.

Being a parent and a teacher, I straddle both worlds, I feel dizzy at times…

To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective.

I love it. I love it. I love it. (bold facing in the above quote is my contribution)

I have dealt with many parents (that of my biological children, my class children etc etc) but it is only on very very rare occasions that I have bumped in to reasonable parents – for a given value of reasonableness, I mean.

Incidentally,  I have narrated a few of my encounters with Suppandic parents earlier and hope to do a few more when my time permits it. oh how can I not tell you the stories of our cowardly Suppandis and Suppandinas and their bluster and their arrogant sense of entitlement and their phoniness… oh well.

Please check out the comments of Friedman column readers too…

ramjee EXPOSED! (thanks to Mister Aaaj…) *gasp*

The third mail (and the last one) in the series, exposing me,  a la ‘tehelka‘ and am once again thankful to Mr. Aaaj for excoriating me.

But, have you read the previous three related posts to make sense of what is all this nonsense please… (in reverse chronological order)


From: Aaaj <…>
Date: Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 3:22 PM
Subject: Tsk, tsk, Ramjee !
To: Ramjee <…>

Tsk, tsk, Ramjee !

Out of curiosity I recently looked up the nammashale blog.  It was abruptly, unceremoniously dumped in 2009.  Just like Nammashale itself in 2011.

So very typical !

But how to cover the true stripes?  Simple, deny admission to an innocent child  after ‘thorough evaluation’  and other such ‘loyalty’ tricks.  Poor Rama will remain convinced of the bonafides, even at that last stage.

{ On my last Himalayan trek to Roopkund, I noticed a natural event above 12,000 ft. A certain worm gets in to the body of a larger worm, starts eating the innards systematically except the digestive system, finally when the big worm is all but dead eats up the digestive system and rips up the belly to come out and look out for a new worm!}

I hold you squarely and solely responsible for Arun not getting into Nammashale.  Shame on you !

But what else can one except from you whose only theme  in life is YOU.  Sloppy clothes, staccato speech, a mien of studied wise look. Dead give-aways of incurable self-absorption, only I was credulous.

I am sure it will be another school and another management to sidle up to.  But I hope there was only one gullible Rama in this world.

I request you falling on your lotus feet  please don’t bother to reply.  Consider it a sort of reply for your previous long winded mail and I will even promise to read it sometime.. I have no stomach for another eruption of  pseudo-intelligent tripe (felicity  with English language is no substitute for an intellect and a heart).

Wish you happy trampling small children until you reach your goal or , more aptly, your are tripped up.

— Aaaj


Life, I celebrate thee!

My comments (if at all)  to Srimaan Aaaj’s loving mail, would probably be in the next post and so enjoy (or regret as the case may be!) your life, in the interim.

Postscript: I have taken the feedback from Mr. Aaaj rather seriously. I have stopped wearing sloppy clothes. I have resolved to improve my spoken English – but the problem is that my darn Tamil (=idly-sambaar) accent refuses to go away, sorry. I am also cultivating an unstudied dumb look – luckily this comes naturally to me.  Dammit, I have even started shaving regularly. Oh the horror!

I have one question to Mr Aaaj: Sir, thanks to a good physique and misguided and quarter-baked martial arts training in the distant past, I have a good chest (‘cut’) that is slightly embarrassing at times. So may I start wearing a suitable brassiere too please?

Life I berate thee! (juzz kiddin’)


suppandi responds to suppandi…

This is the second of the three email conversations. Of course it is long winding naturally! It was written by me, dammit!

But, have you read the previous two related posts to get the context please?

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ramjee Swaminathan <…>
Date: Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 8:48 AM
Subject: by way of an explanation
To: Aaaj
Cc: rama reddy <….com>

Dear Mr Aaaj:

Thanks for calling me early in the morning today – apologies for not
calling you last night, as I came home very, very late and was tired.
I got to see your mail to Rama now. This is my personal response to
you, based on the official discussion that  Sudha and I had with you

Normally I would not take so much time or energy to respond, but I
feel that I have to clear the air of accusations, emotion laced words
and misunderstandings. Besides, we have known each other personally
for a few years now.

I checked up with Rama for the mail that she said she sent to you a
few weeks back – and we were not able to retrieve it – the yahoo
mailing system server for school’s id had a glitch and crash a few weeks
back and we weren’t able to recover a whole lot of sent data as also the
inbox. We did not realize that her mail did not reach you. Perhaps your
mail was lost. Knowing the Internet mail system, am not sure what
really happened. But we looked at the pending tasks last weekend  and
asked Sudha (the admin) to reconfirm with you. That’s why she called
you and you spoke to me too.

You said in the mail:

> 1.  Arun doesn’t fit in in the Nammashale system

I did not say that. I said that if he had come in at 2.5 years of age
it would have been fine. I was about to start talking about planes,
normalization and stuff – but you were not willing to listen to me –
you only wanted a review. Each child is different – that is the beauty
of it.  Anjana is different and Arun is different. So there is no
standard set of rules for them. You would know this as a teacher
yourself. But, there should be physical strength and ability (to spend
24 hours in school) in the teacher, if one has to deal with each and
every child as per the needs of the child. The school does not have
the strength now, and we are actually looking at reduced and more
handleable numbers. I said, we can’t honestly take him because we are
not equipped now. I repeatedly said that it is NOT a reflection on the
child. It has only to do with our inability to handle.

You said in the mail:

> 2. If he is admitted then he will be a drain on  teacher resources

I said, each child requires special attention. And that there is a
very reduced strength of adults in the elementary now as it is! So I
said it will be difficult for the adult to handle more new children,
especially when we are curtailing / pruning down the numbers. Indeed
it makes no sense to decrease and increase the numbers at the same time.

I said, if your child gets in because of your pleas – it will not do
justice to the child, to the adults and to the rest of the children.
The ‘drain’ is because of these three reasons – and the child Arun
will not have to be blamed for this. I said it is not AT ALL a reflection
on the child. Besides I personally know the child to be ‘smart.’

In the call you made five different observations.

  1. questioning the competency of a non regular teacher to observe a child
  2. nammashaale is acting like casteists (hinting at a hidden,
    despicable agendas)
  3. the bad treatment meted out to a parent in respect of
    communications – not replying.
  4. If it worked for Anjana, why not for Arun.
  5. References for how a child admitted at 6 wont work in a montessori school

I will handle them one by one.

1. Please note that every teaching adult in nammashaale has the
requisite montessori qualification and expertise – excepting perhaps I
– and I did not observe your child. Besides, if you are questioning
the competency and the professional integrity of the teachers for a
regular thing/process such as observing the child, how can you be
comfortable in entrusting your child to them? If I were in your
position, I would not even bother, leave alone asking for a review or a rereview. I think there is a cognitive dissonance here.

2. Hmm – this really sets me thinking. If I really think that
nammashaale is casteist or showing caste like ‘narrow’  tendencies,
may be I would stay away from it and not ask for a review. But if you
had said it in the heat of the moment, I would understand you, but
definitely not agree with you. (personally, I feel that many of us
don’t understand caste at all! – we think that it is despicable, based
on some random knowledge that we have. I don’t think so. But, that’s
my opinion, not that of the school)

3. I said nammashaale mail id gets a humongous amount of mails – there
will be slippages. Besides (in our opinion) mail response was sent to
you – but there were followup calls from your side. We are really
sorry that we currently do not seem to have the energy to repeatedly
deal with issues. I would say that your point is valid. But think
about this, I said clearly about the response from school – which was
based on a previous internal discussion – you didn’t want a no and
wanted a review – so I promise to talk to Rama for a review – I did
talk to her – I then conveyed it to you – and again you want a rereview
and come up with all kinds of hints… What does one do if issues do
not get closed or the message is not clearly received (by both sides).
All of us seriously need to think. We do not seem to like ‘sorry’ as
an answer at all. Why isn’t a very considered and genuine ‘no’ is not
acceptable at all? Would you want us to be dishonest with you and
weakly accept the child and not deliver on it? Woudn’t this be a gross
injustice tp the child, to us and to you??

4. I am happy to here that you are satisfied with this aspect of
school – that it worked for Anjana. IMO, it did because there was no
major strain in the teacher resources at that point. This delicate
balance continues as of now – the next year will be difficult. So we
are not allowing ANY lateral entry now at the elementary level because
of the strained and stressed nature of teacher resources. Surely you
want all children to be as happy and as developed as Anjana?

5. There are the books written by Montessori which deal with the
concepts of normalization, sensitivity periods – there are a zillion
of them. You can go thru them at your leisure. But my point was more
from the management perspective. How does one pay individual attention
to a fresh, lateral entrant child, if there are not enough adults
likely to be available to manage the existing strength. As it is, the
adults work between 8.30 AM to 3.15 PM every day plus a minimum of 2
hours at home plus weekends plus handling parents’ calls at home,
checking emails, finding the money, dealing with haggling parents –
while drawing only a ‘basic living’ compensation.  I also agree that
all these are parts of the package. So we should find ways to deal
with this, while retaining our sanity. We are all plodding along in
our lives, voluntarily, of course.

Teaching in a small school with a heart, is not  at all like teaching
at higher levels and in other schools; I would even say that these
places are rather cushy and can put up with a lot of indifference and
incompetence from teachers, leave alone dishonesty – surely, you know
and appreciate that, being a good teacher that you are.


You have a right to your opinion about 1) competency 2) narrow
mindedness and 3) irresponsible nature of the school. In fact, your
right to your opinion will be defended by me. But I would also frankly
agree that I was disgusted at some of your thoughts and hints, and am
really sorry I slammed the receiver down – I was also groggy – not
enough sleep and you called at 6AM – which does not normally happen.

I really understand your anxiety and the fact that Arun going to the
same school as his sister would have helped in terms of logistics too
– apart from your perceptions of quality education etc etc.

Again I would reiterate that the decision is NOT about a particular
Arun – but because of the school’s current inability or the bandwidth
to handle many children – with same quality and care.

I wish the very best for you, your children.


ps: I have copied the mail to nammashaale yahoo id, and  I consider
the matter closed, which please note.


Next:  Mr. Aaaj exposes ramjee aka suppandi… (*gasp*)

suppandi scribes…

This is the first of the three email interchanges between Mr.Aaaj and I.

Have you read ‘suppandi strikes again (oh NO!)‘ – for the background and context?

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Aaaj <redacted>>
To: Us at the nammashaale school
Sent: Mon, March 14, 2011 1:25:49 PM
Subject: Hi


I had a conversation with Ramjee with regard to my son Arun’s admission.

The drift of what he told me as I understood is that

1.  Arun doesn’t fit in in the Nammashale system
2. If he is admitted then he will be a drain on  teacher resources

I cannot argue with your conclusion.  But can I request you for second interview for Arun? My grounds for such a request are as follows

 Apparently,on the day of interview a stand-in teacher was on in place of a regular teacher ( Sorry, I am using ‘teacher’ for want of a better term). He was not asked to join the children as was the case with Anjana. He was given some tests as in a regular school .

 Arun is a child who readily joins  play groups, even with children unfamiliar to him. He is slightly diffident when  adults unknown to him are present. Then he needs a small smiling prod.

Probably that turned the opinion against him.

Whatever is the case,  can I request you for a second observation for him, a second chance?  I am convinced in my mind, even discounting my parental bias, that he will be a good montessorian and you will not regret having him.  I would  go so far as to suggest you admit him for an year and we will take him out if  you find  he is a liability to you, but I know that is an unfair demand from all perspectives.

Thank you,

Best Regards,


Next: suppandi responds to suppandi

suppandi strikes again! (oh NO!!)

…and oh, I am back!

Life is but a Sine Wave, with its own crests and troughs, or as my lovely school children would love to correct me – nodes and anti-nodes!

But the waves are progressive (and not stationary, pardon my useless ‘science’ pun) even as I continue to happily regress, instead of egressing…

This is a set of five posts that have happened (are going to happen) after a few months’ gap. There has been a hiatus, I agree – though, I also know that nobody really missed the blog.  Still...

Well, the reason is that, in the past few months, I have moved to another place, another time, another life. I like my pauses and comma-s, obviously!

Besides, there were elections happening to the government in my homestate of Tamilnadu, India. I was busy campaigning, in my own way – for I love my King,  PBUH and my land.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.


Now,  what is life without a story… That too, a story that is told in three emails – and a fourth, a reflection – mostly unedited and un-embellished. I have anonymized and modified the names involved, to protect the NOT guilty.

Of course, all the GUILTY, criminal and coarse people such as Sudha (the nammashaale Administrator, and a tireless taskmaster, a relentless troubleshooter at that), Rama (the nammashaale Director, and THE best elementary teacher that I have ever seen in my life – the phrase that floats up when I think of her in this context, is pure magic!) and Ramjee (the Scribe with obviously nothing better to do than blog about insipid things and inane folks) have all been named.

Alea jacta est.

… And so, this father of an ex-nammashaale child (let us call him Aaaj henceforth), who is in a respectable position in an educational institution had already admitted his daughter (a sweet child actually, which child is not?) – a few years back, in nammashaale – let us call her  Anjana; our young Aaaj, then, asked for admission for his son too (let us call him Arun, again a smart a little child, (which child is not?) – not at 2.5 years as a typical child  would get admitted in a good Montessori school – but much later, primarily because it was convenient for Aaaj’s family in terms of logistics – that is, in terms of the sad cases of elder daughters saddled with the stifling responsibility of ‘looking after the younger brothers‘ mode – just so that the parents are ‘helped!’

dammit, don’t the parents deserve the furtherance of their own careers and research and development and parties and agendas and booze and travel and TV and fillums and farts and pontifications and long-email-writing and blog-posting and whatnot??

Anyway, not because of the aforesaid ‘sibling child-sitting’ reason (I came to know about this sad fact much, much later), after much thought and evaluation, and considering the adult team size in nammashaale, we clearly told Mrs Aaaj and Mr Aaaj that, it is difficult for us to accommodate the child, I think, circa December 2010 time-frame – an email was also sent to this effect to Mr Aaaj – which he says he didn’t get – he could be correct here too, am not sure; but, Mrs and Mr Aaaj would not take a ‘no’ for an answer, even if it is conveyed again politely, even if it is the most truthful and honest and ONLY meaningful option from the side of the school.

There were many and oft repeated and random requests from Mr. Aaaj (and meaningless occasional & gratuitous offers to  ‘contribute to the school’ – that is, to present some Math related stuff to our nammashaale children, which would never materialize in spite of my followup – in retrospect, it is good that Mr. Aaaj did not ‘contribute’ at all! Oh, the horror, the HORROR!) so, Sudha and I once again call up these parents and convey the news most politely. They then asked for another review (in fact another re-review actually) and still, I thought it was fair enough and I promised to talk to Rama and get back them and, I did both. Do you think the story ended there?

Again they were not willing to listen to the reality or to the actual and polite words spoken. They just could not get the context right.

In fact, this attitude of these parents amazes me no end! Too much of random talking and pontification and advising to all and sundry – but very little (if at all!) of actually doing something!  It is just that there are only a few parents with this rather difficult mentalscape –  but believe me, they are enough to drive one insane!  These folks who demand & take a disproportionate amounts of time and energy, and sometimes money too – make one really wonder  about the sanity of running a well-intentioned schooling system. Anyway

… So, instead of looking at the other possible options or even introspection, Mr Aaaj wrote a mail to us in the School, obliquely accusing me of bias and wrongdoing. (mail #1: In which the conversation with Ramjee is alluded to)

…. and soon, Mr Aaaj also calls me up one morning and (c)rudely wakes me up at 6.00 AM on 14th March, 2011 (and I have a recording of it – I could post it as a raw mp3 file, but that will definitely reveal the identity of who Mr Aaaj is – which is not fair, I think) and shouts incoherently, calls me names, rubbishes Rama, rubbishes the school, makes all kinds of accusations of casteism and other allied nonsense!

Hmmm… after a few futile attempts on my part to infuse some sense and after 10 minutes or so of the useless drivel, I did not have the patience to listen to him blather on and on and on any further – and so I slammed the receiver down – I was initially mildly disturbed and shared my bewilderment with my spouse – but then, after some time, was actually  laughing at the folly of it all! A sane headed third person’s points of view helps, after all!!

… I normally do not respond to canards, baseless rumors and motivated slander.

But, I sent a detailed & polite mail (since I have known the whole family of Mr. Aaaj, have gone on an ‘outdoorsy’ trip together, have roamed around SJP road many-a-time to help him with computers etc, have shared a few evenings (& books) discussing random things including his computer problems, given a few DVDs to him which are yet to be returned etc etc *gasp* – and oh, what a waste of time!) and I thought it was only the correct thing to do – and this happened right on the next day – on 15th March, 2011 itself. (mail #2: In which Ramjee tries his best to respond meaningfully, even after he, the school and everything else is slandered by Mr Aaaj)

I left it at that, hoping that the time will heal and make all of us see the light of the day. But alas, some of us folks prefer to dwell in the bleakness and in the recesses of the dark dungeons of our psyches, much like in that Joseph Conrad’s novel – Heart of Darkness (1902).

Hmm…  Some four months roll by – bringing with it a zillion changes, new milieus and fresh mindscapes to many of us – but I surmise, the pointless hate must have brimmed over, and singed the heart of this gent all along – and oh what a waste! It is perhaps high time, this gent ‘grew’ up. And me too!

And so, I suddenly receive a mail, a month back or so (25th of July 2011, to be precise!) from Mr Aaaj, detailing his feelings and blessings etc etc – it also shows my true colours, exposes me for what I am.

I am thankful to Mr Aaaj for all the feedback. (mail #3: In which Ramjee is exposed! Touché!)

Anyway, I thought I will share all these’ publicly’ with only a few name changes – but with all the name-callings intact. Of course the speeling mishtakes, bad grammar are all there in my mails for you folks to chuckle over… Me and my felicity with English, what crap!

Enjoy – or ponder over what is life, what is hate, what is humour, what is sickness and what is What… what??


Post Scriptum: My best wishes to the fine child Anjana. I used to know her personally. I wish her and her brother, the very best of all, including that of their parents.

I also wish the parents  – Mrs and Mr Aaaj – good luck, happiness and peaceful times ahead.

After all, in future, we may even meet again and chuckle about this insignificant fracas and loudly wonder what was wrong with all of us then!

The hope.


Connected posts:

(I will soon edit (anonymize) and publish all the involved email-exchanges)

Updated all links as on 31st Aug, 2011


’tis elementary, sirs and madams…

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


a view of the elemenary environment

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

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

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

a view of the elementary environment (from the south)

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

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

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

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

a view of the elementary materials room

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

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

Therein lies the hope, I suppose.

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

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

a view of a part of the elementary library

a zoology lesson

When I grow up, I want to be a little boy.

— Joseph Heller, Something Happened (1974)

It is quite possible that in that family:

  • Gandhi was discussed as a matter of routine because the adults in the family respected him – or his ideas may have been floating around at home, getting discussed, debated, questioned, admired…


  • The picture of Gandhi was always there (as his toothless smiling image is always embossed on most of the currency denominations in India) hanging around in the foreground & background, perhaps because the family was obsessed with money or was busy worshiping it.

It does not matter how the impressionable little sponge of a primary child in that family,  completely internalized the fact that the ubiquitous Gandhi was a person to be respected and/or worshipped.

And, this little child starts leafing through small booklets at home, in the school library and other lending libraries – there must have been some presentations at the school, of course –  and gets some basic ideas about the fascinating universe that life is. Big Bang, Planets, Our Earth, the works

Eventually, it reads about the coming of life, evolution, kingdoms and phyla…  It develops a personal map of the nature of life…  It finally stumbles on to the idea called Mammalia.

Now the connection happened rather suddenly and beautifully.

And oh, it suddenly dawned on the child that Gandhi was a human being and in a excitedly feverish torrent of words, loudly proclaims, “Oh, Gandhiji was a mammal.”

I happened to be around when the child realized this gloriously fantastic mapping. I do not know the immediate context or the proximate cause for this serendipitous discovery of the child. I feel sad that I never thought of Gandhi as belonging to a category of mammals.

I am fascinated by the way children effortlessly map, contextualize & learn. I envy admire them.


A similar incident that happened a couple of years ago at the school: Earth Child