Category Archives: parents

outsourcing parents…

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

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

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

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

disconnected posts.

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

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

a parents’ guide to the montessori classroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks. 😎

nammashaale & professor satish dhawan

This is NOT about a Helicopter Parent.

Actually this about a Rocket parent!

Here is a blog post by Abinandan at nanopolitan.blogspot.com which is reproduced verbatim:

=-=-=-=begins

Here’s an episode in Prof. Satish Dhawan’s years as ISRO chief:

The early days saw many failures. Through all those difficult times, Dhawan never lost faith in ISRO’s capabilities. He took personal responsibility for failure but when success came, he always attributed it to ISRO and his colleagues. Thus, when the first flight of SLV-3 in 1979 failed, Dhawan faced the press. When the second flight succeeded, Dhawan kept himself in the background while Kalam spoke to the press.

That note is from P.V. Manoranjan Rao’s tribute to Dhawan on the latter’s 89th birth anniversary. This memorable anecdote came up in a couple of conversations yesterday, and it felt good to be reminded of it again.

A longer version appears in R. Ramachandran’s obituary in Frontline.

Abdul Kalam has recounted his experiences when he was the project director for the launch of India’s first launch vehicle SLV-3. The first experimental launch of SLV-3 took place on August 10, 1979, but it was a failure. Kalam was called by Dhawan to attend a press conference. “Before the press conference, Professor Dhawan told me that he was going to handle the situation and I should be present with many of the senior scientists and technologists,” Kalam has said.

At the press conference Dhawan announced “Friends, today we had our first satellite launch vehicle to put a satellite in the orbit, we could not succeed. It is our first mission of proving multiple technologies in satellite and satellite launch vehicles. In many technologies we have succeeded and a few more we have to succeed. Above all, I realise my team members have to be given all the technological support. I am going to do that and the next mission will succeed.”

[…]

The next developmental flight, of SLV-3,on July 18, 1980, was a remarkable success. “An important thing happened then,” recounts Kalam. “Professor Dhawan asked me to handle the press conference with our team members. Dhawan’s management philosophy was that when success comes in after hard work, the leader should give the credit of the success to the team members. When failure comes, the leader should absorb the failures and protect the team members.”

=-=-=-=ends

Prof Dhawan was a great scientist, administrator and a leader of people. I admire him for a whole lot of other things too (like his love for literature, books, classical music etc etc). However, the one thing that I mightily admire him for is that, he never let his ideas and opinions drive his children – his children flowered on their own, ably nurtured by their parents, and guided by the inscrutable exhortations of their souls.

Perhaps many of us parents need to learn a lot from this stellar example – both the current parents and the parents (some of them happened to be helicopters in some advanced stage of crashing) who left nammashaale – some towards east of Bangalore and some others towards the due south of Bangalore.

Quiz Question: Some of you may know the Eastward-Ho folks, but…  🙂

postscriptum: Not many of us know that Erdkinder at nammashaale had the pleasure of having been taught by the sweet, affable & able artist Amrita, daughter of this incredible Prof Satish Dhawan. Amrita taught us the basics of working with clay and Oh what an experience that was – And a rather minor point was that,  she never ever did  reveal her pedigree.

Thanks Amrita, for all the fun and learning!

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)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-about-better-parents.html?_r=1

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…

suppandi IS anna(thar) hazard!

… or the dangers of the original ‘anna’ hazare and the copycat wannabe ‘anna’ hazares of the world…

Have you read the previous insltalment?

Okay. Some sloppy background here. These friendly folks had been sending their children to nammashaale a few years back – and there were always problems in collecting even the meagre fees (subsidized heavily by the Trustees of nammashaale) that nammashaale used to levy. They also could not pay for the transport.

Now, this is all understandable, we all undergo troubled times, financially lean & uncertain periods and mostly we are able to bounce back – and if and when we do, we do pay back all our debts.

It is also true in some cases that, in spite of our fundamentally good  intentions, we cannot or do not repay, but we do express our regrets, we are ashamed of ourselves, we squirm in our seats, carry tonne loads of guilt and develop all kinds of illnesses including cancer – when we do not. Oh the human condition

However, these folks had made a habit of not paying the fees at all for a significant period – mostly it was managed by repeatedly giving the school their personal cheques that cannot be honoured. And I think, a couple of years back or so, on the day #1 of one ‘next’ academic year, they came, without any regret whatsoever and took out their children.

That they gave a cheque again for ‘all the dues’ and that it promptly bounced for the millionth time is another story.

Of course there was not even any indication of an expression of regret from the parents – the children are now going to another school. We all are happily dying everafter…

At that time, I knew about the slender financials of the school and I was aghast at this final replay of the nonpay-event. I mean, how can one do all these things with a straight face? What is the meaning of all this? Is it wrong to expect the parents to pay a little when all the fruits (and more) are being enjoyed by them, their children? Can’t the fee be paid in instalments? Can’t one do *something?*  Don’t we all know that issuing cheques fully aware that they would bounce is a cognizable crime – it is an immediately jaileable offence usually? Forget about the legal systems – is this even a fundamentally correct and moral attitude?

Having ranted as above, I am sure these parents must have had some reason or their own logic for having behaved in this bizarre manner –  but I have no way of knowing it. May be there is some rational expression that is lurking somewhere that a rabid guy like me is unable to understand.

… But, the Trustees of nammashaale were really sweet, after some discussions, they did not want to proceed against the errant parents and the issue was closed. I tried to push for discussions at least – but I suppose fundamental sanity and grace prevailed on the Trustees, in spite of my best efforts.

Now, as is usual, lots of water flows under every bridge all over the world for the next one year or so…

So, after very many months of silence etc, these folks suddenly & startlingly, send me the ‘anna’ hazare (sorry, SaviourRaj!!) ‘fwd:’ asking me to ‘please forward’ – oh the ammunition – I grit my teeth for a few days but I could not take it any more and wrote to them the following:

From: Ramjee Swaminathan <…@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 12:25 AM

name1, name2 – thanks for the mail forward exhorting me to act against corruption. Sorry about responding so late.

But, I do not think I am competent enough to talk about corruption. You would know the story about ‘people living in glass houses… etc etc.’ And, I do not believe in ‘mail forwarded – task accomplished’ kind of simple solutions either, to everyday issues of moral and financial corruption. I admire(!) Anna, though!

I sincerely believe that – if I am not morally & ethically bankrupt, if I have not cheated anyone wantonly, If I have not hurt anyone wantonly, that’s more than sufficient for me and the world. I do not need to preach anyone anything. I need to live it. And, it is a major personal struggle for me.

I hope your family is doing fine.”

(I have snipped out the other parts)

To which, I received a prompt reply:

From: name1@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 8:19 AM
Subject: Re: The decisive battle against corruption in India has begun… Please read, and circulate
To: Ramjee Swaminathan <… @gmail.com>

hey Ramji,

I agree with your sentiment.  To each his own. ”

(I have snipped out the other parts)

Actually, I am okay with double standards. I have been on both ends of this double-standards businesses and gray areas. There are many reasons and no reasons for all these.

But I am NOT okay with folks who easily have triple standards and more.

I am not standing from a higher pedestal and lecturing down to the hoi polloi. I have waged long and bitter wars against financial corruption and have lost tens of lakhs of rupees, when I was a young & seriously serial entrepreneur. I have dealt with desperate situations, with irate creditors knocking at the doors and have been completely broke a couple of times because of my ‘wet behind the year’ perceptions – or call it idiocy. Honestly, I probably felt like a hero, bah! – and of course, there were financial / physical prices to be paid for all these misdemeanors of mine – I did pay dearly too – no complaints though!

Later, as a tired old man, I have also paid bribes directly / indirectly – for some specific reasons and no reasons again.

Mea Culpa – O Ramjee, what a let down!

Hmmm…

I still would like to like these friendly folks, they have been by and large gentle and *otherwise* perhaps fine folks. I even try to understand them. But I am sure, even if I understand them after much difficulty, I actually would not agree with them.

It is really sad.

I am not bitter about this. I don’t think the Trustees are either. But sometimes one really wonders

As the Time ‘Pink Floyd’ lyric says:

And then one day you find
ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run,
you missed the starting gun.


The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say. “

=-=-=-=

What do you think?

suppandi does a ‘anna’ hazare! (AyeAyeYo!!)

Silly…

It is very easy-peasy to become an activist (of social or anti-social issues) these days. Hallelujah, hallelujah!! All of us wannabe social activists never had it oh so good!

In fact, this post is about ‘social activism’ that I actually learnt from an illustrious parent (believe me!  I am telling you the unvarnished truth) – and unfortunately, for various reasons this parent (or parents) shall remain unnamed, sorry.

Well…

To help you lazy fellows (I mean you – the unfortunate reader of this pathetic weblog), I have presented four levels of social activism, after a whole lot of painstaking research and lucubration. (and I sincerely hope that you would profusely thank me and flood my mailbox & the comments area with a zillion thankyou, thankyou kind of mushy notes, oh the hope!)

Okay – onto the details:

Level I: One simple way of ‘Activism’ is to watch various TV channels dishing out instant solutions for societalrelated issues (including corruption), while munching on Lay’s chips and sipping Coca-Cola or some such product of a bladder.

Level II: A slightly tougher way of activism is explained in the following process: We hear of some social activism, some tussle, some skirmish, some fight – somewhere via, some darn & despicable source like a Friend, TV, Radio, Newspaper, Internet etc etc. The gravity of this situation demands some resolute, urgent and decisive action from us. We try to get up, we can’t, our arse has become too big for our seats, we have been sitting for a considerable time now – so instead, we slightly tilt our bodies sideways so that one of our posterior hemispheres (technically known as ‘buttocks’) just makes an angle of some 15 degrees (no more, mind you!) to the horizontal. Now what? This is our way of delicately commenting on the issue by breaking a suitably well-informed and aromatic gust of wind from our anus (complicated technical jargons for this tiresome activity are many: blogging, mailing list conversations, random facebook entries etc). Please note that, sometimes, depending on the pressure of the event, some sound effects may also accompany the noxious comment – in which case, we can happily upload a truly multimedia file ‘to the Internet!’ Moral: Everyone can happily die ever-after.

Level III: A slightly more harder way is to laboriously read ‘The Hindu’ and then to write longish ‘letters to the editor’ – but the problem here is that one should start off with ‘apropos of xyz’s artlcle…‘ and end with ‘to be concluded‘ or ‘to be continued‘ etc etc. It is all very messy hifalutin’ English and so, one is not advised to try that. Again, there are many people waiting out there with drawn pens and drying ink-nibs to give you suitable rejoinders! More of those blistering appropos-ofs! Mommeeeeee!

There is a much, much harder way though. It is also technology enabled.

Level IV: Open your mailbox with much trepidation, lo and behold, invariably you would have a slew of gory mail forwards (in fact, fwd: fwd: fwd:…fwd:s from one of your ‘following’ friends and ‘followed’ friends) in which, you would be asked to take to the battlefront of the great fight against corruption – simply by doing the daunting task of forwarding the offending ‘fwd:’ to another zillion folks in your hitlist.

Indeed it requires so much courage, conviction and commitment to religiously forward such mails – my eyes become glassy when I think of these brave email-forward-warriors. My heart goes out to them. I wish them all the best. *sniff*

Apparently, lately, a critter called ‘SaviourRaj’ (hic) – Saviour Raj <saviourraj @ gmail.com> – has been hyperactive on this ‘fwd:’ mafia business – and it so happened that, among many others, a few nammashaale parents also received this spam. The spam was about the current darling cheer leader of the unnecessarily noisy and boisterous muddle classes – Srimaan ‘Anna’ Hazare PBUH – and was titled ‘Anna Hazare fasts unto death against corruption – A mahatma announces fast unto death‘ – and oh, won’t my troubles ever end…This forward had the following (dis)content.:

  • 54 exclamation marks !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 9 fwd: fwd: fwd: s
  • 6 different font styles
  • 4 different font sizes
  • 4 colours
  • 3 requests  forward the mail to as many people as possible and as ‘widely’ as one can
  • 13 mistakes in the English used
  • etc, etc, etc  grrrrr

All very, and bloody jarring to the eyes and to the brain… (Honestly, the moment I receive a forward like this, immediately I want to murder the spammer who meaninglessly and methodically forwards these thingies – but mor on these morons later…)

Sheesh! *&^#!#$%@

Well, perhaps, many parents kept quiet and did not send it to me, because either they were too busy forwarding it to other people or they were also tired of this frenetic email-activism or they were afraid of my silly temper. But not my friends – they sent it to me. grrr

ME!!!! (pardon my exuberant exclamation marks – at this point I was really hyper-super excited and ultra angry!!!)

Believe me, actually these friends are fundamentally very good people, very sensitive folks with a heart, or so I thought – not that my thoughts really matter…

But… there is a hidden side to the story.

Rest in the next installment please! (so stay tuned, if you must).

In the meantime, I am off to my  Level II social activism (as above).

You can also join me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pLEaSE CIRCULATE this emil wildly!!!!!!!!!!!!

It ish a warr agunst corption.!!!!!!! Jai

Hind!   !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! shud reech ass many peeppil plz

(really, really, really sorry for all the exuberance)

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 <…@yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 3:22 PM
Subject: Tsk, tsk, Ramjee !
To: Ramjee <… @gmail.com>

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 <… @gmail.com>
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
yesterday.

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.

Best:

ramjee.
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>@yahoo.com>
To: Us at the nammashaale school
Sent: Mon, March 14, 2011 1:25:49 PM
Subject: Hi

From,
Aaaj
Bangalore

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,

–Aaaj

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??

*sheesh*

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

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