Category Archives: Education

The Silent Bell


“The bell is not ringing!” This was a frequent complaint during the last two days from the annoyed teachers.

To understand the extent of the problem you need to be a teacher. In a school the absence of bell means a standstill. This is how one teacher reported, “I came prepared for the 40 min class, but even after completing it, together with some activities I concocted just now, it’s not getting over. 40 minutes,  this long? What’s going on?” I looked at the clock and sensed trouble. The bell!

The fed up teachers longed to flee the thoroughly enlightened class; the bored students awaited the next teacher for a different kind of replenishment.

Who was responsible? Who had been ringing the bell all these days? Kaka, a hapless victim of the new laws, used to do it. The bell had been punctual all these years and we never noticed the presence, the effort of a human being behind it. We took his service for granted. Now the person has left, leaving the bell dumb and the whole schedule upset.

*       *      *

The attendant is reminded once again, the bell goes and the each one heaves a sigh of relief.

The situation rings a bell and I recall O. Henry’s The Pendulum:

 Nobody heard the click and rattle of the cog-wheels as the third-floor front of the Frogmore flats buzzed its machinery back into the Order of Things. A band slipped, a spring was touched, the gear was adjusted and the wheels revolve in their old orbit.

I reflect: We miss you Kaka. Grateful to you. May God keep you safe, wherever you are!

[Thank you, Julia, for the inspiration!]

Beware of this charlatan!


CAUTION

Joining hands with Arya in her protest against the chauvinistic charlatan(s)!

First-borns – Guinea Pigs?


Yesterday my first-born turned ten. And we (claim to have) successfully completed ten years of parenthood.

Has she been lucky or unlucky? In my opinion, for her it has been a combination of both.

How is she lucky? Usually the elder ones are the centres of attraction; they get all (or too much?) the attention from the parents and from the relatives too, if they are the first ones in a generation. They enjoy a lot of privileges – too many toys, dresses and other accessories. In fact it was we who were celebrating our new designations as papa and mama! Every achievement or turning point in the eldest ones’ lives is exaggerated and celebrated with all the pomp and vigour.

When it comes to the second one, the excitement would be slightly less. The parents have already been there and for them it is merely a repetition of the first episode. But sadly they are too busy to remember it’s the very first time for each of the younger ones. Being the second-born I have been through it all. (Eldest ones out there, I can read your thoughts.)

And there are a lot of health benefits too. They will be made of healthier and better components of life. The later ones are born to older and more tired parents.

[The given link will enlighten you more on the topic of birth order.]

But here I am more bothered about the seamy side of the first-borns’ lives. For the naive parents it is a time to experiment upon a hundred new things, certainly out of their love and eagerness. I must admit that bringing up my big girl I have committed a lot of parenting errors, mainly in the two crucial areas – health and education.

As tyros in that new phase of life we were naturally over-concerned about each and every aspect, especially her health. We surmised that every sneeze, cough or runny nose would end up in pneumonia, and rushed to the doctor who was only too eager to administer heavy doses of antibiotics. The recurrence of the ailments taught us some valuable lessons equipping us better for the second one. It made me bold and taught me how to resist temptation to grab the medicines each time.

And the second most fatal mistake I committed was the over-enthusiasm about her studies. When she got confused with P, b, d and 9, or when she flipped over certain letters, (at the age of three!) we often freaked out as if she was going to be doomed. When she could not discern the basic differences between numbers and letters, faltering at the questions like “Which is bigger – 2 or 7?” we seemed to be anxious about the Board after ‘12’ years!!  While we were passionately carrying out our duties, for her it must have been hell!

After her last PT meet (grade 5) as I was proudly looking at the 100% score in her Maths paper, I once again realized the benefits of intruding less and leaving everything to her. It was the fruit of her own hard work.

At times my younger one has to be satisfied with the used toys and dresses. However she enjoys a happier and more carefree childhood – only because her parents’ attention is divided and she has an elder sister who was already ‘guinea pig’ged!

Happy birthday dear! Thank you for all the great lessons you taught me in a decade’s time…

Creativity


Have a look at these snaps from our Creativity Day 2012.

If there is a will there is a tree. There had been excruciating incidents (saved for another post) behind this artificially natural tree. Thank you dear teachers, for your determination which made the dead branch take ‘life’, finally!

Ozone layer. A simple, yet demonstrative exhibit from the science stall.

Our students are experts at Mehendi. Their dexterity will amaze you.

Best out of waste. One of my favourite pieces from the competition.

Origami! This was made by a grade 7 student within an hour’s time.

The student used about 150 paper cups to make this party light. Loved it!

Just that much for the time being. Looking forward to the holidays, to tell you more about the life here and to catch up with all the great posts I missed. Take care!

And when they met again…


For years
They were one friendly flock
‘Of a feather’.

Then it was time to part -
Autographs, promises, tears,
Farewell, well fared.
And they flew away
In fifty diverse routes.

Years thence
They met again, virtually.
Longed to make it real.
Yearned to relive those days.
Planning, preparations…

Then the great day came,
Birds flocked again.

How tired and old each had grown!
Feeble smiles and hollow words
Couldn’t gloss over the chasms.

What went wrong?

They had outgrown their nest,
Moreover, they were no longer
Birds of a feather.

Time and experiences
Had painted them all different -
The dull ones with bright shades
And the bright ones with not-so-bright.
Each flaunted its hard-earned hues.
No wonder it turned irksome.

Disappointed, dispersed again,
This time, for good.

I am not going to school.


(Adapted from a kid’s thought-diary, after her first day at school)

My sister is responsible. She, who lured me into the idea of going to school, seemed to enjoy a lot of privileges: a special dress called uniform, a large bag full of books, pencils and even coloured pencils, the freedom to use them anywhere according to her whims… School must be a wonderful place – that was the impression I was drawn into seeing her deeds and expressions. Oh, my God what a trap it was!

I had been eagerly waiting for the day on which I too would go to the magical place called school, like my sister.

The initial stages went on well. A new bag, a few colourful books and other stationery, lunch box – the day papa bought them just for me, I strutted around for my sister to see. (Pride goes before a fall!)

I had made two conditions to my parents about going to school. 1) I wanted to go to school in a bus. 2) My sister should be teaching me. In reality: I was made to walk to the school in the neighbourhood. And my sister was nowhere around!

Rest of my dreams got shattered, one after the other, the minute I stepped into the premises of the dull building. It didn’t take me much time to surmise that ‘school is an eccentric place not at all suitable for people like me!’ You too would agree if you consider the following facts about the place:

  • There are so many rooms but I am always asked to go to the same room. Wonder why I am denied the freedom to explore the other spaces! The rooms are all arranged in rows – looks really childish.
  • Throughout the day I have to be glued on to the same chair. You might know, at home I have never remained in the same spot continuously for more than two minutes.
  • The most awful part is the character called ‘teacher’. Her words are all Greek to me. Surely she can speak like my mother, but for  reasons unknown she abstains from that. If I stare into her eyes bewildered, she will repeat the same sounds, more loudly the second time. Stupid lady. Does she think I am deaf? The whole day she indulges in similar meaningless deeds.
  • I should write on the pages, and on the lines, and the way she prefers! At home I could even write on the walls (though my mother makes faces about it).
  • A lot of other children in the class scream their head off in the midst of their struggle to escape from that dreadful place. I don’t understand why they need to make so much fuss about it. Silly people! I have better plans. ;)
  • We usually eat when we feel hungry, right? However school has indigestible rules about that too. I should eat when I am not hungry, and when I really yearn for some food I have to remain hungry.
  • To ‘shooshoo’ I should make some funny signal to the teacher. (Don’t know why at school I felt the urge often. Yeah, honestly.) The teacher would then send me to a horrible aunty who does not seem happy to take the children to the toilet.

More such oddities are there.

Anyway, I have had enough. After a day at school I have picked up my first lessons in life:

  • Life, Reality - both are bitter!
  • There is no place like home!

So, I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL, come what may!

(Hope school won’t blow out the enthusiasm of our little ones.)

In Honour of the Tree


(‘If we could ask you a favour’ continued…)

Nature is at our disposal but not at our beck and call. The
people, especially the upcoming generation should realize this.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the ninth graders, this time we
presented a handful of programmes appealing the students to be more responsible towards nature.

Many of the students have already started taking care of the
tree after I had discussed with them the plight of the tree. Another teacher
decided to shift her special one hour morning class to another room, hoping to
cut down its misery.

We inaugurated the special assembly watering the tree. Well,
today with this symbolic deed, we were able to spread the message to the whole school, I hope.

Let the students know something more about the whereabouts
of the tree.

Hey, look at the tree – doesn’t it look happy, being the
centre of attraction?

The tenth graders donated a potted plant to the school –
another meaningful gesture from the students.

Every student had something to do this Environment Day. Each
one was asked to bring a green paper leaf with their name on it. And with those
600+ ‘girl leaves’ we created this tree. Paper leaves are no substitutes for
the real ones, we know. But this was meant to be symbolic of what we need to have, for our survival.

And furthermore, to add a little bit of green to my own world….

A few days ago I received a gift from one of the students
who passed out with flying colours in the Board Examination. That was the greenest, coolest gift I have ever received.

Notebook or Art Book?


I usually wind up my advice sessions in class with this point, “These are merely suggestions. You need not limit yourselves within the lines I have drawn. Feel free, go to any extend to express your creativity – and that’s what I ultimately expect from you.” Majority of them happily follow just what I say. I call them good, obedient students. Many of them dare to be innovative. They are excellent students.

But geniuses incarnate rarely. Last year I got such a student (glad to have her with me this year too) – an avid reader and a gifted artist who thinks out of the box.

What makes her notebook stand out is her ability to artistically represent what she visualizes out of the lessons. Almost the whole lesson will be there in pictures and captions. If it is a poem, literally each and every image will come alive in her unique style of drawing. Each time she gave me her book for correction she offered me an intellectual, visual treat.

Take a look at these illustrations.

This is how she began.

A lot of details about the authors are collected and included.

This is how she illustrated the classic poem by Tennyson – ‘The Brook.’ Have a closer look at the details and you can see that she has included even the minute points from the poem.

Song of the Rain by Khalil Gibran

Anyone who has read Wordsworth’s ‘Solitary Reaper’ would not need any more explanations here. What attracted me is her imagination to make the three singers stand on the victory stand, giving the first position to the reaper.

Finally this is one of my favourites – Pam Ayres’ ‘Oh I Wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth.’

These are the original creations of a 14-year-old girl born into an ordinary family. Are the parents fully aware of potentials of this prodigy? I am not sure. Anyway these days they are seriously thinking about her higher studies – she aspires to be a doctor. May God help her and all the deserving students like her.