25 December 2011

Off the beaten track: DXing

Hello friends. After several days, I could find time to write this evening.

In one of my posts I had mentioned as to how I used to receive FM broadcasting stations from distant transmitters by fiddling around my TV and radio-receiver antennae, when working in Southern Africa.

Thanks to my Nikon TW2, I could get a snapshot of my experiment.

(Please ignore the `untidy' TV top in the pic).

11 December 2011

Off the beaten track: Total lunar eclipse

Total lunar eclipse, which took place from 6.16 to 9.48 PM last night was an important astronomical and spiritual event to Hindus. 

04 December 2011

Shaaligraama Pooja

After several weeks, I had time to perform Shaaligraama Pooja to my heart's content this morning. Even this very exeperience is difficult to  express in words. I think that such is the divine power of Shree Hari.  

29 November 2011

Science fiction as a tool in teaching science

Though we are flooded  with education technology tools to help us reach children in their classrooms, appropriate fiction has always been an effective tool in classroom interactions.

The role of science fiction  as an effective aid in teaching abstract concepts is well known. I remember having used films such as `Fantastic Voyage' based on the popular novel of the same name by the Russian American writer Isaac Asimov, when teaching human biology at the middle school level. In fact I read translated versions of Fantastic Voyage and many other science fiction stories in Tamil language magazines way back in the early '60s when I was a school boy.

Arthur C Clark and Isaac Asimov were two of my most favourite authors. As I grew up, I read the original English versions of such works. I also liked to gift away some of these novels to people like Arun, brother of my divorced wife. Arun not only shared my interest in science fiction but was also an excellently mannered young man, whom I continue to respect.    

I had the pleasure of using several science fiction films and videos to teach curricular subjects. When teaching in remote villages in Ethiopia and Bhutan, I had to rely on science fiction material very much.

In Shire, Endasellassie in Ethiopia, I felt the need to build a collection of appropriate science fiction materials for use in my classes in a situation in which there was absolutely no chance of using any laboratory. Once I had requested Mr Arthur C Clarke to let me know of any sci-fi resource for use in classrooms for which he was kind enough to reply as shown in the following scanned copy of his letter to me:

I continued reading his books, watching his films and using them in my classrooms until I came to know that he was an atheist.  I think that any person will be able to function normally only if she or he believes in God.

26 November 2011

Samskrit classrooms and Seshaachaarryulu

This afternoon I happened to watch 'Gyan Dharshan' programme telecast by the Educational Broadcasting Division of our National TV. It was a Samskrit language class for high school students. Though I am not well versed in the language, I like the language very much and follow the contents to whatever extent possible, because the language evokes a spiritual feeling in me.  

As any good classroom, this classroom also consisted of interested children and a dedicated teacher engaged in meaningful interactions (unlike in most school classroom settings in which curricular subjects are taught with the only aim of achieving `marks' in the `Board exams').

But paradoxically, when students answered their teacher's questions, they did so without following the most fundamental manners of getting up from their seats.
This problem is not due to the teacher or the taught; it is due to media personnel who  are not qualified to assess classroom quality from a proper perspective.

I think that stakeholders involved in production  of such programs should ensure that all requirements of quality are met before our local programmes are aired.

The best language teacher (and a poet) whom I have ever met is Mr Seshaachaaryulu (fondly known as `Thitta kavi'). He taught Telugu and Samskrit at a high school where I also worked. Whenever he taught samskrit, his classes sounded like temples.

I remember quality rich Friday evenings which I spent with this nice gentleman at his home (located a few kilometres away from Vijayawada) and the inexplainable joy which I derived by having the Darshan of deities in the Sree Rama temple, puja activities of which I think, are performed by him or by his male relatives.

I also remember his taking me to visit nearby Kondapalli village, known for its traditionally  hand made dolls. It is also an unforgettable experience.

A Kondapalli doll

20 November 2011

Off the beaten track: Musical rendezvous

After several weeks, I happened to bump in to a softrock music material on the internet a few minutes back and read some write-up on Mary Hopkins, one of my favourite singers. The write-up took me back on a nostalgic journey through the late '60s  to Mary's melodious rendering of Those were the days. It was released in 1968 and remained among top ten hits for several weeks in BBC's `Top Tweny' programme in the late '60s. 

13 November 2011

Reading habits in children

However fluent we may be in English, some times it so happens that we don't get the right word when we communicate to others. Many of us encounter this problem when we are out of touch with the language. This difficulty is more pronounced if we don't read regularly. 

If you talk to youngsters of today, you can easily find that they are relatively far more precise in what they want to say or write; but the problems is that they find it difficult to use appropriate words.  As teachers and parents would know, this problem is due to lack of reading among our children.

When we were young, we used to read good books, magazines and columns meant for children in  magazines in different languages, regularly. I remember reading `Young Folks' League' by Aunty Wendy in The Illustrated Weekly of India and childrens' magazines such as Kannan (in Tamil) and Chandamama regularly. We used to eagerly wait for the newspaper wender to  drop these magazines at our doorstep. Besides these, my father used to bring many childrens' books for us to read and my mother used to read and explain stories from our English textbooks in an interesting manner. I vividly remember my mother explaining `The ugly duckling', a popular Danish fairytale which was included in our English textbook.

Unlike today, almost all contents in our English textbooks were value oriented.  Our textbooks contained goodies from different countries such as Denmark in the above example. Of course, there were a lot of rich culturally rich value based material such as Raamaayanam,Tirukkural etc. from our own country.   Besides, we used to spend a lot of time in well-stocked libraries under the supervision of dedicated librarians at school.

Years later, I tried to make school libraries and computer labs accessible for students duing tea breaks and lunch time when I worked as school principal, by expecting teachers to sit there and monitor what children did, so that children wouldn't misuse the opportunity. However, some of my colleagues didn't like the idea because they didn't want to sacrifice their free time; thus the idea never took shape).

I am glad that a few NGOs are trying to revive the trend in schools according to an article which I read this morning.

I think that it is a moral obligation for schools to develop reading habits in children. No formal classroom lesson can be as effective as a good story for our children to enjoy and follow values in their own lives. 


09 November 2011

Off the beaten track: Krishna Consciousness and George Harrison

I have always liked many of the songs written and sung by The Beatles.Their music had a profound influence on tens of thousands of youngsters in the '60s. I was one among them. This evening, I happened to read an interesting interview by George Harrison about Krishna Consciousness. 

Off the beaten track: Digital communication on dignified desktop

I have been using yahoo mail for many years and the social networking site facebook for a few years. While it is beyond any shadow of doubt that such sites are very useful, they cause problems, at times.

Like most people of my age, I was brought up by strict parents who always expected a high level of discipline from their children. This has had a profound influence on my mindset. Naturally, I have carried forward my sense of discipline in my work as well, particularly as a teacher and school principal. I think that there is nothing wrong in children being modern as long as they are within limits of decency. I am glad that children and parents with whom I worked in different countries, liked my line of thinking. I think that a sense of discipline is a basic requirement for human development.

This evening, when I liked to check my yahoo mail, its homepage displayed an obscene pic with caption. I don't know as to how others would perceive it. I found it very uncomfortable. Immediately on seeing the pic, my first reaction was to close the webpage. 

I had a similar experience when logging in to my facebook account, a few weeks back. I got my facebook account deleted. 

I wish that sites such as yahoo mail and facebook, which are of course very userfriendly,  transfer news items and commercials containing obscene pictures to some other page from their home pages so  that they can be user comfortable too.

29 October 2011

Off the beaten track: Accents and auditory ease in communication

When I watch some good programmes in English on TV, I am sometimes unable to follow what the speaker says. Probably you have had the same experience. I think that the difficulty is due to two reasons: (i) speaking without pauses at the right time and (ii) using inappropriately perceived accents (fake accents).  

I think that we can communicate very effectively by speaking slowly (in terms of speed) and using our natural accent or the correct accent used by the listener. (Of course when we use our own accent, there may be occassional problems when we communicate with people from other regions in our own country or with  foreigners; but these can easily be managed if we speak slowly).

I read a very interesting article on accents in this morning's newspaper.

As global backpacking is becoming increasingly common, accents will play an increasingly useful role in our communication and make our auditory experiences easier if used and perceived in situationally relevant ways. 

26 October 2011

Naraka Chathurdashi - Deepaavali

Today is a very important day in the Hindu calender. It is the second day of Deepavali festival. Every year, today is celebrated by Hindus as Naraka Chaturdashi. The incident took place in the Yuga before our present kali Yugaa. That Yuga is known as Dwaapara Yugaa.  Shree Mahaa Vishnu is worshipped with particular reference to His Avataar as Shree Krishna. On this day, late in the evening, Hindus perform Lakshmi Pooja.

20 October 2011

Games and sports in schools

In some of my earlier posts, I had mentioned about games and sports scenario in our K-12 schools.

This evening there was a very interesting panel discussion on `NDTV Hindu' TV Channel involving a parent, a student, vice principal of a well known international school in the city (Chennai) and Sanjay Pinto, the moderator. [I have always liked Sanjay's programmes].

The discussion centered on the `importance' attached to games and sports in schools. The parent thought that sports was not given enough recognition in schools. (I think that she stands out from most parents who think that it is okay if their children don't play games or take part in sports as long as they get very good `marks', enter IITs and become `computer engineers'. Growing number of coaching classes and private tuitions in our cities and towns are a testimony  to this sorry state of afffairs. I wonder as to whether the herd mentality of parents on this issue can be changed). The student, the most important stakeholder in education, too felt that there should be more emphasis on sports in the school time table. He was very right. I appreciate his straight forward statement.

What surprised me was the vice-principal's view point: He said that in his school, they do give importance to sports at `2 hours per week'. I don't think that this time duration is adequate. Moreover, it is against statutory requirements of our Departments of School Education and School Affiliation Boards such as the CBSE.

Whenever there was a pressure from my management to reduce the sports time and allocate the time saved thus for `English' or `Maths' periods, I always refused to accept the proposal, by convincing the management as to why I did so, though the process would usually take time. The pleasure which teachers derive when children are active in sports and games is inexplainable. I have also derived such pleasure, by watching children play. Following photographs show my children when I worked in Poorna Prajna High School in Yelahanka, Bangalore in 1997:

The TV programme brought in very interesting but uncomfortable facts. From a survery conducted in 73 schools, it was found that 43% of students display no interest in games and sports and 61% are physically unfit due to lack of games and sports.

It is no wonder that youngsters in their 20's get cardiac and other problems.

I simply don't understand as to how Government Departments of School Education and affiliation boards can allow schools to flout norms.

I think that outdoor games and sports should be made mandatory at all K-12 schools.

From R to L: Dr Jacob D Raj, Chief guest, Dr Daisy Dharmaraj and I at Green Valley Schools Sports Fest Inaugural  


16 October 2011

Off the beaten track: Sounds of Surinam

Surinam is a country in South America with a large East Indian population, the history of which dates back to a few centuries when indentured labourers from the subcontinent were recruited to work in sugar plantations in the country, after slavery was abolished in the US and neighbouring countries in the West Indies.

A very interesting dialect of Hindi known as `Sarnami Hindi' is spoken widely by people of Indian origin.  Dutch is the official language as the country was a Dutch colony before independence. (Just like in many other countries, young people of Indian origin are not as fluent in Hindi or their ancestral languages as they are in their national language).

There are many radio and TV stations catering to East Indian community. This evening I had the pleasure of listening to Radio Rasonic, one of the FM stations in the country. It caters to local Indian community on 105.3 MHz from Nickeri. I had the joy of listening to Hanumaan Chaalisa. Hope you too enjoy listening to the broadcast.

14 October 2011

Off the beaten track: Druk kingdom's royal wedding

Let us enjoy watching another nice video of yesterday's royal wedding in Bhutan, from Channel News Asia, which I used to watch daily when I worked in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  This is one of my most favourite TV channels.

Off the beaten track: Decaying cultural values

"Held for molesting step-daughter: TAMBARAM: Pallavaram police have arrested a 42-year-old man on  charges of molesting his step-daughter.." so goes a news report on page 5 of today's Chennai edition of THE HINDU newspaper.

Such incidents are unfortunately seen to be increasingly common. I just don't understand as to how people can behave so badly. Whenever I happen to see any dad embracing his teenage daughter or any mom embracing her teenage son, I find it indecent. 

There are many ways for parents to express their affection to children.  Whether it is a father who  displays his affection for his daughter or a mother who displays her affection for her son, I think that such a display should never be by hugging or kissing, at least when children attain teenage.  There are several dignified ways of showing affection.

13 October 2011

Off the beaten track: Druk kingdom's royal wedding

There is a country just neghbouring India in the north east. It is beautiful in terms of landscape, natural resources, nice people and national economy indicators such as Gross National Happiness. Its government takes careful steps in retaining the country's traditional values and in prevening many problems which we see in many developing countries including India.

Today, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, king of this beautiful country Bhutan, married Jetsun Pema, in a colourful ceremony in Phunakha, a regional town.

I remember pleasant times when I taught in schools in this beautiful Himalayan kingdom from 1978 to 1981 and then again in 1985. When I taught in a beautiful village known as Shaba, as the classes ended at 3 PM on all weekdays, afte lunch, I and my friends used to walk a few kilometres to Paro, the provincial town to collect our mails from the post office. I cannot describe the beautiful landscape through which we walked, in words. En route, we used to pass the plot which was later to become the first airport (Paro airport) in the Kingdom. Following photo shows me with a few colleauges and their children:

It is possible to know about this interesting country and its people to some extent from the country's Postal Department.  

Let me leave you with some melodious Bhutanese music.

Kadrinche la (Thank you).

10 October 2011

Off the beaten track: The Beatles

Yesterday was the death anniversary of John Lennon of the The Beatles. Like tens of thousands youngsters during the '60s and '70s, I was also attracted by their softrock music (though I didn't like lyrics of many of their songs). It was interesting to read about them (George Harrison's association with ISKCON and his meeting with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Paul McCartney's skill in handling his sitar after getting trained from Pandit Ravi Shankar, etc).

I used to be very interested in listening to softrock music and reading magazines such as LIFE and JUNIOR STATESMAN (popularly known as JS) for their articles on softrock bands. The Beatles were one of the most popular western softrock bands of that era.  One of their best songs was Get Back.

08 October 2011

World Teachers' Day: Teachers' status

Every year, 5 October is celebrated as World Teachers' Day (exactly a month after the day is celebrated in India).

In ancient India, teachers were a revered lot as they were role models for youngsters to emulate in the communities which they served for. But over the years, things changed, particularly in the past few decades.

People of my generation began our first day at school only when we were at least five years old. Our school began at 10 in the morning and ended at 4 in the afternoon. In general, our teachers were very strict but not harsh. Though we never had `mathematics laboratories' and `comprehensive evaluation' in our schools, moral education, arts and crafts (such as drawing, weaving etc), games and cultural activities were integral components of the school curriculum. There were inter-school competitions with positive aims and objectives. (I was considered to be excellent in elocution competitions in both English and Tamil during my student days. Being a strict headmaster of the high school where I studied, my father had always seen that I got the same treatment as all other students. Infact if my father happened to be one of the judges, he would see that he never gave highest ranking to me, though I would have been the top performer. It was not uncommon to see impartial teachers and headmasters in those days).    

In our high schools we had two main curricular streams: Academic and Bifurcated. Academic curriculum centred on typical curricular subjects whereas bifurcated curriculum included courses in typewriting etc. Students used to literally work with  typewriters, unlike in many schools today with no facilities for students to handle computers on an individual basis.

There were problems such as emphasis on rote learning (which remains to be so to this day though conspicuously) and drop-out rate. Many such problems were due to wrong policy making by politically driven bureaucrats, in spite of several education commissions. 

Teaching was a noble profession on 5 September (Teachers' Day in India) and the least respected profession on all other days. Teachers with university degrees drew less salary than other workers such as bank clerks who would have completed only upto secondary school final. Movies depicted teachers in a wrong stereotyped manner: An old male elementary school teacher borrowing money form someone or the bank to get his daughter/s married off and finding it difficult to repay his loan.

In the '80sand '90s, it was common in India for many teachers like me to seek teaching careers abroad. On 16 October 1981, I signed a contract with the Ministry of Education, Government of Ethiopia (officially known as 'Provisional Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia' at that time) alongwith many young teachers like me, to teach in schools in Ethiopia, after an interview held at Chennai (known as `Madras' then). At the time of interview I  asked the interview panel as to whether I could come to India during school summer holidays in order to get married and take my wife to Ethiopia. The panel members said that there was no problem.

I left for Ethiopia in January 1982. I was posted along with Sebastian Perunmcheril  John, a very nice guy from Kerala, to teach in a remote village known as Shire, Endaselassie in Tigrai region, of which Makelle is the capital town. Sebastian and I taught Chemistry and Physics respectively to Grades 11 and 12 in Shire Seconday School.  
Sebastian and I with a colleague's daugher who liked to be photographed with  us
Though telephonic communication was not possible from there, we could communicate with our parents in India using snailmail. The local post office marketed nice picture postcards with blank space for messages. Sebastian and I used these cards when communicating with our parents. Following picture shows a picture postcard which I used.

Picture postcard
Though Shire was a small village with just one Government Senior Secondary School, the people were very friendly. Mr Asafa, Director of the school, was a very nice man as were other colleagues. (I think that he had a degree in Economics and a degree in Education from the University of Addis Ababa).

With Assafa
As Shire was remote, Sebastian and I sought a transfer. I applied for transfer to Addis Ababa or any place near Addis Ababa, so that I could take my wife.

As soon as summer holdiays began, I was in Addis to follow up my application for transfer and to apply for my exit and re-entry visa. When I went to the education ministry to get my exit and re-entry visa processed, officials said that my application would be processed only  if I deposited 6 month's salary as  guarantee to the education ministry. This was not a small amount, for any teacher from India who  worked in Ethiopia at that time. I was shocked to hear this. I told the ministry that my marriage was getting fixed and that this condition was neither informed at the time of interview nor mentioned in any part of the contract. I  also let the education ministry officials know that it was wrong on the ministry's part in not having been transparent.

The ministry officials said that they had to introduce this condition as many Indian teachers breached the terms of their contract by leaving the country on leave and never returned to rejoin duty (after seeking greener pastures in Nigeria, Ghana etc. where the salary was higher) when the ministry bore the airfares of teachers and their families (spouse and children) from India to Ethipia and back at the beginning and end of their contracts respectively. I was also told that many teachers cheated their Indian colleagues who stood gurantee by incurring financial loss (of six month's salary) by not repaying the amount. (Many Indian teachers faced such problems). Though I tried to convince  them that I would never behave like such teachers and hence there was no reason as to why I should be victimised, the ministry was firm in its stand.

I explained the situation to my parents. As there was increasing pressure from my would-be inlaws, I had to sort out the problem as soon as I could. Though I had a very nice friend by name Harris Suganandam (He was Vice Principal of a Seminary in Addis Ababa) who volunteered to help me out by remitting my six months' salary so that I could come to  India, the Education Ministry would not accept his remittance because he was not employed in a Government Organisation. Mr Harris Suganandam's parents were our neigbours in Vellore and they had known my parents for many years. On Harris' suggestion (a practically viable one), I made an announcement to the audience in an Indian Association Meeting by laying out my plan clearly  as follows: If any one was willing to give me guarantee, he/she and I would enter into a formal agreement that my father would remit my six months' salary into this person's bank account; on receipt of debit adivce from his/her bank, this person would remit the said amount to the Education Ministry. On my return to Addis Ababa, this person would remit the amount back into my father's bank account.  On hearing this, one fellow Indian teacher came forward to help me. The process took several days and there was mounting pressure from the parents of my would- be wife.

The delay in processing the papers was so much that I could get my Addis Ababa to Chennai flight booking confirmed only on the day before my marriage.

By the time I returned home, I only had a few days left to spend in India after marriage. As I had to get a passport for my wife, even these few days had to  be spenrt in Chennai, where I had to get my wife's application for passport processed at the Regional Passport Office, get the emigration clearance for her from the Protector of Emigrants and then book her airticket to Addis Ababa. This obviously caused a lot of physical and mental  strain.   Due to repeated shuttling between Vellore (my hometown) and Chennai, I didn't have much time even  to  pack my things for travel back to Ethiopia.  In the meantime, my request to Ethiopian Ministry of Education for extension of leave was turned down. So my newly married wife and I flew to Mumbai en route Addis Ababa. When we reached Mumbai, I realised that I had fogotten  to bring money from home which meant that I wouldn't be able to pay even the airport tax at Mumbai. I telephoned to the Ministry of Education in Addis Ababa explaining the situation and assured them that I and my wife would be able to reach  Addis Ababa in the next available flight. But still the Education Ministry officials were firm in their stand. If the Education Ministry had given permission to my request, I would have phoned my father and got some money by telegraphic money order though it would have taken a few days. As I had no alternative, we had to pledge my wife's ear studs in a nationalised bank, borrow some money as loan on the jewel, pay the airport tax and leave for Addis Ababa. Of course later, the jewel was redeemed and returned to my wife.

On our reaching Addis Ababa, after my marriage, my wife came to know of the difficulties which I had experienced before leaving for India, from our Indian friends, particularly Harris Suganandam and Mr K O Chacko (a good friend of Harris and a senior teacher in a high school in Addis Ababa).

I remember the hospitality and kindness extented by Mrs and Mr Harris Suganandam in receiving me and my wife at Addis Ababa airport and hosting us in their house for a few days until we got settled in the city. Mr Harris Suganandam and Mr Chacko were instrumental in getting a furnished apartment near the main campus of the University of Addis Ababa for us to stay for a few days (A professor and his family who occupied the apartment  had gone on holidays to Kerala, their home state). It was a fabulous place very near modern supermarkets, restaurants, Ministry of Education Offices and UNECO office (the library of which I  used to  visit).

Meanwhile, my request for transfer was granted and I was posted to a small, beautiful town known as Sheno in Shoa region (in the middle of which Addis Ababa metropolitan  area was located). Sheno was nearly 65 km from Addis and was located on the national highway. We used to travel to Addis almost every weekend.

After returning from Ethiopia for good in 1983, I wrote to our Ministry of External Affairs about the problems faced by me and many Indian teachers and requested them to take appropriate steps. The ministry replied that that it would respond to my request and that the terms of the contract would be modified.

Later, when I went to Africa to work, I never encountered any such problems.

Well, coming back to the scenery in India, even after more than 50 years since independence, not much has changed as far as status of the teacher is concerned. It has become worse with increasingly large classrooms, administrative work, quantity driven syllabus, `rank' obsession from parents etc. Teachers' role warrants adjusting to a complexity of problems, a global factor, particularly in developing countries, as documented in a Trinidadian newspaper article.

Though agencies such as UNESCO are striving hard to coordinate with Education Ministries on teachers' status, it is very important for Governments (not only of Ethiopia and India but also of all other countries) to take initiative and implement policies, which would enhance the status of the teaching profession across barriers.

30 September 2011

Off the beaten track: FM radio's manifestation in 2011

In one of my earlier posts, I had written about how I  used to enjoy shortwave listening. This post is somewhat related to this hobby.

Like most Indians, I used to be very homesick when I worked abroad in the '80s and '90s. Thanks to my SONY ICF-7600DA receiver. It gave me a very good company.

Besides, it could easily be charged by using my car battery even during my outings without any problem. Whenever I bought a new car, I used to remove the cigarette lighter from the dashboard and replace it by my SONY receiver and Nikon TW2 camera.

There were problems of reception quality at times, paticularly when listening to FM and AM frequencies, which any way was quite normal, as DXer would know.

When working in Southern Africa, in late '80s and late '90s, I used to receive a number of FM radio stations such as Radio Jacaranda and Radio Lotus. Radio Lotus used to air on 87.7 MHz. I remember with nostalgia, as to how I used to long for its Sunday morning programmes containing old Telugu and Tamil film songs. Though the reception from its 10 kW transmitter from distant Durban was not of good quality, I used to solve the problem by fiddling around the antenna of my receiver. I liked Radio Lotus mainly because it brought back pleasant memories with its film songs which were popular during my boyhood years in India.

As I had a lot of spare time especially during weekends, I could quench my thrist for writing. I used to contribute to  `Short Wave Magazine', published by P W Publishing Ltd (which also used to publish `Practical Wireless') on an almost regular basis, thanks to columnists Ron Ham and Brian Oddy and my portable typewriter.

Difficulty in accessing FM stations is a matter of history nowadays, thanks to post internet technology.  Today we can listen to any broadcast or telecast from any part of the world just at the click of a mouse.

One such broadcast is from Radio Jaagriti from the beautiful islands of Trinidad in the West Indies. This radio station is a project of Trinidad Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha. It's a pleasure listening to Hindu devotional songs with 100% audio clarity without any technical problem, even in my simple notebook.

Well, coming back to our local scenario here in India, I am yet to come across an exclusive FM station broadcasting good devotional songs in Chennai (where I am permanently settled) or in Gujarat (where I work). 

29 September 2011

Stories in communicating with children

We all know that stories are not only interesting to children but also to people of all age groups. I have found stories to be very effective in teaching value sytems as well as lesson concepts in subjects across pre K - 12 curriculum. I have also used stories in teacher development workshops and board meetings successfully.

In this post, let me present a short story which I had written when working for a children's magazine, a few years back. Hope you enjoy reading the story:

Jaanaki’s jump

Jaanaki is 10 years old and attends a primary school very near her home in a village. She is good in studies as well as in games. She likes helping others whenever possible. Hence everyone likes her. She loves her parents, grandmother and Jagdeesh, her 3 years old brother.

Everything goes on well in the village, until there is a sudden outburst of cholera. The village primary health centre tries to rectify the problem by taking preventive steps and decides to send health workers to administer door-to-door cholera inoculation. As the first step, the village administration spreads the message using public address system with a warning that all the inhabitants are expected to take the inoculation without fail.

Now, this is the most unpleasant message to our Jaanaki. Do you know why? It’s because, she doesn’t like any kind of injection simply because it ‘pains’. In fact, whenever she gets ill, her first priority is capsules, followed by tablets and then liquid medicine.

It is Sunday. All are watching TV. The doorbell rings. Jaanaki sees her father opening the door and greeting two people in white uniform. One person has a few papers in his hand and the other holds a stainless steel box that looks like a first aid kit. Immediately Jaanaki recognizes her “problem”. She has to act swift, as otherwise it will be too late.

As her dad is talking to the visitors Jaanaki slips out of the room very quietly and comes out to the backyard. There is no way she can escape, as their house has a large fence. Although there is a Neem tree adjacent to the fence, Jaanaki has never climbed a tree. That is a problem. However, this time she has to overcome it.

Jaanaki is relieved at the very sight of the tree. She runs to the tree and climbs it without any problem (In fact she doesn’t have time to be hesitant). Within seconds, she is on the fence. She feels like being on top of the world.

The whole act has lasted less than two minutes. As the TV show is very interesting, none seems to have noticed Jaanaki’s escapade. She looks around and decides to jump on the other side of the fence quietly and avert the otherwise inevitable inoculation. Jaanaki becomes completely ecstatic at the very thought of escaping the inoculation.

She takes a look at the other side of the fence for a secure place to jump. But what she sees there is more frightening than the syringe; there is a big dog casting a ferocious look at Jaanaki.

On seeing Jaanaki, the dog begins to bark. Immediately on hearing the bark, her parents come rushing to the backyard and find Jaanaki standing on the fence.

Now, in spite of all her planning, Jaanaki is back to square one. She has to decide between the “barking dog” and the “inoculation”.

Can you guess as to which one she prefers?  Yes, it is: inoculation.

Moral: Look before you leap. Don’t avoid anything that is good.

28 September 2011

Off the beaten track: Movies and their infuence on the masses (people)

Usually I don't watch movies unless they are classical or contain value based themes. In the past weekend, when searching for a good TV programme, I came across a seemingly good Malayalam movie. By the time I had bumped on the movie, I guess, it was running half way.

In the movie, Tilkan plays the role of a wealthy man, who is arrested for a crime which he never committed, by a police officer who  happens to be the son of Pavithran, a long time enemy of the wealthy man. (I don't know the name of the actor who enacts the role of Pavithran).

Mohanlal enacts the role of Tilakan's son. He gets furious at what has happened and engages a criminal lawyer (enacted by Mammutty). Mammutty enables the release of Tilakan. Thereby justice is rendered.

It was nice to watch superb actors on the TV screen. (I remember watching Malayalam movies almost every weekend in a three theatre complex known as `Sarita - Savita - Sangita' in Ernakulam, where I used to stay when I was teaching in a school in 1985 and 1986).

Such depictions in movies are a lesson to (i) venomous people who tell lies and say wrong things about peope whom they don't like, create and spread false rumours, exaggerate things by pretending themselves to be good etc., and to (ii) foolish people who  believe whatever the above-mentioned people say, without attempting to know the truth (often until they themselves are affected because of their association with above-mentioned evil people).

Both types of people don't realise that God knows every thing and that they are committing sin.    

Off the beaten track: Nava raathri festival

According to Hindu calender, today marks the beginning of Nava raathri festival with its great spiritual and religious significance. This annual festival ends on Vijaya Dashami  occuring on 6 October.

In my boyhood, like in all brahmin households, we used to celebrate this annual festival with great joy, by having `kolu' (display of dolls). On such occassions, it was a custom for all members in the household to share work toward the festival's lofty aims and objectives.

In the afternoon on this day every year, my mother used to bring out wooden boxes and iron `trunks' (boxes which contained things but were not used very much) from our store room to the main living room. She used to be assisted by one or two attenders from my father's school (a government high school in which my father was the headmaster). They would place wooden planks on the boxes such that the system looked like a gallery. Then my mother used to spread pure white clothes on the planks and then place dolls in a systematic manner. This was the custom in all brahmin households in those days. The main dolls were the images of deities.

We three siblings (I, my sister and brother) used to take part in the work gladly. We used to feel inexplainably happy as if the dolls were our `close' friends who were coming to visit us and stay with us till the end of the festival.

It was a custom in brahmin households to invite all friends and relatives to the house (usually only women and children). Hence, we used to follow the custom. My dad used to borrow a typewriter (as shown in the image at the end of this paragraph) from the school for some time; my mother would type invitation letters to guests (with `carbon copies' for multiple guests) to take part in the festival. My parents would sign each invitation `card' and distribute them to our prospective guests irrespective of whether they were materially rich or poor.
When guests arrived, they would be welcomed in the traditional manner. Then the congregation would sing devotional songs as a reflection of their Bhakthi (Devotion). At the end of each evening's programme, my mother would serve `prasaad' (eatables with divine connotation) to all the guests. It was a common custom for women and children to visit each others house at least on one of the nine evenings (from around sunset to 8 PM).

The most important part of the festivity consisted of worshipping Goddesses Durgaa, Mahaa Lakshmi and Sarasvathi, for three days and nights each.

As children, we used to enjoy bringing in innovations by making models of mountain temple, hydel dam, park, houses etc. As I had always been interested in drawing, painting and basic electronics, I loved the excercise. My sister and brother, both younger than me, would assist.

We loved to get ideas from our friends' kolu and implement them in our own kolu. Our friends did the same way. We learnt from each other without any ego or jelousy. There was no room for negative competition.

More recently, in 1985-1986 (when I worked in Kerala), I used to visit a nearby temple to enjoy cultural performances such as classical dances marking Nava raathri.

Nava raathri is celebrated not only in India but also abroad, for instance in the West Indies.

22 September 2011

Laptops for all students

Tamilnadu Government is on the move to provide free laptops and cash incentives to all students in government run and government aided schools, according to a recent newspaper report. Though it seems to be very encouraging, if we look a little deep into our school systems, we can easily find that the move is not far sighted because of many reasons, some of which are as follows:

  • All schools do not have facilities (physical infrastructure and teachers)
  • Our school curriculum itself is not designed to be computer compatible
  • Our colleges of education do not train teachers to use computers in teaching all subjects across the curriculum
  • All students are not equipped with knowledge and skills to  use computers in a meaningful manner because of a range of factors such as curriculum, school and assessment methods
Any balanced education manager will know that computer aided learning is not always superior to other effective modes such as activity based learning (unless activities are not advisable to be taken up by students).

Hence, it is better if the govenment spends money in improving physical infrastructure and quality of teachers instead of spending it on laptops and cash incentives. (Otherwise, there is every chance that laptops are also sometimes misused like mobile phones, in the hands of children. The problem can become more pronounced with `cash incentives', as after all it is easier today than ever before for any student to acquire data-cards and other apps in the market without parental guidance).

If we go by educational research, there is absolutely no evidence that kids learn effectively when provided with computers without any technical and pedagogic support. Incidentally, most of our government, government aided and private schools lack in these two core factors.

Once the government achieves success in quality curricula, teacher training and counselling to parents (as to how best they can monitor children's activities when handling computers), it can get to schemes such  as free laptops.

20 September 2011

Proper use of language when communicating with children

All good people know that they need to convey only good things to children. However, sometimes, we may convey something without meaning it. Here is where choice of words is of paramount importance, whether it is oral or written communication. 

This morning when I was reading today's edition of the daily newspaper 'THE HINDU', I browsed through the pages of `YOUNG WORLD', the newspaper's supplement for children. (I am sorry that I couldn't access it's online version).

Page 2 of the supplement contained an article `To a nail-biting finish' on the lawn tennis champ Novak Djokovic, from Serbia, a country which was almost devastated by war for many years.

The article's first paragraph is as follows: "This year's U.S.Open has been a sumptuous fare in all respects. Right from Djokovic's unbelievable victory over Federer in the semi final to Serena Williams' angry rant in the final, there has been no shortage of pulsating entertainment...".   

The writer has done a good job in conveying the hard work and dedication of Novak. However, I think that he should have used any other apt word instead of "unbelievable" in the above paragraph (Is it unbelievable simply because he comes from a developing country?).

After all, no one's winning or losing in any game can be unbelievable. Winning or losing depends on nothing else but hardwork, dedication and God's Grace.

You may have come across words such as `fantastic' and `incredible' commonly used in wrong contexts.

It is very important that we use appropriate, non-ambiguous words and phrases when we communicate, particularly with children.  

10 September 2011

Value system

According to Vedic scriptures, wherever Shree Raamaa's name is chanted with devotion, Shree Raama Bhaktha Hanumaan would be present. One recent evidence of this fact is described in this wonderful article.

07 September 2011

Encouraging sports in our schools

Two news items in this morning's newspaper caught my attention. The first one about India's defeating South Korea in the Asian Trophy match and the other one about Ms Jayalalitha's announcement of a proposed Centre of Excellence in Sports for school students in the 10-14 age range.

I remember my own school days, nearly 5 decades back, when school children used to play football, khabhadi, etc. in addition to cricket.

My father was a great sportsman during his college days. He used to tell us about the importance of sports. He insisted that I join the then ACC (Auxiliary Cadet Corps), which I did. ACC was an integral part of the school sports curriculum in those days. As a popular headmaster he used to get `District sports' organised in whichever school he worked.

My father (seen at extreme right in the photo) supervising some children running `sack' race in his school
It was a pleasure for us to spend three full days in the school playground and watching children from different schools perform.

Later when I was in college, I used to  play cricket. Whenever I batted, there used to be runner who used to run for me, as I could not run fast due to my polio in the right leg. However, I was popular as a left arm spinner. Table tennis and chess were two  other games in which I used to actively participate. 

My father, known to be a man of high self-esteem, continued playing lawn tennis regularly until he was 65. As he used to say, my mother was of great support to him in all his achievements.

When I worked as a school principal, I had always encouraged children, particularly girls and those from poor parental backgrounds to  excel in academics as well as in sports. I had always insisted that girls should be coached only by female teachers, for obvious reasons.

I had the pleasure of motivating my collegues into playing the above mentioned games as well as intellectually stimulating games such as SCRABBLES. Pleasure of playing good games had a cascading effect and fostered team spirit.

I think that our K-12 high schools can be centres of excellence in sports if school managements have the will and principals have parental passion.

Let me end this post by posting a few photographs to illustrate how my students enjoyed games and sports when I worked at Poorna Prajna High School in Yelahanka,  Bangalore, in 1997.

02 September 2011

Teacher - student relationship

Today seemed to be just another day in the calender as I was checking my emails: inboxes flooded with junkmails and invitations from social networking vultures, which I promptly delete, as soon as I see them in the list. This time it was a bit different. There was an invitation from a young lady from facebook. I accepted her invitation as she seemed to be my student in late '90s.

I and my students liked each other. It had always been easy for me to treat my students somewhat like a parent would. I cherish my students' affection as reflected in (i) one of the poems written by my students at a high school in Bangalore in 1997 and (ii) a short write up written by a student in the 30th Anniversary Souvenir published at a secondary school in Southern Africa in 1988, as shown below:

It is the moral obligation of teachers not to let children down for any reason. For example, if children's language skills are poor, instead of giving discouraging comments, teachers should allow them to continue speaking (or writing) and then guide them properly. I cherish mementos given by my students whenever I resigned from  my post in any school. These mementos tell a lot about student - teacher relationship. One such memento given to me by a group of children on a working day before or after Vinaayaka Chathurthi, when I resigned from my post a school in Avadi, Chennai, is shown below:

I think that a teacher's role begins when he or she interacts with children like a parent. A school principal's role begins when she or he interacts with young colleagues like a parent and with older colleagues like a sibling. When this happens, children will be happy and so will the parents.

Children enjoying their post lunch free time at the school in Bangalore
An article which I read just an hour back, reflects my own viewpoint as to what it means to be a good teacher.

Off the beaten track: Decaying cultural values

This morning I had some time to read a newsletter from a Hindu Organisation based in Trinidad. It contains a very meaningful poem written by someone in Trinidad, located tens of thousands of kilometers from India. The poem echoes thoughts of many of us, who wish that our youngsters do not lose grip of our cultural heritage. [Though the decay of cultural values is very obvious in today's younger generation, I think that the process already began a few decades back, when heavy metal rock music and odd movies entered the consumerist platform with the result that youngsters could not draw a fine line between modernity and lack of cultural values. I myself liked western popmusic and movies but my interest was confined to soft rock music with good lyrics and non-obscene classical films].

Our schools have a crucial role to play in this direction, in today's circumstance where parents (both mother and father) are busy in fulfilling material needs (which are often unreasonably large).

26 August 2011

Off the beaten track: Chaotic commercials

As I don't own a TV in Gujarat (I don't have much time to watch TV), it is a welcome change for me to watch good programmes (spiritual and classical) on TV back home. It's great that such programmes are aired.

Coming to TV commercials, I don't really understand as to the relevance of high speed commercials as a viable marketing strategy. Today, in BBC World, there was a commercial from a datacard manufacturing company.  The commercial goes like this: a lady gets caught in a fire accident and self-drives her car very speedily to the nearest fire station at which time she also communicates using a datacard. However, I didn't see her operating her computer keyboard (or mouse) at any point in the clipping. Assuming that she did work on her keyboard or mouse, I wonder as to how she can `multi-task' so efficiently in such a situation.

Any how, as I myself use the above mentioned product for the past one year, I am convinced that it is a quality product.

25 August 2011

Off the beaten track: Timely taxi to troublesome trolley

Yesterday, I flew home on a few days' leave from my work in Gujarat. Like in past January, this time  too it was a pleasant travel from Vadodara to Ahmedabad airport, thanks to Manojbhai, the call taxi  operator for timely service, and from there to Madras, thanks to cordial staff of Indigo Airlines at Ahmedabad and on board the flight.

Three airhostesses who were checking our boarding passes, greeting passengers on entering the plane and expressing thanks when we were leaving the plane at the end of our flight, displayed impressively good manners. When my turn came, I could hear them adding `Sir' after greeting and thanking respectively. Even if they had done their `duty' without addressing me with respect, they would not have had anything to lose. But still, they carried out their responsibility beyond the normal `duty' level. I think that these youngsters inherit such good values from their parents and grandparents. Hope this tradition continues.

The only problem which I faced surfaced at Madras airport, where the trolleys work only when their handles are pushed down (which translated into an overnight long pain in the arm). It would be better if the airport authorities replace the trolleys so that non-athletic passengers like me can be pain free.

16 June 2011

Off the beaten track

after moksha of chandra grahana (end of lunar eclipse phenomenon), i had sometime to spare before my daily Sandhya Vandhana etc. listening to my favourite hindu classical songs this morning. i could go on a highly ecstatic spiritual journey led by renowned classical singers such as k j jesudas and sudha raghunathan and bhajan exponents such as vittaldas and anup jalota. thanks to my notebook and datacard.

14 June 2011

Off the beaten track: At Crosswords (Bookshop)

this evening after office, i had enough time to visit `crosswords', my favourite bookshop and buy `dancing in cambodia and other essays' by the acclaimed writer amitav ghosh. though before buying any book, i usually read as many reviews as possible or atleast preview the contents at random, i couldn't do the excercise for this book. but still, the book attracted my attention.  as someone who lived in phnom penh for a year, i was interested in knowing how amitav ghosh perceived the country and its people. hope the book is interesting.   

15 May 2011

Off the beaten track: Customer satisfaction

It is a common belief that private companies are better than public sector undertakings. 

A few years back, soon after buying a fully automatic washing machine for our house, I found the filter giving frequent problems, despite regular cleaning. Recently, soon after buying a brand new split AC with some advance features for our house, I came to know that there was a fault in the unit.

What makes a company customer friendly is the attitude of the customer support staff in the company more than anything else.

01 May 2011

Canned fruit juice and concrete concepts

As we all know, canned fruit juice is a popular consumer item today. Just like most other household items, fruit juice cans can be used very effectively in teaching a range of K-8 mathematics and science concepts.

When I was a teacher, I used to get throw away cans collected by my students so that they can use them when learning lessons.

Usually, our textbooks explain concepts such as `Moment (Turning effect) of a force' in a didactic manner (which I hated when learning science at school).  If you go through our textbooks at random, you may find that they do not attempt to present the application component of concepts in children's real life experiences.

When we present questions such as "Look at the can.  We can open it simply by using our finger. Is it possible to open it more easily?" and give enough `wait time' (a crucially important factor, which is often ignored in classroom settings), some children will certainly come up with ideas such as "We can open the can more easily by using a stick".

This can pave way for deeper learning of the mathematical aspect (Moment = Effort X Effort arm) or the mechanical aspect (Moment can be increased by increasing the distance of the point of application of force from the pivot).

Chances of children's ability to come up with such suggestions are greater when we provide them with relevant material resources (for instance, a few sticks in the above mentioned example).

When we couldn't even get fruit juice cans, my students never despaired; they learnt the concept by using doors and doorknobs; they made comparisons when the effort arm changed; they developed graphs by using pencil and paper (decades before "Excel" and "Insert Chart").

I don't think that our Syllabus Boards or Examination Boards stand in our way when it comes to implementing innovative approaches using child friendly materials within K-8. 

23 April 2011

Household items, activities and games in K-10 Mathematics and Science Education

In my post on April 18, I mentioned the importance of outdoor games to children. I am sure that you would agree with my point of view.

When we were children, we used to go out in the evenings and play simple games such as hide and seek. During summer, when the whether was very hot, we used to get ourseves involved in hobbies such as making cardboard houses. Later, I had the pleasure of involving my science and mathematics teaching colleagues in such activites so that the pedagogic benefits and the pleasure derived could be passed on to children.  Most of my colleagues, students and their parents liked the idea.

There are numerous ways in which simple household items with which children are familiar, can be used to teach lesson concepts. My students and teacher colleagues in different countries have enjoyed `playing' with coffee and fruit juice containers as shown below, when handling concepts such as area and volume:

Infact, even concepts such as linear equations (in middle school algebra) can be taught very effectively by using pupil friendly playway approaches
If you closely observe teaching learning processes in our K-10 schools here in India, you can find that activity based approaches take a back seat. The most common reason attributed  to this odd state is that our Syllabus and Examination Boards are highly quantity oriented at the cost of quality.

Yes, it is true, at the 9-12 level where Public Exam marks matter a lot. At the same time, neither our Syllabus Boards nor Exam Boards are bottle necks when it comes to using innovative and activity based approaches in K-8 classrooms. But still, many schools are reluctant to introduce these approaches because of false notion about syllabus and exam requirements and because our K-8 textbooks don't contain as much learner friendly activity based contents as they should.

Hope our textbook publishers, at least at the K-8 level, break away from their current inertia and include innovative activity based learner friendly contents. Many K-8 Mathematics and Physical Science lesson concepts can be taught effectively by using teacher and pupil friendly activities in the classroom and enabling them to be used in homework assignments.

As UNESCO stated in one of its reports, most K-10 science concepts can be taught effectively using household items.

22 April 2011

Off the beaten track: Zodiac The Shirt People

When I was glancing through the pages of this morning's edition of Times of India, I was delighted to see a full page ad released by the manufacturers of `Zodiac', one of the first branded shirts in the Indian market. [Ofcourse, even in the '60s, there were a few other very good shirt stores such as `Chellarams' in Madras. Chellarams was my favourite store and my dad used to take me there whenever we used to go to Madras. The last time when I bought Chellarams shirts was in 1978, when my parents went to Madras to buy dress materials, utensils and other items which were needed for my sister's wedding].

This morning's ad reminded me of 1985-1986, when I was teaching at a school in Cochin (now known as Kochi). I used to have my monthly shopping at Zodiac showroom in Abad Plaza in M G Road, Ernakulam. Though the shirts were relatively expensive, their qualty mattered a lot to me. Besides, the store had a tailoring section which helped in minor alterations such as the length, to suit individual needs. I was also a member of the Zodiac Club.  Members used to get their 13th shirt free of cost.

When talking about trousers, I always used to get them stitched for the simple reason that readymade ones never fitted my size (I am thin built).  I used to get my trousers stitched at `Rajan tailors', in Thorappadi, Vellore, where we had settled for more than 30 years.  This tailoring shop was smaller than many tailoring shops in the town and the charges were very moderate. I have never come across trousers stitched as perfectly as at Rajans, anywhere else. This shop was a classic example to disprove our common belief that quality is related to price tag. The photo of mine shown below is a clear proof of how fitting were the trousers stiched by them (This picture was taken in late '80s when I was teaching in Southern Africa).

My shirt was bought during a shopping spree in Harare, Zimbawe, on route Victoria Falls during holidays, thanks to to my Toyota Corolla 1.3L, which was one of my companions as illustrated in the following photograph; the photograph was taken during lunch break in front of my flat in the teachers' quarters inside the campus of the school were I taught:

[Since moving to Madras, I have been shopping at `Peter England' and `Raymonds' for my shirts and trousers respectively.  While the former is very satisfying, the latter is not, at times].    

19 April 2011

Whenever I travel, I take my notebook and datacard with me, so that I can watch my favourite TV programmes (some of which may not be available in the conventional TV at the venue where I stay).

Recently I derived the joy of listening to the melodious voice of Sri Shashidhara Kote and the spiritually enlightening explanation by Sri Gururaj Karajagi, in their programme `Daasa Vani' on Sri Sankara TV.  This program centers round the spiritual compositions of saints such as Purandaradasa about Shri Hari and His great devotees.

Thanks to the `world wide web' for enabling people like me to quench our spiritual thirst, even when travelling.

18 April 2011

Outdoor games and computer/videogames for children

People of my age know very well as to the immense benefits which children can derive by playing outdoor games.

Today, most of our towns and cities do not have adequate space for outdoor activities at all. Children seem to be addicted to TV (watching counter educative programmes) or to computer and video games. Very often, parents seem to encourage such trends. 

I am not saying that virtual games are useless.  What I do mean is that such games are cognitively benefitial in lesson concept development (particularly in subjects such as high school physics as I have myself seen) only if they are used with well defined educational aims and objectives. This fact is endorsed by research studies.

From the health point of view, outdoor games are certainly far more superior, for obvious reasons. I think that our schools should encourage outdoor games which all children can play.  

What do you think? 

09 April 2011

Stories in school textbooks

Good stories have always been an effective teaching resource in classrooms.  Our textbooks need to contain as many good stories as possible.

Though I have used stories in my own teaching, it was not until I began working in `Chandamama' (a children's magazine from Chennai) for a few months, that I ever thought of writing one.  One of my career responsibilities at Chandamama was to write short stories in English, which would then be translated by someone else, for publication in the children's section of `Dainik Bhaskar', a Hindi language periodical published in Northern part of India.

One of my short stories is as follows:   

Biju’s back pain

It’s Sunday evening. Biju spent the whole day out with his friends and forgot all about Monday’s English test at school. He returns home after play and takes a fresh bath. It’s 8 o’ clock. His mother says, “Biju, dinner is ready. Don’t waste your time. You have to prepare for tomorrow’s English test.’ This worries him.

Well, what does Biju like to do at school? Sometimes, he finds it so interesting to watch what’s happening outside the window that he completely misses the teacher’s lessons and all those important points that she writes on the board.

It is 8.15. Biju sits at the dining table. His plate contains vegetable soup, yoghurt and a few fruits. He usually relishes them. But now, they look like monsters saying, “Hey, tomorrow morning Ms Sen will be in your class with her question paper. How are you going to handle it?” This terrifies him. He has to act swiftly before it is too late. Within a few minutes of no nonsense planning, he gets the idea!

As he eats his dinner, he groans frequently. His parents get anxious and ask as to what is wrong with him. He groaningly replies, “Oh, my hands and back are paining so much that I cannot even lift the water bottle”! His dad says, “Biju, that’s what happens when you play the whole day. Any way, it doesn’t matter. You can stay away from school tomorrow and take rest”. This is exactly what Biju expected, after all! He is happy that the ordeal has ended.

He spends the next day without watching much TV. He is both sorry and happy. In the evening he phones Nelson, his classmate, to find out about the test. Nelson says, “There was an unexpected change in the class time table this morning. There was a magic show. Hence Ms Sen said that today’s test is postponed for tomorrow and will contain more questions to answer”. Biju almost `faints'.

Moral: Don’t cheat.

About Me

My photo
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.