30 August 2012

Para Olympics 2012

It was a delight to watch the inaguration of Para Olympics last night on TV. I usually watch Para Olympics more eagerly than Olympics because of two reasons: (i) The events prove that physical disability is not a handicap in any way if we handle it properly and (ii) I am considered to be physically handicapped by some people (though many of my friends and dignified aquaintances tell me that I don't look like someone with a handicap).

Well, the fact is that I do have a slight handicap (due to polio in my right leg) though it is not very visible. I, my parents, siblings and my well wisher relatives and friends never considered me as one with a handicap, as after all polio never affected me in any way (physically and psychologically).

At a school sports meet with Dr Daisy Dharmaraj and Dr Jacob D Raj, an adorable couple, who run PREPARE, a Chennai based NGO, 1996 
Well, this year's Para Olympics will continue reassuring that disabled people are not what they are wrongly perceived to be. Let us watch the events and share our joy with participants from 165 countries which are represented in the mega event.

Best wishes to all these differently abled sportsmen and sportswomen.

Power of photographs in physics classrooms

As someone who is not interested in political issues and contemporary cinema (except good movies without violent and vulgar scenes) , my morning newspaper that I read as I drink my cup of coffee, isn't actually some thing which I eagerly await. But occasionally I do find very interesting stuff in the paper, about some of which as you may know, I keep writing in my posts. One such is a photograph as shown below, published in Metro Plus supplement of the newspaper (Reasonably high resolution of the photo seems to be due to the technical level of the camera or the brilliance of the photographer or both) :

My reflex reaction on seeing the photo was imagining myself as a physics teacher in a middle school physics classroom showing this photo on a large screen and eliciting student responses for questions such as "How many sources of water ripples can you locate in this snapshot?" "How will you explain the non-uniform inter ripple distances?" etc. (When I taught `Wave motion' many years back I have used similar resources, but they were not usually locally developed).  

28 August 2012

Onam Greetings

Onam greetings to all my Malayaalee friends, particularly Jos (in Maldives), Mini (in Chennai) and Sreejith (in Kollam). 

Digital Classroom with Defective Content

In my previous post and some of my earlier posts I wrote on issues related to K-12 elearning/multimedia industry in our country. This morning I happened to visit the website of a Chennai based elearning company claiming to stand out from the rest in terms of quality. When I browsed through its webpages, I found the contents with a lot of mistakes, contrary to what they advertise. Following are screenshots of a few of its webpages:

As we can see, each of the above webpages contains at least one grammatical or conceptual mistake (for example disproportionate sizes of animals) in its content.

Instead of being satisfied with mediocre and substandard products, elearning companies should strive to develop quality products that can compete in the global market place.

In their turn, K-12 schools should get digital products thoroughly evaluated for quality by a team of competent professionals with extensive experience in technology backed teaching before buying the products. This probably needs drastic changes in job allocation of staff in most schools today. For instance, HODs should be given less teaching workload so that they can contribute not only in mentoring their colleagues but also play lead roles in evaluating educational technology backed lesson resources. Such changes can go a long way toward quality education.

27 August 2012

Quality education and Corporate principles

Many well informed and well experienced education professionals of today would agree that there is nothing wrong in considering K-12 education organisations (including schools, textbook publishers and digital media development companies) as corporate houses if they apply appropriate principles of management in running these (as I have myself done). But the problem is that many such organisations seem to compete in the market place (not only locally but also globally) without following principles of ethics.

Increasing teachers' workload basically due to illogically quantity driven curriculum designed by many of our curricular boards has resulted in private companies getting into K-12 assessment scenario. Though the main aim of these companies seems to be to support K-12 school systems, many of these companies seem to deliver products which are far below quality. It is strange that even their webpages which advertise their materials contain grammatical mistakes as in this example.

Education advertisement with the mistake
I think that education material developing companies (print as well as digital) should try to develop products which are 100% quality oriented, which is not impossible. At their end, schools should buy products which are really quality oriented after evaluating them thoroughly instead of buying them just because the manufacturing company has a brand image. Quality and brand image do not always go together, contrary to popular myth.

26 August 2012

Onam Festival

This weekend comes amidst joyful days of Onam in Kerala where it is believed that King Mahaabali visits our planet and participates in the plenary session of the annual festivities on coming 29th. Mahaabali (or `Maaveli' as he is known as in Kerala) was the grandson of Bhaktha Prahlaadaa, greatest devotee of Lord Lakshmi Nrusimhaa, an Avataar of Shree Hari (Shree Mahaa Vishnu).  I nostalgically remember the Onam season in 1985-86 when I had the joy of participating in the festivities with my friends and colleagues in the beautiful coastal  city of Kochi. Let me leave you with a very meaningful write-up and a report related to Onam festivities from two newspapers. I guess you like them. 

17 August 2012

Shelter from showers on slim shoulder

By God's Grace, since Gokulaashtami, we have been experiencing some showers (rains) in the city. Hope we have more showers so that the city's problem of drinking water can be reduced.  

(When thinking about rains, I am reminded of an interesting definition of `umbrella' in Reader's Digest, in one of its `humour' columns, when I was a school boy in the mid '60s. The definition was as follows: An umbrella is a shelter for two but a showerbath for three).

In practice, most umbrellas have always been a shelter for one. Pehaps RD needed to refine and define.

Many people prefer umbrellas to raincoats. The only problem with an umbrella is that we can easily forgot to carry it everytime we go from one place to another. Well, it is nice for thin built people like me, to place it on our shoulder like a shirt on a shirt hanger. I always carry an umbrella with a curved handle.

14 August 2012

Shree Krishna Janmaashtami in Trinidad and Tobago

Though far away from the subcontinent, Hindus of Indian ancestry continue to follow their traditions in many countries as in Trinidad where they celebrated Shree Krishna Janmaashtami and conducted Bhagwat Yagna last week.

Olympic 2012

Like most Indians, I am also disappointed at our country's performance at the Olympics and think that our media awareness, publicity campaigns and Organisational support should extend beyond cricket.

It was nice to see Africans perform excellently in many of the athletic events, as usual. As someone who worked in Ethiopia, I found it interesting to see Ethiopian athletes such as Meseret Defar winning gold.

I think that members of our team who won medals deserve not only appreciation but also consistent encouragement so that they can excel. All our sports persons, irrespective of whether they are national, regional or local players, should get wide coverage on TV, the most popular media in our country. This will motivate them.

Most importantly, govt agencies and corporate houses should offer significant financial and other relevant support to our sports persons.        

11 August 2012

Shree Krishna Janmaashtami celebrations

As you may have read in my previous post, Krishnaashtami is one of the most auspicious days in Hinduism. On this day (in fact to be perfect, around moonrise), Hindus worship Sree Krishna with special pooja in their homes. There are also special poojaas and festivities  in Vaishnavite temples such as this one.   

09 August 2012

Shree Krishnaashtami

Today is one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calender. This is the day (in fact sometime at moonrise) when Shree Hari (Shree Mahaa Vishnu) took Avataar as Shree Krishna during Dwaapara Yuga. Please note in the links above that Yugaas are mentioned in cosmic as well as human time scales and that these two are distinctly different.  I'll write about the spiritual significance of this day known as Shree Krishnaashtami (or Shree Krishna Janmaashtami), later when I find time. Thanks for visiting my blog and reading my posts.

About Me

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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.