20 March 2013

Writing for children

Today's children have access to far more print magazines than children brought up in the '60s. However, when it comes to quality, I am skeptical about the former. I am sure that people who have read children's magazines (or supplements) such as Illustrated Weekly's Young Folks League, Kannan (a very popular children's magazine in Tamil) or Chandamama would endorse my point of view.  Let me present a few examples from yesterday's edition of `Young World', published by the newspaper `THE HINDU', to illustrate my point of view.

1. If you read this write-up, the very first sentence in the water buffalo's letter to Aristotle is not structured in the best way: "I read the letters written about massive and powerful animals with interest" is better than "I read with interest the letters written about massive and powerful animals". In his reply, Aristotle says "...You are a mean-looking heavy fellow ..." When we write for children, terms such as `mean-looking' should be avoided. I think that whatever we write for children should not nurture unfounded assumptions, skewed notions and negative attitudes. I don't understand the logic behind editorial sections of newspapers such as `THE HINDU'.

2. As usual, HeyMath section carries grammatical mistakes ("A group of islands are connected together ..." in `Isolated Islands) and conceptual ambiguities ("Each row and column is a math equation" instead of "Each row or column should contain numbers which form an equation"). I don't think that we can teach mathematics at the cost of conceptual clarity and grammatically correct language. I think that newspaper and magazine publishers should consider quality of content in their advertisements to be more important than revenue from advertising. This applies to electronic media developers as well.

Writing for children is not simply filling space with alphabets and numbers, however colourful they may be. It should make sense.

From Senegal to schools

Yesterday, as I was reading academic news items in newspapers, I came across a disturbing news report. Although Right To Education Act has created ripples, it has not benefited the parental community significantly because the Act itself is not clear on issues such as school fees.

In addition to this, there is still no effective unbiased watchdog mechanism to see that `Education For All' is implemented in full. Our country is one of the 164 member countries which signed the EFA document many years back at Dakar, Senegal.

I think that Public Private Partnership involving all stakeholders including parents from all economic backgrounds is very necessary to reach EFA aims and objectives.     

18 March 2013

An oasis in the desert

With the fact that movies based on religious scriptures are rarely produced and released these days in India, it was a spiritual experience to watch `Sree Rama Raajyam', a Tamil movie yesterday evening in one of the regional TV Channels.

05 March 2013

Seetha Jayanthi

Today is a special day in the Hindu Calender. This is the day on which Seetha Devi appeared on the Earth during Trethaa Yuga. This day is celebrated as Seetha Jayanthi. Seetha Devi (an incarnation of Goddess Mahaa Lakshmi) married Shree Raamaa (an incarnation of Shree Vishnu) in Tretha Yugaa. 

03 March 2013

Memoir of music from Mumbai to Mekelle

I think that people of my age normally like good songs of the 1960s. Thanks to the Internet, the BBC and my simple and trustworthy Acer Notebook, I could take a few minutes of very nostalgic virtual journey and listen to a few good old Bollywood songs of the '60s on this channel. `B' stands for Bombay, currently known as Mumbai.

In 1982, I and a few fellow Indian friends went to watch a Bollywood movie  called `Noori' in a cinema hall in Mekelle, Ethiopia. Indian movies were very popular all over Ethiopia at that time. As it was the norm in those days, most of our film songs were melodious and some, meaningful. As we were engrossed in the movie, I felt as if someone was scratching my leg. This had been happening for several microseconds until I myself realised the problem: the guy (a fellow Indian teacher) sitting next to me was so overwhelmed by the movie that it didn't strike to him that he was scratching my leg instead of his, until I alerted him!

Let me leave you with an Ethiopian song with nice music (I don't know the meaning of the lyrics of the song). Hope you too like the music.

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.