Tag Archive: education


To Change the World

Nietzsche in black and white

 

Play-based teaching techniques

All play, no work | The Hindu.   Excerpt :

   …….Walking into Sutradhar is like walking into an Enid Blyton novel. Colourful fish dangle from the ceiling. Wooden shelves overflow with stuffed animals, puppets, blocks, puzzles and wooden cars. A poster listing “101 ways to praise a child” marks the entry to the staff offices. This non-profit retail and workshop space in Bangalore sells toys and games and conducts workshops for children aged 10 and under.

With young children, toys (dubbed teaching and learning materials) have an important role. Play is how they learn,” says Mandira Kumar, founder and chairperson of Sutradhar. The organisation also conducts research related to early childhood education. Their central theme is the ‘power of play’.

Sutradhar says their toys have been designed for specific purposes. For instance, babies watching the hanging fish learn how to focus their eyes on colour and movement; toddlers rolling wooden cars learn motor skills, and so on.

Kumar says that when it comes to early childhood, “India doesn’t have a great knowledge base.” Few are aware that the most critical development in children happens before the age of six — when they learn vocabulary, motor skills, and social skills essential for their future. “I’m really an advocate of the young child; If you don’t do it in the early years you’re only going to address the situation later,” Kumar says.

The lack of focus on early education first struck Kumar when she was travelling the country as the all-India education coordinator for Child Rights and You (an organisation that remains Sutradhar’s biggest funder). Although she saw many initiatives focusing on primary education, she rarely encountered programs dedicated to improving education for the early years. She founded Sutradhar in 1995 to be what she calls “a single-window resource centre” for supporting and promoting national efforts in this direction.

………Educators are hungry for these types of techniques. Sarah Misra, the head of curriculum and training at Chrysalis High School in Bangalore, says, “Children in pre-primary are the most curious, and the biggest quality you need in science is curiosity. Yet, none of the preschool curricula has science.” Sutradhar’s science workshop gave her more than just great ideas for her classroom: it also changed her approach. “It taught me how to step back and let the child take over. Teachers usually rush in and give information, but we must let the child experience things,” she says.

Shanti, the facilitator in charge of primary grades in a free school run by the NGO Drik Pathshala, says she was amazed at children’s capabilities. “Even four-year olds can do division for three, four digits using the exercises from the workshop,” she says.

Not all educators are so optimistic, though. Kumar says that some struggle with the content. “Unfortunately in India, because the teacher has not been educated in a playful environment, play is sometimes seen as alien..”

Sutradhar’s material is especially appealing to educators and parents who have children with disabilities, something Kumar says customers revealed. In response, the staff designed everything from puppets for a psychologist to a parachute for a movement therapist to beads for a special educator.

Sutradhar’s staff routinely conduct months of research while designing materials. They also publish reports, and Kumar is writing a book.

Chattarji says Sutradhar’s training sessions unite educators — from NGOs serving the poor to elite private schools — in a common mission.

However, Sutradhar’s focus on young children excludes them from RTE, which covers children 6-14. “We are concerned that RTE does not specifically address issues of early childhood learning,” Chattarji says, a view she shares with organisations ranging from multilateral NGOs to trade unions. Including early childhood in RTE could help pre-primary educators advocate more training, smaller classes and better facilities. More importantly, it would recognise that education begins before class one.

http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2013/04/heres-how-a-girl-decided-to-walk-out-of-school-and-enter-the-5th-space-to-discover-real-learning/

Walking out’ essentially is being able to critically examining the conventions of society and its institutions, and rejecting those that are oppressive or discriminating. It is also about ‘walking on’ to create more egalitarian and inclusive alternatives, be that in relationships, learning, or living.

…………..to ‘walk out’ of the two major systems of oppression in India – patriarchy and caste, and ‘walk on’ to reclaim ‘family’ as a group of individuals connected by love, trust, and shared values rather than a common-named unit headed by a patriarch male.

 

This ‘walking out’ and ‘walking on’ extends to the other spaces too. In school, I was a ‘model’ student who scored good marks. But there came a point where I couldn’t help wondering what the point was to study all these subjects only for an examination, after which they would be forgotten. My father is a graduate in B.Sc Statistics but couldn’t help me in my calculations of the mean, median and mode! (Not doubting his intelligence!) To delve deeper into these questions, my parents and I decided that I would ‘walk-out’ (rather than ‘drop-out’) of school and begin my own journey of discovery and learning. In school, I was a passive receiver and memorizer of textbook knowledge. Out of school, I could take full responsibility of my learning, and thus, of my life!

 

What does taking ownership of one’s learning entail? In school, some higher authority who doesn’t even know me, decides what I should study and when I have studied ‘enough’ to be qualified with a certificate. But once I decide to take my learning into my own hands, I decide WHAT I want to learn, HOW I want to learn it and from WHOM. And I don’t need a degree or certificate to validate that I have learnt ‘enough’, as my learning will organically manifest in my work, in my life, and in who I am.

 

Taking ownership also means getting to know ourselves first, and learning according to our needs and contexts. It starts by asking a simple question, “What is it that I really care about?” It might be an idea, an art, or a skill, even a question we want to find the answer to. It might not be one thing, might be ten. Start from there. I believe all of us have the potential to do something great, as long as we’re truly passionate about it. Like Rancho says in 3 idiots, “Kamyabi ke peeche mat bhago. Kabil bano… Phir kamyabi to sali jhak maar ke peeche bhagegi.” (Don’t run after success, strive for excellence in whatever you do. Success will follow.)

 

Another important realization for me during the process of reclaiming my learning, which is also known as ‘self-designed learning,’ by the way, has been that everything is interconnected. Hence, we are not isolated individuals in this process but rather parts of a greater ‘self’ – the community, society, and the environment. Along with exploring and understanding ourselves then, another important aspect of learning is exploring and understanding the world – this larger self – and contextualizing our learning according to its needs.

pakizah:Bombay, India1996Steve McCurry

 

Let me share a small story about my inner and outer journey of learning. I had gone to stay in a remote village in the forests of the Gadchiroli district in Eastern Maharashtra, as part of a youth social exposure programme that I was participating in. On the last day of my visit, I witnessed an act of domestic violence in the family I was staying with, which left me feeling utterly shocked and helpless. As I said, I had been raised in a gender non-discriminatory household and had never fully comprehended the exploitation that women in realities other than mine had to face. I realised that I was a woman too, and had I been born in different circumstances than my own, I, too, would have been subjected to this kind of oppression and violence just by virtue of being born with a female body. Trying to deal with and overcome this newly articulated fear, I resolved to learn about and contribute to a movement that was making an effort to change this attitude of discrimination and violence against women. And this too, started from looking within.

 

Beginning with our names, patriarchy and other forms of oppression have seeped into the core of our identities and relationships. My endeavour is to ‘walk out’ of them, and invite others to ‘walk on’ along with me.

 

brainpickings

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/03/15/a-calendar-of-wisdom-tolstoy/

Real wisdom is not the knowledge of everything, but the knowledge of which things in life are necessary, which are less necessary, and which are completely unnecessary to know. Among the most necessary knowledge is the knowledge of how to live well, that is, how to produce the least possible evil and the greatest goodness in one’s life. At present, people study useless sciences, but forget to study this, the most important knowledge. (Jean Jaques Rousseau, March 16)

There are two types of ignorance, the pure, natural ignorance into which all people are born, and the ignorance of the so-called wise. You will see that many among those who call themselves scholars do not know real life, and they despise simple people and simple things.(Blaise Pascal, April 18)

There is only one real knowledge: that which helps us to be free. Every other type of knowledge is mere amusement.

(Vishnu Purana, Indian Wisdom)

The way to true knowledge does not go through soft grass covered with flowers. To find it, a person must climb steep mountains.

(Josh Ruskin, September 20)

Read less, study less, but think more.Learn, both from your teachers and from the books which you read, only those things which you really need and which you really want to know…………….A scholar knows many books; a well-educated person has knowledge and skills; an enlightened person understands the meaning and purpose of his life.

We live a senseless life, contrary to the understanding of life by the wisest people of all times. This happens because our young generations are educated in the wrong way—they are taught different sciences but they are not taught the meaning of life.The only real science is the knowledge of how a person should live his life. And this knowledge is open to everyone.

It is better to know less than necessary than to know more than necessary. Do not fear the lack of knowledge, but truly fear unnecessary knowledge which is acquired only to please vanity……………….i think this is  apt  for me

Beware of false knowledge. All evil comes from it.

A thought can advance your life in the right direction only when it answers questions which were asked by your soul. A thought which was first borrowed from someone else and then accepted by your mind and memory does not really much influence your life, and sometimes leads you in the wrong direction. Read less, study less, but think more.          Learn, both from your teachers and from the books which you read, only those things which you really need and which you really want to know.

http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/01/08/12-things-you-should-never-stop-doing/ –  Start doing these things now and never stop…

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/memory-plays-truant/article4324629.ece Memory plays truant – Despite the rising number of people with dementia, awareness of the problem and support for caregivers is abysmal,………….. Where will we get nurses/helpers we can trust and who are also trained in dementia care?

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/crime-and-punishment/article4324619.ece – Guilt and shame, inevitable human emotions that usually serve a constructive purpose, can sometimes assume pathological proportions.    (had  read Crime and Punishment  Fyodor Dostoyevsky – mentioned in this article – eons ago – shud read it again…………..)

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/great-statesmen-great-lovers-of-books/article4303270.ece – The weather and temperature in Kerala imparted a special smell to those magazines. The heat, the golden light coming through the windows, the smell of mangoes and the silence broken only by the tick-tock of a clock on the ground floor: the summer of 62 is a summer never to be forgotten. My passion for reading grew stronger with every passing day. Very soon I agreed with Logan Pearsall Smith, “They say life’s the thing, but I prefer reading.”

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/wellness-read/article4303279.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/dancing-with-the-divine/article4349452.ece

Dancing with the divine

The dance I dance becomes more beautiful each day,

When I can open my heart and swing both ways.

To feel for the ones I like and even those I don’t.

What a blessing to be shown,

That I can dance better being connected yet detached.

Involved in the music yet matching step

With the one I’m dancing with.

Being aware of the other’s grip

And of my hold, I was told,

Not to cling tight, but relax.

Yet fear of falling and failing can impede grace.

I also know one can be consumed in the race.

Of getting to some other wonderful place

That promises peace

And I start to relax right now into a space,

Where, my emotions do not make me ill at ease.

And in that softening

I find the opening to slip away

From grips that are hard

And hearts that are cold

The more I dance the less I fear

I glide away from the familiar

And yet it all seems the same

The dance where I twirl

Not afraid to unfurl

Into all my glory

I see myself entwined

Dancing with the divine

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/treasures-of-spain/article4349453.ece –    Massive stone foundations and medieval ruins, dating back two thousand years, lie along the town’s plaza and now serve as a meeting point. The interiors of homes, cafes, restaurants, bars and even banks, are still adorned by Roman arches; their own personal souvenirs from history. The oldest shop that stands in the town dates back to the 1700s, and has been continuing its legacy of selling candles for almost 300 years. The cobbled streets culminate in the colossal Catedral de Tarragona, which is perhaps the only evidence of Moorish influence on the town; Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance eras are equally reflected in the cathedral’s architecture.

The lane with the painted dividers.PhotoS: Shivya Nath

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/blueprint-for-a-life/article4349446.ece  –  Mukund Padmanabhan looks back fondly at his days in the small and unusual Blue Mountain School, Ooty.  ……………was pleased to see “the school beginning to smarten up a bit and the children looking a bit less… wild.” I was extremely pleased to learn that it was Pearce who thought up asthachal , that simple but beautiful practice where children collect on a hillock in the evenings to watch the sun go down in quiet reflection.

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/the-great-tech-party/article4344353.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/an-interface-between-art-and-heritage/article4342146.ece

Landmark event:(Clockwise from left) An installation by Subodh Gupta; Ibrahim Quraishi's installation titled ‘Islamic Violins'; Artist K. Raghunadhan with his unfinished work; an installation made by students of art design and communication of CEPT University, Gujarat.Photos: H. Vibhu, K.K. Mustafah,Thulasi Kakkat

Landmark event:(Clockwise from left) An installation by Subodh Gupta; Ibrahim Quraishi's installation titled ‘Islamic Violins'; Artist K. Raghunadhan with his unfinished work; an installation made by students of art design and communication of CEPT University, Gujarat.Photos: H. Vibhu, K.K. Mustafah,Thulasi Kakkat

Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and currently preparing to host the Sharjah Biennale, expresses the same sentiment. “The city of Kochi with its layers of architectural historicity has definitely been tapped by the project hosts. The biennale has used historical heritage to a very good sequence,” she says, adding that on her first visit itself the biennale gets the viewers right into the different aspects of the city. In most other biennales she feels that the dialogue with the city goes missing.

To commence and continue this dialogue, is what Bose says, has been his main aim. “We have intentionally stressed on the cultural aspect,” he says. Driven by the wish to extricate art from the white cubes and open it up was one factor that comes across in the KMB. The Let’s Talk programme, its Educational Outreach programme, the cultural programmes that include theatre, music, performance arts and so on clearly take art to the people in a way never accessed before.

Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern, senses that openness when he says: “What IS different is that this biennial functions as a perfect vehicle for ‘performing the difference’: a public friendly ‘diy (Do It Yourself) platform for visual culture’ initiated and organised by artists, with and for artists. As a platform it unites and re-unites Indian contemporary artists who are showing an intellectual and visual ‘togetherness’ as never before. As a visitor, everybody can step in and make up one’s mind.”

Art critic and culture theorist Ranjit Hoskote believes that the curators of the biennale have given credit to an audience ready to accept the changing face of art, showcased here. “Exhibitions, especially biennales, are opportunities to expand one’s mental and experiential horizons as viewers – they should not be reduced to fit the size of one’s assumptions. A great many of the works are geared to affect the viewer at a primal, sensory, sensuous level even before their conceptual strategies came into play – through smell, shadow, sound. Today, viewers are more willing to experiment with new artistic experiences than before.”

articles

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2011/04/24/stories/2011042450270600.htm

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2011/05/01/stories/2011050150120400.htm  – excerpts –

The forest cover is fast depleting and several species have become extinct and many more are threatened. The main reason is human greed furthered by machine. The culture of wealth at any cost and by any means has invaded forest land, the home of biodiversity as well as minerals.     Tagore saw this greed phenomenon clearly and wished that we draw lessons from forests. In Tapovan, he writes about the “culture that has arisen from the forest has been influenced by the diverse processes of renewal of life”. In the conflict between greed and compassion, conquest and cooperation, nature alone would “impart peace of the eternal to human emotions”.                In a poem entitled “The Sunset of the Century” written on the last day of the 19 {+t} {+h} century, Tagore observed: ‘the last sun of the century sets amidst the blood-red clouds of the West and the whirlwind of hatred’. The mood on the last day of the 20 {+t} {+h} century, however, was one of hope. Many viewed the termination of the Cold War as the end of major conflicts in global politics and emergence of a harmonious world. This was short-lived. The attack on the United States of America on September 11, 2001 established that religiously motivated violence is going to pose a major threat to world peace.

Rabindranath Tagore was opposed to every kind of religious fundamentalism and cultural separatism. He writes :

‘While God waits for his temple to be built of love men bring stones’.

The building of temple of love remains mankind’s unfinished agenda.

Tagore was never lacking in judgment or resolution in siding with the forces of peace and harmony, spirituality and freedom against religious discrimination, nationalistic arrogance, terrorism, and social discrimination. He wanted Indians to learn about how other people lived, what they believed in and so on, while remaining interested and involved in their own culture and heritage.

Rabindranath Tagore believed that true democracy and freedom alone would lead to realisation of the full potentialities of human beings. It was in this context, that he emphasised freedom of the mind. A poem in Gitanjali catches this ethos admirably:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words comes out from depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit…

Tagore wanted education to be an instrument of realisation of human potentialities. He raised Visva-Bharati as an international university aimed at assisting students realise the true character of our interlinked humanity and deeper unities of our civilisation in the West and the East. Could we not build a better world by teaching love and not hatred?