We can bring about a change …..Let us give a voice to their dreams!!

July 25th, 2019 -- Posted in General | No Comments »

It has indeed been an overwhelming journey and a continuous reminder of how a little spark can change the lives of many. Each of us may remember a teacher who opened a closed door within our minds. Refreshment accompanies such moments—insight for the student and satisfaction for the teacher who “leads out” the student. The magical quality that briefly surfaces in these exchanges is at the heart of the teacher’s work.

To keep improving how we teach, we must give more attention to the interplay between the science of teaching—pedagogy—and the art of teaching, which deals with the unique way a teacher transforms students to reach their potential. A teacher must be anchored in pedagogy and blend imagination, creativity, and inspiration into the teaching and learning process to ignite a passion for learning in students.

Moreover, we must recognize and reward teachers who endeavor daily to create classrooms in which students succeed academically and become inspired to take responsibility for their own learning. The best reward we can give teachers is to ensure that they have the best possible working conditions for teaching, which includes a strong support system—especially for those new to the profession.

All a teacher needs at whatever level is for someone to ignite a  fire in them, respect them, empower them and they will put forth all their energies in bringing about a change ..a change much needed , a change that will help each child to blossom, a change that will help each child to know his true potential and thus leading him to be an enlightened human being .

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I visited at least 30 Balwadis in Mumbai and was touched by the love the children and the teachers shared. The classes were filled with a cacophony of voices; dozens of children were sitting on the floor. The walls were peeling badly and the room was clearly not enough to swing a cat. Monday morning’s first sunrays were peeking through the window, lightening up the confined space. As soon as I stepped inside, I was greeted with vivacious warmth and a sweet ‘Namaste Madamji’, followed by broad smiles and twinkling eyes. That enthusiastic lot had opened the floodgates of happiness hormone in me. Then and there I knew that we were embarking on a new journey; a journey of self-discovery. 

After working for so long in the private schools this sure came as an eye opener for me and what excited me was that the teachers were willing to learn, they want new ideas and strategies to manage the multi age classroom, they want to create a space where they can showcase their learning’s and their love for children was so very evident

‘What are you learning? ‘ I asked , ‘ We are learning about money’ children spoke with excited voices and one by one each one of them rattled ‘ This is Rs 100, Rs 1000, Rs 2000’ on their picture books and fight ensued between them as to which one was Rs 500. I asked them ‘What do you do with money ?’ the three year olds with excitement said ‘ To buy ice cream, toys, food’ , then with a low voice I asked ‘ Where do you get the money ? ’ and waited for their answers with abated breath. Promptly they started replying , ‘ By cleaning people’s homes’ , ‘ By moving bricks from one site to another’ , ‘By ironing clothes’ etc etc and all they could think of was menial jobs where they can get money . And on being asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up ‘ …they were clear in their dreams …right from being a Doctor to a policeman to a Prime minister of the country . This happened in a small Balwadi located in Gore gaon Mumbai.

Learning through fun-filled activities /Villages are backward/the people are uneducated and orthodox. These are some of the conceptions we are bumbling along with. But what I saw was starkly different. We introduced simple English sentences to the children and when we visited next each child was trying to introduce themselves with ‘ I am …’, ‘My name is ….’ they uttered these words thinking about which word was supposed to come next. Urmila, a bright little student, sitting in the front row prompted the word “is” The whole class watched her in rapt attention as she completed the sentence by saying “is Pravin”.He heaved a triumphant sigh of relief, went back to his place with a huge grin plastered over his face but the feeling of triumph was writ all over the teachers face because the first thing they had shared was,’Humko English main Bolna seekha do’

These children are extremely talented but what stands as a major obstacle in their path is lack of resources and the poor quality of education that is delivered, Of what I had learnt in the past few days after visiting a couple of centres, it was quite apparent that the method of teaching that was being used was procedural or rather rote-based.. The teaching methodologies stand obsolete and outdated.

One is also amazed at the location of some of the Balwadis like the one we visited located in the middle of a jungle and the path was onerous. I kept on wondering the entire time, how can children manage to come here on daily basis.. It was during one of my visits that I came across the actuality of the situation or rather the dark underbelly lying beneath it all. Monica was trying to comfort her baby brother Piyush, a two-old kid who was moaning endlessly. She gently held his hand, made him sit on her laps and cupped his face. Holding him with one hand, she took the bowl of Khichdi in the other hand and tried to feed him.10-year-old Monica had to drop out from school in order to take care of Piyush. Her parents are both agricultural laborers. As they work in the fields for the entire day, the only option that seemed feasible was, Monica be removed from school so that she can take care of not only her baby brother but also all the household chores.

I knew that it is paramount that we teach children to think beyond their immediate horizons and have a ‘warrior-like’ attitude, inspiring and empowering them not to waiver in their faith. In varied and creative ways we must communicate that they can dream and that their dreams can come true. From a young age we can instill in them the faith and positive approach so that they need to pursue their own dreams and develop the friendships that will enable them to inspire others to fulfil theirs.

The question which kept bothering me was how we can help these little kids to think beyond, become what they are and we knew the true answer lies in educating them. They have dreams and they need wings to be able to fly and the wings can come through education which will help them in knowing and discovering themselves.

While we all talk about the leaders of the world in various fields, be in an astronaut, an engineer, a doctor, a politician, a journalist, we forget that the contribution made by these leaders and game-changers, is in turn pouring out of all the hard work put in by the teachers who moulded them into what they become post completion of their education!

I planned to have a student led conference at around 10 Balwadis; the idea was to do something different where the children will be encouraged to share their learning with their parents themselves. Challenge was shared by teachers that most of the parents are daily wage workers and will not be able to come .But my thought was different as I know with my years of experience all parents are same, all are crazy about their kids , all want their kids to excel , all will come if it is the children who are talking and not the teacher . Any new idea will always meets with resistance and doubts start appearing , ‘ How can 3 year olds talk to their parents?’ , ‘ Our parents are different Ma’am’ ‘ Our parents are not interested in such things’ ‘ Ma’am yeh nahi ho payega’ …But with me the problem is the more I hear ‘NO’ the more determined I get to ensure that things happen. And to further it my team was energised to take it forward.

We started with a reflection activity encouraging the Balwadi teachers to think beyond the classroom which helped them to explore other teaching styles and also motivated them to pursue their own creative teaching styles . This encouraged them and we conducted a training on what is a ‘Student led conference’ and how it can be held. The gleam in their eyes was enough to tell me that I had sparked that fire and now they needed no help and encouraged them to add their own colours to the same. The challenge we gave them was they will not prepare the child but just encourage each child to take his or her parents around the room and showcase their work, and let a child speak on their own.

The student led conference was a super duper success and with teachers continuously what sapping after the event ,’Ma’am maza aa gaya’, ‘Ma’am mere bachho ne kamal kar diya’ , ‘ Ma’am mere parents itne khush the’ , ‘Ma’am mere saare parents aaye pehli baar’  etc etc and the phone was flooded with the pictures of the event.

When a dream becomes a reality all it does is brings tears of joy! And hats off to these Teachers who made it possible .



The future of rural India is bright as the sunshine on the sea. What we need to take into primary consideration is that children are nation’s most precious asset. And the future of the nation depends on the quality of its human resources

Education needs to change!!!

March 10th, 2014 -- Posted in General | No Comments »

With the world changing rapidly it is creating unknown challenges, opportunity and unpredictability. We as educators are trying to educate a generation without being aware of the different kind of jobs which will be available 10 years hence, what are the skills needed to survive in the globalized world yet we are trying to reform, improve and work on an attainable solution. We are well aware that these challenges will require new thinking and collective action.

Schools of tomorrow need to be different… even at the present moment one can see students struggling at school, though we have progressed but still the focus in schools of student excellence is by  what a child scores in his tests/exams.

If I look back at my own school days and the teaching style that existed then and compare it to now not much has changed except the fact that the classrooms are swankier with smart boards/projectors/computers/tablets etc continue reading »

Social Networking sites a boon or a menace for children!!!!

October 1st, 2013 -- Posted in General, life, My Classroom Experiences, News, Teachers | 1 Comment »

We are living in the 21st century and today’s child is far more intelligent, aware, more traveled [I am talking here of the city kids]. Social networking sites especially face book has become an important part of our lives. Whatever one may say the children are always one step ahead of us so how should we tackle this issue?

Face book, twitter etc etc are a part of everyone’s life and most of the discussions are focused towards keeping them away from the children..Can you do it? Can you justify that to yourself when you yourself are using these sites?

We in India love living with double standards where what is good for me is not good for the children. That is the reason that more and more children are addicted to this without even understanding the consequence. We behave more like an ostrich that ducks every time faced with a question that we feel is not appropriate for the kids to know. At least 70% parents I have met want to be friends with their children on FB just to keep a track on them …Tell me who will like being stalked by their parents …..Parents are scared to have an open discussion and would try and keep a tab on them like this …

We need to keep ourselves updated with the latest and instead of restricting the kids my advice is let us be open and explain to them it’s advantages and disadvantages. There is no use blocking them as they will discover newer ways of reaching there. Human psychology is such that whatever is restricted is always more tempting not only for children but adults too. My views might sound radical to many but then I like to be forward thinking and believe very strongly that children understand logical reasons.

Social media present risks and benefits to children but parents who try to secretly monitor their kids’ activities online are wasting their time, according to a presentation at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

Thus have an open discussion with the children as they love it when we instead of advising them show them that we trust them and whatever we are saying is for their benefit. Restrictions never work.

 My strong recommendation to parents, that if you feel that you have to use some sort of computer program to surreptitiously monitor your child’s social networking, you are wasting your time. Your child will find a workaround in a matter of minutes. You have to start talking about appropriate technology use early and often and build trust, so that when there is a problem, whether it is being bullied or seeing a disturbing image, your child will talk to you about it

I encourage parents to assess their child’s activities on social networking sites, and discuss removing inappropriate content or connections to people who appear problematic. Parents also need to pay attention to the online trends and the latest technologies, websites and applications children are using.

  Below is some information for parents about social networking sites: what they are and how they are accessed, potential dangers to be aware of and how to protect your child while they visit such websites.

Bullying, wrong doings are more common amongst children who do not have an open atmosphere at home.

Privacy

Privacy                                                                            

Privacy is always a concern for any communication exchange carried out online and children often do not understand the risks involved in giving out too much personal information on the Internet. This is of particular worry when such information is given to an individual who your child does not know personally to; they may argue that someone is an online ‘friend’ but to all intents and purposes that person is effectively a stranger. To many children the online world isn’t the same as the real world and they can often behave in a way they would never do face to face, and say things they would never say, leaving them much more vulnerable in an online environment. They may also be less protective of personal details such as their mobile phone number or address, which could have undesirable implications for them.

Cyber-bullying

Unfortunately some users can harness social networking sites to carry out ‘cyber-bullying’ where malicious comments are posted online about an individual and/or that user receives abusive messages or other content. Some tech-savvy users may even be able to hack into another user’s account to harass them so it’s important your child is aware of these dangers and understands they must be reported as soon as possible. As social networking allows people to take on a different online persona, this can encourage individuals who wouldn’t be a bully in the real world to take part in unpleasant activities because their real identity can be covered up.

Cyber-stalking

Another risk is that of cyber-stalking, or harassment on the Internet.

Age-inappropriate content

The Internet provides access to all kinds of content at the click of a mouse – but not all of that content is suitable for children and young people to see. While you may have the appropriate parental controls set up on your computer your child may still be able to access inappropriate material if someone in their social networking circle makes it available to them.

Online grooming

The most distressing threat to a young person’s safety on social networking sites is that of online grooming. Sadly the possibilities for anonymity that the Internet offers means that pedophiles use social networking sites and chat rooms to befriend children and teenagers, gaining their trust online with a view to then making actual physical contact with that child. By using highly deceptive means, i.e pretending they are the same age as the child they are communicating with, they will find out information about that child – where they hang out, which school they attend etc. Once a predator has gained the trust of a child they morph from ‘buddy to bully’, exposing children to inappropriate sexual imagery and content, and manipulating them into doing what they want.

Identity theft

Identity theft isn’t limited to adults and now that more and more children and young people are using the Internet regularly they are becoming more vulnerable to this very serious crime. The naive posting of personal details on your child’s social networking profile leaves them open to online identity theft so it’s absolutely vital your child never gives out personal details in any online context, including their address, phone numbers, email, and, if they are older, any bank or credit card information.

Emotional implications

In addition to the above it’s worth considering how your child may be impacted emotionally by frequent usage of social networking sites. Some experts have warned that sites such as Facebook can have a negative effect on children who are less confident and self-assured, as they can equate their happiness and success as individuals with how many friends they have on Facebook. Even if a child isn’t being bullied as such, they can experience self-esteem issues if their online network isn’t as big as their friends, or they have been excluded from a certain online group.

There are also concerns that young people are substituting their online relationships for physical ones, by spending more time in front of the computer than they do in the real world. And by not having to work at friendships, ironing out problems together when they arise - as is the case in the real world (on social networking sites you simply delete someone from your list of friends) - there is a worry that young people are losing their empathy and not developing the social and emotional skills necessary they’ll need as adults.

My serious advice to parents is setting some ground rules on home internet usage and showing some interest and understanding of your child’s online activities you’ll be helping to ensure their online experiences are as safe and happy as possible.

General tips for parents

  • Take a look at or sign up for some of the social networking sites yourself to get a feel for what they’re all about. It’s important that parents don’t feel left behind by new technologies, or intimidated by them because they think they’re not aimed at an older user. You’ll feel much more comfortable about your child using social networking sites if you understand some of the terminology and how they work.
  • It’s also a good idea to take a look at the privacy information or safety tips provided on the social networking sites themselves. You’ll then have a clear idea about how each site would help you if your child was the victim of online bullying, for example, or what measures they have taken to protect your child’s privacy.
  • Engage with your children about their experiences on the Internet, without making it seem like you’re snooping on them. Show interest in their online activities so they feel comfortable about sharing experiences with you. This way your child will not feel worried about speaking to you should any issue or problem arise, such as online bullying or being sent inappropriate content.
  • Try to set limits on Internet usage at home. It’s not a good idea for children to spend inordinate amounts of time in front of a screen, be it TV, games console or computer so make sure you set house rules on how the Internet is to be used at home: which sites can be visited, how long each member can spend on the computer, etc..

 

  • Help your child to feel confident about their place in the online community. Make sure that, just as in the real world, it’s important they never follow the herd if they’re uncomfortable about doing something. Peer pressure can make children publish information they may not wish to broadcast,.

Social media present risks and benefits to children but parents who try to secretly monitor their kids’ activities online are wasting their time.

Communication is the crux of parenting. You need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them. The ratio of parent listen to parent talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and listen for five.

 Yep, the bottom line is that technology is here to stay and in fact will only get faster and more complex. By parents giving their children the best gift… the power to relate, they may not stop the technology train but they will give them back what we as human beings were born to do… relate to one another in loving, caring, compassionate ways building real connections. 

Shalini Nambiar

Director

Excelsior American School

 

BECOME A TEACHER ONLY IF YOU LOVE THE PROFESSION…….

August 15th, 2012 -- Posted in General, life, My Classroom Experiences, Teachers | 3 Comments »

BECOME  A TEACHER ONLY IF YOU LOVE THE PROFESSION…

Teacher affects eternity… I really wish the teachers realize it. Over the last few months newspapers have been screaming about the atrocities conducted by the teacher… It is indeed a shame and being a true teacher my heart pains that why do such people take up this profession? Why? Why they want to spoil an innocent child’s life? How can some teachers scream at children, humiliate them? Can’t they feel the labor pain which a mom goes through?  Can’t they realize how an innocent parent trusts her with their child’s whole life? Why she does not realize that as a teacher she plays an important role in setting the attitude and behavior which when the child grows up will display? Why?

I get this sick feeling many times to give up this profession which is so close to my heart as sometimes I am unable to change people …I mean teacher s. My heart pains and I spend sleepless nights as to how a teacher can hurt a child……Why can’t they just make their classes interesting? Why can’t they just think from a child’s point of view ?… Why are they always blaming a child for their failure?

Please do evaluate yourself as it is not a 0800am to 02000pm  job as many of you perceive… A teacher can make or break a person’s whole life so tread on this profession only if you really have a burning desire to be… otherwise why not take up a corporate job. continue reading »

I have a Dream….

March 26th, 2012 -- Posted in Teachers | 4 Comments »

As an educationist I want to write about my dream about that little child who walks in with hopes and dreams in his eyes, my dream to make him a happy human being and successful in whatever he ventures in life.

Education is incomplete if it does not enable a child to have faith in himself, to dream big, to work hard to realize that dream. I still get tears in my eyes when I recall what I went through when I was in school for almost 6 years. I, as a child was extremely shy and a feeling of insecurity was there since I was always a plump child… I was nicknamed Fatty by all and how it use to hurt, I am sure you can imagine But My Mom gave me the courage and supported me throughout, taught me how important it is to face the world and listen to one’s heart.

There are hundreds of examples of people in this world who have believed what others have said about them and failed and there are just as many people who have refused to be influenced by the opinion of others and have been successful. Whatever I am today I owe it to my Mom… continue reading »

Real education…… Being a Super Mom and Dad today!!!!

October 11th, 2011 -- Posted in life | 2 Comments »

Yesterday the Australian newspaper while interviewing me asked me a question which made me really think and reflect. It was a simple question asking me the difference between the education imparted when I was in school and now? It sent me back to those moments when I was in school.

How was my school day different than it is now… I realized there is a marked difference? My Mom did not even know what homework I got, once a while would ask me which teacher and what they did but it was not like a daily ritual when I got back from the school. Coming back from school, throwing my bag on the well made bed which I was supposed to do before I left for the school… the fun was enjoying what was cooked in the house and relishing each bite I took. I was not forced the minute I landed back home to show my parents what homework I had got. The conversation was more on laying the table and getting ready for a sumptuous meal. Then since I-Pod /Mobiles not being there it was a fight with my sister or just having fun. The only thing parents said was ‘Life main kuch ban jana parh likh kar’. She was not aware of which teacher said what as she was not interested. She was interested more in giving us real education which will help us to imbibe all those skills needed for survival in this big bad world. continue reading »

Understanding the child!!!

September 22nd, 2009 -- Posted in life | 3 Comments »

‘Take care of your children as they will decide your nursing home’

Often in my career I come across parents who have problems dealing with their own child… this happens because in this super age we all want to be what is called..’Super-Mom and Dad’. Rules of this is very clear… My child must do what I tell him or her… My Child cannot fail… and an endless list of do’s and don’ts…

I feel like asking them have they actually understood the child… every parent forgets their own childhood and want to adorn their own children with a wide variety of do’s and don’ts

Let’s deal with some of the issues…
 
Teach Your Child Independence

When my son was a day or two old, my Mom said to me, “You have to realize that your goal as you raise him is to become independent of you. You are preparing him to be able to leave you someday and take care of himself.” It’s a well known fact of science that seeds which are dispersed farthest from the main plant grow up healthier than the one which fall under the mother tree. continue reading »

A token of Appreciation for Teachers!!

September 6th, 2008 -- Posted in Teachers | 20 Comments »

On this Teacher’s day, when the role of the teacher is recognized as a noble and honorable profession, it is important to remember how easily we affect the lives of our children. I know that a teacher meets a challenge each and everyday in his or her classroom. Please accept this small token of appreciation for your significant contribution to the lives of the children.
The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth.”

We are heading into an age in which jobs are likely to be invented and made obsolete faster and faster. The chances of today’s college kids working in the same jobs for the same companies for their whole careers are about zero. In such an age, the greatest survival skill you can have is the ability to learn how to learn. The best way to learn how to learn is to love to learn, and the best way to love to learn is to have great teachers who inspire. continue reading »

Teaching is a passion

April 9th, 2008 -- Posted in General | 11 Comments »

‘I love to teach, I love to see minds opening up, to participate in the excitement of learning and to help people progress from frustration to accomplishment’…

Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason. It’s about not only motivating students to learn, but also teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It’s about caring for your craft, having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to your students. It’s about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. It’s about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field. Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering that each student and class is different. continue reading »

Education in the 21st century

February 20th, 2008 -- Posted in General | 1 Comment »

As we examine different national solutions to familiar issues in school and post-school education, including teaching methods, curricula and resourcing; the main focus remains on the ‘external’ challenges, which all educational systems must confront, above all globalization, the communications revolution and the changing nature of work. These challenges require education at successive stages in life and not just for the young; with the increasing rapidity of economic and social change ‘lifelong learning’ has become an almost universal slogan.

In an era of expanding choice and risk how can students be best equipped to lead the good life and the life of a citizen as well as that of a worker? What we teach is sometimes dictated to us. How we teach though, should never be dictated to us. Many have heard the term in relation to teaching students “Engage me or enrage me.” What can we do that will engage students and what can we make sure we do not do in order to avoid enraging them. Regarding the use of different technologies in the school,
1) The tools are not the things that have the power to change education, it is the teachers that have the passion and ability to use the tools effectively that will make the difference.
2) What is the tool we will be using in the future? Furthermore, should we be concerned with what the next gadget will be or should we simply utilize what we have today effectively?

I am still getting my head around the concept of students becoming more than just consumers of information but also becoming producers of information. As soon as they sense that they have the ability to have ownership of the information they embrace the change immediately. Students have more ideas on the ways the information can be produced than adults do.

continue reading »

  • Shalini Nambiar,


     Shalini Nambiar