Monday, June 29, 2009

Moulded Children

Soul Searcher has done a musical tag and I came across this song which prompted me to share it with you.

Most of the schools spoon-feed their students and the result is, they do not have their own thoughts about what they learn from their books. The teacher takes a lesson and write the question answers on the board or dictate them. The children are asked to write them three times, as the day's homework. This happened with my relative. I still remember her writing them blindly, while chatting with us, when she was in 3rd/4th std. She was studying in a very popular/supposed to be very good school. Like this, she had to write homework in all the subjects. Even now, she feels bad for studying in that method. She cannot write about anything on her own, even now.

The school conducted special classes for the 10th and 12th Board Exam students and the result was 100%! So again every year people flocked at the gate of the school, with a huge donation, to admit their children in that school. This has become a status symbol also, for the parents. This song shows how the children feel about this situation.

Now, to the video first and then, the lyrics:





Friday, June 26, 2009

Kapil Sibal's Education Plan - A Feel Good Plan



I read our HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal's plan of abolishing Tenth std. Board exams. in Times of India

I like his plan of just grading and no marks. And abandoning of Tenth std. exams too. Students and parents alike, are undergoing so much strain. At least, here, in Chennai, all the schools have 11th and 12th in school itself, but in Bangalore, they are naming it as Junior College and so the pressure becomes more because the students have to shift from school to Junior college. Changing schools means, changing friends, atmosphere of the school, teachers, routine, everything. Again pressure for the children. So 10th Std. Board Exam marks become too important, over there.

My children studied in a school where they did not have exams till 5th Std. and no homework too. Then the pressure started from 6th std. Some children had problems, coping up with the monthly tests, exams and getting good marks. Most of the children settled with this type, within months. They had time to get used to it, till they had their 10th std. Board exams. So exams from 6th std. is good, I feel.

Children who have good grasping power, naturally, study without much pressure from the teachers or parents. But for children who are playful, and whose concentration is a bit less, need the pushing. Otherwise, the slow-learning students will not be able to perform well. I too was sitting with my children from 6 pm to 8 pm to see that they finished their homework without fighting or chatting (!) till around 5th/6th std. Then, left them alone. My dog Andy also was sitting with them, pulling their pencils often - distracting them, to seek attention! He was getting bored! All of us used to sit on a mattress, with small desks for the children to write.

I liked Sibal's plan to bring a common syllabus, throughout India. At present, we have CBSE, State Board, ICSE, Anglo-Indian syllabus, as far as I know. They do not relate to each other at all. People look down at the State syllabus students. The cut-off marks also vary for the different syllabi (correct?!), during the entrance exams for professional colleges.

Nowadays, here in India, even 94-95% in 12 th Std. Board exam, is not enough to get a free seat in a good professional college. I feel sorry for the children of today. It is high time we allow the children to take art, science subjects, interior decoration, nutrition for getting a degree. They can always do masters in the same subject. I say 'allow' because, most of us want our children to be doctors or engineers. Without giving any pressure, my children went to engineering colleges, as if it is a natural thing to do! During their 12th std. they attended some IIT-JEE coaching classes. I see that the competition is getting worse, day by day.

Kapil Sibal's plan of abandoning 10the std. Board Exams, might bring some relief to the children, till they reach 11th Std. The coaching can start then for the next year's exam.

Nowadays, the coaching classes for IIT-JEE, has started from 5th std. it seems! I know about a child who started going to this class from 8th Std. The children go to the tuition classes for the current year and then to go to the coaching classes also. By the time they reach 12 std. they will feel sick at the sight of their books, I am sure.

Let us be positive in our thinking and just be happy that now we have got a Minister, who plans to do some good, for the future citizens. If his plans works out, he will be the best Minister, whom everyone will praise, I am sure!

'Heal The World' Singer Jackson Gone To Rest In Peace Now



I feel sad today. The whole world adored Michael Jackson for his beautiful voice. One of my favourite songs, is 'Heal the World'. I get goose bumps, whenever I hear this song. The lyrics are beautiful and the video is superb. I was introduced to his voice by my son, when he first got the cassette of 'Thriller'. My brother presented this cassette to him for his birthday. My son used to play this song all the time. I got familiar with it and started liking the song and the voice of the singer was beautiful. Then, when I saw the video of 'Heal the World', he became one of my favourite singer!

Because of too much fame and money, he became an eccentric. He should have had a mentor or some strong person to take care of him. Whenever I saw clippings of his life history, I loved the small boy Michael than the older one. He looks such an innocent boy in the 'Thriller' video. The whole world knows his history.

May he rest in peace now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Books - Our Family's First Love



Indyeah's article about her love for books, inspired me to write a post about my family's love for books.

My whole family loves reading books. I remember my grandmother (during late 1950s to '60s), used to sit in the veranda of our ancestral home, in Udupi (Karnataka), in the afternoons and read the day's newspaper (Kannada), 'Navabharatha'. I remember her wearing a pair of round specs ( like the one Gandhiji used) for reading and was asking us to read if the letters were too small. She used to discuss about politics also with her sons. I still remember her crying when the late American President Kennedy was shot dead. She was so happy to read about Yuri Gagarin reaching the moon. She was reading the weekly magazines of those days, like Kasturi (it was the Kannada version of Readers' Digest, if I remember correctly), Mayura etc. My grand father was a Sanskrit scholar and had a printing press of his own and a book shop also, which sold religious books. He used to give pocket money to my mamas and they spent that money on subscribing for books like 'Life' magazine and they had the full set of Perry Mason books at home. One whole wall was full of books in Sanskrit, Kannada and lots of English books too. English was not so popular in those days. I remember showing my small children, when I went there with them, the photographs of Queen Elizabeth's coronation ceremony, from 'Life' magazine. They were so beautiful. They were hard bound books. Those books are now, at the local College library, which my grandfather had patronized. My mother worked as a librarian, after we came to Madras. She was an encyclopaedia of mythological characters! She and her grandsons (my sons) used to spend hours discussing about them. She was a cricket addict too and used to discuss with my husband about who was a better player!

As far as I remember, I started reading 'Chandamama' in Kannada from 3rd or 4th std. It was a monthly magazine and I used to sit and wait in the veranda seat (the old house had a separate gate, a bit away from the main house, with a roof and seats on both sides of the gate) on the day the magazine was delivered. I remember reading the complete book at a stretch, there itself - my mama and mother used to keep on shouting at me, to get ready for school! I was introduced to English, when I joined 5th Std., here, in Chennai. Then learnt Tamil and started reading Tamil books, like Ananda Vikatan, Kumudam, etc. I started reading English books, like Treasure Island etc. from around 7th Std. Got them from our school library. Later on, read some books of Ruby M.Ayers (M&B type), but was not very fond of them. I don't know why I remember her name. I must have read just one or two books of hers. Maybe, that was the first romantic novel, I had read in my teens! I became an addict of M&B books in my 40s! Hormonal imbalance?!! Then, the whole world opened up, when I started reading James Hadley Chase, Alistair McLean, Perry Mason etc. It continued to Arthur Hailey, Irving Wallace, Pearl S.Buck and so many other authors. My husband also is a serious reader of books. I used to bring two books at a time from the library. We used to fight for which book to read first. He used to finish reading them first and threaten to reveal the end of the story to me!

Now, to the children.



I read a lot of books but a zero at the ability of story telling. So I started buying
'Amar Chitra Katha' books and read the stories to my sons, from the pictures. I used to read them in English first (this was, before they started going to school) and then translate them into Tamil (My husband is a Tamilian and we speak in Tamil at home). When my elder son was in UKG itself, he started reading these books slowly - I had to read just the Sanskrit names of the characters. I had subscribed for Readers' Digest in those days and he started reading jokes first. Then in a later date, all four of us, used to do the 'word power' (3-4 meanings will be given for a word and we have to tick the correct one, first in a paper) and check who had written more correct words. I still remember - my husband and I used to read books before going to sleep and the children used to sleep between us. After reading them, we kept the books under the pillow. The children will have a look at us, lie down on the bed with their legs crossed, just like their father, with a book each in their hands and pretend to read, with the book upside down! After sometime they too will push them under the pillow and take some other book to 'read'!

My elder son started reading Perry Mason from 4th std. The younger son is just 2 years younger to him. Both are fond of science fiction books. We used to get books from the library and the whole house was scattered with books. People who came home, used to say that our house looked like a library. We were regular visitors of book exhibitions. This book-reading habit has taken the children's knowledge to the peak. My elder son took a huge carton of books when he went abroad for studying further, all old books, which he had read umpteen times! Everyone knows my habit of presenting books to all the children, for their birthdays.

Yes, I am fortunate to be born in a family and married into a family, who are all book addicts. And music lovers! It was so easy to entertain my children when they were small with book-reading, because we did not have any elders with us to pay attention to them. I had to do multi-tasking, with 2 small children and housework and only the books saved me from going mad, in those days. Books are god's gift for all of us.

As Indyeah said in her post, 'Nothing can replace books. Nothing should'.



Picture courtesy: Chandamama and Amarchitra katha - google sites

One Happy Year of Blogging as Maradhimanni


I started blogging as maradhimanni, since last June and one happy year of expressing myself, is complete now. God, what an year it was! There is so much difference in my writing since my 'Amarnath yathra' blog. I wrote just 4 blogs in 2004 and the Amarnath yathra blog was one of them. My son had created a blog for me in Wordpress at that time and was compelling me to start writing. I wrote because of his pestering and left it at that. He had been asking me to go to other blogs and read and comment. At that time, I didn't know the importance of that. Now, I know how a blog should be written (to some extent, still a long way to go!), after reading blogs of so many good writers. The list of names is too long now - I have them in my 'blogs I follow' list! I learnt a lot from them and I thank all of them for reading and commenting on my blog.

Once Solilo wrote how a blog writer becomes a 'blog addict'. I am slowly becoming one, now. In a corner of my mind, I keep on thinking of writing about so many incidents I see, people I watch, the places I visit (even shops!).

At present I am writing whatever I think of, in a single name 'maradhimanni'. Now, I have created one more blog in the name of 'marakkaadamanni', to write in Tamil and a recipe blog, 'swadhisht', in which I am planning to write recipes of whatever I cook at home, which are liked by my family and friends.

I will be happy if you read them too and comment. I try to give as many tips as I can in my recipe blog, to correct the small small mistakes we do, while cooking.

Once again, I thank all my readers for their encouraging words via their comments. My blogs are very simple ones, without much decorative words. I was just a reading person all these years, except writing letters and this hobby has made me recognise myself as a 'reasonably OK' writer. I know I am writing in the midst of intelligent youngsters and that is one big plus point for me - I read their blogs and learn a lot.

THANK YOU!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nothing is impossible - Anand Kumar Says so

When you want it that much more...



All the poor Bihar kids in the Super 30, got into IIT, this year. What is the secret?

Nagendra, 18, the son of a sweeper, studied in the free government village school and was always 'first' in class. He hated the sight of seeing his father cleaning sewers and vowed he wouldn't do that. Borrowed Rs. 60 to buy the Super 30 application form, to join Ramanujam School of Mathematics.

Satish Kumar, 18, who lives in a slum, with his widowed mother, says, ' I had resolved to overcome every obstacle that came my way to rise to the top'. He too, is a student of this School.

The names of children like these - all the 30 of them - who wrote the IIT JEE exam this year, from this school, appeared alongside India's highest scorers, giving them automatic entry into any of the IIT's, considered the nation's premier temples of higher learning, entry into which is also still regarded as a prerogative of the privileged.
I read about Anand Kumar in 'India Today' magazine, some 10 years back, in their 'People with a difference' - if I remember correctly - one page article, which portraits individuals who do something to benefit the local people. He is a mathematics teacher and columnist for various national and international science journals and magazines. He remembers all too clearly that he had to fight hard just to get to use the superior mathematical ability, he realised, he possessed early on in life. 'The Super 30 was born with this idea in mind' explains Anand, who had started the Ramanujam School of Mathematics in the mid-90's.

He wants to ensure that not a single underprivileged boy or girl in Bihar (with exceptional intelligence) is deprived of an opportunity to get ahead because of their lower social and economic condition. Coming from a poor family which depended at one time, on door-to-door sales of homemade 'papads' as its only source of income, Anand is aware that to be born with an extraordinary intelligence quotient alone does not guarantee success in life.

The school is located on the fringes of Patna, beyond the bumpy Bihar roads, past stretches of a treeless landscape with pavement huts and congested slums. The students, who come here to attend classes from Patna and also from faraway villages, make the journey every day by bus, on bicycles or even on foot. Those who stay in the hostels are provided free food and lodging.
No air-conditioned class rooms! No exorbitant fees! But the result is 100% because of the hard work by the students and the teachers.

This article and the photograph is from the current issue of 'Outlook' magazine.

I had read an article in 'Times of India', that nearly 42% of this year's JEE rank holders, did not attend any coaching classes. But did not come across this news about the slum children's ' IIT
dream come true', that too, from Bihar! Let Anand Kumar's children shine and bring happiness to him and all of us.

Edited to add: This is an old article about this school, but interesting.

Edited to add on 26.5.11: This article says: This year, a Truck Driver's son has cracked IIT JEE!

'
This takes the total number of 'Super 30' students, who have qualified for the IIT-JEE in the last nine years, to 236', Anand said.

Times of India: 24 out of 30 students have cracked IIT JEE, this year (2011)!


Edited on 1st Oct.'14: Anand is invited by MIT and Harward!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Indian village with 250 sets of twins

I am not able to believe this news, but it seems to be true. Normally, we have heard that parents who undergo In-Vitro Fertilization, mostly give birth to babies in multiples. But here, in the remote village of Kodinhi, in Kerala, in 2008 alone, 15 pairs of twins were born in the village out of 300 healthy deliveries and this year is expected to top that number. Although 250 sets of twins have been officially registered in the village, Dr Sribiju, who is a local doctor, researching this phenomenon, believes the real number to be far higher. He says, "What is fascinating is the increasing numbers of twins with each passing year, so much so that I feel in the past ten years the number of twins in Kodinhi has doubled."

He further says, "Indian, and by that I mean Asian, people on the sub-continent have the lowest acknowledged incidences of twinning in the world at around four per thousand.

"In addition, there is no IVF treatment here because of the prohibitive cost. Global rates of twins being born, especially in the western world, have increased because of artificial insemination."

Read this news in detail.

I have always insisted on having two children, so that the first child will have company, when he is growing up and later to fall back upon, when needed. The people of this village need not go through the process of two pregnancies, but like 'two in one', they will have two kids in one delivery! Nice!


Edited to add: Current issue of 'Outlook' has published this article. Read for more interesting information.




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