Thursday, 13 March 2014

horrific holi to holistic holi celebrations

What does Holi mean for most women in cities and towns? That time of the year, when balloons will be hurled at them from balconies and terraces, not only when they are walking on the road but also when they are travelling by local train or rickshaws. Any woman is easy prey.
Thousands of gallons of water is wasted in urban housing societies, in this ‘balloon hurling-water wasting’ activity that starts almost 10 days before Holi, under the ‘watchful and guiding’ eyes of parents, especially mothers. Then there will be kids running around with a plastic AK47 and squirt all kinds of coloured water on unsuspecting passerby, more often than not, young girls and women. Who bought these gun pichkaris for them? No prizes for guessing!
And then as the day of Holi nears you hear the chant- Bura Na Mano Holi  Hai. Really? Does anything go in the name of Holi ? Hold a girl against her will? Then as she struggles put colour on her face and hair? And also take the opportunity while she is struggling to grope her? And then just chant- Bura Na Mano Holi  Hai? Disgusting. And this is glorified in our movies, our television serials and in our housing societies. And then we light candles and go on marches for women safety.

Orebhai fagun legechche bone bone’
Rabindranath Tagore penned this which translates as- ‘Oh see brothers fhagun has coloured the forests’ Holi  is a reminder to farmers that the earth will soon be ready for tilling. Birds collect twigs to build nests, and people celebrate the season of hope launched by Holi . The festival of joy- of singing together and dancing to express happiness as mother earth wraps herself in fresh colours. Where is all of this in today’s Holi  celebrations? Why do we and our children not celebrate Holi  in the magic form as given above? When did Holi, the festival of joy turn into this? Why are we not doing something about it?

Anthropologically the symbolic burning of the Holika—with which the festival begins—is perceived as the end of all the bad things of the past, and people look forward to renewal and good tidings. This Holi  lets begin a new chapter, let’s change the way Holi  is celebrated and then imitated by our young children. Lets  maximize joy while protecting culture, harnessing nature and upholding safety especially of women and young girls.
1.    Play with dry, organic colours.
2.    Ban the slogan, Bura Na Mano Holi  Hai.
3.    Teach children to ask others before playing with them.
4.    Teach young children not to allow others to touch them if they don’t want to play. Remember it is during Holi  that kids will get groped, molested and abused.
5.    Teach children and young girls that allow only known friends to put dry colour on your cheeks and nowhere else.
6.    Please do not support balloon throwing in your society and home. Save water.
7.    Do not buy gun shaped pichkari for your child, what value are you instilling in your child with a gun pointed at others, even if it is a water filled gun?
8.    Think of Holi  as the end of bad and beginning of new, so think of all your bad habits and write them on a piece of paper and tear it up.
9.    Sing, dance and enjoy the company of friends with jalebi. You don’t require the wastage of water to enjoy this festival. Our villages have drought, be sensitive.
10. Women and girls should object to songs like rang barse, kitna maaza aa raha hai etc that make the festival look like it is all about boys colouring the girl to make her dreams come true. Come on women, stand up.

So   this Holi  lets move from horrific Holi  celebrations to Holistic fhagun celebrations. Happy Holi . And make your new slogan- Play Holi  With Me Only If I Want To. – Bura Na Mano, Mujhe Nahi Khelna Holi !
Check out this video and pass it on-  

Friday, 7 March 2014

Much more to do for a Happy Women's Day

WOMAN’S DAY- A day dedicated to women, to remind the world about their contribution 365 days of the year. The day should not be about celebrating our superiority in comparison to men. This world will be able to nurture kids only when there is balance between the roles of men and women. Woman’s day is a reminder to us to cherish being a woman, cherish our strengths, our emotions. So what if we cry for TV soap characters, so what if we throw a tantrum at that time of the month!
In my bachelors and masters study of sociology there was a subject about society and women, it outlined the status of women in our society, how it was in the days gone by and how it has evolved from keeping women safe in the home, not allowing them to study, burning them as brides, then the revolution of helping educating them, eradicating practices like sati and dowry, empowering women etc.
Women are revered in our religion; we have over a thousand different goddesses. The study of sociology helped me understand the basic need of society in keeping women safe: women give birth to children, so when you destroy the women of any society you automatically destroy that society. 
But as I read I wondered, are we as a society going full circle in our attitudes towards women? Female feticide, rape, urban dowry. Development cannot be in a circle because then you come back to the starting point which would be dangerous. This  is exactly what will happen to the status of women in society if we are not careful. The recent spate of rapes, molestations will lead to women being kept at home so that they can be safe. This would mean going back to where we started, women not allowed to go out on their own, families not willing to educate women due to the fear for their safety and families not wanting a daughter for the fear that she will be a burden due to safety issues.
Many important changes have taken place in the legal status of women by giving women the right to divorce, guardianship of the children in the case of divorce or widowhood.  The law also recognizes the right of a daughter in her father’s estates after his death. But for most of the women in this country it is just on paper, not being practiced by the very males (brothers) and females (mothers)  that are supposed to uphold this society and the right of women.
The older anti-social practices against women such as sati, child marriage or female infanticide have been replaced by new ones such as bride burning for non-fulfillment of dowry and female feticides. We don’t even have toilets for women in villages.

The world Conference of the U.N. Decade for women held at Copenhagen in 1980 has defined that ‘The improvement of the status of women requires a change in the attitudes and roles of both men and women.  Women’s development should not only be viewed as an issue in social development but should be seen as an essential component in every dimension of development.’
It’s time that women support women and bring about the change in the status of women in the family, society and workforce. Happy women’s day to you, to your lady servant who helps you, to your mother, to your sister, to your daughter, to your lady boss and to your women employees and all the mothers that you meet every day when they come to drop their children in your care.
Happy women’s day, may our tribe increase and prosper socially, emotionally and safely.

Creativity in Education Finland and India Partner in a Seminar

 A first ever educational seminar for KG to K12 on Creativity in Education.
175 Teachers, principals, B Ed educators and NGO’s from over 26 institutions from all over Mumbai, and also far-flung locations like Noida and Kerala,  turned up today for a creativity in education course, designed by the Council for Creative Education (CCE) Finland in collaboration with Mumbai’s premium group of pre-schools and schools under the umbrella of the Podar Education Network.
What is Creativity in Education?
We are now hearing the term “CQ” or “Creative Intelligence”, more often. Creativity in Education is social: We increase our creative ability by learning from others, collaborating, sharing. Creativity in education is about tools, not light bulbs.  It’s something we do, not something that happens to us.   Above all, Creativity in education is a way of expressing our humanity, our unique power to create, connect and inspire.

This seminar on Creativity in Education was about…
Creativity in Education is about KNOWLEDGE MINING When our own ideas are insufficient; we go straight to the source and partner with people who are embedded in a culture of education.
Creativity in education is about FRAMING – changing or reframing the lens through which we view our educational practices. There is Narrative Framing, which is how we interpret the world; Engagement Framing, how we interact with each other; and What-If Framing, how we imagine the unthinkable to innovate beyond our wildest dreams.     
Creativity in education is about PLAYING By adopting a more playful mind-set we’re more willing to take risks, explore possibilities, and learn to navigate uncertainty, without the paralyzing stigma of failure.  Moreover, new research is showing that playing can be a superior alternative to a problem-solving approach to innovation.
 Pavan Podar, Trustee, Podar Education network, welcomed all the educators to the conference and emphasized, “This initiative of ours, is to help educators create a seamless transition of pedagogy involving creativity in education from KG to K12. The role of art, music, innovation and their role in fostering creativity will be shared during the one day workshop.”
Why CCE Finland?
It’s globally accepted, that Finland has one of the most admired education programs in the world, where they do not teach reading and writing till the age of 6.
As per a Pearson Survey in 2012, Finland and South Korea had topped the list of 40 developed countries with the best education systems. The rankings were calculated based on various measures, including international test scores, graduation rates between 2006 and 2010, and the prevalence of higher education seekers. Interestingly, high ranking countries tend to offer teachers higher status in society and have a "culture" of education.
 Swati Popat Vats, President Podar Education Network added, “In Finland, being a teacher is the chosen profession as teachers are paid on par with doctors. In India, sadly teaching is rarely the first choice of all the people who end up as teachers. The CCE is a collaborative organization which provides customized educational solutions designed by Finnish experts, and we hope that they will give all our educators here food for thought.”
Key elements that are impacting teaching today
1. Technology has become a part of children’s’ lives. So while we cannot escape it, we have created innovative ipad projects involving apps like ‘pencilious’ which are interactive and allow children to communicate with the ipad and learn various concepts through integration of multiple learning styles.
2. The Boards prescribe a curriculum on their websites. Instead, they should prescribe learning goals, so the curriculum developed can be ‘goal-based’ and ‘skill-based’ and not ‘lesson-based.”
3. The curriculum in pre-primary is treated as a derivative of what the child needs to learn in primary. This is incorrect and detrimental to children.
4. Prof Kulkarni, Head of Strategy for CCE Finland shared, “learning by hearing alone ensures that the child will remember up to 70% after 3 hours, 10% after 24 hrs and only 2% after 72 hours. In contrast, learning by doing, discussing and seeing ensures that the child will remember up to 99% after 3 hours, 90% after 24 hrs and only 90% after 72 hours also! Hence, this is very important learning.”
5. Violent programs like Tom and Jerry make the children “remorseless” to Jerry going through a grinder, or getting hit by a car. The child loses sensitivity thus impacting emotional development
6. Excessive push-button reactive play on ipad gets the children to think that the teacher can also be made to shut up by the press of a button. The child has an absorbent mind- their mind is without reason for the first three years- it just absorbs all the impressions of the surrounding environment.
Its important for us as a society to share learning’s across public-private platforms. Swati Popat Vats, President Podar Education Network added, “We are happy to share our curriculum free of charge with BMC schools and train their teachers for a nominal fee. Also low salary levels mean that there are no men in teaching. Males bring their own unique energy to the classroom, and the system has to consider this vital ‘loss of experience’ that the children go through.”
Educating 70,000 students through 57 schools across India, Podar Education Network has established itself as a leader in the Indian Education Sector. Established in 1927, Podar Education Network strives to create modern citizens who are ready to make global changes. The success of Podar is largely due to its trained, qualified and committed teaching team and the extensive use of technology in teaching.