Saturday, 6 September 2014

Looking good. Feeling good.

Looking good or feeling good? Did the makdee (spider)  get caught in its own web?

A national award-winning actress is arrested for prostitution and many editorials talk about how her family was going through hard times and thus she had to resort to this kind of work. Was that the real reason?  Because if she had to support her family then there are jobs available like join a BPO, teach or work in a day care, give tuitions etc. the real reason was that she was holding on to a false goal of preserving her image, that of an actress and trying to live up to a certain style of living and dressing even though it was unaffordable. It was this false pride that brought her doom. This is where we need to focus on teaching young girls and boys the difference between feeling good and looking good.

Yesterday I was with some young girls and boys and one of them was being teased by the others about her weight (she is slightly plump, not obese). They ribbed her to get fit, go to the gym they said. I asked them to have a ‘staircase test’ to find out who is fit and who is fat. The slim and trim ones were huffing and puffing by the time they reached the 4th floor and the plump one was able to climb to the 5th floor without gasping and wheezing, so much for being slim!. The point is we are too obsessed with looks, image, style and brands and forget what are actually important- feelings, values, self-esteem, and self worth. We allow others to define what is important without thinking for ourselves and valuing what we have.

What others think about us is important and should be important but not at the cost of our pride, self esteem and self worth. This actress did not consider the consequences on her reputation when she took the decision to earn the fast and easy money. And by giving importance to the money and not how it is earned, she got caught in her own web.

To look good is now considered synonymous to being good, so the meaning of ‘good’ is lostin the ‘superficialness’ of looking better, thinner, fairer etc., but is that what makes us good?   Its time to safeguard our young boys and girls from getting caught in the web of image conscious v/s intelligent conscience. If children grow up seeing adults (be it teachers or parents) only valuing  ‘superficialness’ then it will have a detrimental effect on the choices they make in their life, career and even in choosing their life partner. They will learn to make important decisions based on external  impressions and not on lasting bonds or emotions.

It is also important to nurture resilience in our youth so that when faced with adversity and  problems  they do not take incorrect decisions or break down or get caught in the web of problems. We need to ensure that our youth do not face the same fate as ‘makdee’ and to do that we need to make them strong, independent, thinking and empowered individuals who know the difference between looking good and feeling good.

Friday, 5 September 2014

10 things to learn from Prime Minister’s teacher’s day speech.

10 things to learn from Prime Minister’s teacher’s day speech.
A must think for teachers and parents.

Values. Connections. Jokes. Facts. Vision. It was all there in the PM’s teacher’s day speech. Here are 10 simple inspirations to take back from his speech and easy to implement by parents and teachers for happy healthy children.

1. Childhood is dying and we need to do something about it. Children are getting too little time as children, they grow up too fast too soon. Let us help children enjoy childhood. Let us keep the ‘child’ within us alive at all times. This will help them grow up as happier and healthier adults. – lets not pressure cook childhood.
2. How many times a day do you perspire? You should perspire at least 4 times a day. Exercise is what today’s child requires to keep healthy. Our sedentary life style is causing too many health issues both physical and mental. Do some physical activity so that you perspire at least 4 times every day. Don’t limit your day to sitting in school, doing homework or watching television. – lets help kids have physical activity in their routine.
3. It is not climate that has changed but the way we are treating our climate. Our attitude towards our environment has changed and thus has lead to change in climate patterns. We need to bring back our reverence towards the environment and soon global warming will be a thing of the past. Lets change our attitude and connect with nature and take our responsibility seriously. – let us practice sensitivity with reuse, refuse, recycle.
4. We would call the moon ‘mama’ and sun ‘dada’. Our culture taught us to respect everything, even the moon and sun. There was a reason for it as it helped us create a relationship of belonging. We need to bring this sense of belonging if we want to leave natural resources for our kids. – our cultural roots make us smarter. Let us go local to be global.
5. Read, read life stories. The more you will read for pleasure the more you will learn. Read life stories of people to get your daily inspiration. It can be that of a farmer, a politician, and a businessman. When you read life stories it is an education in itself. – let us give kids great books and articles to read. Lets discuss such topics on the dining table.
6. Need teachers help to make toilets in every school. Girls are dropping out of schools because of lack of toilets for girls. Lets give girls the basic right of having a toilet so that they are safe and are able to continue in school. When you teach a boy you teach an individual but when you teach a girl your teach two families. – let us give all kids their basic rights and let us make personal hygiene our agenda.
7. In Japan I saw more learning and less teaching. We need to change the way we teach in our schools. We need to inspire even our most intelligent and successful students to become teachers. There was a time when kids looked up to teachers as role models, we need to bring back this respect for teachers. – teachers can bring the respect back by changing the way they teach and parents can applaud schools that teach differently and not just for grades.
8. Teachers must not discriminate. Every child has some or the other positive and negative quality. We need to see the positive and work on the negative and not reject children. We need to stop discrimination and help every child succeed. – stop interviewing children. Respect the hidden ability in each child and work to bring it out.
9. When I talk to kids I get charged. Like a battery needs charging, our souls too need charging. Talk more to your kids and charge your batteries. – lets spend more time face to face and less on facebook!
10. Mischief is good! The PM revealed how he would make mischief as a child and this gives everyone the message that mischief and kids are synonymous. Let us not reject kids because they are mischievous. Let us not take away the fun from their lives. – being naughty is nice so let kids be kids. 

An open letter to the PM on his teacher’s day address

An open letter to the PM on his teacher’s day address from the
Early Childhood Association.

Lets celebrate, the Prime Minister addressed our Teachers on Teacher’s day. Keeping aside all the controversies and complaining about the PM’s address on Teachers day, we need to applaud that OUR PM addressed Teachers on teacher’s day. This will definitely have an impact on how parents, students, society views and respects teachers. It will definitely have an impact on changing the way we teach, if we listened and heard what the PM spoke.

He talked about his visit to Japan classrooms where he said he saw more learning and less teaching. He spoke about climate change that we have changed the way we treat our environment. He spoke about saving electricity in every house and each child learning to do so. He spoke about how our culture taught us to look at the moon as a ‘mama’ and sun as a ‘dada’ thus creating a loving relationship between mankind and nature.

We in the early childhood community are waiting with bated breath when our dear PM’s attention will be drawn to early years education and the teachers in the early childhood community. Because of dichotomy of ‘whose children are we? Are we part of women and child development ministry or HRD ministry?’,  teachers in the early childhood community feel left out of the dialogue about teacher education and curriculum. Even this particular address was not directed for early childhood teachers as the invitation only went to elementary schools.

World leaders are now focusing on making early childhood a part of the post 2015 development framework and we urge our respected PM to please bring early childhood to the forefront of policy framework, regulation and tying teacher salaries to teacher qualification in the early years.

If you are reading this then you will realize the importance of the kindergarten teacher, because she taught you to read and write. We have great expectation from our PM that public schools especially anganwadis will be on par with private schools. China has a larger population that India but their public kindergartens are much better than their private kindergartens, thus ensuring that every child gets the best start in life even if their parents cannot afford.

A small request if the PM can address the teachers too and interact with them in his next address so that he is able to hear from the teacher about the trials and tribulations and triumphs that teachers face. It’s time to bring change in our schools, just getting technology is not enough, we also need to train our teachers and create comfortable environments for our children. Lets start the revamping of the education system in our country and lets also include the early years education in this change, afterall 98% of our brains develop in the first five years, then why do we ignore this age group? Why allow this ‘brain drain’ when we can tap and nurture it for the growth of this great country?

And yes, the first change that schools need to make is to stop telling  their kids what to ask in these interactions with the PM. Each child had a well rehearsed question and it was quite apparent that teachers had trained them in what to ask and how to ask. Let the change start from something as simple as this, let kids speak their mind. Afterall our PM speaks his mind. Happy Teachers Day, to ALL Teachers.

Early Childhood Association-
Swati Popat Vats- President

Let's be proud, we are Teachers

From A School Principal's speech at a graduation......
He said "The Doctor wants his child to become a doctor.........
the Engineer wants his child to become an engineer......
The Businessman wants his ward to become CEO.....
BUT a teacher also wants his child to become one of them, as well..!!!!
Nobody wants to become a teacher BY CHOICE" ....Very sad but that's the truth.....!!!
The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become only a teacher?"
To stress his point he said to another guest;
"You're a teacher, Mrs Sharma. Be honest. What do you make?"
Teacher Mrs Sharma, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?
(She paused for a second, then began...)
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 min. without an I- Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.
You want to know what I make?
(She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them how to write and then I make them write.
Keyboarding isn't everything.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about India while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they
were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.
(Mrs Sharma paused one last time and then continued.)
Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make.
To Teach is to Touch a life forever.