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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Writing Challenge

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I have decided to take up a writing challenge to write 500 words everyday. It will be a fourteen week challenge in which I am planning to follow the writing process in order to write reflectively.

My performance in the last challenge was embarrassing. But that challenge definitely helped me deal with my fear of writing. I write more often now and writing also comes a little easier. That challenge also helped me post more actively on the blog.

Though quality of writing is a concern that needs to be addressed. So in order to improve my writing qualitatively, I have decided to seriously follow all five stages of the writing process. I am hoping that going through each of these stages will help me engage with my writing more. It will also facilitate reflective thinking.

Learning From One Another

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Yesterday, I read Amartya Sen’s article titled ‘Learning from One Another’, which was published in The Hindu on 15th January 2015. This article is actually an excerpt form his speech given in Infosys Science Prize Ceremony.
martya Sen has beautifully explained how we can enrich our learning experience by learning from others as well as by sharing our learning with each other. His illustration of the history of the term ‘sine’ summed up the role sharing of knowledge can play in the generation of knowledge. Reading about the rich cultural history of the term ‘sine’ was fascinating. You can read this article by clicking the following link. Hope you enjoy reading it.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/learning-from-one-another/article6785725.ece

Book Club Launch- Pustak Vimarsh

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Finally after overcoming so many hurdles and delays, I managed to launch a book club in my department.This club is inspired from Virginia Woolf’s description of a reader. She stresses on the independence a reader needs in order to enjoy the text. She describes a reader as someone who reads to converse with the writer through her creation. A reader learns to appreciate the text. But in order to enjoy this freedom and appreciate the text she also emphasises upon training the mind. Book Club called Pustak Vimarsh is a platform where we all could discuss and share our reading of the text with each other.
We began with the reading of first five chapters of Mahatma Gandhi’s text Hind Swaraj, which is also considered a modern political treatise.
Inaugural session went very well apart from a few hurdles, it was enriching for all of us. We had invited an expert to speak on the specified section of the text and he not only presented his views but also answered a lot of questions that my students asked. Everybody participated and it was good to see students asking questions.
In my next post, I will share my write up on this section of Hind Swaraj.

Education For Peace

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News reports on kinds of violence being afflicted on almost all communities seems to dominate our lives. Merciless attacks by terrorists, unforgivable acts of violence against women evokes emotions more violent emotions amongst us. But then the question is will violence help? We all know that it won’t. A violent suppression of some communities is the main cause of this violence. Had we been given our due attention as children were treated equally men would not have imagined treating us like objects? Had the developed and the powerful been more just and less greedy and exploitative, we could have avoided such destruction. But this discussion is pointless because past cannot be changed. We can work for a better future and since I am a teacher I will try to explore the role of education in bringing peace in this world. The following section is derived from Richard Sennett’s framework as given in his book ‘The Craftsman'(2008).

Can craft centred education help us create a more peaceful world? Craft entered education is experiential in nature. This experience results from manipulation of raw materials through intellectual Imagine ourselves crafting an object. We will begin our work through an exploration of the raw materials and imagining how well we can use them to create the desired object. Playful manipulation of the object will help us understand its nature and properties. Then based on the nature of the material we will try to discipline our body in order to prevent breakage of the material. David Horsborough in his book on his experiences of teaching in Neelbagh has described this in a beautiful way. He says that the material exerts its discipline on the child and informs the child when (s)he is not using it in the right way. In the process, we learn from our mistakes and make a mental note of each mistake. We learn to deal with failures and strive harder to reach our goal. This facilitates continuous reflection. We slow the speed of our thoughts and life to match the speed of process we are engaged in. When all the hard work and patience pays in the end, we look at our crafted object with love and delight. It acquires a special place in our life.

This process helps us see in other crafted object that we come across handwork, creativity and passion of another being. Thus we develop an eye for appreciation of another craftsperson’s work.

Can destruction take a back seat in such minds? Can we see this education help in creating a peaceful world?

Doing Voice Over for Hind Swaraj

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I was invited to do voice over for preparing the audio of Hind Swaraj. This was my first time and I am quite excited.
Hind Swaraj is a political theory written by Gandhi in 1909. It is written in the form of a dialogue. This dialogue is between a reader and the editor. This form is known to Gujarati literature for a long time but the characters that Gandhi chose of reader and editor makes it a modern piece of writing. Hind Swaraj deals with a critique of Western civilisation and suggests an alternative that, according to Gandhi, would best suit the needs of India.

I was invited to lend voice to the reader. In doing so, I began exploring the nuances of this character. This reader is an impatient, opinionated, but thoughtful man. I am a woman, so while reading the text, I said that I need to change the gender in the sentences. The person coordinating it took a long pause and then said he needs to ask his superior.
However, this idea just stayed with me. How will this audio clip be received, if a woman played this role of an impatient, opinionated but thoughtful person? A woman aggressively (in a ‘manly’ manner) questioning Gandhi. Well, Gandhi would not have objected to it as he had a knack for dealing with issues that divides the society. Gender being one of them. He, probably, would have seen it through as an experiment. But, then, what about the contemporary Indian society? Can they deal with such a modern woman?

This is my first voice over and I must say I am quite excited about it. There could not have been a better book than Hind Swaraj for doing a voice over. I hope to pass my audition.

Imposing Furniture and Pedagogy

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Our classroom seating arrangement influences pedagogic interaction. We have known this for a while, but sometimes the rigid educational structure does not allow us to make changes so specific to our classroom.

Every time I enter my classroom (I teach post graduate students), I cannot help but remember John Dewey’s statement about furniture that is made for passive recipients. Furniture that is heavy and imposing, where students try to fit their bodies in. Furniture that is pointed towards the blackboard, thus fixing the seat of the teacher as well. In such a classroom, it is difficult to talk about constructivism and active participation. No wonder my students still have not develop ownership in their learning because they stare at me with blank faces expecting me to fill them with knowledge, something that they so unquestioningly believe that I possess.

Today, I have decided to change this seating arrangement for my class at least. These imposing desks which force me to teach instead of facilitate discussions will have to be arranged in a better way.

A Magazine For the Children and By the Children- II

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A few days ago, I shared with you that I am facilitating children from a nearby village to bring out a children’s magazine. Our work began on 4th January with our (me and the group of children) first meeting in which all children showed great enthusiasm and volunteered for various activities. There are around 18 children in the group, aged between 8 to 14 years. We only work for two hours each Sunday.

This magazine is an experiment for me. I wanted to understand and implement Nai Talim (Gandhian scheme of education) through this magazine. Therefore, the magazine is produced in-house with zero budget. Everything from writing to designing the blueprint is done by hands and once the scanned blue-print is printed then we will add colour to the magazine by hand.

Today, the trickiest part of the magazine, that is, designing of the blue-print was completed. We saw the first look of our magazine. This moment was precious for all of us. After looking at the blue-print, a child said that we should sell this magazine at Rs 20/- as we have worked so hard on it. Another child immediately corrected by saying that the pricing will be decided based on the printing and colouring costs. Well, as this child said we will finalize the pricing of the first issue of our magazine on 7th February when we have the list of expenditure in hand. On 7th February, we have the tedious task of completing 200 copies of the first issue of our magazine by adding colour. Then we will be given copies for distribution by the distribution team.
This journey has been a huge learning experience for me. I hope children enjoy reading it.