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From Writing First Draft to Re-writing: Note to Self

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I began my writing journey with the fear of writing. I would do most mundane tasks to put off writing. Gradually, I overcame this fear by forming a habit of writing everyday. It was an uphill task and it took me more than a year to start writing everyday. This exercise made me comfortable with writing. I am not saying that I write everyday now but I find it comparatively less difficult and I write quite regularly. This was the first milestone in my writing journey.

I reached my second milestone when I began reading Paris Review Interviews. These interviews taught me to perceive writing as essentially re-writing. It is in the process of re-writing that we gain control over our writing. This idea inspired me to begin my first big writing project. My research for this project was complete and I had ideas I just needed to sit down and write. My first draft was prepared with a lot of anxiety, agony and physical labour in two months. I have written about this experience in my previous posts. The joy of being able to put your thoughts in words in the way I wanted inspired me further and kept me going.

By the time I finished, I was drained physically, emotionally and mentally. I could not sit to read and write further. Then I decided to take some rest. During this time, I read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I also looked through some other texts but I did not engage with anything. In retrospect, maybe I should have. It would have kept me going. I was still writing everyday, mostly writing my journal. However, as time went by, I became more and more relaxed in my reading writing routine.

Now it is time for the third milestone and I find myself procrastinating. Like the first one, I have been delaying it for two months now. This time I fear it because it is a humongous task. However, it is most essential. It is the task Paris Review Interviews taught me, that is, re-writing. I have to read my work sentence by sentence and edit or rewrite it. I think I am facing two roadblocks. Firstly, reading triggers writing and I am not spending enough time in reading. Secondly, I realized re-writing like writing requires practice. Cultivating a habit of re-writing everyday along with reading and writing will gradually improve my editing skills.

At present, I am struggling to re-write and edit my writing. In each attempt, I struggle with new kinds of grammatical and pragmatic issues in language. Sometimes, I struggle with the use of ‘but’ or semi-colon, or the issue of re-writing the entire paragraph to make it more accessible and coherent.

My writing journey has been slow. Struggle that accompanies each of these milestones appear daunting in the beginning and requires a lot of hard work and discipline. Sometimes, I want to quit. But the silver lining is that reaching a milestone assures me that I am moving in the right direction. It is this struggle that makes me feel alive.

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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?

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.

A Magazine FOR the Children and BY the Children

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On 1st January 2015, I shared with you about my idea of encouraging reading and writing amongst rural children on Sunday morning workshops. There have been some exciting developments on this front. After writing this post, I thought that on the forum meant for discussing Gandhian philosophy it would be apt to bring out a magazine based on the principles of Nai Talim.
Nai Talim is a scheme of education proposed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1937. Mahatma Gandhi proposed crafts to be the medium of education, that is, through the practice of crafts students will learn disciplinary knowledge.
The three principles of Nai Talim are:
1. Self- awareness
2. Self-reliance
3. Self-discipline
All these principles are held together by experience and social responsibility. I thought a magazine would be the best idea to experiment the potential of Nai Talim. So, I floated the idea, of bringing out a magazine and the selling it in the village, in the workshop amongst children and other facilitators. Everyone accepted it enthusiastically.Their energy and enthusiasm made my day.

But with it began a difficult journey. Difficult because if it was to be done through Nai Talim then students will have to be trained in all skills related to publishing a magazine.
Besides reporting, children volunteered to take responsibility of different tasks. Our work began two weeks ago when students went to collect information about their village. A group of children suggested interviewing the village head and prepared a questionnaire for it.
Today was the third week and we managed to compile 15 entries in the form of information; interviews; opinions; cartoons; social messages; drawings etc. It was heartening to see this. However, I understand a lot of work is still left to do with only two more Sundays to go before the preparation of final copies.
Based on Gandhian principles, minimum machinery will be used and everything will be in-house, as a result it printing cost will be very less. As of now, we have taken a desktop with printer and scanner on loan for bringing out 200 copies. That will be the only expenditure incurred on the magazine. Everything else will be done by hand, including designing and preparing a blue-print.
All this work will be done by the children and for the children.
Lot of work needs to be done, and I am a bit anxious now.
Wish me Luck.

School and Society- John Dewey; Chapter 1- The school and social progress

 

 Dewey starts the chapter by making an assertion that the basis of judging a school depends on the progress that we see children making in physical ability to read, write and figure, knowledge, manners and habits and industry. But there is a need to enlarge this scale.

He says that schooling and education system need to evolve with the society, otherwise the changes in school would just be incremental or rather transitory. The most radical change that the society has seen in the past 50 years is industrialisation. It has changed the way production happens and also how nature is used efficiently and inexpensively. It has also resulted in the change in the domestic setting. Earlier most of the work of production happened within the household and provided for participation and learning opportunities alike. This built in children a kind of discipline and sense of obligation.

The schools need to be catering to this change in society. Though we see an inclusion of occupation and manual training in the schools, but the reasons and thus motivation for it according to Dewey is not well understood. Reasons like they engage the children, or make them helpful at home or better prepared for future in the sense of self sufficiency are not good enough reasons.

The question is that if the school is supposed to prepare the children for the future community life, then thats what it shpould be able to present. Domestic setting focused around work had community involvement in it. Even now if we see the classes of cooking or carpentry we see an evolution of community.

As dewey puts it, “The tragic weakness of the present school is that it endeavors to prepare future members of the social order in a medium in which the conditions of the social spirit are eminently wanting.”

This community life focussed towards productive work provides for the opportunity where children learn the discipline which is cooperative and supportive of production which is very different from the discipline that a classroom focused towards learning/ recitation requires and inculcates.

Dewey also emphasises that when the productive work is delinked from economy, it has the potential of becoming ‘active centre of scientific insight’. He takes the example of weaving and how it allows for various enquiries; historical, scientific and sociological.

Training in manual work brings meaning/ human significance to action, thus preparing human beings who will be more mindful and knowledgeable about what they are doing.

He ends the chapter by saying that a few centuries ago, learning was restricted to very limited number of people. But with industrialisation priniting became cheap and availability of books increased, similarly travelling and communication became cheaper so the interaction of ideas has been enabled. This has affected the high status that academics and intellectual life once enjoyed. But the schools are still aimed at preparing for the profession of learning. Only 1% people are really interested in intellectual life, most others have to do things and thus need to be prepared for this. Due to this disjunct their interest in schools and the number of years they want to give to schools is very limited.

A question that Dewey has sidestepped is to present details of what will be the nature of the discipline needed for the manual work classes?

An important difference that seems in his selection of work and reasons for inclusion from Gandhi seem to be in not attaching any economic value to it. As a result any occupation can be introduced in the school and need not be relevant in the contemporary times.

 

 

School and society

Dear Friends,

We will use this forum, to discuss issues, books,news, experiences and much more. To start this journey of learning together. We decided to start with discussing a bookImage by John Dewey, School and Society