Thursday, 30 September 2010

An Indian Dream

 I Love my India, the land of enterprise,
A land of opportunities and surprise,
The scents of sweets, and incense 
Overwhelm your senses! And colours
Bright to dazzle your eyes! The sounds
Of the flute and the tabla enthral
You in the  richness of musical notes!
I Love my India, the land of sages.
A land of the mighty Ganges,
Weaving  tapestries of myriad cultures.
The majestic Himalayas, and profound
Valleys rich with colours of Saffron,
Greet you with a hearty smile,
Welcome to the land of spirituality!
I Love my India, the land of fruits,
A land of the mango which is
The king of all, and the seasons
Which are there to uplift your feelings!
Here you have the deserts and the snows,
The hot and the cold greet you alike,
So, come, try her, for she will give you riches!
For if she is the land of opportunities,
She  will give you the chance to succeed
In what you set your mind to. And if,
You have your ups and downs,
She will guide you to your destination,
For she is Bharat Mata, and  will
Care for you.
I Love my India for she is rich in
Spirit and mind, a land of culture
And poets and singers,
She will give you solace and happiness!
You may rest your head on her shoulders,
She’ll give you peace
Which you’ll look for in times of need!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Flood in Delhi

The rains in North India have created a havoc in the capital city of India. The overflowing Yamuna is threatening to break through its banks! Various areas along the banks of the Yamuna are under great threat! Civil lines, the Tibetan Monastery, Nigambodh Ghat were all inundated with water. I took the Rajghat Road while returning home to Gurgaon and was shocked to see the Iron bridge which was just a few centimetres above the water line! I took a few snaps with my mobile of the iron bridge which I have presented below:



The iron bridge can be seen in the background of the above snap. The water level, as you can see is just a few feet below the span of the bridge!


To make matters worse is the fact that the Common Wealth games are just round the corner! The on going exams mean that students have to go to their schools irrespective of the conditions on the roads. Students coming to Roop Nagar from Sant Nagar, Burari and across the Wazirabad Bridge are doing so under a great risk!

What has compounded the problem is the fact that the drains flowing into the Yamuna River have been blocked to prevent water from the Yamuna flowing back into the city. Because of this reason, the rain water has no where to go, with the result that it has begun collecting on the roads. While going to school, I found it difficult to negotiate the  Filmistan Road because of the large amount of water on the road itself!

Let’s see what tomorrow has in store for us! It is clear that Nature is venting its anger on us for destroying the wet lands and lakes and marshes. Today there are buildings on areas that were once water bodies! This large scale development has had its impact. Now there aren’t any open spaces and reservoirs which can absorb the excess amount of water resulting from the floods and rains!

The Yamuna river itself has become so badly silted that its depth  has been drastically reduced with the result that it can no longer hold much water. The result of the shallowness of the Yamuna river is that the water spills over! Large scale construction on the banks of the river might have reduced its capacity to hold excess water.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

On being a teacher - A poem

A little boy came to me with a shy smile,
Will you teach me grammar to be
Fluent in English like you?
Said he, I know the others don’t care,
To learn, for all they want is to play!

Said I with a smile, sure, if you wish,
Will I teach you the maths of English,
That you may be better than me! But,
Inside was I sad, that few students have
The hunger to learn! All they want is to play!

The same little boy came to me again,
Said he, write me a speech on Pollution,
Sure said I and wrote him a speech.
Wow, said he, you write so well, teach
Me to write so good that I might be like you!

Said I to him with a smile, I will do that,
If you wish but practice makes you perfect!
Said he to me sure, Sir, that will I do,
For I want to be like you! Sure, said I,
That will I do, for I want you to be perfect, my child!

But deep in my heart I felt  sad,
For while some students want to learn,
Others stop them, for all they want is to
Play, and play. For rightly said they,
All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy!

The little boy’s smile haunts me so,
Why can’t all my students be so,
To be eager to learn that they
Might be better than me, that
I might sigh with relief, I have done mine duty!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Has the role of the teacher finally changed after the implementation of C.C.A?

After teaching English to eleventh and  twelfth for fourteen years, I was given a section of Ninth and Tenth two years back besides retaining one section of eleventh and twelfth respectively(now I have one section of ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth) . On teaching students of ninth and tenth, I noticed that  they had totally different requirements than students of  eleventh and twelfth! While the students of ninth and tenth are less mature, ( requiring more guidance) the students of eleventh and twelfth are more independent and mature! Thus, It has been a completely different experience to teach them!  To add to the confusion, last year, the continuous comprehensive assessment (C.C.A) scheme of evaluation was introduced during mid-term. This session,  the C.C.A. scheme was introduced from the beginning of the  itself!

The session began with a confused rush to implement the Formative Assessment I and Formative Assessment II. There were teachers subjecting students to a variety of tests, projects, recitation, written tests, reading fluency, for the three languages in classes ninth and tenth. Then, after the completion of F.A.II, there followed the  frenzied entry of data in various registers. The filling of multiple registers was taken with a fevered zeal! For the class teachers, there was the additional task of registering students with the C.B.S.E. For a teacher who had taught classes eleventh and twelfth for so many years, it was confusing to understand  whether the real function of a teacher is to teach, or to do clerical work! Somehow, the burden of recording data in multiple formats and multiple registers has somehow increased the burden on not only the class-teacher or home-room teacher but also the subject teacher! Very little time is available for teaching students, as most of the time is taken by assessments, and entry of data! If this is what the radical changes in the system of assessment brought about, then I won’t hesitate to argue that the previous system was better (at least there was less stress and pressure on both the learner and the teacher).The poor students have to undergo four Formative assessments along with two Summative assessments! Stressful isn't it?

It seems as though, teacher training programmes should now include training in data entry, besides teaching methodology. Thus it is not just your lesson planning, or brushing up of teaching skills that matters, but also your clerical skills. This is because the role of a teacher has become more of a clerk and less of a teacher! Unfortunately, the recent changes have increased the stress and confusion of the students. earlier they had to prepare for the terminals, now they have to be prepared for a battery of tests which can pop up any time! The teachers teaching classes ninth and tenth are a highly stressed lot what with having to record an endless stream of data, that too repetitively. This repetitive requirement of having to enter an endless stream of data requires the immense patience of a clerk. Unfortunately,  there is a chasm of difference between the abilities of a clerk, and the abilities of a teacher, they are poles apart. So then does it mean that the role, and the duty of a teacher has changed post C.C.A.?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Is Delhi a powder keg waiting to go off?

The recent flooding of the Yamuna river in Delhi and the looming threat of a greater disaster are a grim reminder of things to come! Some of the disasters waiting to happen are a mega earth-quake, floods, epidemics like Dengue, and of course subsidence of terra firma. It is a known fact that the depletion of ground water due to excessive extraction of water through submersible pumps may have made the underground soil sub strata  hollow leading to frequent cave ins of the kinds being reported recently. Excessive excavation work may have undermined the integrity of the underground soil structure.

It is a well known fact that a major fault line runs through the Yamuna River in  Delhi . It is only a matter of time when a major Earth-quake strikes Delhi! In view of such dangers, it is important that we prepare ourselves for such a disaster. Preparedness would include, a constitution of a crisis management team for Delhi, stepping up of Disaster Management awareness programmes for the residents of Delhi, and for students of schools of Delhi. An important aspect of Disaster Management includes, training of students office goers and residents in evacuation procedures. A study  of the Uphar Cinema tragedy shows that a large number of people died because of the panic and stampede that resulted from the news of the fire! This is a pointer to the fact that we need to train everyone about the correct procedures of evacuation!

The most vulnerable segment of the society are our students. It is very important that our students should be trained on how to cope with such disasters. A training in evacuation procedures, a training in rescue operations is most essential! I admire the Japanese who have trained their citizens so well in procedures for tackling Earth-Quakes. I wish we could have the same training for our students in Delhi, so that they may set an example for others to follow.

It is also important that the Delhi Administration should pass important specifications for construction of buildings which are easy to evacuate, Earth-Quake resistant, and have sufficient infrastructure for fighting such calamities as fire! Excessive use of glass in building is known to cause fatalities throughout the world!Shattering glass is known to cause a number of fatalities! Similarly, minimum admissible depth of the foundation of buildings should be mentioned in the building by laws! The use of pillars and beams should be specified. It is a known fact that often the lanes of Delhi are so congested that the fire engines find it difficult to reach the place of the fire! I have also noticed the lack of fire hydrants in Delhi. Perhaps the authorities need to look into this Matter? Need I say more about this issue?

Perhaps the most pro-active step to face natural disasters is to to be prepared for them!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

On celebrating Teachers Day

Teachers day was celebrated in my school on the fourth of September and not the fifth, because the fifth of September happened to be a Sunday. The celebrations started with the introduction of the senior students who would play the roles of their favourite teachers. One of the students went on to read a write up reminding the rest of the students about the significance of teachers day, and the important contribution of Dr.S.Radhakrishnan to the Educational system of the country.

Looking at the student-teachers, I was reminded of my own favourite teachers, those teachers who had such an important role in making me what I am today. It was a poignant moment for me as it reminded me about each of my favourite teachers from the school level on to college! I remember especially an Ethiopian teacher who was visually impaired, he taught me History in class eight, and nine, then there was Mr.Ghani, an Indian Teacher who taught me Chemistry in class eleven and twelve in Ethiopia, my mother taught me English in class eleventh and twelfth. In college in India I remember my teachers who taught me while I was doing my B.A.Hons. (English). Of those I remember Mrs. Roopali Chibber, Dr. Sambudha Sen, Dr. Bhasin, and Dr. Anwer. At least these are the names that come to mind after a gap of twenty or more years! Then, when I did B.Ed.and M.Ed.from the Department of Education, (C.I.E.) Delhi University, I was especially fascinated Mrs. Bharti Baveja, an excellent teacher who taught me Child Psychology, then there was Mrs.Jaimini, who guided me in my research  , Mr. R.P. Sharma who taught me Philosophy, Mr. C.K. Saluja, who was not my teacher, but, everyone admired him, and he was a favourite teacher for me nevertheless! When I was doing a post graduate course in Journalism from the Institute of Mass communication from Y.M.C.A., Delhi, I remember Mr. B.B. Nagpal and Mr. John Dayal who taught me about the intricacies of reporting! They instilled in me the awareness of sensationalising of news and the harms accruing from such reporting!

Coming back to the present times I am reminded about the huge change that has taken place in the general attitude of the society towards teachers! Today, the media hounds teachers as people who drive students to commit suicide. Teachers today are the favourite punch bags for the media. They are people who draw large salaries, they are lazy people, teachers get too many holidays and teachers are sadists as they torture their students! I often wonder how far the Media and the society can go against the teachers in the country. While studying for my B.Ed. and M.Ed., from Delhi University, I was constantly reminded to be compassionate with students. I was constantly reminded that teaching was a noble profession and that teachers were builders of the Nation! Where has all that sentiment gone? It seems that today, teachers are the black sheep that we all love to hate, and blame for all the deficiencies in the society. When I asked my students how they felt on being teachers for the day, almost all of them remarked that they had a tough time handling the students who were, “Naughty and Noisy!” They were all of the opinion that teaching in today’s times had become a very difficult job indeed! So then, dear, parent, how can you, who can’t even handle two children at home, expect a teacher to handle fifty or sixty “Noisy and Naughty” students and yet remain cool (you would lose your cool if your son made a lot of noise at home)? Maybe it is that the teacher is Super Man with infinite patience, and the elasticity of a rubber band!

I have always been taught that the first teachers of a child are his parents. The parents instil in the child an awareness of moral, spiritual and social values. After the parents the role of guiding the child falls on the shoulders of the teacher. Thus, the teacher is like another parent, and he moulds the child further. The teacher makes future leaders. He guides students so that they become engineers, doctors, and of course future policy makers! Today, I am what I am because of the good teachers who taught me. Teachers, thus bring out the best in their students, is teaching therefore, not a noble profession? Can we do without teachers in today’s society? Should we therefore hound teachers as we are doing these days? Does it mean I should change my profession as a teacher and instead take up a profession that is more lucrative and more “Respectable?” Perhaps a job as a Public Relations Officer, or a Journalist would be more acceptable to me today? Please guide me for I am confused and disturbed by the perception of the society towards teachers, for I am a teacher and that is my calling! What is more acceptable to the society  today is a calling which gives you more income! Today, we value a profession which gives you a better pay package and one which comes with perks such as a chauffer driven car, holiday packages abroad, and recognition in the society. Who goes for teaching today, one who has failed to get through the entrance exam for civil services, or one who has failed to bag a lucrative deal in an M.N.C.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Celebration of Teachers Day in Dhanpatmal Virmani Sr. Sec. School

Teachers Day was celebrated in the Dhanpatmal Virmani Sr. Sec School with the usual fervour and zest on the fourth of September. It was an occasion when the students were able to play the roles of their favourite teachers, and experience at first hand, what being a teacher feels like!  Sakshi of class XII-B reminded students about Dr. S.Radhakrishnan. This was followed by an introduction of the pupil-teachers. After this the student-teachers conducted assembly.The high point of the day was the taking of classes by the student teachers. Many student-teachers were of the opinion that it was difficult to be teachers and to teach, although it had been an exciting moment for them. Some felt that the responsibilities were too great, and it was difficult to handle students who were talkative, and naughty! Another student-teacher felt nervous the first time he went into the class room as a teacher. According to Ankit Yadav, “teachers have more guts than anyone!” Harsh Maan felt that,"teachers do more work in managing students”. Abhishek Rajan said,"now I understand how teachers manage students. It is a very tough task!” Rakesh Kumar, another student-teacher said, “As a teacher, I personally feel that a teacher is someone who gives you knowledge, but in a simple manner.” Komal, Varsha and Madhuri felt it was a tough job! Dolly, Rahul and Roshan commented that “it was exciting”. Anil Singh, whom I saw teaching the students most seriously stated, “It is the most responsible job in this world.” Another student, of class XII-A, who was not a teacher commented, “ It’s a perception of a student that someone is sitting with him every day”. Ketan Upreti  who is a student of class twelve stated, “teachers should be friendly  with students so that students could express and share their feelings and learn about life.” Since it was his last year in school, he felt that teaching was a process where students learn from teachers, and teachers also learn from their students.