Thursday, January 24, 2008

Teaching A Noble Profession ?

The word TEACHER still brings to my mind the picture of a person who is dignified, knowledgeable, kind and at the same time firm, one who is passionate about teaching and one who loves children. When we were studying pre-school paper in our college we had to describe the qualities of an ideal teacher and believe me there were many. Infact the qualities were so vast that finding such an ideal person I think is so very difficult.

When I read in the papers that a particular teacher has been awarded the "Best Teacher" of the year award it sets me thinking that maybe that person must have been one of the ideal teacher that we have, who must have made a lot of difference in atleast a few children's life.

On the other hand we also hear about the so called teachers who bring shame and disgrace to this noble profession by meting out unheard of punishments which snuffs the life out of a little child sometimes or they bear the scar for the rest of their lives.

Teachers are the soul of any school and only if they are respected in all ways will the school flourish. But every where that I see the story is the same. Teachers are paid pathetically and the school feels that they can let go of a good teacher and hire someone else if she or he demands more. There is such a shortage of good teachers that they have become a rare commodity now. Teachers are hired just to fill vacancy that arises which is very high these days irrespective of the fact that they are not qualified in any way and do not have any experience in the teaching field. Infact they cannot communicate or put their thoughts across in a way that children understand.

Every year as the new academic session starts don't we all parents hope and pray that our children should be lucky enough to get good teachers? Because believe me a teacher can make all the difference in our future decision making in a large way.

I have come across this lecturer who made what we thought were boring subjects like chemistry so interesting . Her love for the subject and her passion for a subject like chemistry had us also take interest and at the end of the academic session all of us scored so well and attendance was suddenly high. How I wish there were more teachers like Mrs. Shakuntala.

These days because of the call centres which have attracted a lot of youngsters what with attractive payscale that is offered (though it is bringing in a different culture which is altogether a different story) many graduates will ofcourse gravitate towards it. So now it is mostly a few of them who opt for teaching profession or it is left to those mothers who like to work or earn a little as it is convenient to get holidays along with the children as they cannot take up the regular nine to five job or the hectic pace of work in private sectors or MNCs.

I remember before I joined my college as a lecturer I was looking out for a job and someone told me that a person is opening a playschool. So me and my freind went there and I found this person did not have a clue about starting a school but had decided to open it for the lucrative business that education has become. I left wondering if these are the kind of people who are opening schools then god help all our future generation. We will not have any future C.V.Ramans,nor Jagadish Chandra Bose or for that matter our very dear Abdul Kalam.

As summer vacations approach we all get to see huge hoardings of different new schools claiming international education, or some such tall claims. Is it so easy to get permission to open educational institutes? Will the government just not think how sacred and how much of commitment is required. Do they even check if the person who is planning to open a school is aware of the kind of education we need to give children? Can they not increase the payscales and make it so attractive that more and more people will undergo teachers training programme which ofcourse should cater to today's situation? If only they upgrade the infrastructure of existing schools and pay their teachers well, i see some hope. Otherwise good teachers will be an extinct specie and teaching will no longer be a noble profession.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

After School Hours.......

The other day I heard loud noises from our neighbouring house and was wondering what all that noise was . I saw our neighbours son whom I see everyday, shouting at his maid pointing fingers at her. He must be just about eleven or twelve.

I see him everyday in his school uniform even at six or seven in the evening, feeling bored not knowing what to do and whiling away his time talking to the watchman, maid or fighting with them. He does not have any body to play with as theirs is an independent house and he is the only child.

It is the usual story of mother working and the son does not have any one to monitor him. I really feel sad for him. I wonder atleast his parents could enroll him in some classes of his interest and the driver could take him so that he could spend his time in a constructive way.

I was reading that in the U.S. it has become a great concern for the working parents to see how they could keep their children occupied after school hours as studies have found that many children there indulge in harmful activities and the government is trying to work out by having centres which will cater to these children so that they could use their time constructively.

When I was teaching nursery children I found that almost all children knew all the soaps on T.V and knew who is who and would narrate the episodes as though they were narrating fairy tales. And you know what kind of soaps we have on T.V. In some cases where the mother was working the caretaker and the child would sit and watch T.V programmes the whole day . Then there was this particular child who would want to have bindis and dress as they would in the serials. She would also sing the title songs of the serials better than the nursery rhyme!!!!!!!!!

Another child that I know of has been given strict instruction by his working mother not to play outside with other children in the apartment. The child sits inside the house and plays on his playstation the whole evening.

In the above cases children are in the age group of three to nine . But then imagine a teenager who is left unsupervised what with T.V. and net (more on the net in my next blog) causing more harm. Parents who can afford can enroll their children in classes of their interest but what about those children whose parents cannot do so. I wish there was a system which would take care of these issues. Any ideas?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chubby Cheeks?

Do you all remember the nursery rhyme

Chubby Cheeks, Dimple Chin;
Rosy Lips, Teeth Within;
Eye's So Blue, Lovely Two;
Curly Hair, Very Fair;
Mamma's Pet Is That You?
Yes, Yes, Yes.

I think when this rhyme was written the author had in mind the picture perfect child one who is all gol matol, chubby, and cute just like the calender baby.

This came to my mind because for sometime now when I go on out the mall or park or for that matter anywhere I have noticed that there seem to be lot of obese people around.

The most disturbing aspect is that I seem to notice many children are not just chubby cheek but too chubby all over. It made me think why it is so? Are the parents not aware or are they happy that their children look very healthy? Because in India many people equate size to wealth. But even in this era is it still there?

On one hand we get to hear that all of them are becoming more health concious; proof of this is the mushrooming of so many aerobic, yoga, gym, liposuction clinics and so on, but on the other hand we see so much of obesity .

When I visit some of kid's favourite joint as you all know Pizza Hut or Corner or KFC I find little one's devouring whole Pizzas or one whole bucket of chicken with the parents looking on very happily, I feel they should have this so called junk food once in a while as we all know that the forbidden fruit tastes sweetest right? But over indulgence should definitely be avoided.

My son comes home and tells me that his freind gets to order everyday from some Pizza joint or the other and told me how lucky his friend was, hinting that instead of taking them once a month or once in two months we could take them a little more often. So I explained to him why these are not so healthy as they felt that since it has got veg toppings it is healthy. Though they make sure that they remove all the veggies and keep it aside. Well that is besides the point.

Many young first time mothers are so very enthusistic in feeding their babies that they feel if the baby is fat then they have fed them well and sit and fret if they do not eat or just eat 1 tsp. less than they usually eat. I remember one of our neighbours feeding her 3 month old baby raw paneer that too one whole big cube that one buys at the store. Yuck. Imagine raw paneer and since the baby would obviously refuse such food she would carry her child go for walks with her plate of paneer, go in the lift just to distract the baby and keep on feeding the baby until he would finish. Poor Baby!!!!!!!!

Anyways I feel that Children are our future wealth and we need healthy citizens to move our country into further prosperity. We all know how much problem obesity could cause at such a young age if as parents we neglect our duty and over indulge our children in matters of food. So let us say Hi and Welcome some good home made Indian cuisine with ofcourse just the right amount of fats, carbs etc that is needed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where Do You Stand?

Yesterday I saw this programme on Discovery channel called Wife Swap, curiosity aroused I watched that programme. It should actually have been Mom Swap. This is what it was; They select two families and show us how each family is raising their children. The first family had five children and both the parents had brought the children with a very militaristic kind of upbringing. All the chores was written out and duties delegated and they had to complete it and earn stars. If they were found to default in their duties then they would get their toy confiscated and towards the end of the week they would have an auction where the child with the highest number of stars could bid and have that if he wanted it. Also the maximum number of stars that the child got would get a privilege of one hour to spend with his Dad!!!!!!!!!!

The other family had three children and there the mother had to take care of everything and the children and dad would just sit around not helping her in single chore and were arrogant and the husband would infact join with the kids in humiliating his wife and also he would want his wife to be well groomed and dressed at all times of the day. the wife would bear all this as her attitude was that she would do anything for her family.

Then they had to swap places and live with the other family for two weeks. The first week they just have to follow the family rules and the second week the husband and children had to listen to the rules that the new mother imposed on them!!!!!

It was really good to see how both the families benifitted in different ways. The first family became more freindly and the father became more accesible to his children and the second family became much more disciplined and learnt to respect the woman of the family more. I really enjoyed this programme and please watch this programme if it ever is telecast.

This is were I feel how much of discipline and how much leeway can we give our children? Many a time I find parents are either too strict or too lenient in bringing up their children. Sometimes the children are pampered so much that later children find it difficult to listen to a NO from their parents. Infact did you hear a child commiting suicide just because the parents did'nt give in to his wish that one time! So shocking right?

Don't you think we should also refrain from saying you are grown up now and better behave yourselves to a five year old child just because he or she is the first born. Children even when they are ten ,eleven still need to be reminded gently of the rules that are laid. They forget and need to be reminded. At times we definitely I think need to be tough and stand by certain basic rules laid out for them. This would certainly go a long way when they go out into the world and when they are on their own.

So tell me as a parent or some of them who read this blog as young adults what is your opinion on discipline and how did your parents go about things which may or may not have helped you now in your present day. How and what kind of discipline do you use and how effective do you feel it is?

Being Sensitive Parent

"Kya mein itna bura hu maa?" when I listened to this line in the movie Taare Zameen Par I just couldn't control and shed buckets of tears. It was very moving and it sure must have touched every parents heart to the core did it not?

My younger son told me that he did not like the movie and then I heard some of my other freinds telling me that their children did not enjoy the movie infact one of them insisted that they stop watching the movie and go midway.

For the child it is very realistic and they must be going through this or seeing this happen that for them it gives no joy and infact they must be feeling the emotions too stongly than we could imagine. Hence the reaction.

As for the parents we got to see the problem through a child's world. As a parent it is so difficult for us to accept that our child is different. We are under such tremendous pressure to show to the world that each of our child is extra brilliant, that he excels in all the field, that we miss out on seeing our child's limitations, or the interest that he might show in other field other than education. When this is the case under normal circumstances then imagine the trauma that parents undergo when they discover that their child is an exceptional child.

Luckily these days help is available and teaching methods have been evolved making it easier for these special children. But there is a need to sensitise parents, teachers and society as whole to work together.

As parents I think we have to be really sensitive to each of our child's needs and accept them as they are. We can just provide them with whatever stimulation they need or try and just fire their imagination and interest, beyond that let us not push them .

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Simple Heartfelt Prayer

Hey another year has passed and we are moving on in life without noticing it. Life has a way of passing by us without our being aware of it.

I was in Bangalore and we started our New Year by praying to God and seeking his blessings to have a good year ahead of us.

I wish for a few things this year as well as years to come, let us all lead a happy, simple and harmonious life. Let everyone on this earth be happy. Let there be no sorrow and pain, even if it is there let it be bearable and pass with lord's blessings. Let everybody achieve all those goals that they had set. Let there be no violence and bloodshed.

Let us all be together and and lead a happy, contented life. Let our minds be as innocent as a little child without any other thoughts in our mind. Above all let us just follow the motto smaller needs, simple thoughts, higher thinking, and celebrate life by spreading joy to all the people around us.

I remember this prayer that we used to say in our nursery class,
Thank you lord for the world so sweet,
Thank you lord for the birds that sing,
Thank you lord for the peace within,
Thank you lord for everything.

Well at that time we used to say this prayer as a routine thing but now I see the beauty and simplicity in it and revel in this simplicity.