Child, the mentor of every parent : Mallika, mine

I have been deferring writing for some time. Every day brings forth so much, worth penning an article a day. Lazy or I can say misplaced priorities, I must say about myself.

Yesterday was a very eventful and memorable day for me! All thanks to our lovely daughter Mallika. She was awarded the scholarship in school for her meritorious work and excellence in Music, through her middle-school, classes 6-8, at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, her school. Music is one of those intelligence that is not so common as maths and sciences, still we usually look down upon. Thankfully at our home, it is appreciated. The right brain enriches the left brain effectiveness and we invest significant time to facilitate the right.

Collecting the scholarship from eminent public servant, Mr. Lakhan Mehrotra formerly Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of India

Here are a couple of favourite compositions of the school. The school has many a music album to its credit. Mallika features in the choir..

Yes, over the last six months there has been a concern with her performance in other subjects, especially Maths and Sciences. Mallika is brilliant there too, but interest and passion is lacking. I have been running with her a little more purposefully to infuse the passion. I always feel bad if one does not perform to ones potential. I am sure she would realize hers soon.

What made me introspect more is one more episode that happened last night. We have been talking to Mallika about a great opportunity in a fellowship, Counter Speech Fellowship, that aims to expose a very young mind to a variety of perspectives, especially in the world that is getting influenced by the proliferation of Social Media. We have been having talks with Mallika about her inclinations and engaging interactions over Social Media, both overt and covert, in the last few months. We felt, some of them are not only unproductive but energy sapping and rendering her ineffective.

It was Oct 31st, the last date to fill the form for the Scholarship and time 8pm. When we went through the form, we realized it demands introspection and expression of oneself, not only in words but also she has to design a poster. Mallika was revising for her weekly test scheduled this morning. We spoke to Mallika, whether she would still like to fill the long form for the fellowship. She said she wants to. I just spoke to her broadly about the purpose of the questions and went to my room. She filled the form and did everything to be submitted before she called me to show. I said, if she is happy, just submit. It was almost 11pm.

And this morning I saw a copy of the form that came my way from the fellowship office. When I went through, I felt so inspired by Mallika’s expression, I am still overwhelmed. CHILD IS A MENTOR OF PARENT, Mallika mine. I felt like expressing. Here insights into what our young darling is blossoming into.

What excites you about the Counter Speech Fellowship?

The mind of an adolescent is always a tumultuous one, the heart is one that is often unexpressed and the thoughts are always confused ones. Many feel alone, unsure and weak. Many around us , harm those weaker than themselves to feel powerful. Many seem to feel eyes judgemental eyes on them even in an empty corridor. We are surrounded by individuals who frequently use the term “depressed” to describe their state of mind. People think its a joke and that it is okay to put somebody under a term that is not a very friendly one, something that may be racist ,sexist ,casteist or any other term which makes one feel low and discouraged. A lot of our ideas are influenced by the internet, which may or may not be giving our thoughts the right shape and direction. One always feels the need to be guarded and protected.This is the time of discovering oneself and of self-realisation . People should realize that it is NOT okay to close your eyes and take it or see someone else take it. Your voice, can make a difference.

As I see it, the counter speech fellowship is an opportunity to voice my opinions and engage with others who are my age and who believe that these same set of problems should be tackled. I want to know more about Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Well being, Embracing Diversity, Safe Spaces Online and Violent Extremism and learn better ways of making people aware of these issues .
This is why the Counter speech fellowship excites me.

Have you held any leadership position at school or outside of it? Tell us about some life lessons from that experience.

Yes, I have held a leadership position before. I have been elected as the representative of my class at school (Sardar Patel Vidyalaya) quite a few times.
Something I learnt while I was a class representative was that, all people are very very different. We all have our own set of likes and dislikes. You cannot control somebody ( it makes them rebel) and you should not take such condescending behaviour either . Everybody’s idea of an ideal individual differs. It is important to respect other’s thoughts as well as have your own opinions which one should have the courage to express. This is what, in my opinion , can make us better. I also think that one can be a good leader only when one listens to other opinions and learns to accommodate others.

The themes for the 2017 Fellowship are: Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Wellbeing, Embracing Diversity, Creating Safe Spaces Online and Countering Violent Extremism. Tell us about a personal experience that makes you passionate about one or more of these themes.

I come from a modest middle class family. Ever since I was young, I have been taught to share, to include people , to always be open to learning. As a family we travel widely and try to experience and interact with new places and people.

I have attended various workshops on a variety of topics and am interested in the performing arts (I am trained Bharatanatyam dancer, a Carnatic music vocalist and a theatre person).

All my experiences have given me memories which I will cherish forever. But would it have been as memorable if it weren’t for the people? Would it possible to learn so many new things from new places and to gather such experiences randomly?
The beauty of life is in differences. In different cultures, traditions, thoughts , ideas and lives. Differences make our life more exciting , they give us something new to learn, to behold, to try , to explore.
It is funny , that one would feel more at home with their warm and friendly neighbour than a relative who appears to be cold. Relations are made not pre-decided. Diversity should be celebrated. A canvas is more beautiful when it has many colours. 🙂

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What a clarity in the young mind. So much we can facilitate to help her blossom. I shall commit more of myself to facilitate both Mallika and Svwara, along with Indira. God bless every young mind. Love.

Will add videos to this, as and when I find time.

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What Now? After class XII results : On Zee Business Panel

Every year, this time of the year is a challenging time for most students who are graduating from school. The expectation that is thrust on each by the families and society really takes toll on every child.

It is very important to understand the child and help the child have confidence in himself or herself, in their capabilities. Through the school, facilitate the child to understand self and the world around, by exposing, exploring, experimenting, experiencing, imbibing in many contexts, across a variety of spaces in those eight intelligence dimensions – linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, nature, kinesthetic, Musical (read the article Every child is gifted).

The world is looking for problem solvers and shall dish out anything to have such on their board. Money is never a problem. Be a learner for life time, have courage to push boundaries, to discover what more you are; Be humble in any given situation… So much more in this panel discussion with renowned career counsellor, Ms Pravin Malhotra.

If you have any more thoughts or doubts can surely write to me sreeni@careerlauncher.com

H H Dalai Lama – ‘Love and Compassion make all the difference’

It has always been a pleasure contributing to the spaces where children observe, introspect, participate, engage, discuss, debate and learn. One such movement that I have been part of as a volunteer, contributor and advisor has been ITIHAAS, an endeavor by a team of strong-willed and highly capable youth lead by Smita Vats and Shivani, has been doing a yeoman service for over 15 years now, in the space of Heritage Education for children. The movement now addresses children and institutions in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while children from across the country travel to these states to soak in and also learn the heritage of our rich, composite nation.

dalai_lama_25

There are many initiatives by ITIHAAS, year around, that engage the children, schools and the entire education community not only through their walks but also through facilitation of research in literature, music, traditions, livelihoods that are integral to Heritage.

As part of the latest initiative, first in the series of Changemakers talk, His Holiness Dalai Lama delivered the ITIHAAS ANNUAL ADDRESS to the school fraternity… What an interaction, it was !!  Always a pleasure listening to His Holiness. It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with him too. Just observing him silently is good enough to absorb so much about purposefulness towards humanity…

As he was addressing the children, teachers and education community, laced with his inimitable humour, I made it point to tweet whatever I could gather. Here I collate my tweets and share for posterity. Each of the points that he shares are invaluable –

  • Every #child receiving #love, affection, hugs of #parents in #childhood, will grow to be a confident and compassionate adult
  • we, generation of 20th century created a lot of problems, your gen of 21st century, has to solve. Solve Disagreement by talking
  • Young generation, #brothers and #sisters, think how to build a happy and compassionate world, through education and learning
  • Through warm heartedness you will be able to resolve every issue in the world; love, forgiveness will help you to bring peace
  • Anger brings violence; conflicts need to be solved through dialogue; love others and respect them to facilitate. Create peace
  • Non violence, peaceful dialogue by you will create a peaceful and happy family, society and world228
  • #Secular #education needs to include moral #values, ethics; value of warm heartedness makes the difference to humanity
  • fear is part of human being; I train my mind through analytical #meditation; analyse the source of anger; you will solve
  • Positivity begets positivity, creates peace; work towards eliminating negativity; Ahimsa and Karuna can solve all problems
  • without inner #peace we cannot develop world peace? #Trust & #affection will beget happiness & peace at home and society
  • As an youngster, I can contribute to solving every problem with my small actions with awareness; environmental issues, example
  • People’s movement – I must think, I must talk, I must work – our vision, on sharing, can gather mass to bring change
  • All religions, all traditions talk of love, harmony. #India needs to take lead in promoting tolerance, forgiveness and peace
  • Different #religions may have different approaches for different people, but the final purpose is #oneness and #love
  • Be a kind-hearted and #compassionate person. #Education needs to just contribute for this one purpose. That is the basic value
  • I never saw my mother angry. Not just me, she cared for every child ….First teacher of love and compassion is my mother
  • Every teacher has responsibility towards every child.Yr love helps every child understand whatever U impart. Infuses Happiness
  • Secret of my youth. 9 hrs of sleep and rest of 15 hours with peaceful thoughts. Have healthy mind. Smile adds to handsomeness

He also interacted with students by taking their questions and responding. I shall get the complete video across soon…

I have not done justice to this event if I do not speak about the Live painting by Artist Vilas Nayak that mesmerized His Holiness The Dalai Lama Dalai Lama. I consciously did not do, as I felt I need to write a separate story on it. I shall.

 

Inspiring Excellence of Families and School : DPS Patna

It was a pleasure facilitating both teachers and families in separate sessions at DPS Patna. Each session was of over two hours, though short, were very invigorating and inspiring.

Can we enable ourselves, our children, our families and communities to be –

a. Eager learners,

b. Have courage to push the boundaries, not worried about “failing” and

c. Be humble whatever we achieve

If we are able to instill these three values, then our job is done…

Glad to have parents getting out of car on their way back when they spotted me by the drive way to say, “I came with a very different intention to talk to the Principal about future of my son, I am going away completely transformed. I will make sure that I invest at home and also with the parents work with school to make all the difference to every child”

 DPS Patna - Facilitating families excel

One of the teachers said, “I have been struggling with a challenge for the last six months, I found the reason and solution to it in these two hours. Thanks”

 DPS Patna, workshop for teachers - Striving for Excellence, Realizing potential

It was one of those days where I had to touch down at 8am and take off at 3pm, for I had another session with art world in Delhi, as my baby SPANDAN festival of Performing Arts has been underway at India Habitat Centre, with large format exhibition paying tribute to Iconic Institutions, movements and Gurus.

Thanks to Anup and Ragini of Career Launcher Patna, for facilitating and inspiring families in Patna to EXCEL.

Inculcating the passion for reading, stoking imagination, building linguistic excellence

Our daughter, Svwara, yesterday came to me at night, when I came back home and said that she had a surprise for me. The games of surprise keep happening at our home, all the time. It is a way of enthusing one another.

Svwara said that she would read four books to me that night before she went to bed. “Wow!,” was my response. As this is the reverse of the usual exercise. Every night before she hits the bed she wants either Indira or me read four to five books, that she would select.

Here are a couple of books that she read to me that night. I wanted to record for this article.

Yes, she is able to recognize the letters of language, at times she may even write the letters that is a mirror image of the letter. This may happen till the age of six.

But, she reads every book verbatim, without knowing the words!! Its just like any other rhyme that she learnt. The entire book is a rhyme. She remembers every word and sentence there in. Simply because these books have been read umpteen number of times, as part of her ritual every night.

For a four-year-old, Svwara’s vocabulary and expression in the English is way beyond her years. Many an elder is startled at her ability to construct complex sentences with vocabulary that even I may not use. Her ability to imagine and draw a visual in a context of a story, is fascinating.

All these have happened because of one and only one activity since her childhood – reading that Indira has imbibed in her since Svwara’s infancy, more than me.

Our elder daughter, Mallika (12) who is a voracious reader herself, who finishes big tomes every week, is surprised at Svwara’s ability to articulate such complex thoughts with great felicity. Mallika has been a precocious child herself and now she is enamoured of Svwara’s.

The greatest gift each one of us can really bestow to any child is reading. Hope this journey is just a beginning of an exciting journey of discovering the world through books and much much more.

Parenting – Ancient wisdom for modern parents : Thirukkural

Tirukkural  by Tiruvalluvar ( a Tamil  poet/writer) was written more than 5000 yrs ago. It’s one of the ancient science on Human behaviour, which has not changed inspite of modern education  & technology !

Evolving child being facilitate by family, school and the experiences in the world

Evolving child being facilitated by family, school and the experiences in the world

SOME GOLDEN THOUGHTS OF THIRUKKURAL

  1. If your child lies to you often, it is because you over-react too harshly to their inappropriate behaviour.
  2. If your child does not explore new ideas, it is because you have never encouraged her making mistakes
  3. If your child had poor self-esteem, it is because you advice them more than you encourage them.
  4. If your child does not stand up for themselves, it is because from a young age you have disciplined them regularly in public.
  5. If your child takes things that do not belong to them, it is because when you buy them things, you don’t let them chose what they want.
  6. If your child is cowardly, it is because you help them too quickly.
  7. If your child does not respect other people’s feelings, it is because instead of speaking to your child, you order and command them.
  8. If your child is too quick to anger, it is because you give too much attention to misbehaviour and you give little attention to good behaviour.
  9. If your child is excessively jealous, it is because you only congratulate them when they successfully complete something and not when they improve at something even if they don’t successfully complete it.
  10. If your child intentionally disturbs you, it is because you are not physically affectionate enough.
  11. If your child is openly defiant, it is because you openly threaten to do something but don’t follow through.
  12. If your child is secretive, it is because they don’t trust that you won’t blow things out of proportion.
  13. If your child talks back to you, it is because they watch you do it to others and think its normal behaviour.
  14. If your child doesn’t listen to you but listens to others, it is because you are too quick to jump to conclusions
  15. If your child rebels it is because they know you care more about what others think than what is right

Please share this article to more parents, in the hope that we will have more responsible citizens!

E to the power of 6 – Yadavindra Public School, Patiala – A compelling workshop by Sreeni

Chilly morning of Jan 14th, Sankranti, the harvest festival celebrated across India, also saw the first day of the new academic year at Yadavindra Public School, Patiala. All staff assembled for the initiation into the new year with a magical and compelling workshop by me (Sreeni), E to the power of 6.

Sreeni's workshop, E to the power of 6 at Yadavindra Public School, Patiala

The light drizzle on the already foggy, cold morning, made all members of staff, over hundred of them, huddle inside the dance room of the middle school, that was equipped with hot blowers and heaters. I, with my personification of energy and child-like spirit, sent a shocker when I asked all of them to assemble in the well of the amphitheatre. They expressed quite a few reasons why they should not be in the rain. I wanted them to be children and not teachers, and do what children would do. Finally, with great reluctance, they made it to the well of the amphithetre.

They must have wondered what this crazy, monkish creature is up to. I could see the quizzical faces, and in the few smirks. A few shared that I looked like a musician. We all carry our own perceptions! for good of course 😉 What happened for the next hour or so, in the light drizzle (smiling sun peeping from behind the dark clouds at times) has been magical. The discussion that followed about the trust walk, made them realize a lot about what it means to be visually-challenged, being a facilitator to one, feeling of responsibility, the role of trust etc. etc…

Sreeni's workshop, E to the power of 6 at Yadavindra Public School, Patiala

The real import of the exercise dawned upon them, when I asked them to appreciate the situation of the child (ren) that they are guiding in the class, in the school or at home, to that of the visually challenged that they guided for a while, during the exercise. It was a bolt out of blue. A few were dumbstruck, quite a few very intensely lost, and a couple could not even fathom!

The whole of five hours passed by, with a few more exercises of self-introspection, each facilitating them to peal their own layers, each helping them to show the mirror for the participants to reflect and introspect. What was more heartening was that they did not want to leave without watching a few videos of lateral thinking on academic curriculum design and pedagogy. The session had to be extended beyond the time, at their insistence. Quite a few of the teachers and also the leadership team shared that, it was for the first time such a thing happened.

Sreeni's workshop, E to the power of 6 at Yadavindra Public School, Patiala

I had asked, the headmaster, Mr. Stanley Vinod Kumar and the coordinator, Ms. Sangeeta, a day before that I needed at least six hours to have a meaningful session. Stanley, with his sagacity and understanding of the mindset of the participants, asked me not to exceed four and half hours. He was delighted, so were the dean and the leadership, that teachers insisted on watching more and staying beyond.

As a facilitator, of course, I am always hungry for more. It is a ‘nasha’ – addiction – to facilitate more and more, for I always feel that I have not done justice to all that I wanted to facilitate, for the long travel that I undertook to conduct the workshop.

It was indeed a pleasure to be at this institution with about 70 years of legacy; the grand stadium that it is integral to, the rich sporting heritage with legendary alumni like Milkha Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu etc to name a few. Got to know that their students this year also have won laurels in sixteen different sports at the national level.

The institution is keenly  looking forward to becoming a full-fledged boarding school, that will enable them to make the whole environment an exciting 24 X 7 learning space. I too am looking forward to my next workshop at YPS, as much as Mr Stanley and the school leadership want me to.

I am waiting for the feedback forms to reach me from Bharat, the CL warrior at Patiala, who, in the first place, was instrumental in pulling me to the workshop at YPS. I am glad that Bharat did. It has been a very enriching experience learning during the workshop as well as visiting every nook and corner of the YPS, inhaling the air and imbibing the spirit of excellence it stands for!

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