Never stop chasing your dreams ! Mallika in the film!!

Never stop chasing your dreams !

A short #film of 2min. This film, ‘#Field In A Box’, features #MallikaNethraSreenivasan. Mallika gives her voice too for the film.

A #dutch conglomerate #TEN CATE,  that is known for advanced materials that make all the difference to humanity through a variety of products – advanced composites, armoury, geo-synthetics, protective fabrics, outdoor fabrics – is also a leader in laying sports #fields of artificial grass.  “Field in a box” is Ten CATE’s community development initiative across the #world through which it creates special, micro-sports-fields near their large sporting-arena projects, as an #inclusive effort, towards #marginals of the society, to #promote #sporting spirit and #nurturing #talent. This film showcases how such endeavours have #impacted the #communities and #societies and urges every #child to chase her #dream!


The talent scouting team of TEN CATE in India was looking for a fresh young girl to cast in the film, and as luck would have it a member of the team landed in one of our good friend, Smita’s home. Smita is the founder of ITIHAAS, that is big time into heritage education of children. It was just a coincidence that while Indira is an integral part of Itihaas in their walks and curriculum development team, I am on their advisory board. Smita, being a theater veteran, was against Mallika being drafted into films at such a young age, and strongly rejected her daughter Ragini’s forceful recommendation of Mallika to the scouting team. Finally Ragini with the help of her aunt, prevailed over Smita to let them approach Mallika and that’s how we got to know about this opportunity.

It was in October 2016, this scouting exercise happened over a few mail exchanges with Mallika’s portfolio that I had shot, with their specifications of looks. Then her voice test etc happened before they finalized her. The producers had some reservations about Mallika’s countenance, as She was 5’7″ at the age of 13 two years ago. Though they were looking for a 13 year old, her personality was much beyond what they had expected. What clinched perhaps is her background in theater (highest level of TIE at National School of Drama that a child can reach) and her national scholarship in classical dance, Bharatnatyam. They were delighted to hear her voice over too.

In November 2016, the filming happened over four days across the slums of Delhi and at the National Stadium, the premier olympic hockey stadium of the nation. What was most taxing for Mallika in the entire film making was the fortnight long training in understanding the basics and playing the game of hockey, under the tutelage of the national women’s hockey coach Saini sir, a Dronacharya awardee. Though Mallika is sporting enough and is a sought after athlete in the events at school, She has never had any sports training of the intensity that Saini sir put her through. Everything, from holding the stick to keeping the ball in play, to repetitive practice of the dribble for a 3-4 hours every day, was tough for Mallika.

Finally the film has been released this month, June 2018. All in all, the whole exercise of making the film gave enough insights to Mallika about the involvement that goes into making of any film – purposefulness, passion, patience, perseverance, hardwork, productivity, effectiveness in delivering in the first go etc… I am sure it will stand in good stead as she embarks upon her journey of life and career.

 

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Classroom Expectations: Positive management for the productive growth of students

I got a questionnaire from edinbox.com to respond to. Though the brief is to write answers in a couple of sentences for each issue/question raised, I feel unless we do not understand the very evolution of a human being, cognitively and behaviorally, we cannot find solutions to any of the issues raised here. Hence, I am giving the context before I address each of the concerns raised in the questionnaire. My answers for each of these questions could be dramatically in variance with the conventional wisdom that is prevalent around most adults. Whatever I am sharing here is an outcome of over two-decades of hands-on experience of being with children and young-adults, setting up schools, creating learning environments there in; and also seeing over a couple lakh students excel in career and life. Quite a few of those grown up adults bring their children to us, to seek help now!

Phases of learning in the evolution of a human being.

Phases of learning in the evolution of a human being.

Fig 1. Evolution of the human being, cognitively speaking.

 

The above conceptual framework is self-explanatory. Various empirical studies observed that the rate of cognitive evolution is exponential in the first eight years of life, reaching almost to 90% of that of an adult; about 80% by the age of three. We have been using the above nomenclature – Ananda, Jigyasa and Sadhana – in our language for almost two decades now. They evolved over a few years of observing and introspecting as the children evolved.

 

  1. A child in the initial phase of one’s early childhood evolution, Ananda, involves all senses in absorbing one’s context. The slate in the early phase is clean. It is all about joy of discovering the contextual existence. The child is like a sponge, soaking everything that exists in the immediate environment. It is incumbent upon the adult around her – a parent, grand-parent, family or a teacher, the school – how rich we can make the immediate contextual environment forthe child to thrive. Learning happens at a pace unimaginable, all without any agenda. (The Howard Gardner’s Multiple intelligences is in full bloom – kindly google to understand this concept of Multiple Intelligences)

 

  1. The primary and middle school years – age 8-14 – Jigyasa phase, is all about observation, introspection, analysis, synthesis to consolidate thus far imbibed experiences, into a solid knowledge through active questioning and embarking on finding answers to those questions through further experimentation and exploration. Greater the exposure, the higher is the learning. So as an adult in the environment, a parent can help the child experience a variety of spaces and activities in the arenas of all intelligences. During this period, a lot of likes, affinities, interests develop in every child that may start shaping the thought process that eventually may play an important role in choice-making and decision-making, about what one wants to pursue in career and life.

 

  1. If the adults at home and school have been taking note of the likes and affinities that are evolving in the Jigyasa phase, one can proactively facilitate the child to make well informed choices by exposing the child to a variety of literatures, activities, events, people of eminence etc. so that the child will listen, engage, interact and evolve. As the child moves to higher classes the family and school can facilitate the access to all the avenues that can shape a child’s chosen area of interest, probably positively impacting the career too.

Now I would like to answer the following questions with the above frame work as a reference. I also need to add here that I have clubbed questions together, where I have found them to be closely related, and I shall addressthem in a logical way.

What should be an expectation level of a teacher or a parent from the student?

  • One of the secrets to bring about the expected outcomes from a child is to be EMPATHETIC first. Talk to a child the way you would talk to an adult, in calm, eager and understanding way. As I said, the cognitive evolution of a child is almost that of an adult beyond age three. So, keep your emotions at bay.
  • The first requirement of an institution – family or school – is to take responsibility upon oneself to create age appropriate learning environment and experiences even before they have expectations from the child.
  • So, my expectation is directed more towards the adults in the child’s context, asking, what exciting environment have you created for the child to explore, experiment and learn.
    • Can I be with the child, whenever I feel the child is struggling? Can I walk with the child and not just talk?What inspires the child is your walk, and not the talk!!
    • Everything boils down to a good, open communication with the child. Only when the child feels that you are understanding, will the child be open to hear and see your perspective.

Does over expectation from a bright child deteriorate his performance and self-esteem?How behaviour of a student can be modified with simple learning and how can we help him in developing his self-esteem?What are the methods to develop behaviour modification among students?How to motivate a child to perform better in the class?

    • The secret, as I shared, is open communication and facilitation. Understanding the child, in the given context, is paramount. Help the child gain confidence to be open with you, to share her fears and needs.
    • An adult should not talk from 6ft. Get down to the child’s level. That means, your eyes and that of the child must be at the same level! Make the child feel that you are her friend and facilitator.
    • Every child is unique and let us not compare one with the other. Acknowledging the child’s interests, way of thinking, strengths, weaknesses and evencurrent  prioritiesis very important. Being open is the key. That is the only way to stoke self-esteem. Every positive thing we say or do, adds to her self-esteem.
    • First,believe and help yourself to help the child understand that he or she is good enough; and it is just a question of getting more comfortable in the subject or topic or issue that we are concerned about, and give a message that by understanding the concepts and practicing more she would be good. And that you are with her in the process. Walk, walk, walk with the child, do not talk.
    • I have seen the transformation in many a child, including my daughters. Building trust and stoking the self-belief is the key.

Is there a model or a technique to deal with discipline referrals?

  • Most of the root causes of the discipline issues emerge from the child’s immediate environment. The behavior of the child has its origin in the way an adult or two is behaving in the child’s environment – How is the adult dealing with the child. The adult’s ‘walk’ may be inducing the behavior.
  • For instance, if the child is very energetic and active in the school, then you may soon realize that his energy does not find any vent at home. His home environment could be highly restrained and over disciplined. And that pent-up energy finds a volcanic outlet in the school. Similarly, a child shouted at or abused at home, may vent his frustration at his fellow learners in school.
  • My questions for institutions, are, “How open are we to integrating homes with school? How much do we know about the child’s home environment? How much of interaction between the school and home have we institutionalized beyond the formality of PTM (parents teacher meeting which most of the times is unwelcoming for the schools. It is just an item in the check-list)
  • When the home and institution will be seamless, most of the behavioral deviancies will be easily taken care of. In the technology-enabled world of today, institutions can really create that seamless communication channels to bridge to two.
  • Even after having amazingly cordial and proactive engagement with home, if we find the child’s behavior still beyond our capability, then we need to seek the help of a psychologist/specialists in diagnosing any other eventuality, like ADHD etc.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) affects the child’s ability to focus and control his behaviour. What steps to be taken to address the children suffering from ADD?

    • ADHD is the term that we usually use for affected children and adolescents, while ADD is used for adults. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children, more prevalent in boys than in girls; diagnosed based on the child’s symptoms and behavior.
    • Inattentiveness, impulsiveness or hyperactivity are the symptoms of a child with ADHD. It is a genetic-disorder and child has no role to play in acquiring it; one of the parents has contributed to the cause. Brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, don’t work the same in children with ADHD; Certain areas in the brain may be smaller or even less active in children with ADHD than those without the disorder. Most of the times, a parent feels guilty of even acknowledging the presence of ADHD, especially do to the social stigma it may carry. Hence, we as adults, both teachers and parents need to be proactive, yet very patient in dealing with the child.
    • Timely diagnosis is very important. If not treated in time, ADHD continues into adulthood. However, by understanding the child, working on and channelizing his strengths, facilitating a conducive environment, and using medication timely, a childwith ADHD can grow into a responsible and productive adult who is socially invaluable.

 

How show we improve the school environment so that it helps students to perform better?What are the key points to be kept in mind which helps in developing a cordial environment for students and teachers?How can a teacher build an environment that can help students struggling with serious academic deficiencies, lack of support, language barrier, or any other challenges?

 

    • Most of the times I see the really issue lies with institutions – School and Homes – and adults within. I measure the adults by exploring their attitude towards these three questions –
      • Do your really love children?
      • Do you love learning?
      • Are you excited about creating rich, stimulating learning environments and experiences?
    • We need to understand that the institution exists for the child and need to bring about changes in our environment and the way we conduct ourselves and our learning processes
    • As Charles Darwin says, the human being as an organism is programmed to thrive – survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, we adults control the environment, at home or school, in such a way that the brilliant mind, amazing body and soul is not excited to flourish. We shackle the being.
    • It is very important that the learning environment, pedagogy and engagement be conducive with the evolutionary phases of a human being that is illustrated in Fig. 1 above. The coordination of the school and home, along with the curriculum engagement need to be rich and stimulating. Homes need to help the child experience the real world beyond the classrooms and curriculum. Parents must be thinkers and doers. Expose the child to experiences in every dimension of intelligences that Howard Gardner talks about.
    • Does the outside world come into your classrooms? Do your classrooms go to the outside world? If the answers these questions isin affirmative, soon we would have found solutions to all challenges.
Evolving child being facilitate by family, school and the experiences in the world

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

Hope, I have been able to address all the issues raised in the questionnaire. I apologize for writing a lengthy article to address your questions. I strongly believe, there is no short-cut to facilitate a parent, teacher or institutions toenable every child that is playing in our aangans, corridors or classrooms.

Moderating the interaction , “Know everything about IPM (IIM Indore). No more Hearsay!”

It was a pleasure moderating an Interactive session that featured Surjo Sankar Sarkar, Student of IPM (Integrated Programme in Management) form IIM Indore and Amitendra Kumar, Head, LST and School Test Prep programs, CL Educate Ltd.

This session got beamed into hundreds of homes across the country from where students and their parents attended this session. It was a highly interactive with questions coming in on various dimensions of the course; and I had to keep the discussion going, while also noting all the concerns of the students flying in and I had to make sure that they were addressed by the end of the session. Thoroughly enjoyed facilitating the session.

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One course which has caught attention in recent times, no doubt is IPM by IIM Indore. Be it the design of the curriculum, placements, degree/diploma issue, it has got every ingredient of being the talk of the town.

Slowly the student and school community is waking up to presence of such an exciting program as choice after class XII. Since it is a new program, and also very limited (only to IIM Indore), every aspirant and more importantly parents have a few concerns.

Watching this interactive session will assist the students to have the authentic information about IPM, from an youngster who has been through the program. The session features Surjo Sankar Sarkar, who is pursuing IPM from IIM Indore, and is in the final year (fifth year of the program) attending classes along with the PGP students who enter through the CAT examination, post their graduation (and work experience)

The recorded session will help the students gain insights into the IPM Program, and also understand how it’s different from BBA+MBA or regular PGP. The session also covers comparative institutions that offer best of the undergrad programs in business.

It will not only help the student but also parents and every facilitator who wishes to understand and get peep into IPM. You can be an ambassador of the program 😊

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.

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.

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