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.

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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 😊

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.

 

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!

Sreeni’s SPANDAN 2014 culminates with a bang at IHC – Media Coverage!

SPANDAN 2014, a brainchild of R. Sreenivasan and Indira Ganesh, was painstakingly and lovingly compiled. It is all about celebrating the ‘Journey of INFINITY’ as Sreeni calls it – discovering the infinite potential within. With love towards performing arts and fine arts, Sreeni intends to inspire every youth to push oneself in their areas of passion and excel in life.

While the Dance Photography Exhibition with over 30+ photographers celebrated that ‘Journey of Infinity’ of the dancers who have made a difference, the Dance Evening celebrated the young and not so young dancers who are on their way to establish themselves in the world of dance.

It gave Sreeni, immense pleasure to welcome each viewer and every youth to the second edition of SPANDAN – a celebration of human spirit in the form of dance, generously supported by INDIA HABITAT CENTRE (IHC) and CL EDUCATE, earlier known as Career Launcher. It was heartening indeed to interact with scores of youth, elders and intellectuals apart from dancers and dance lovers during the SPANDAN Photo exhibition and the dance evening.

Here are a few coverages of SPANDAN in the media…. if you want to read the original article in the respective English publication, kindly click on the article here.

HINDUSTAN, April 26, 2014 previews WORLD DANCE WEEK – “Kahin dance photo pradarshini, tho kahin dance sandhya ka ayojan” – “While Dance photos exhibited at one place, dance evening organized at the other

SPANDAN Hindustan article

Frozen fleet by Ms Anjana Rajan in THE HINDU, MAY 05, 2014 – Sreeni’s SPANDAN 2014, the festival of WORLD Dance Photography / Evening

SPANDAN 2014 - The Hindu Article by Ms. Anjana Rajan

A step towards excellence, Pioneer Daily – Thursday, 08 May 2014 | Utpal K Banerjee

SPANDAN 2014 Pioneer Article by Sri Utpal K Banerjee

Dialogue of Dance, The Statesman – Thursday, 15 May 2014 – by Manjari Sinha

STATESMAN - Spandan featured in Manjari Sinha ji's column

More expected…

Indeed the 4 weeks of craziness to get SPANDAN going and the 10 days of event culminating with the dance evening! …..the intensity has been elevating and enervating too…helping me to discover more and more of me in the Journey OF INFINITY….

My humble bow to each one of you who has facilitated me to put the entire SPANDAN 2014 festival. I am sure the festival has ignited in every visitor and audience a desire to excel in life. Kindly pardon me for all my inadvertently committed mistakes.

More action on plate now, as I cruise ahead in my journey….on CL front and HOME front too.. keep watching!

Looking forward to your blessings for life.

Love and regards,

Sreeni

Photos of the SPANDAN 2014 – Dance Photography exhibition at Habitat environs

SPANDAN 2014

Videos on Youtube of the inauguration
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAVfRnpZu6mpY45iMpCKYlQ

“Push your boundaries, keep discovering self” – Parental outbounds @ Indus

Every child is unique, we as parents can make a big difference

Human being evolves dramatically in the formative fourteen years, all the more dramatic in the first three years. Empirical research have yielded that the child can match an adult in the mental faculties to the extent of eighty percent by the age of three and ninety percent by the age of eight. The eight intelligences inherent in the human being, as propounded by Howard Gardner, are getting sharpened during these phases. Most Indian parents are oblivious of the dramatic developments during these phases and they wake up only when the child reaches the so considered ‘critical class’ of ninth, not realizing that the real critical years of development are already behind the child.

At Indus world schools, our endeavor has been to shake the parents and wake them up, to be proactive facilitators during these formative years. Indus Learning series takes various forms during an academic year, one of which is annual parental outbound that take the parental community of the cities by storm in the months of November and December. I am in the midst of this season, crisscrossing the country facilitating them every weekend at one city or other. After a few of them this year I thought of penning this article.

mentors and parents alike challenge themselves and push their boundaries…

Outbound learning modules have always been a great way to push ones boundaries, realize what more one can do and what one is capable of. The adventure activities and the team exercises throw one into situations that one has not been familiar with, and challenge one to find solutions in a few abstract or physical situations.

I am blessed to have been part of many an outbound every year, mostly as a facilitator, in the last two decades of the journey of Career Launcher – building internal teams, performers out-bounds of various divisions of the CL family, induction out-bounds at business school IWSB, out-bounds at schools – IWS : for mentor recruitment, out-bounds for its children and now for the parents of our school children. Every outbound continues to throw revelations for myself. The more I do, observe or facilitate, the deeper I dig within. The realizations have always been phenomenal.

In the context of schooling in India, most of the mothers and a few fathers too have never been part of any sports or games even in their childhood. Most become parents by accident and parenting is by trial and error. The limitations of thought and action of parents, who prefer to vegetate in their comfort zones, inadvertently ends up stifling the children. The parents fail to realize the impact of their deeds. It is a great loss to every child, family, community and the nation. Herein comes the parental outbound at IWS that shakes parents out of complacency to set the family on the path of realizing not only the potential of the child but also that of the family.

Parents are excited, cajoled and coxed to be part of the outbound. A great deal of effort goes into bringing parents in. Still we manage an attendance of about 40-50% only. We are not a sporting nation. Physical fitness is not in our blood, and being adventurous is not the mindset. But every parent who comes to the outbound goes back as an enlightened parent with a great deal of insights for self growth, parenting, facilitating child’s potential and family’s potential. The day-long activities of adventures, team games, creativity, learning environment, food meditation throw challenges at them – mental and physical, test their skill sets of leadership, people-people, problem solving etc.

Pushing Boundaries….

Parents struggle to overcome the barriers of fear when they are ushered into an adventure activity. A few of them are excited, a few scoot, while the rest wait and watch questioning their own abilities as the activity progresses. Most of the excited ones, though they wear the harness with an intention to do, freeze with fear when their turn comes. Many cry, a few yell and shout, almost everyone prays! They need as much motivation and handholding as any young one would need when she attempts a new challenge.

The excitement in team games are no less when mothers are included in cricket or football; fathers participate in the kitchen for food meditation; every one asked to paint the wall …. They break the barriers and discover a new side, left unexplored in their life.

When they attempt for the first time, they nevertheless succeed and many a realization dawn….

They share… –

• “we need to be patient with our children”;
• “children cannot do at the first go. We need to encourage them”;
• “Help them gain confidence”;
• “Trust them and facilitate them to trust their own abilities”….
• “I will be active physically and encourage the child to be
• “Will play games with my child”
• “Will study myself and help the child to learn”
• “I will not shout if child takes time to solve the problem…”
• “I will create a good learning environment in my family..”
• “we will take our children to more places to help them widen their horizons..”
• ……

The list is endless. With hundreds of them sharing their ‘wow’ moments and promising themselves what changes they will bring within and in their family and home environment….

Our role as a school has been fulfilling….it is a space not only for children, but also for parents, families, communities and societies to be more humane and better enablers..

These out-bounds every year are a pilgrimage of self-discovery for all parents… hope to continue facilitating and learning too in the process..

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