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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Where is that imaginative, creative, energetic, vivacious child lost?

Smita, a teacher from one of the sought after schools in Dwarka, N K Bagrodia public school, has been chasing me for the last couple of months to visit her school. She confessed that, ever since she heard me speak at an education leaders conference conducted by ITIHAAS, she wanted to invite me to her school. She would call me to grace one function or other, as a guest. Most of the times, I was on the move. One thing about Smita I always felt when she spoke to me, is her energy and enthusiasm; that transcended the medium of phone. Last week when she called, I acquiesced to be the guest for their annual festival of creativity – Trishna, wherein about 30+ schools from across Delhi were participating.

The real pleasure being in a school lies in the children’s space.  On arrival, I was ushered into the Principal, Dr. Rajee N, Kumar’s room to meet her and a few more school leaders were called too. Dr. Rajee was sharing her experience of watching the children pushing boundaries since morning, in one creative activity or the other. Here I was, so keen to see the children in action, more than distributing the prizes, I was feeling incarcerated, though the interaction with the leadership was invaluable. The real learning is in experiencing the process, not in seeing the final product. I insisted on watching the children in action. The principal was graceful in facilitating me to watch a couple of activities.

Albeit it was at the fag end of the day, I could experience the theatre / acting performance, wherein the students were given 30 minutes to conjure a scene, write a script, select the performers, prepare and present. The students were from classes 7-9 and it was a delight to watch how they went about presenting. Children observe everything, absorb like a sponge and synthesize making meaning out of every action around them. This activity gave me one more opportunity to watch their thought process; how well they could project their learning. Needless to say, I really enjoyed every presentation, reinforcing my beliefs about children and their infinite capabilities.

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Post the event, I was now keen to interact with the school leadership. Thanks to Dr. Rajee, she too was keen to. I was sharing that the ingenuity of children that we witnessed in the activities of the event can be stoked every day, in every class and home; and who are we to restrict to one event or two in a year.

Very unfortunate that in most of the schools in India, in general, the child comes last. Schools need to exist for the child; she must be the center of all activities that schools plan. It is far from being so, the way we operate – the curriculum designed, the courses offered, the syllabus, the pedagogy, the planning to finish syllabus….. the list is endless. Everything is designed to help the school and the teachers to have peace of mind and to enable ease of execution. An imaginative, creative, energetic, vivacious child, bubbling with ideas ends up being a morose, thoughtless, aimless, fearful youth devoid of confidence and self-belief by the time he or she ends schooling.

If only each one of us, every adult – teachers, parents, schools, universities, educational leaders – can believe in every child, put the child first, acknowledge the needs of the child, really bring the openness to create exciting learning environments at schools, universities and home, I think the world will be a far, far better place to live in. The children and youth will be keen to solve the problems that the society in their neighborhood is facing. Every education institution can be at the fore-front of transformation of the society. Alas!

I am a culprit too. It takes immense effort to be open and facilitating. I am trying and have been on that journey for quite some time. Still short-comings come to the fore. I still need to keep my EGO aside. Working on being humble, pleasant, purposeful is still a huge ask, even with all good intentions and awareness of the outcomes.

My personal endeavour has been to be conscious and work towards making every child’s space an exciting one. To this effect, we, leadership at CL Educate, have been proactive to work with schools, institutions, universities to stoke jigyasa (curiosity, inquisitiveness) among children and youth; create an environment to help them explore, research in areas or subjects of their interest; have belief in their capabilities. Over the years the outcomes have been rewarding as we see the Ananda (joy) among children and youth. This facilitates the institutions and families to also realize where the inclinations of the child is and this has lead to remarkable breakthroughs for the progress of children and youth ahead in their careers and life. Many a child has presented his research and innovations in the global conferences, got her work published in prestigious journals; has had confidence to present oneself for an interview to reach the portals of a world class institution or university. The quest is to enable every child, irrespective of the outcome, gain a great deal of belief in oneself for one’s life. The process makes them so.

I welcome anyone who is keen to facilitate his child or children in schools, and youth in college, to write to me. We will be more than happy to facilitate.

keynote: #Creating #Innovation #Ecosystem in Institutions to enable learners for the future

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#Electrifying day it was; #TEDx style keynote on #Creating #Innovation #Ecosystem to enable  learners for the future; @ #Vision2030EduConference @MMUMullana. Of course, my TED cannot be staid and straight jacketed 🙂 Theatrics runs in the blood as the body, mind and soul get into action!
With the disruptive world gaining pace, the three things that we need to facilitate the child imbibe are – Keenness to learn, courage to push boundaries and not be worried about making mistakes and humility that can facilitate to build teams and lead. Each one of us need to be welcoming more and more abstractness in problem solving, and take every such opportunity as one to learn and discover, solve and impact.

 

 

It was day well invested with over 100 leaders of schools, colleges, universities interacting and sharing.  It was a pleasure listening to a few speakers too, who were also talking about need of learner-centric environment in the institutions.

The panel discussion that followed on #TEACHERSofFUTURE, seemed to be a corollary to my talk on innovation.

I am delighted to see very youthful education leaders emerging across the country, who are keen to create best of the learning environments; each one has had an exposure to best of the educational institutions within India or abroad. The entire event has been a brain child of Mr. Vishal Sood, an IIMA Alum, who is now at the helm of the Maharishi Markandeswar University in Haryana. With such young leaders, soon the hinterland too will have very meaningfully engaging learning environments that will integrate the outside world into the class and also take the class out to the realistic external world to engage and impact.

An institution would have served its purpose if and only if it is integral to solving the problems of the society within its vicinity. Imagine if every institution, school or university, solves half a dozen problems every year, what will the nation be. I was delighted to see a few of the principals of schools coming to me and talking about how they intend bring this change in their respective schools.

Feel blessed, for such moments. Life is Fruitful.  @careerlauncher @CLEducate @satyaumanandu
#education #educator #mentor #learner #student #changemaker #travel #Educational #Leadership #Transformational #workshop #Learning #Courage #Humility #career #careerchoices #careercoaching #Lifecoach #coach #Dynamism

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.

Sharpening the saw 25.3.2016

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Mama, Papa…. there is nothing in my bag today!

This rabbit does not eat carrot! …. how come?

Today I did my math and science,

I toasted bread,

I halved and quartered,

I counted, measured, used my eyes,

and ears and head.

I added and subtracted on the way,

I used a magnet, blocks and memory tray,

I learnt about a rainbow and how to weigh.

So please. don’t say, anything in your bag today?

How to paint my fence!

You see I am sharing as I play,

I learned to listen and speak clearly when I talk,

to wait my turn, and when inside, to walk.

To put my thoughts into a phrase,

to guide a crayon through a maze,

To find my name and write it down,

to do it with a smile and not a frown.

To put my painting brush away,

so please don’t say, what, nothing in your bag today?

What fun building my own home!

I have learnt about a snail and a worm,

remembering how to take my turn,

Helped a friend when he was stuck,

learnt that water runs off a duck,

I looked at words from left to right,

agreed to differ, not to fight.

So please don’t say, did you only play today?

 – Anonymous

Interesting case of literacy and education !

The boatmen and the Literates ?!

A tourist asked a boat guy, “Do you know Biology, Psychology,
Geography, Geology or Criminology?”

The boat guy said, “NO….not any”.

The tourist then asked, “What the hell do you know on the face of this earth? You will die of illiteracy!”

The boat guy said nothing…..

After a while the boat developed a fault and started sinking.

The boatman then asked the tourist, “Do you know Swimology and Escapology from Crocodiology?”

The tourist said, “NO!”

The boat guy replied, “Well today you will Drownology and Crocodiology will eat your Assology and you will Dieology because of your Badmouthology”

——————–

This discussion brings forth the schism between literacy and education – who is a literate and who is educated. Does literacy mean education? As a facilitator, I would love to engage in a facilitation that will be of practical value and applicable in nature. The question is to ask ourselves how do we create an environment that fosters the application of the learning. At the same time helps one to be a humble and eager-learner through ones life.

share your thoughts. Thanks

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