Soccer League Draws to a Close

At 8.30 this morning the rain was looking ominous. However, luckily for all it held off until the afternoon enabling a big crowd of children, parents and staff to come together at Aravali for the culmination of 8 weeks of keen competition. It would be impossible to say whether it was the kids or the parents who were more ‘up for it’.

The penalty shoot-outs created much excitement, some inevitable heartaches and some new heroes. Then it was on to the presentation of awards with trophies and recognition for every child who had put in their best efforts.

The keenly anticipated finale was the parents vs teachers match. With a 4 – 2 beating last year to overcome the staff were quietly determined. To help their cause they had recruited in a couple of the school’s senior players. Whilst these lads had fitness and high skill levels on their side they were still pretty daunted by the strength and (ahem) weight advantage of the parents.

In the first half the parents were given too much space and respect. When the school attacked it was with insufficient manpower up front and a lack of finishing. The result was a 1-0 lead for the parents at half time. A good stern team talk at from Mandeep saw the team add some more youthful fresh legs and come out with all guns blazing. What followed were moans and groans as the school team were to realise it just ‘wasn’t our day.’ Umpteen perfect crosses from Raghav Khurana somehow failed to find the final touch in to the net. Even a penalty went sailing over the crossbar.

As the parents tired the were still able to catch school on the break to eventually run out comfortable 3-0 winners. So, school – back to the drawing board to plan a again for next year.

The whole league had a great spirit and atmosphere and we must give credit to a lot of people; to the sponsors – Fitness First – an enormous thank you for the support you gave. To the parents who coached the victors, consoled the vanquished, to the games teachers and administrative staff. Ultimately, to the children – your excitement, your learning and your development are what make it all worthwhile.

So, until next year …………..

Good question, Mr Obama

I’m not necessarily the world’s biggest Barack Obama fan, but I do give him credit for asking avery smart question – see the Associated Press article below:-

Obama: Bad teachers must be taken out of classroom

1 day ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — If the nation’s schools are going to see improvement, President Barack Obama says there has to be a way to ease bad teachers out of the classroom.

Obama was responding Thursday to a question from a Philadelphia-area schoolteacher. The woman looked away and refused to answer when Obama asked if she’d seen any teachers whose work was so bad she wouldn’t want her own children in that class.

Obama said some people just aren’t meant to be teachers.

He also said there needs to be other ways to evaluate teachers besides standardized tests. He said those tests can’t measure progress in a struggling school, and that they represent the biggest flaw in the No Child Left Behind program.

Obama said that if teachers are forced to teach based solely on a test, fewer students will be inspired to learn.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Happy Earth Day

Good morning – just back from the Vatika Earth Walk on Golf Course Road, Gurgaon. The walk was an hour late starting (ahem, come on Gurgaon!) and then we were a bit disappointed that we only walked about 1 1/2km at most.Still, the point got made and a little more focus was brought to the issues of what we’re doing to the planet. I understand there’s a really big walk for environment coming up in May – I am Gurgaon, WWF, Kids for Tigers, TSRS and others so we’ll watch out for that one.

This evening we must all remember to switch off lights and other appliances between 8.30 and 9.30 – because we have to start moving beyond words to action.

The reality is people have been talking about this stuff for a very long time. In 1972, when I was just a young boy David Bowie wrote a rock opera called Ziggy Stardust about the world at a time when people realise there are only 5 years of resources left. In the song ‘5 years’ he sings:

“Pushing thru the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying”

Do we have to wait until we or our children are crying, until it’s too late to turn back? Are the life choices many are making today really worth the price our children will have to pay? Surely, enough is enough and we must stop the madness. In the land of Gandhi we must be the change we wish to see.

IB Orientation – Habitat Centre

Phew – a long evening, but well worth it and time well spent. Last year’s orientation at Habitat Centre was OK, but there was feedback about how we could make it better. I think all the evidence was there this evening that the response to that feedback was spot on, so well done IB team.

There was a great turnout – standing room only and plenty of new faces. So, good chances that we’ll have another increased IB intake this year for a really vibrant IB Programme.

A great job done this evening by the teachers – they really showed why they are such a highly regarded IB team – there was creativity and masses of passion and energy!!

Great job all.

Responding to Plagiarism

Plagiarism in the Internet Age

The attached article highlights that it is just way too easy to blame the internet for students’ plagiarism or to believe that it can be dealt with through simple warnings and sanctions.

When a child is given a project in Class II or III, don’t the parents even help them to copy/ paste and cut a few key sentences from a website. Then we all tend to applaud such a project, even though it may contain words and language the child doesn’t even understand.

Should we be at all surprised when that child gets to higher classes and fails to acknowledge the importance of attributing their sources.

Could we, as a school arrive at a set of practices and understandings for each age group that could be clearly understood and bought in to by teachers, children and their parents?

Your thoughts? I’m particularly interested to have views of students and parents as well as teachers on this so that we can shape an effective policy.

CBSE to Accredit on Quality

Interesting news that CBSE plans to accredit according to ‘quality’.

Times of India Article

Initial thoughts:
a) How much credibility will such an accreditation have?
b) Will it add to confusion? Right now, a school accredited by IBO (International Baccalaureate Organisation) has been assessed on a number of quality measures and carries a ‘badge’ that says it is up to standard according to IBO. However, even this has received some criticism because it is only reviewed every few years and when things go wrong in a school it can all happen very quickly. On the other hand, CIE (Cambridge International Examinations) doesn’t as such assess the quality of education. Instead, they endorse that the school is capable of administering the examinations – a big difference.
c) What should be measured to determine the ‘quality’ of a school? There could be plenty of toilets, a good teacher-student ratio, lots of computers, science labs etc., but poor quality education. Alternatively, there could be limited resources and infrastructure, but good quality learning.
d) Even if we assume that such an accreditation process can be put in place which is transparent, free of corruption and has the faith of the public, does it risk making the best schools overcrowded and weaker schools get worse as they are deprived of resources. Surely, what is needed is more good quality schools which involves taking best practices and disseminating them, instigating school recovery plans for failing schools and creating the right environment for good new schools to come up.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts.

Class X, ICSE Geography Postponed

Class X Geography board exam has been postponed. New date for the exam to be announced on 25th March.

Press Trust of India

Schools For Tomorrow

A really fascinating article that i am sure is going to spark lots of discussion. It was passed on to me by Mr Neeraj Manchanda, architect for the Aravali work and also a parent with the school.

I would really love to see some thoughts from students, parents and teachers on this. Tell us what you think.

Best way to read is to right click on the link below and save to your computer. Please read it, then come back and share your thoughts.

High Schools Children Want to Attend

Professional Development for Educators

There are things happening in the world right now that have brought the debate on how best to train educators, how to enable them to fulfill the role that society needs from them right to front and centre stage.

Here in India we can say, in many ways, that the Sixth Pay Commission has ‘professionalised’ teachers’ salaries after a very long time.At the same time, with the resultant increases in fees resulting from those higher salaries the skills and abilities of teachers come in to focus.

In America and most western countries where education is almost completely government funded, schools are having to slash their budgets, achieve more with less, lay off non-essential subject teachers and focus on core educational activities.

In America, Linda Darling-Hammond was one of President Obama’s lead advisers on education in the election. A professor of Stanford University she recently co-authored a report that analyses and compares American methods for teacher professional development with a number of countries considered to have highly successful education systems. The report was presented by Mr Arne Duncan, the new American Education minister.

It makes for some interesting reading;
a) In the best countries, teachers are teaching around 60% of their working hours, compared with 80% in US. Here in India, certainly in TSRS we are below 60% – this provides the space and time for professional development.
b) The second big finding – training for short durations on courses, workshops etc. (certainly less than 14 hours) has little effect on teaching practice. What was far more effective was longer term programmes linked directly to classroom practice, aligned to school goals and placing far higher importance on peer collaboration.
Intuitively, these things make sense to me. it doesn’t mean that workshops are wrong – just that they are no use if nothing happens afterwards (and before). Instead, we should be looking to bring people together before to discuss their personal and collective objectives and create mechanisms so that afterwards there is an agreed pattern of coaching, mentoring and on the job consolidation of the learning.

Not easy, but in my view worth working towards.

Here are some further details about this research and the original report:

Welcome to Our Virtual Worlds

Here is a really interesting article about cutting edge technology’s role in new learning methods brought to my attention by Sveta Dave. Many will remember Sveta as an ex-parent of the school, an active PSA member and a person with passionate interest in the education available to young people in India. she works as an educator trainer. The following is the mail she sent me, plus the link to the article:

I have just sent you an article from Education Leadership, March 2009, entitled “Welcome to our Virtual Worlds,” which discusses how teachers are incorporating student engagement with digital worlds into their teaching in order to promote sophisticated problem-solving skills (and of course motivation to learn).

In addition to illuminating examples, it gives very useful sites for teachers who are interested in learning to incorporate technology into their curriculum design. It would be exciting to see TSRS teachers, and others, start to engage with curriculum design in this way.

Click on the following link to see the article:

Welcome to our virtual Worlds

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