Changing Learning for Ever?

The Link

This seems fascinating. I can see the potential that this might put in to students’ hands in the future to take a greater and greater control over their own learning.

However, when the education system has made learners passive that’s a huge risk as well. If students sit back thinking learning only happens when someone else “does it to them” and what is more that it doesn’t have to happen other than because it is forced upon them – then quite simply they will be at a massive disadvantage compared to those with an inclination to make learning a natural habit of their own.

Curiosity and a desire to learn might become the number one determinant of success in life when all knowledge is potentially available to every person. The key with such a software tool would presumably be to do with who has the capability to ask the smartest questions, instead of who gives the most accurate answers.


by Dr Rachel Remen,

“Integrity is an ongoing process, a dynamic happening over time that requires our ongoing attention. A medical colleague describing his own experience of staying true to himself told me that he thinks of his life as an orchestra. Reclaiming his integrity reminds him of that moment before the concert when the concertmaster asks the oboist to sound an A. ‘At first there is chaos and noise as all the parts of the orchestra try to align themselves with that note. But as each instrument moves closer and closer to it, the noise diminishes and when they all finally sound it together, there is a moment of rest, of homecoming.’
“‘That is how it feels to me,’ he told me. ‘I am always tuning my orchestra. Somewhere deep inside there is a sound that is mine alone, and I struggle daily to hear it and tune my life to it. Sometimes there are people and situations that help me to hear my note more clearly; other times, people and situations make it harder for me to hear. A lot depends on my commitment to listening and my intention to stay coherent with this note. It is only when my life is tuned to my note that I can play life’s mysterious and holy music without tainting it with my own discordance, my own bitterness, resentment, agendas, and fears.’
“Deep inside, our integrity sings to us whether we are listening or not. It is a note that only we can hear. Eventually, when life makes us ready to listen, it will help us find our way home.”

Search Years Cultural Programme

Search Years is a relatively small, but ambitious NGO working in the Palam Vihar area of Gurgaon with children from government schools or those who are not even in school. Yesterday, I was fortunate to be part of a programme held by Search Years to commemorate the inauguration of their new cultural centre and also to celebrate Earth Day.

The programme was really charming with around 120 enthusiastic, bubbling, excited, happy children – many of them were performing in front of an audience for the first time in their lives. The children were also inspired by a beautiful odissi dance performance from Arushi Mudgal.


The volunteers include some TSRS parents and at least one ex-TSRS teacher. They are doing wonderful work and are clearly committed to do even more. Part of the Teach India initiative of Times of India there was a great spirit and very strong, passionate commitment.


They want more volunteers and need help in certain areas of resources, especially IT. If anyone feels they would like to help out, please let me know and I’ll pass on your contact details.

Here’s to many years of life changing success for Search Years.

Careful Editing Required

Newspaper editors do work in a hurry, but need to take care:

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

I caught this one in the Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible! They put in a correction the next day.

Here are some more:

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
(No, really?)

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
(Now that’s taking things a bit far!)

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
(What a guy!)

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
(No-good-for-nothing lazy so-and-so’s!)

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
(See if that works better than a fair trial!)

War Dims Hope for Peace
(I can see where it might have that effect!)

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
(Ya think?!)

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
(Who would have thought!)

London Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
(They may be on to something!)

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
(You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?)

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
(He probably IS the battery charge!)

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
(Weren’t they fat enough?!)

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
(Do they taste like chicken?)

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
(Chainsaw Massacre all over again!)

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
(Boy, are they tall!)

And the winner is….

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
(Well, Duuuunnhhh?!)

Thinking Schools for Thinking People

The article

I wanted to share this article, because it resonates so much with many of the things we are working on these days in The Shri Ram School. However, I take issue with one element – I want us to build an entire community of “mind gurus”, staff, students, parents rather than have people see it as somehow a set of elements that an “expert” will bring in. We have access to many of the 80 or so books by Tony Buzan, plus video and audio material. We also have access to material by other great thinkers such as Sir Ken Robinson, Edward de Bono, Malcolm Gladwell and many others.

I believe that together we can create a community of thinkers, far more sustainable than anything achieved because a couple of consultants come in from outside. This has to be in the best interests of our children and their long term futures. Learning about thinking, I believe is best done by processes of individual and collective discovery, trial and error – they cannot be ‘taught’, otherwise it simply becomes another body of knowledge, facts etc. to be conveyed from educator to pupil.

Creative Writing Fun

They say all great people can laugh at themselves – I’m about to find out how great our students are – can they laugh at themselves.?

The following bits of creative writing came out of a hilarious conversation with my son a couple of weeks ago that had us rolling around. We actually came up with 20 – 30 story examples, but here I’ve just written down two of them. Whilst my son was part of that conversation, i take full full responsibility for the end product.

Incidentally, I should also say that none of the characters portrayed are based upon any individuals though they might bear a vague similiarity to a few people around.

Of course, if anyone – parent, teacher or student wants to try their hand, you may also like to write something in a similar genre for contribution.

Noddy’s trip to the beach

“Big ears, why don’t we go to the beach in my car today? The weather’s so lovely. “

“Array, yaar Noddy. How can we go in your silly little car? It only has TWO seats. Where will the didi sit and where will she put all the water bottles, packets of Lays crisps in case one of us has gone more than 15 minutes without our essential food additives? You need to get an SUV, my friend.”

“But we won’t be driving on the beach, only on the roads“ replied Noddy.

“You still need an SUV, one with those big chrome shiny bars around the front – in case any peasants step in the road and get in the way. You know, those people who walk from place to place! And it has to have tv screens in it – how would we survive a journey of more than 15 minutes without TV?”

“Oh, those poor people! Fancy walking! Pass me that packet of Zour bombs, yaar.

The Famous Five (plus a couple) Go Camping

Rahul, Sandeep, Pinki and Lovely (and not forgetting Prince the pedigree dalmation), were very excited about going on camp. Didi rachita and didi archana were not so happy about going on camp, (but then it’s not their business to be happy!).

“Pack the Reeboks, you paghal. Not those other cheapo ones!” screamed Lovely at the long suffering rachita. “Sorry, didi,” she responded averting her eyes politely.

“Have you got batteries for my PSP?” queried Rahul. “I’m up to level 9 on Blood Lust 6. I’d just die if I had to go for two days without playing.”

“Uggh, you’re so gay,” laughed Sandeep. “I’m taking papa’s laptop and internet card so I can talk to my cousins in US on Facebook, yaar. Papa didn’t want to give it, but when I told him I would fail all my exams if he made me unhappy, then everything was OK. Olds are so lame.”

Pinki stamped her foot – “Just promise me this camp site has no dirt. Please, please promise me. I can’t stand dirt. And proper mirrors so i can do my make-up, otherwise I shall just die. And I need another suitcase now. These two are full. Where am I supposed to put all my shoes? This is horrible. Will there be A/C in this tent thing?
Lovely went in to a panic – “Where’s my i-phone? I haven’t spoken to Bubbly for half an hour. She’s gone to the mall this afternoon. I wish I’d gone to the mall. I can’t go on this camp. I have nothing to wear!”

Prince lay down in the corner, wondering whether anyone would remember to take him for a walk. Probably not, they all seemed very busy. ………………………..

Family involvement: what does the research say?

Continuing with a recent theme, I found some more interesting material relating to the link between school and home. On reading this one, my guess is all over India millions of voices will be raised to shout “We told you so”. Intuitively, Indian parents have always known that their high involvement levels in their children’s education makes a difference, especially in the early years. This article is interesting because I believe it gives us some interesting insights in to HOW it makes a difference.

TSRS has a long tradition of very open communication with the parent community. It’s something we feel is vitally important and if anything we are always seeking ways to take that to another level. Nobody is going to pretend that it’s easy. Sometimes it can be very challenging indeed. At those times we can see where the temptation comes for those schools who keep their parents at arm’s (or gate’s) length. Even this blog is a part of that process.Even when it’s difficult – it’s still worth it!!
What follows is the summary of the Harvard Family Research Project Report. There’s a link at the bottom for anyone who wants to read the longer version.

HGSE’s Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP)

Cumulative evidence from several decades of research points to several benefits of family involvement for children’s learning, including helping children get ready to enter school, promoting their school success, and preparing youth for college. Read the first in a series of research briefs examining family involvement across the developmental continuum, focused on family involvement in early childhood.


Family involvement can help children get ready to enter school. In the early childhood years, family involvement is clearly related to children’s literacy outcomes. For example, one study revealed that children whose parents read to them at home recognize letters of the alphabet sooner than those whose parents do not, and children whose parents teach them at home recognize letters of the alphabet sooner than those whose parents do not.

Family involvement can promote elementary school children’s success. For school-age children, family involvement is also important. Children in grades K–3 whose parents participate in school activities tend to have high-quality work habits and task orientation compared to children whose parents do not participate. Moreover, parents who provide support with homework have children who tend to perform better in the classroom.

Family involvement can help prepare youth for college. Family involvement matters in middle and high school—and beyond. Adolescents whose parents monitor their academic and social activities have lower rates of delinquency and higher rates of social competence and academic growth. In addition, youth whose parents are familiar with college preparation requirements and are engaged in the application process are most likely to graduate from high school and attend college.

Family involvement can benefit all children, especially those less likely to succeed in school. Family involvement has been shown to benefit children from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. For example, low-income African American children whose families maintained high rates of parent participation in elementary school are more likely to complete high school. Latino youth who are academically high achieving have parents who provide encouragement and emphasize the value of education as a way out of poverty.

(This is a .pdf file – you will need Adobe Reader or similar to open the file)

By Holly Kreider, Project Manager and Research Associate, Harvard Family Research Project.

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