Karamveer Chakra Winners

In our opinion, every Shri Ramite is a winner – but then we might be accused of being a bit biased.

However, here are some pictures of some true winners from the TSRS family. This week the i-Congo organisation held its annual awards function, recognising change makers in the society. This year saw a double celebration for the school. Firstly, Mrs Bharat Ram was recognised for her contributions to education.

Then, a group of our environmentally aware students were recognised with the Karamveer Chakra award for their selfless dedication to spreading environmental awareness and especially for their involvement in the Tiger Task Force and the projects to help the Ranthambore tribals to move away from poaching.

We’re really proud of these model citizen students who are making such a difference under the inspirational guidance of their teacher, Ms Madhu Bhatnagar.

Art Workshop – Tracy Lee Stum

Recently, a number of students (classes 9 to 12) from the Senior School had the opportunity to attend a fascinating workshop with the renowned American street artist, Tracy Lee Stum.

Kids and Media

This was an interesting, but very scary article from last week’s India Today about the current trends of children and media.

I wish more parents took these matters seriously. For one thing, it would make life a little easier for those of us parents who do care. There are few things harder to deal with than a child with a sense of injustice because they believe that all the other children are getting access to something that you’re not letting them access.

India Today article

An Inconvenient Truth for Education

There’s a full length feature film on the way from Sir David Puttnam that promises to make waves in Education, the way that ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, the Al Gore movie did for Environmental awareness.

A trailer from that film has been released and is, justifiably, starting to get increasing attention.

Sir David is also promoting a new international, UK-based organisation called ‘The Curriculum Foundation’. This is an exciting initiative that aims to rethink the kind of schools we offer to young people today.

This was something i talked about in Lucknow. In seeking to reform the Indian schools and the education delivered in them, we must be bold and ready to ensure that what we produce is right for the twenty first century – not some misguided idea to reproduce the same old schools of the past, and then think that we will reform from there. India has the chance to produce something unique and lead the world, being less saddled with legacy systems and entrenched ways of doing things. The Indian IT and BPO industries have shown what is possible when working from such a position.

I believe it’s time we engage in a debate with all people taking part (not just the educators) on what a 21st Century Curriculum for India should look like. The one given, in my view, is that it should focus on the skills and competencies to be developed and not the knowledge to be accumulated. We have to acknowledge that we don’t even know precisely what knowledge a young person will need to have 10 years from now and certainly not beyond that.

Check out the film trailer – I think it’s quite inspiring, exciting and can be a real trigger for meaningful change. I can’t wait for the release of the full length film. We are the people we’ve been waiting for……….:

Vidya Comfort New School

For those who read the earlier blog about the SUPW pilot project, will know this is happening at the new Vidya Comfort School in Phase III, Gurgaon.

Yesterday evening, just back from Lucknow I had the opportunity to attend the Inauguration of the school coupled with Vidya’s celebration of 25years since its founding. Guest of Honour was Mr Salman Khurshid and our good friend Rajesh Khullar, Municipal Commissioner of Gurgaon was also present.

The students, mostly from the bridge programmes in Delhi put up a dance show and there’s only one word to adequately describe it – WOW!! To think that many of these students have returned to education after dropping out! They had great choreography, energy, an incredibly high standard and sheer joy in what they were doing. The audience rightly gave the children a standing ovation at the end of the performance.

Vidya has interesting times ahead as it moves from old ways of working to running its own school. However, they have a passionate, dedicated team under the visionary leadership of Mrs Rashmi Mishra and i’m sure that the school will become a beacon for what can be achieved in terms of education for those coming from less-privileged backgrounds. I wish them all the best and assure that where we can help we will be there for them.

Resource for Teachers

I came across this link and thought it was worth sharing as a great resource for teachers to tap in to:


Awesome Library

Lucknow Management Association

I was privileged to be invited to speak on friday amongst a formidable array of experts in the education field at a one-day conference at the Lucknow Management Association, entitled “Leveraging the Demographic Dividend Through Quality Education – The way Forward”.

Whilst there was a lot of good deliberation and a fair amount of consensus on the need for change, the areas that need attention etc. it was probably a bit light on the way forward.

It was a great networking opportunity and i certainly met some fascinating people with whom i will look to collaborate for the school in the future.

Design for Giving

The judging for the Design for Giving Contest is over and the results have been announced.

Congratulations to all the children in schools that made the list of the best 100 projects. TSRS had four projects recognised and this reflects some great work, creativity and effort by all the students and teachers involved.

Results

Perhaps more important than the accolades, ‘winning’, prizes etc. the real winners from this competition have been the thousands of children who got to experience what it is to be the change you want to see.

Unique New SUPW Initiative

In our quest to seek to innovate, the management in the school agreed up to 2 years ago that we were not wholly satisfied with the benefits that were coming out of students’ involvement in SUPW (Socially useful Productive Work). This is a mandated part of all children’s learning in ICSE and ISC schools. It requires children to spend some time understand the challenges in life for those less fortunate and contributing in some meaningful way to improving the lot of others.
We were pretty clear that there were some faults in the old approach which saw our students goingon an out-station trip where they would engage in some ‘labour activity’ such as building a water tank for a few days, stay in very basic accommodation and then return to their cozy comfortable lives relatively untouched by the whole experience.
a)Firstly, we felt that SUPW is nothing if just treated on the basis that a student must ‘put in’ a set number of hours.
b)Secondly, we wanted, in the long term, for students to have access to a far bigger array of choices about how they help others according to what really interests them -not just a ‘one size fits all’ project.
c) We wanted an involvement that stretched over a longer period of time, so that the student would be more immersed in the experience and would feel more attached to the project.
d) To satisfy the other requirements and also to ensure that students are really aware that life challenges exist for many right in their own, home environment, we wanted to engage them in projects which are local.
Over a year ago the senior School Principals wrote to a variety of NGOs offering the services of our young, vibrant, enthusiastic students to make a contribution to their activities. The result – complete silence from the NGO’s. For a short while we scratched our heads as we tried to work out why they hadn’t responded with unbridled enthusiasm. Eventually, the penny dropped and we realised that the thought of receiving 30-40 school age youngsters, being responsible for putting them to work gainfully, supervising them, keeping discipline and ensuring their safety.
So, what to do next? Should we just give up on the goals and settle for status quo? Fortunately, a meeting with some senior executives from the company GE suddenly brought new possibilities. They have an in-house CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme under which employees of their company become GE volunteers. The idea that came to us was all too simple – why not put a group of students under the guidance and mentorship of a corporate volunteer? Now, the mentor volunteer gets a new and different experience as they can multiply up the value of their time contribution through the students. And, the NGO’s concerns are addressed because responsibility, student management and discipline are all looked after.
We decided to start with a pilot project working with an organisation with which both TSRS and GE already had ties – The Vidya Comfort School. Vidya Comfort have just made the daunting leap to their own purpose built campus coming up in DLF Phase III. Eventually, it will have the capacity to cater to 1,000 students. The school is in its first year.
With their typical enthusiasm and ‘can-do’ spirit Vidya jumped at the chance to work with us on this and so, two weeks ago the pilot started. A group of students under their corporate mentors are visiting the school twice a week, getting involved with teaching the children. In time, there will be opportunities for those who want to get involved with other aspects of helping the school to get itself in shape.
If the pilot works we will look to replicate the programme with other NGOs and other corporate. I would love to hear from parents who are with either NGOs or Corporates that they think might want to be a part of this in the future.
Over time, i’ll report further on how the programme is progressing.

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The Merits of Tough Love

An interesting article from the BBC about a new piece of research coming from the think tank ‘Demos’ that clearly shows the merits of hands on parenting and ‘tough love’ approaches.

This should be read as a massive wake up call by the parents who have convinced themselves that laissez-faire parenting is somehow ‘modern’, emphasising the merits of not stifling the child. We know who they are – the parents whose children run amok in restaurants turning a potentially enjoyable trip out in to a nightmare for every other diner. They are the parents who figure that any compromises inherent in having your child brought up by a maid are all justifiable.

Tragically, too many parents don’t always want to hear what educators have to say on such subjects because what we say is uncomfortable, inconvenient and faces them with a stark reality that their self-centredness is leading them to make too many compromises, too many excuses in the pursuit of their own upward mobility or other personal goals.

Recently, we had an Open Day in the school. In an elementary classroom children had made a tree on which they had attached little paper messages of things they woulfd like their parents to know. As I read them my heart went out to these young children. Such a large proportion of the messages related to how much they want parents’ time – not for elaborate purposes, but just to BE together. They told of how hurt they feel when mummy and daddy go out a lot, go out without them, leave them with others etc.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched parents approach the tree. They would read a couple of the notes, mutter to each other and then walk away shaking their heads. Inconvenient truths?

The reality is that we can’t ‘do’ tough love if we barely spend time with our children. We can’t ‘do’ tough love if we are inconsistent, contrary, operating from a guilt mindset which means we give in to every childish whim and demand. I firmly believe, most of the time when children make ‘unreasonable demands’ on parents they actually WANT you to say ‘No’ deep down – to prove that you’re there, being a consistent, guiding force in the shaping of their young lives. They want us to show that we stand for something, that there are some fundamentals in life which should be non-negotiable.

The other great value to come out of this research, in my opinion, is a continuation of a growing recent trend which acknowledges that the development of ‘Character’ actually matters in a person’s scope for long term success. Somehow, character lost out for a time in favour of ‘personality’.

BBC Article

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