The Continuing Bank Saga

Today, I am an almost excited man.

I’ve just seen a news headline that the particular bank that has become my nemesis (the one with the same letter three times in the name) has just been the busiest recruiter at IIM-Ahmedabad.

So, all my problems will now be over. Maybe soon i will even receive my bank card. Those who read the piece i wrote on 13th February will be aware I was having an itsy bitsy little problem trying to do something as simple as a replacement Debit/ ATM card from said un-named bank.

Well, the saga after the last i wrote was that i had requested the bank (after spending hours trying to navigate the labyrinth of the phone banking) to send the card again. I did receive phone calls on two occasions from the courier company. On both occasions arrangements were made for delivery at my home at 4.30pm and arrangements to guarantee that someone would be present to receive ……… but, it wasn’t necessary as nothing came. Now, it’s all been quiet for the last 9 days which probably means that I’m back to stage one. Dare I risk running the gauntlet of the phone banking again?

Or, shall i simply wait a little while and let the formidable brains of IIM-A to solve my problem? However, i fear that might take a while. First, someone will have to write a case study, then they will have to drink lots of coffee, stay up loads of nights and then may well propose that accounts like mine get closed as customers like me don’t represent a big enough profit margin (and he’s also a trouble maker).

Oh well, i guess this makes sure i don’t spend too much. But, everyone should know – your bankers really love you lots, and lots, and lots. Honest!!

The Power of Choosing

We all have choices about how we respond to what happens in our lives.

Wanted to share this wonderful piece of film which is about making empowering choices, refusing to give in to the tough things that may come in to our lives. it’s also about love and devotion.


The Value of Teacher Teamwork & Collaboration

An interesting article related to some new research highlighting very strong opinions held by teachers there that the more they collaborate, the better will be the quality of the education received by students.

Metlife Survey of American Teachers

The report highlights that traditionally, time for collaboration is more in primary than secondary education. It comes from America, where typically secondary school teachers have around 22 contact hours per week. This should be lessof an issue here in India, where the teachers in most of the better schools are not handling more than about 16 contact hours per week.

However, it begs some interesting questions;
a) Will teacher collaboration only happen if school management creates organised structures, regimes and processes?
b) To what extent should individual educators be able to argue for independence and autonomy in what happens in their classroom against an institutes desire to have teachers collaborate?
c) To what extent should teachers’ lessons be observed by others?

On this latter point, within TSRS we are increasingly coming to view that there are two different types of scenario where lessons may benefit from being observed. The first kind of observation is one done by a line manager, with a formalised, open and transparent reporting/ feedback process. These are about ensuring that the lessons in the school and the methodologies being adopted are congruent with school mission, values and policies – are we all singingin harmony?

The second type of lesson observation we want to encourage is the type where a peer-colleague as ‘friend’ sits in on lessons and then shares a two way exchange of ideas afterwards which is part of “us becoming the best we can be”. It is considered important that for complete trust these types of observations do not entail any formalised reporting to management.

However, this comes up against a hard reality – there is something in the nature of schools as environments that all too frequently makes teachers very cautious in sharing open, honest feedback about performance. In fact, that goes further – even Principals and line managers shirk away from drawing attention to weak performance out of (misguided) collegiate loyalty. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to;

Denver Post Article

So, here we have a survey where, confidentially, a whole mass of teachers are acknowledging they have colleagues who are doing a sub-standard job, and yet 99% of all teachers get ‘satisfactory’ or better ratings through a performance management system.

Of course, teachers don’t find a problem by and large with sharing frank, open feedback with the children in their classrooms, or their parents. So, why should it be so hard to apply the same standards to each other. Most teachers say they are frank with students because they want them to fulfil their potential – so can’t we do that for our peers too?

The final point that jumped out to me from the Metlife Survey was that only 42% of teachers reckoned that all or most of their students took their responsibility for education seriously, whilst 96% of students reckoned they did. Plainly a big mismatch in expectations and belief about what constitutes taking responsibility. Also, students have long felt the need to ‘pretend’ they don’t really care about academics. However, all too often the ‘devil may care’ image doesn’t match the real, behind the scenes effort they’re putting in – sometimes we need to trust them and recognise ‘the game’.

Parents Fostering Learning – The Obama Recipe

There may be many things on which i don’t see eye to eye with Barack Obama, but his latest recommendations for how to bring up children in ways that foster effective learning in school really struck a chord with me:

Obama Article

No TV on school days, bed by 8.30pm and 9.00pm for his 8 and 11 year old daughters. Their own alarm clocks and complete responsibility for getting themselves up in the mornings, full parental involvement and attendance at all PTA Meetings.

Such an impossible recipe? All makes a lot of sense to me.

NLP in Education

NLP, or Neuro Linguistic Programming, is a suite of activities and skills which are about increasing acuity  – the ability to understand how one’s own mind is working and how the minds of others are working. Only by developing such fine-grained skills can one aspire to build higher levels of rapport with others.

I have to confess to being a passionate advocate of NLP, right since i got my first training in the skills around 17 years ago. At that time i was a banker. I saw positive benefits in my leadership skills, ability to motivate and lead employees, relationship skills with clients – leading to stronger client relations, more referrals, more cross-selling and higher customer satisfaction ratings.

I also credit NLP techniques learned with improvements that happened in my presentation and public speaking skills around that time.

I have long believed there was a strong place for NLP skills for teachers and in schools. However, as this article from the UK Telegraph newspaper clearly shows it is plagued by simplistic criticisms, some of which have their roots in deep-held society views about “how children should be” and what is meant to happen in a school classroom.

Telegraph Article

When will there be a full acknowledgement that in education we are here to teach children, not to teach “stuff”. I have shuddered at times when i have sat in a teacher’s classroom (TSRS excluded, of course!), watching them ‘teach’ almost as though the students in front of them are completely invisible.

Does it matter whether or not a student has understood what their teacher or classmate has said? Who should it matter to? If you ask students whether they understood, might there be reasons why they may choose not to admit they didn’t understand? If so, how else but through strong conscious or unconscious awareness of sometimes very small clues in body language is a teacher to know whether a student understood?

Ultimately, if teachers care most about learning and less about ‘teaching’, then surely they will see it as a vital lifelong quest to add whatever they can to the tools and skills at their disposal that enable them to build higher rapport with individuals, groups – to understand better the working of their own mind, those of their learners (and also their parents).

Teachers are in the ‘human potential’ business – those who are not very interested in human beings might need to rethink their career choices!

Soccer League – Week 5

Lots of indications coming through from the school games coaches that the matches are getting ‘better’. Teams are getting to know each other, to understand their strengths and how to make the best of them. Playrs are finding their ideal playing position, so not switching around so much.

It may have been Valentine’s Day, but no love in some of these results!

Here are the results for Week 5:

Day – 5: (14th February 2010)

Classes : 2 & 3

Match – 1 : Mighty Warriors Draw Crusaders 1 – 1
Match – 2 : Western Express Beat Flying Dragons 2 – 1
Match – 3 : Dare Devils Beat Falcons 3 – 1
Match – 4 : Mountain Lions Draw Artic Wolves 2 – 2
Match – 5 : Power Strikers Beat Heros 1 – 0
Match – 6 : Gunners Beat Shooting Stars 4 – 2
Match – 7 : Super Stars Beat Golden Eagles 5 – 1

Classes : 4 & 5

Match – 1 : Blazers Beat Western Express 7 – 3
Match – 2 : Knight Riders Beat Crusaders 10 – 0
Match – 3 : Flying Dragon Beat Golden Eagles 3 – 0
Match – 4 : Mighty Warriors Beat Gunners 10 – 3
Match – 5 : Super Stars Beat Dare Devils 3 – 1
Match – 6 : Mountain Lions Draw Falcons 1 – 1
Match – 7 : Heros Beat Shooting Stars 3 – 1
Match – 8 : Artic Wolves Beat Power Strikers 1 – 0

Classes : 6 & 7

Match – 1 : Heros Beat Golden Eagles 6 – 5
Match – 2 : Artic Wolves Beat Crusaders 5 – 1
Match – 3 : Dare Devils Beat Gunners 7 – 2
Match – 4 : Falcons Beat Western Express 9 – 1
Match – 5 : Mountain Lions Beat Power Strikers 5 – 3
Match – 6 : Super Stars Beat Shooting Stars 7 – 6

Classes : 8 & 9

Match – 1 : Shooting Stars Beat Mountain Lions 5 – 1
Match – 2 : Power Strikers Beat Dare Devils 4 – 0

The ‘Real’ Inconvenient Truth on Education

About three months ago I wrote about the film being made by Sir David Puttnam in UK called, “We are the People We have Been Waiting For” taking an in depth and thoughtful look at the current state of education and what needs to change. It carried a Youtube video of the advnce trailer of the film.

David Puttnam Film

In that piece I suggested that some were calling that film the equivalent of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for education. Well, I guess we need to stop calling it that, on the basis that Davis Guggenheim, the Director of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has now made a film about the state of education in America which had its premier to strong reviews at the Sundance Festival recently. It’s called ‘Waiting for Superman’.

Here’s yet another country where intelligent, thoughtful people are ready to stand up and question what is being done in the name of education. In my view it’s vitally important that people engage in these debates everywhere.

Here’s an interview with the Director:

A Review of the film: Hollywood Reporter

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