The End Justifies The Means??

Schedule Rules Over Parents Vacations

Are Schools Violating Age Norms

Schools & Government Headed for Face Off?

So, you’ve collected Rs35,000CR in Educational Cess, you’ve passed groundbreaking legislation that claims to give the power of a quality education to every one of the 125 Crore children in your country. Then, suddenly you realise that your atrophied, ossified government infrastructure, mired in political game playing, is incapable of showing gains or material benefits.

What to do?

Well, judging by the little selection of news articles above there’s a potentially very neat solution for master politicians – shift attention to the private schools and portray them as the enemies of the people. Engage in unsubstantiated, vague suggestions that there’s a big difference between their costs and their revenues (it’s OK, you don’t have to prove anything, or show hard data).

Hey presto! Job done! When commentators suggest that you haven’t achieved your declared intent of social suffrage through education, it’s OK – you’re not to blame. It’s those devils in the private school sector. You know, those devils who invested crores of their own money to build schools, create education infrastructure. Those devils whose children just happen to top in everything, who have listened to the market and provided the education that upwardly mobile India craved for.

It’s all their fault!
(And don’t let that man Tooley and his ‘Beautiful Tree’ tell you any different!)

Teachers’ Code of Professional Ethics

Putting aside all the jokes about whether government should have focused on a few other groups for attention before teachers (politicians, civil servants etc), nevertheless, today’s Indian Express carried the following editorial, all about the new Professional Code of Ethics.

Indian Express Editorial

With a little digging around, I’ve been able to find the draft Code put out by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE):

Code of Professional Ethics

I’m a little mystified by the fact that this editorial only came out today, but the document suggests a consultation period of 15 days starting from 27th October 2010. Rather like the Right to Education Act itself, the Code starts out with very laudable aims. However, I feel it probably needs considerable debate, editing and refinement before the teaching fraternity of the country are asked to accept it as their own.

Whether you’re a teacher, an administrator, a parent or even a student you’re sure to have views on the content of the draft Code. I would love to hear people’s thoughts – to gather up ideas, thoughts and inputs with a view to sharing them with government in the hope that a worthwhile Code with universal support can emerge.

Broadening Experiences of Music

The school has recently entered in to a collaboration with the Lorraine Music Academy to bring a broader perspective to the musical experiences of our children. Music and its appreciation doesn’t just entertain. It also represents an extremely valuable process of learning and ‘tuning’ of the mind.

We live in an age when arguably the opportunities to be aware of, and appreciative of, music from all over the world has never been greater. However, we see too many children here in India whose awareness is still very narrowly based, especially when going beyond the Indian music (traditional and otherwise). The MTV generation tend, often, to believe that TV has exposed them to a broad, balanced flavour of international music. However, this is far from reality and as a result they are missing out on some incredibly rich and rewarding experiences.

We hope this collaboration will provide the broader perspective to bring this richness in to the lives of our children:

Lorraine Cutting

That ‘teacher performance’ Issue

Recently, I’ve carried a number of articles that have highlighted the complex issues associated with the whole arena of assessing the performance of teachers. This is a real and very genuine challenge. There are plenty in the education field who feel innately that they would wish to reward and recognise the high achievers, the excellent teachers to a far greater extent than has hitherto been possible.

There is also a thorny issue that many find hard to come out and acknowledge in public. If any profession keeps every person ‘for ever’ then, by implication, as well as including pockets of excellence, that profession will also be providing a safe harbour for the incompetent and sub-standard – those whose performance drags down the profession. This can have all sorts of implications. It can limit the desire for some highly talented people to move in to the profession. It can lead to a general diminution in effort across the profession (when he/ she and I are paid the same and given the same recognition, why should I expend extra effort or aspire to higher standards?). It can also diminish the reputation of the profession in the eyes of the public, who often may be inclined to judge by the lowest rather than the highest evidence they see. Finally, it diminishes the standing of those who lead in the profession because they are seen to be tolerant and accepting of mediocrity or even worse – implying that they don’t care enough about thew quality of outputs/ product.

So, for all these reasons, those who are serious in their desire for raising standards of professionalism in education cast around for potential solutions, ways to judge performance, ways to determine and recognise the performers and separate them from the crowd. However, as we’ve seen from some of the articles posted earlier this is a big challenge, fraught with far more difficulties and challenges than are first apparent. The following article really encapsulates all that can go wrong, however noble the starting intentions may have been:

New York Times Article

This piece is extremely well written. Thoughtful, balanced and perceptive. However, as I read it, a new thought came in to my mind. What if this and many other analyses are missing the point, because their focus is all on the outcomes and the ‘content’ of what’s being tested and how? After all, educators can hardly be blamed for this in a scenario where most of the education system has made itself obsessed with content and outcomes for the last 200 years, l;argely at the expense of deep thought and analysis about process.

The education process that a child goes through is going to have a fundamental impact on their whole life, economically, socially, psychologically, even spiritually. Further, the prevalent education paradigms are going to fundamentally shape society economically, socially, psychologically and even spiritually. When the impacts are potentially so vast, could we buy in to a school of thought that suggests that even an imperfect system that weeded out some of the ‘wrong’ people who shouldn’t be in education was infinitely better than no system at all.

Thus, we could say, sure, work to make the system the best it can possibly be for evaluating teachers’ performance, but accept its imperfections. Above all else, don’t allow leeway to those who suggest that no system should be allowed until it can be proved to be perfectly ‘just’ to every teacher. Imperfect or not, if the net effect is that the process is removing some wrong and bad people from classrooms where they shouldn’t be allowed to work that is in the best interest of the children, the profession and ultimately the entire education system (and therefore the country).

In a Machiavellian sense – will the end justify the means?

For a doctor to practice, the Hippocratic oath is deemed sacrosanct – do no harm. I suggest that the education profession will only be able to say that it is committed equally to ‘doing no harm’ when it is prepared to weed out, without emotion or sentimentality, those who should not be in education.

TSRS Completes the Double

After TSRS Aravali achieved the number 1 ranking in the Hindustan Times survey of Gurgaon schools a few months ago, it’s very pleasing to see that the other school (Vasant Vihar and DLF Phase III) achieved the number 1 rank for the hotly contested Southwest Delhi area, ahead of Vasant Valley at number 2:

Hindustan Times survey

Congratulations to all the staff, children and parents who make the TSRS community what it is – a strong, vibrant learning community.

I can now update this blog post further with the detailed newspaper clippings:

Well, We Never Expected THAT !!

Here’s a piece of news that didn’t seem to get reported nationally, b ut here picked up from the Bangalore edition of a newspaper. Just as we’re all reeling and figuring out how to accommodate EWS freeships to the tune of 25% up to age 14, the government has now come clean on something many of us had guessed would follow – they’re going to extend it to age 16:

DNA Bangalore article

Touching Base with Santa

The elves are picking up the pace by now, working feverishly so that all the deliveries to all the children are ready for the night of 24th December.

Here’s a really useful selection of internet links for those who want to track what santa and his elves are up to. Number 8 – the Norad Santa tracker is a particular favourite, always tracked and followed in our home on Christmas eve and Christmas Day to see where he’s been and where he’s going.

Christmas – Santa Link

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