India @ 75

When I was at TSRS one of my most memorable privileges came in late 2007 when we had the privilege to host the visit of the late C.K Prahalad who addressed the senior students and staff. His theme that day was his project on India @ 75. He did me the honour of mailing me a copy of his powerpoint presentation afterwards.

On that day he spoke for close to an hour and took questions from the floor for another half an hour as he laid out a vision of what India has the potential to be and achieve by 2022. This wasn’t some pollyannish pie-in-the-sky, but reasoned economic argument accompanied by the caveats and warnings about what will need to change in the country if the potential is to be realised.

Not surprisingly, education, both academic and vocational and on a massive scale and with new and innovative thinking figured highly in his priorities. Over tea and coffee afterwards he acknowledged to me that one of the risks already evident was what he termed “Affluenza” – an infection of those who have already ‘made it big’ in the country and their family members. Instead of innovating and continuing to strive in the way that lead them to achieve, they rest on their laurels, focused on preservation of their elite status instead of playing their part in raising the benefits for the entire population. He was also cautionary about the social, political and economic risks if the country fails to grasp the opportunity and move ahead. I can’t help thinking that if he had not passed away in 2010 he would have been less than excited about what’s happened in the 6 years since he set out that vision.

I was interested to see that there has been a major drive in the last week to take the India @ 75 concept forward with a big launch held in Mumbai with the backing of some figures from business and film industries:

Indian Express Article on India @ 75 Launch

Ultimately, this is an idea that can catch on, but it will be nothing without the commitment across the population to a more ethical, moral approach towards progress and a common shared understanding that active citizenship is incompatible with using all means, fair and foul, to grab the biggest slice of the cake for oneself. To be a true citizens movement people will need to learn to act as citizens.

here are two videos of CKP setting out the broad outline of his concept;

Webinar on 1 : 1 Learning

This is a follow up and some more resource for all who were interested in the article i wrote about a week ago about technology in the classroom

I think it deals effectively with the potential benefits, without being unrealistic and also talks honestly about some of the challenges that have to be overcome.

One of the most important messages – the classroom is still very much about personal communication and technology isn’t going to change that.

The Contemplative Leader

An excellent short video from Bluepoint Leadership:

Parent-Teacher Communication

There is now a large weight of evidence that tells us clearly that we should never underestimate the significance of the school/ teacher – parent relationship in terms of its potential impact on a child’s learning success in school (and even the attitude that the child carries in to adult life towards the pursuit of learning). One of the most important elements in this relationship in today’s schools is the parent-teacher meeting. However, as we all know, this is all too frequently a disappointing and frustrating experience for both parents and teachers. It can also be the cause of a great deal of anxiety for both (and for some children).

This article highlights one very critical factor – the ‘ghost in the classroom’ – the past experiences, positive or negative in school and classrooms that impacts on parents’ and teachers’ ability to have an effective adult to adult dialogue about the child as an individual learner and how, together they can best support that child’s learning and development;

Mindshift Article – Getting the Most Out of Parent – Teacher Conference

On the ‘ghost in the classroom’ issue, I even once met with a parent for whom the school Head’s office held such bad memories that when he sat with me his hands were visibly shaking. To put him at ease, so that we could have a sensitive and productive meeting, I took him outside and we walked around the school grounds – where he immediately relaxed.

Regrettably, what I’ve seen in far too many schools is that the PTM gets treated as a necessary evil, an administrative burdensome task that has to be got through/ survived. In some schools lots of ‘busy’ activity is created that distracts the children and their parents.

One of the sad results is that by the time children reach about class 6 the attendance of parents drops off considerably and the level of interest or expectation from PTMs diminishes. Then, it often picks up again starkly for classes 9 onwards, but then all discussion is based entirely on how an extra few percentages of achievement in standardised tests can be squeezed out of the child, how they can be ‘made’ to work harder. Then, this gets accompanied by a bit of discussion about university admissions opportunities. There tends to be very little that is ‘holistic’ about the discussions – which is, to me, an acknowledgement that there’s nothing very holistic about the education at that stage.

The article shares links to some interesting resources, not only useful for parents who want to get the best out of such meetings with their child’s teacher, but also of great use for teachers and those who train them. As the article quite rightly points out, not enough time is given in most schools to training teachers to carry out this vital part of their work to the highest standards. More training in this area undoubtedly brings higher levels of confidence, enabling the teacher to believe that he/ she will be effective in getting across their professionalism, the sense that they and the parent are on the same side working in the interest of the child and that these conferences are something to value, not to dread.

The article also touches on the debate that goes on about whether or not the child should be part of the meeting. My personal belief is that they should. In a corporate and leadership environment I was always taught that HR and performance appraisal meetings with employees should always work on a ‘no surprises’ principle. The same should apply here. If the child is present there shouldn’t be anything that’s being said by parent or teacher that comes as a surprise to them. Instead, they will quickly come to understand that this is a form of ‘teamwork’ committed to them being able to put in their best effort and learn most effectively.

Raising Motivation to Learn

Nice short article from Mindshift with six thought-provoking little ideas for teachers to consider when they want to increase motivation to learn in the classroom;

Mindshift Article

If students are disengaged or not motivated, as educators we have to look to our teaching practice first – what am I doing that is contributing to the undesirable state of affairs? What might I try to see if i can raise motivation levels?

Getting in to UK Universities

Here’s an article that sheds light (though not much of it) on the opaque process of getting university admissions in UK;

The guardian – What Do Universities Want?

Clearly different countries have different issues and they’re only going to get worse as the role of higher secondary formal examinations as the filter for access to top-quality higher education has almost broken down. Whether it’s the vast numbers in UK achieving A grades or the numbers of students in India scoring above 90% – a major rethink is needed.

How far might we be from a comprehensive all-around continuous competency based assessment regime that actually takes a balanced view of what a student can do and how they apply themselves?

On the issue of statements of purpose, anecdotally I’ve been told that they do still count for a lot in a large proportion of institutions. I’ve also been told that those who read them can tell the generic ones, bought and paid for and will always favour those which are clearly personally prepared by the student.

Digital School – The Student Perspective

Here’s a well written piece by a student, giving her perspective on the experience of attending a ‘virtual’ online school from home. She gives a very balanced appraisal of what she sees as the pros and cons;

Getting Smart – Digital Learning Article

Personally, I don’t believe this necessarily represents the future for the vast majority of students. instead, I see far greater potential in hybrid models that would enable students to achieve the best aspects of online self-paced learning combined with the best aspects of social and intellectual interaction face to face in a school environment.

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