Student Motivation

Teaching Channel Video – Kathleen Cushman
(Unfortunately, the code for embedding the video here doesn’t seem to be working. So, right click on the link above and open the page in a new tab or window. Then, you can watch the 6 minute video there)

I came across a very useful resource for educators today –

On this video, the speaker, Kathleen Cushman, has some really interesting insights in to methods and ideas that lead to the development of real Twenty First Century skills for students, in a high motivation environment. I was particularly interested by her idea that when students see their teachers collaborating, they are more likely to adapt to collaborating positively as well.

I liked what I was hearing about student choice, doing something that matters in the adult world and student agency. Also, the eight conditions of being a learner are a useful starting point for assessing the value of many student learning experiences.

In the video, she makes reference to a number of things happening at a school called High Tech High. Some of these are referenced in the other videos accessible through the links at the bottom of the video screen that all relate to the ‘Deeper Learning’ series. The one on ‘Tiny House’ is particularly worth watching.


Happiness, success, a good life – these are best found through a life of meaning, a life with a purpose. With good reason, I once entitled a Graduation Speech – ‘What is My Why?’

So, today, I thought I’d share this very good, practical, step by step process for determining one’s purpose that I came across a while ago. There are many similar processes around. Which one you choose doesn’t really matter half as much as that you actually put in the effort to do the hard thinking, opening up to possibilities and stilling the voice of nagging doubt that can so easily blind many to their true purpose.

Then, what the article doesn’t say, but is really quite obvious – the objective of the exercise isn’t some beautiful ideas on paper. None of this is worth anything, unless we follow up with action – as much as it takes.

How To Find Your True Purpose In Three Days or Less

Here’s to a life lived ‘on purpose’ in 2016

Elon Musk – Innovator

A very interesting video – an interview that Elon Musk gave to Chinese TV, In it he talks about many things; handling risk, increasing the odds of a successful new business and his plans for SpaceX and Tesla.

For me, the most interesting parts come towards the end of the interview – firstly, his concerns that standard school wasn’t giving his five children what they needed as preparation for life (so he launched a school) and his core philosophy behind all that he does – “Am I being useful?”

There’s also a very valuable and important lesson for today’s young in there – cooking the meal may be the part that you really enjoy, the part that you want to do and that gives you pleasure. However, the kitchen still has to be cleaned up and there’s no getting away from those tasks. You can’t have one without the other.

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.




‘Design for Giving’

With thanks and appreciation to all the staff who worked so hard to make a success of the meeting for Principals and the Press Conference. Turnout was a bit on the low side with fears of swine flu etc. However, the enthusiasm levels made up for any lack of guests.

Design for Giving is, undoubtedly, capturing the imagination of many children and that interest level will continue to grow in coming weeks.

My thanks to Gayatri Chaliha, teacher of Vasant Vihar campus for the report of the meeting below.

Ms. Kiran Bir Sethi
Founder/Director, Riverside School, Ahmedabad which is promoting
the School Design for Giving Contest
Ms. Sethi spoke with great feeling and enthusiasm about the nationwide Design for Giving Contest that has been initiated by the Give India Foundation. Through a short and simple video clip she demonstrated the feeling of joy that stems from an act of giving, however small and seemingly inconsequential …
Design for Giving is about formulating
In this endeavour, children are the agents of change. Children can be the change they would like to see … and be changed in the process because, as she says, one cannot give without changing. Everything done under this programme has to stem from the children – what problems do they see around them that they would like to do something about? How would they go about finding solutions for these ‘problems’? … She inspired the children and brought home to them the fact that they do not have to be 18 years of age, or rich or powerful be able to act and give (this contest is open to the 10-13 years age group).

Explaining the procedure involved, the STEPS of the process were outlined and they are : –

The ‘solutions’ referred to above should have the following features:
 They should impact large numbers of people
 The ideas should be fresh and original. The word Ms. Sethi used was ‘audacious’ ideas!
 It should be over within 1 week (Whether this is something that the school or children would like to take forward for longer is a different issue)
 Need to note how you are changed by the change you have wrought

All stories of change are to be submitted by October 15th, 2009. The winner will receive the award from Dr. Kalam on Children’s Day.
Apart from the tremendous impact of an endeavour of this magnitude (the toolkit for registration itself is in about 7 languages as it involves schools across the country!) Ms. Sethi elaborated upon her attempt to give this another more lasting direction. The stories that will be born out of the Joy of Giving Week will be converted into a curriculum (also in 7 languages …) so that others can learn from these stories, be inspired and hopefully, carry this movement forward.
In the end there was a video of what some children from the Riverside School set out to do and accomplished – and it was a revelation! From the number of stakeholders that just … multiplied to include the rest of the school to parents as well, to the happiness and levels of energy generated amongst the children, those giving and those receiving …


Actor, Activist and Brand Ambassador for the School Design for Giving Contest
Mr. Rahul Bose had the assembled audience, especially the children, riveted from the word ‘go’ – and we all know how hard that is with children especially this age group!! He spoke their language – in more ways than one.
Mr. Bose begun first by sympathizing with the children, appreciating how they must feel at that moment – like so much cattle herded into the hall, and how unappealing the subject under discussion must be to them … He had felt the same, he said, when involved forcefully in SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work) which had been the equivalent, when he was in school (and many of us staff as well, if we care to recall), of what was being attempted by this contest. However, as it had yielded neither the all-important “marks” nor was a requisite for graduating to the next class, he had found it boring and uninspiring.
He proceeded then, to two stories gleaned from his experience of travelling through the country, one about the lack of communication facilities on one of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands devastated by the tsunami because of which they could not be informed of what was to come, and the second about two former IIT students who, while travelling in Bihar, came across a village which had no water, and begun an endeavour that involved digging a canal and went on to starting a school, etc. These two pioneers were shot to death, finally, for the simple reason that they were lent helping hands by people who were experiencing the joy of giving and doing to the extent that they forgot about the differences of religion and caste between them, and that was not acceptable to the political forces active there as they banked on these very differences for their survival …
In the manner of the Panchatantra and Jataka Stories, he used these stores as analogies to show to the children and Principals/ teachers present that had he been allowed, when in school, to choose what he would like to do with the one hour of SUPW time, and how he would like to go about doing something useful and productive for others – he would have done something about the situation described in the stories above. And it would not have been so meaningless then … What was therefore unique about the School Design for Giving Contest is that it gave the children that choice. “The brilliant part of all of this is – there are NO RULES!” he told the children. It was all up to them. And if they really did feel, then the ‘imagine’, ‘do’ and ‘share’ would follow. However, if they did not feel, then there was no point getting involved. Too often education is focused only at the head and not the heart, but this experience could change all that …
The Home work he set for the children was to try harming someone the next day, and also try helping some one, anyone. And to “compare and contrast” the differences!! Helping, they would be sure to find, would be a great feeling that would make their “hearts big and strong” – a feeling like no other. That is what the “Joy of Giving” is all about.
He sympathized with the Principals present regarding the vastness of the curriculum they had to get through in the year and the concomitant problems of that. Yet, he made an appeal to them – “If not now, WHEN? If not us, then WHOM?”
The “two Indias” were brought into the discussion – the one represented in the hall by children who … were not poor and did not have to worry about the next meal, and those who were not as fortunate and had to worry about every and indeed any meal. He spoke of the 100 million such children, around the same age as those in the hall, and appealed for even the smallest deed that could benefit them in any way.
Perhaps the most important message conveyed in Mr. Bose’s speech was that of magnitude. The message was that the magnitude of the act envisaged, or how far-reaching or sustainable it might be – these were not to be considered for this endeavour. It was important just to make a start, however small. And the ‘small’ would all add up and contribute in our attempt to turn around the fate of our people and our country, now likened to a gigantic rock fast making its way downhill, to make it simple for the children. He said in his own lifetime, it might not be possible to see the rock stopped. Just to slow down its journey downhill would be an achievement. The children, though, might have the good fortune to be instrumental in not just stopping the descent, but also turning it around on a path uphill
In the question and answer session in the end, when asked what did become of the two stories he had spoken of, Mr. Bose informed us that in Bihar, although the canal had been dug, was operational and the village did have water, the other projects, the school and toilets for women had been stalled. And as far as the Islanders were concerned, Mr. Bose’s organization had helped fund mobile phones for them …


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