GOLDEN TIPS ON HOW TO BE A GREAT TEACHER

Golden Tips on How to be a Great Teacher

by Usha Pandit

Here are sImageome lessons you never learnt at the Teacher Training College:

1. Go with the nature of the child. Let your class be active and explorative; encourage curiosity and imagination; be playful, and inventive. Success lies in going with the natural flow of the child.

 

2. Do not explain lessons. Let children discover concepts by observation, hypotheses, and experiment and then seek clarification and confirmation from you. Their brains were designed to explore.

3. Model creativity by approaching lessons in different and unexpected ways, so that you catch their attention every time. Predictability kills interest.

4. Model risk-taking by letting kids have a go at unseen topics by providing them with some thinking strategies. This creates fearlessness for the unknown.

5. Give them choices in their assignments and celebrate the variety of expressions that emerge from the same lesson. This display of plural possibilities layers the mind with exponential creative ideas.

6. Share your own learning journey with them so that they can see how it matches their own learning confusions and problems, and know they can overcome them like you did.

7. Sometimes, be fallible, be vulnerable and apologize too, as it shows them that false pride should not be valued over honesty. It models humility and raises your stature in their eyes.

8. Value teacher time and do not give too many worksheets in class where you do not spend real contact time with the children. Teacher time is precious. Preferably, let them learn on their own and do “homework” with your assistance.

9. Don’t be overly mean or overly generous with your remarks on their assignments. Let honesty rule, but gently. Children are alert to false praise; and become immune to judgemental sarcasm or inane aphorisms. Self-preservation is a strong instinct that will deny you access to their minds.

10. Show them you are on their side when they fail. Emphasize the ‘we’ in the message ‘We will put it together soon’. This creates confidence in solving what seemed to them to be insurmountable problems and increases their bonding with you.

11. Every conflict is an opportunity for the teacher to model a life value to children. Use it wisely to create wisdom with lessons that are not available in textbooks. Observe, listen and be engaged with them. Be eager to provide life-enhancing and life-supporting lessons.

12. Enable a feedback session for children’s academic and creative products where peer criticism is constructive and collaborative. This creates a support system among peers; and shared ownership of their products.

13. Know that the classroom belongs to the child and you are there because of him/her. Make sure your voice is heard only to provide cue questions that will trigger the child’s thinking and learning process. Children must own their classrooms.

14. Be passionate about your subject. Passion is infectious. It ignites and sparks interest in passive minds. Your class will reflect your animation or your dullness.

15. For children to know that you genuinely care about their learning, you need to demonstrate it in your planning and facilitation, in remembering their doubts, in talking to them about your dreams for them. You can then demand anything of them and they will give with love.

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Things They Don’t Teach You At School

Things They Don’t Teach You At School

Early in life you learn what stress is about because schools have demanded knowledge and skills beyond your brain readiness and your helpless parents have passed on a crippling anxiety into your tiny mind.

If you crossed that hurdle, comparisons by both your ‘loving’ parents and the teacher, have together made you feel inadequate and troubled for not being up to the class level.

They – all adult stakeholders- teach you through example to take short cuts to reach an exam or test, that the teacher is always right – that power is about trampling the little people, that authority is to be obeyed without question, and that injustice cannot be fought.

Your answers are required to reflect the textbook or notes given to you, so you don’t know what ‘original’ means. They don’t value resourcefulness and ingenuity in the projects you do, hence they teach you not to value them. Malpractices encouraged with rewards because there is laziness in those who evaluate assignments or keep their convenience above probity – show you that there is much to gain in buying one’s credits.

They teach you that people at the top can be unreasonable and unfeeling, but they should be feared, that one might feel upset at what one perceives as unfair but one must smile and shower false praise. That success is about creating exclusivity. That safety is in relinquishing one’s dignity and voice.

They don’t teach you how to stand alone and be comfortable with it, they don’t aid you in creating a personal value system that will give you balance, equanimity and peace, they don’t teach you that all people are unique and special.

They don’t tell you through example that respect, compassion and resilience are the biggest virtues you can acquire in this world.

You have no idea when to speak and when to hold your tongue, or how to seek help appropriately or how to patiently wait to hear the viewpoints of another, or to know that not to express an opinion does not alter the fact that you have one.

They don’t teach you how to fix a fuse, how to cook a light health meal, how to manage your finances, or what the basics of law are for understanding your rights, or how to have a routine workout for good health.

You learn about the human body in detail, but they don’t dwell enough on the diseases that will visit you in middle age because of habits you are forming at present.

They do not teach you to write letters that are worded well enough to get your through a negotiation, a persuasion, a proposal. You strain to learn languages that you will eventually hate because you have not learnt them pleasurably through songs and conversations, jokes and films. They have not used history to discuss human foibles and aspirations or geography to celebrate spaces and cultures or science to create curiosity in everything or math to marvel at the magnitude of scales.

They don’t teach you that the value of women in a society is the measure of its culture. They don’t teach you the difference between infatuation and love or the responsibility of relationships, they fight shy of sex education.

They don’t teach you integrity in recompensing without hesitation when you have not delivered, or of keeping your word in all circumstances, or the art of saying no, or the obligation of conveying refusal.

They teach you art but not the dress sense to be attired aesthetically, they try to make you a musician or a dancer or a sportsman but do not give you enough exposure to simply appreciate these for future leisure.

They are busy teaching you all that you can learn on your own and all the stuff that is already there – at the flick of a mouse on the net. They have developed neither curiosity nor wonder about the world you live in because you have spent your youth, not observing, exploring or creating value in the world, but sardined in tutorials all days of the year cramming facts into your overheated brain for a short –term benefit and a long-term meal ticket. You do not believe there is any other way out, so the law of unknown possibilities that should free you, will never be yours.

They shape your beliefs, values, choices, and perspectives to ensure a mute and obsequious compliance. You begin to view money and power as ultimate requirements for a fulfilled life. You lose the power to choose because you have lost the ability to think independently, because that was never allowed.

In small and big ways, by acts of commission and omission, by direct threats and implied value judgements, schools – nay adults, recreate their own worlds wanting it to be peopled by their own images, even as they collectively denigrate and “seek” betterment. They teach hypocrisy.

There are exceptions of course. Hope your school is one.

LUST FOR POWER – THE SOLE FORCE THAT DRIVES HUMAN LIFE

 

ImageHuman beings live for power – the one force that drives them is power over everybody else if they can achieve it. Every other emotion, motive, intention, goal is a camouflage to conceal the inherent need for power. We see it in mundane quarrels when children compete and call it ‘play’, to the vicious machinations of war-mongering Godfather countries when they call it ‘peace keeping’.

I had a white colleague, who once expressed her contempt for Indian women who walked behind their husbands with their heads covered… I remember saying to her, ‘darling you have no idea what power those apparently docile Indian women wield over their men…the guy will never leave her for a 100 beauties, whereas your women worry even after 30 years of marriage about being ousted by a trophy wife. So some kinds of power are not always packaged as confidence or even as economic independence.

Indian men are suppressed like crazy and so are women. It’s the old wielding power over the young by taking full advantage of the culture card where age in India is revered. It has also effectively suppressed natural hormonal urges in the young in the name of morality and culture, to ensure they don’t have what we didn’t get. Age has been handed the highest offices to be run in the name of ‘experience’ and they are above blame and chastisement because they are …well.. old.

ALL men- white, black, brown, yellow…. love docile women though none will admit to it. Docile is often couched in phrases like ‘someone who will love me’.. ‘understand me’.. ‘take care of me’ etc.  In all cultures men have held power in their own ways… socially..morally.. through religion…tradition…political, workplace monopoly… etc….. No need to single out one single race …it’s a gender dominance thing. The Taliban is an example of the ugly fundamentalist face of this power gone mad.

Knowledge is power and people have used it selectively to boost their lot and keep it safe from competition in the name of caste and birth. Again religious cards have been played to ensure there would be no revolt. Education is competition, which means getting ahead and being at the top by all and every means, including loss of childhood.

Children are vulnerable and helpless so it is easy to condition them socially and emotionally and sow the seeds of prejudice in their little hearts. This is often done in the name of ‘culture’ and  ‘education’. Their sexual conditioning happens in moral science classes and in their lack of proper sex education. We ensure power over the next generations by devious methods of Huxlian type of mind control. Cripple their minds or confuse them and they wont revolt.

Corruption is the name for power that one group exercises over another – who find themselves in a state of political, economic, legal, situational helplessness. It is also the flip side of the coin where people use dishonest means to rise to positions of power to suppress the rest. It is a vicious cycle of give and take in order to rule. A macabre game of musical chairs where power is the stake.

Religion is the name for power through mass social conditioning. It is anchored on, and taps into hope, fears, blind faith in devotees, even with the promise of gain in the after life.  The keepers of the keys to the house of God have consistently wielded economic, social and political power in the name of the other world. In some places they cannot be distinguished from the face of terrorism.

Commerce is the power of money which is called ‘business’ and frees the man to exploit, undercut, grab, squeeze as his position in time and history permit him to do. The range goes from the bartering of toys on children’s playground to the economic embargos on the political playground.

Love comes in a variety of hues. Love is the name of the power that is held by the beautiful, the intelligent, the successful, the manipulative, the lustful, the cruel, the criminal etc. Love of God being the most amorphous and intangible power is the most loudly expressed one, among loves. It is a love that allows the devotee to bask in reflected light of the highest source of power. Power empowers – as does charity – even when it is personal and private.

Power rules. It is not always blatant as in dictators who have crushed through genocide or the arrogant and irresponsible use of natural and animal resources.  Race, gender, economies, commerce, cultures vie for power and it is often manipulated in latent and surreptitious language and behaviour, thus rendering it benign to those who take it at face value. Sometimes you just have to scratch the surface at other times you have to dig deep. Always, at the bottom POWER lies like a foundation stone to the edifice of all that we are apparent in human life.

TONGUES IN BOOKS

TONGUES IN BOOKS…..

I have never sought to be like someone else. I have celebrated who I am and it has sometimes been construed as arrogance.  I believe we all have a basic nature that is made of the four humours which are not in balance, but in certain proportions that decides whether we are sanguine, choleric, bilious, phlegmatic or subtle combinations of these in particular and various situations.

Equanimity is what I have sought in life so that at times through the struggles and strife that often times visit me, I have endeavoured to be in a state of peace. I have tried to keep the still centre even as the whirlpool around threatens destruction. The other big philosophy that has kept me intact is the wisdom of ‘This too shall pass’ – so that neither joy nor sorrow throws me into a state of intoxication or despair.

Sharing favourite pieces from my collection of Literature of Reflection. They have always given me solace and strength in times of anger and distress. They instill a calm, a wisdom, a spirit and courage that is inspiring.

There is heredity, and then there is learning. Learning must go on, on an ongoing basis. A steep curve sometimes, a gentle one at others, but I strive to make sure that the climb is with joy because I have decided that it should be joyous.

 ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Image

‘Desiderata’ by Max Erhmann

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Letter to his son’s Teacher by Abraham Lincoln

In school, teach him it is far more honorable to fall than to cheat…..
Teach to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him he is wrong.
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone getting on the bandwagon…

I AM IMAGINATION

IMAGINATION

I sing to sun struck butterflies

On flowery brooks, of verdant skies,

Of rain filled melodies and plaintive sighs

I spin golden yarns of humming fields

I conjure streams of rainbow trees,

And dream up strains of perfumed breeze

I streak through clouds on forgotten lores

On starry seas and satin shores

On sailing moons with silver oars

I fly to groves of gloaming dunes

In unknown lands of tides and tunes

I drink from founts of dancing hues

Dappled darkness. Fragrant light.

Tricky time and truant space

Are mine to rule and mine to bait.Image

I am Imagination.

Unbegotten yet.

Imagine me.

THE CONSPIRACY OF MEDIOCRITY

When we speak of Ayn Rand and her theories, we often forget that she wrote almost 70 years ago when the world was a very different place. Most of us as teenagers have found her rivetting, and as adults we have found holes in her theories. Many of us as mature middle agers are able to sift her hysteric passion and see the core of what she was trying to say and thereby rediscovered a naked honesty about her that is humbling and disconcerting. Her ‘conspiracy of mediocrity’ is so subtle and insidious in life around us that most people miss it and label it  corruption, nepotism, lack of leadership etc. You have to be a Dagny or Roark to understand the predicament.

Love her or hate her, those are the only options.  Rand cannot be ignored. She has an indelible place in the history of thought that no one can take away. People have put on her doorstep the selfishness and woes of the world of baby boomers and hippies and post war materialism. Marx too could be held responsible for the excesses of communism and Gandhi will probably be held to account for the sluggishness of India’s progress on the world stage. But, are those reasons for not studying an ideology dispassionately for its merits and flaws?

All theories have holes and can be put to scrutiny and test – even die-hard scientific ones. Rand’s theory too bears testimony to this truth. I agree that collectivism is necessary for life to function on the planet. Many make an argument on inter-dependence of life that invalidates the selfishness theory. The question is this: Is altruism a genuine and natural or a conditioned and acquired virtue? Scientists have lately discovered the feel-good gene that inspires altruism and this is closely connected to the survival instinct. 

Selfishness cannot be easily wished away. Even something as basic as reproduction and continuity, with the responsibility and labour pains it entails, would have found few takers, had it not been for the instinct of selfish orgasmic pleasure. Therefore, selfishness does rule us in basic and altruistic endeavours. Power rules us too and power is a selfish need of the ego which is essentially selfish.  Rand is hated because she dared to speak for selfishness and validate it, when every moral and religious teaching was decrying it. Followers continued their selfish pursuits even as they vociferously mouthed social commitment.

If we indulge in socialistic pursuits, they again come back to our cyclical interdependence on the collective to indulge the individualistic. So is there anything at all that is not selfish? Even the love of a mother for her child, which is perhaps the most unselfish of loves there is, is selfish. They say you can only be as happy as your most miserable child. So then if I make sacrifices for  my kid , am I not in everyway ensuring my own happiness?

If there is the call for the individual to fulfill his needs, pleasures, wants, it is an ideal not an idea and like all ideals, be it democracy or communism or socialism or religion, there will be flaws that will decry the possibility of them ever succeeding as a body of thought. There will be people who will misinterpret, abuse and corrupt these systems to ensure that we lose faith in their core values and truths. As for individuals, fulfilling a larger collective need is an undeniable truth, whether it is the assembly line in a factory or a hierarchy in a family or different arms of an administration. If each individual does what he is born to do, why would there not be peace on earth? But ofcourse, that is an ideal. Rand in her rabid style did overstate her cause in most screeching tones, but the basic truth of what she says is not to be overlooked.

 Critics of Rand also point out to her own life – that she lived disastrously. They  show this up as an example of her flawed theory. This of course is illogical and does not befit the objective scrutiny of a thought or philosophy uncoloured by the creator’s persona, a feature that all good criticism must bear.  You can hate her for her personality traits but do listen to what she is saying without splitting hair and indulging in character assassination or ideological bias.

We are more comfortable with the aphoristic ‘little drops make an ocean’ than we are with the Randian ‘virtuous selfishness.’ Is there a difference? The oxymoronic choice of those words, the connotations they manifest, our own moral conditioning will not let us accept them without protest. The ‘moral obligation’ often termed ‘duty’ is what so many of us are labouring under in every field, where there is silent suffering, a lot of misgivings and unhappiness, and a collective approval of this ‘destiny’. In fact, suffering is made into a virtue so that we do not analyse or scrutinise it closely. To add to this there is dishonesty in feeling one way and behaving another, often without any real conviction except traditional learning.

 Anyone who speaks up against this collective will be shot down by the collective, which can be as lethal as a totalitarian coterie, or the megalomaniac dictator. It dictates our lives in rituals, beliefs, values, knowledge, ethics and morality. We do not recognise it because it is a collective of everyday people, and our education states that all collectives made up of huge numbers, must be good and safe. Aren’t moral police collectives? It is only after the upsurge of fundamentalism that we have even begun to recognise how collectives that are apparently advocating ‘godly causes’,  or even ‘righteous causes’ can be pernicious, haven’t we?Image

Mediocrity is a collective conspiracy. Look around you and you will see it everywhere. Among educators, administrators, heads of states, business organizations – everywhere. Meritocracy is blatantly and shamelessly abandoned, yes, collectively abandoned. They pay lip service to excellence but they do no espouse it in their daily lives as part of practical practices. Then, the agendas seep in and as a whole, there is a rejection of anything or anyone who will upset the apple cart. Follow the fortunes of Roark in Fountainhead to see this in action.

 

Rand has miserable plots, and her characters are impractical ideals.  However, if you can catch glimpses of these ideals, even in some people that you see around you, the truth of what she says will strike you between the eyes. And truth is bitter. It is discomforting. It is easy to reject. The rejection would be the triumph of collective narrative over the individual’s uniqueness.  

 

Rand could be a failed writer (quality, not sales) and a failed life (not living up to her own ideals) but Rand’s  thoughts must be read with patience, and Rand’s views must be filtered with some indulgence. If this can be done, what is left behind is a small nugget of truth, rare and perhaps unpalatable, humbling and necessary – an integral part of real morality.

 

NIGHT O NIGHT

NIGHT O NIGHT

Night comes mourning the death of the day and sits brooding over the huddle of the forests and undulating fields. It embraces treacherous mountains and settles on the babbling brooks, it ravishes the gigantic seas that cower beneath it and complain in a mutter of waves.

 

Night comes in a silken caress and strokes the aching limbs of swollen lovers, who arch one more time to the heaving music of its velvet shadows.

 

Night comes in an arrogant stride and falls back as the lighted streets cast neon glares on empty streets and drives it back to the edges of the barren plains and misty hills.

 

Night comes in blotches of pitch to hide the murky shame of nocturnal haunts, the cracked laughter of audacious whores, the blessed inebriation of compulsive drunks and the diseased wounds of homeless waifs.

 

Night comes like an avenging messiah to protect its minions, the army of life that crawls and creeps and glides and hops to its celebratory tunes and toasts.

 

Night comes as an inky accomplice to shroud the dark deeds of those whom the light indicts as anti-social, criminal and base. They transact in cloaked cunning, sharpen their tools, and sell their wares in stealthy glee.

 

Night comes howling with storm and rain to applaud the witching hour for ghosts and ghouls and their companion  bats, rats, cats, owls, snakes and roaches. It greets the netherworld of vampires, voodoo men, banshees and jasmine laden yakshis in placid moonlit groves.

 

Night seeps in, casting cobwebbed shadows of fatigue and fitful smudges of sleep on minds weary of the day’s sore labour. Night soothes the ear with the music of crickets and the rhythmic croak of toads, relieving the mind of the clamour of the day’s plastic sounds.

 

NIGHT! Black as ink, as ebony, as pitch, as despair, as guilt, as sin, as death.

 

Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night.    Krystal Nacht.     The Parting of the Yamuna.   The Burning  of Holika.        Halloween Night.   The Trojan Horse.    Nav Ratri.    Alexander kills Poru.    Silent Night Holy Night.

 

Night the only Mother of the New Born Day. 

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