Monday, February 2, 2009

A little piece of my Day

As is the ritual every Monday late afternoon, I was on chauffeur and chaperone duty for my 5.5 year old angel for her drawing lessons. The up down commute time and lesson time ratio is 1:2 on a good day (else 3:4) so I either wait in my vehicle or run a few errands. Well today was a no errands day so there I was multitasking ...reading ,gchatting on my berry, listening to music, roasting in the sultry "green house environment" of my car.

At one point I was particularly absorbed in reading a section of the book, which happened to be Romila Thapar's History of India (sigh! yeah have yet not completed the book ) and suddenly from the corner of my eye I noticed one grimy faced boy dressed in untattered bright clothes,looking in through the rolled up window!

I would have ignored him and gone back to my book, had I not noticed his intensely focused eyes with line of sight somewhere in the vicinity of the text I was reading. I unrolled the windows and asked him what he was trying to do. He said, “Mai pad raha tha.” I queried about his age and whether he attended school. He was 10 years old and studied in class V and enjoyed going to school. I asked him to read the title of the book pointing out to the boldest .. “INDIA”. He read all the letters but could not link them together to form the word and he looked on blankly when I pronounced “INDIA”. To make it simpler I asked him which locality he lived in…answer :Kalyani Nagar, which city he lived in…answer: Pune, which country he lived in……answer: Bharat. Then I gave him a little gyaan that in English we called her by another name, INDIA and then it dawned on him. He gave me a little speech ,“Hamare desh ka naam Bharat bhi hai, Hindustan bhi hai, India bhi hai.” And during this time when his eyes and mind were focused on this chit chat, his hands were busy fiddling with the door lock…he must have pressed it open 7-8 times. Hyperactive?

He then declared that said he had to go and meet his mother who was a professional beggar. My heart sank! I asked him what he did in his spare time, he said he did odd jobs and then he walked away.

This little encounter has impelled me on my semi hesitant (priorities at this point of time) desire to work with Akanksha . I was asked to attend their interview and orientation program but the time slots available for teaching did not suit my current situation.

So anybody reading this, PLEASE do check out what Akanksha is all about and volunteer to teach as a part time or as a full time commitment. I am sure it would be a fulfilling experience!


1conoclast said...

Joining Akanksha TODAY!!!

CAT said...

Fantastic!!! Am delighted! :-)

A. I. said...

Uhoh!! Has anyone warned them? hahaha

1conoclast said...


The kids will thank me when they grow up, for teaching them to choose Gandhi-Nehru over dogse etc.

Won't you be proud of a nation like that?

A. I. said...

Not sure education = 'teaching' people who/what to 'choose'. :)

CAT said...

Education is all about exposing the student to the best possible and teaching them to think !

1conoclast said...


When it comes to the choices I mentioned, I'd rather be teaching them what choices they should be making.


So you're saying, that there shouldn't be any clear goal in mind when you're teaching/imparting knowledge?

So enlightenment isn't a seeker's goal, when he pores over Buddha's teachings?

And our stories don't have a moral in them?

So, teaching someone how to make dynamite is a teacher's goal. It's up to the student to decide how he wants to use it?
Or does the teacher also teach the student the good uses & the bad uses of dynamite?
Does the teacher attempt to define good & bad for the student?
Does the student illustrate this by use of examples?

Ram Good, Ravan Bad. No?

Teaching them to think yes. But teaching them to think in a the right way, more important.

CAT said...

What I said earlier(perhaps rather too succintly)is simply that an essential component of education is bringing to the student a plethora of information and teaching them without bias and tags how to discern what has intrinsic value and what has not. And when they learn the worth,they should be able to comprehend /resolve which are ethical/righteous/honourable/humane

Yes enlightenment is at the very core of education. But I should NOT indoctrinate the student that Buddha's teachings SHOULD be the guiding light, rather expose the student to the philosphy and equip them to come to their
own conclusions....TO THINK.

Yes teach the student how to make dynamite and illustrate its applications.And then urge them to rationalize to conclude which has benefic potential.......TO THINK.

Rama Good,Ravana a matter of perspective. Some venerate Ravan(
Present to the student all aspects of Rama, Ravana and stimulate a debate on the virtues and flaws...TO THINK.

Progressive education IMHO is NOT exposing the student to our preconceived mind-sets of what is right or not but teaching them TO THINK,TO SCRUTINIZE and TO FOSTER within them an ability to deduce.

Yes,teaching them to think in the right way but NOT by telling them WHAT is the right way!!

I hope I have made my point effectively????

A. I. said...

Sure Icon, but then you might want to drop the word 'choose'.

1conoclast said...


But that's my point exactly!

I agree that students should be taught the difference between Ram & Ravan, between Good & Evil, & armed with that knowledge, we can expect them to make a decision (how decision is different from choose, I don't get).

And veneration Ravan, or hitler, or modi or the sri ram sene, is the problem I'm addressing. Should we leave that choice up to them really???


Interesting turn this is taking.

Why should we not use the word "choose"?

CAT said...

Empower the student to think and decide whether to venerate certain individuals, DO NOT TELL them who should be worthy of their deference, no.... any difference??

1conoclast said...

Ah... you take too long to make a point! ;-)

Yes. Yes.

A. I. said...


We draw two under BAD one under GOOD...and write different names in each. After the lesson,we ask...ok now..who is BAD? And who is GOOD? And we think we've EDUCATED them?

Shouldn't we let them discover through experience and observation and meditation what GOOD and BAD mean first...and THEN introduce characters and then their stories...and THEN ask them who they think is good and who they think is bad?

Besides, aren't we the 'hate the sin, not the sinner' types? :)))))))))..Shades of gray everywhere, Icon. Can't label people like that.

CAT said...

Taking it nice and long is a part of the process of quality education,1con. Am sure u wont disagree there.

1conoclast said...

Your AI is losing to your NS...! ;-D

It isn't the way you've interpreted it. Here's how it goes.

You tell them about good & bad.
They ask how is one good & the other bad.
You explain to them, using concepts of hurt, harm, theft, robbery etc. & what kind of an impact all that has. And how therefore one act can be deemed good or the other bad.
Then they ask about people: are there good & bad people. You tell a 7 year old about people are OK; it's only the things that they do that are bad. The child is a little confused. Then someone like you brings up the lack of absolutes in our world. By this time the 7 year old is thoroughly confused.
I say we stick to telling the 7 year old that some people do bad things. And some don't.
Then they ask, was Ravan bad? Was dogse bad? You just say, "They did bad things".

I'm not so sure I'd want to cloud the development of a child's judgement with the grey shades fact you so eloquently quote.

As they grow, like you (hopefully) & me, they will learn the differences. As CAT says, education is a slow, long, ongoing process. You learn in bits & pieces.

I'm not blind to the damage that has already come from encouraging people in Maharashtra to "evaluate" hitler's logic in what he did. If we could've nipped that encouragement, maybe the lungis & the gamchhas wouldn't have been at the receiving end of so much violence.

Do I believe that there are no absolutes in this world? Yes!
So is violence necessary sometimes? Possibly... in self defence, maybe... maybe...

Do I believe in using that logic to justify all kinds of violence? No!

Am I not better off with the boundaries that were drawn for me while I was being "educated"? I think so.

A. I. said...
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