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Saturday, December 13, 2014

:)For A Change, Follow D Rules:)

    This blog post is a part of NSDF (Nissan Safety Driving forum) contest. NSDF is a nation wide road safety campaign with the concept of SAFETY BEGINS WITH ME. Nissan says that road safety is a responsibility of all vehicle drivers and should not be taken leniently by anyone. Road safety is not only about taking care of one's own self but also a responsibility towards all others we are sharing the road with and also pedestrians.
The NSDF began in 2012. Today its influence is of course, all over India but mainly covers eleven cities:New Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Jaipur, Vadodara, Nagpur, Chennai, Mangalore and Kochi and two lakh people. Hats off to Nissan for spreading this message of road safety. It emphasizes on wearing seatbelts!!!
We sometimes blame many factors like other people, and government, for the accidents that happen on the roads. We need to realize that unless and until we begin the safety drive from ourselves there shan't be any order...if we do not understand this simple thing Nissan is putting forth, "Safety begins with me!" than even roads that can accommodate eight cars in a row shall have accidents!!! Here's a story that makes us aware of this grave issue of road safety...

Navin glanced at his all new car. In that month, Navin had got a lot of new things….a new TV. A new washing machine! A new and better job! And an all new smartphone! His name, Navin in itself was a new name he had kept for himself which also meant new! It had proven lucky for him…ever since he had kept this name for himself, he was getting everything new.
He pulled open the door for his sister, Prachi. Quickly he sat on his seat and headed for his parents’ home, to show his all new car to them! However, he was a driver who never followed any rules. And drove his car recklessly!
 He turned right and entered a narrow road. Seeing an empty road, he changed the gear and dashed forward. At a sharp right turn, that he was quite well aware of, he suddenly turned. First it was a swissssshhhh…and then a dhum…
Oh god! Navin exclaimed. Prachi got down and was agitated at what she saw and barked back at Navin, “What did you do???
A few minutes earlier, Ravi had just unlocked his gear cycle and left from school. He was heading straight when he collided with an SUV that came into his way, from behind all of a sudden.
Now he was lying under his cycle and a huge crowd had gathered around him. Ravi was a young boy. Navin began scolding him. What you young kids? Don’t you know you should see and then take a turn!
“Hell! I was not taking a turn you dumb fool. It was you who tore into me.” Ravi was just thinking all this in his mind. He was in no shape to even move, let alone talk. If his cycle had not wounded his leg, Navin would have by now been crouching with matter where!
Navin’s car had been on the left hand side, and he had taken a right without seeing Ravi’s cycle right beside him. The crowd had dispersed….anyways it was no crowd at all just three or four people who now had better work to do than fall into local issues.
Navin was angry and was clenching his fists while Prachi had already been asking the boy where he lived. Reluctantly, Ravi told her but did not take her help. Prachi had tied his leg with a napkin to stop the bleeding but Navin was furious and revved the engine of his car.
You should have been careful! No matter what.
“Careful? How could I have avoided this! That stupid boy was riding so damn slowly…how could I have taken a right?”
But at least he was on the left side. He had to go straight! You should have been on the right if you knew you had to take a turn!
“Ok! So now you will teach me? You are nineteen so why don’t you drive the car. We are still only halfway through.”
Prachi did not respond.
“Afraid, are we?”
No way! Park the car on the left.” Navin gave a wry smile and screeched to a halt. Almost again, banging into an old lady! The lady, surprised, looked back and continued on her way.
Prachi sat in the driving seat and put on her seat-belt. “Safety begins with me...
Navin continued without his seat-belt. Prachi said, with a tone usually used by Principals to scare children in Assemblies, “When you drive, I have all your bakwaas and listen to all you say. Now it’s my turn.” Navin was bewildered.  “Just put on your seat-belts!” She said a bit louder. Like a “good” boy Navin did as his sister told him to.
“Rule no. 1. Never ever go faster than 30 kmph on these narrow roads!
“Now what’s this madame?”
Just listen. Do not ask. It wasn’t Prachi. Her eyes said it all.
‘Ajeeb daastaan hain ye…kahaan shuru kahaan khatam…’
“Pick up your phone Prachi!”
I can’t. Pick it up.” 
Navin asked, “Why???”
Because I am driving, you nut!”
“So what? I always talk on the phone when I am driving!”
But you shouldn’t. You don’t even follow the traffic rules??? You know what, you do not deserve this car.
Navin gave her an annoyed look and picked up her phone. “Yes Mom. We are on the way!”
The voice on the other end said, “Hey why are you talking while driving! Chalo. Keep the phone down.”
“No. I am not driving. Prachi is!” Mom giggled and kept down her phone.
“Now there is a left ahead. After the signal!”
I know the road. And rule number 2...” She said as she moved to the left. Be on the left if you are taking a left. She added, “And also let the one behind you know.  A green arrow pointing to the left began glowing in front of Navin.
Navin had never done any of these. He had driven since eight years, but now he was actually being taught by his younger sister, who had not even driven for a year!
She took a slow left and kept a constant watch on who is coming from ahead.
Rule three…
Navin completed, folding his hands… “Drive slowly while taking a turn and watch who’s coming, meri maa!”
Prachi teased him with a smile, “You are learning kiddo!
Very funny! Navin did not word it out this time.
Now they had reached a massive junction which was just a few hundred meters away from their parents’ house. Prachi, for the first time in the half an hour went above the forty kmph mark…
She took the final turn that was usually empty at most of the time and said sharply, “And number four. Don’t go nuts when you see an empty road. Maintain your speed. This is no expressway and neither is it a race. These are city roads. We gotta go slow. Anyone at any point of time can come in our road. So be careful.”
Navin was still wondering what he was doing. His sister, 6 years younger to him was giving him driving lessons while he was just sitting.
Out of the blue, Prachi screeched to a halt. Oh gosh!
“What happened? I want to relieve myself. Why did you stop? Let’s get there quickly!” Navin said uncomfortably.
“I forgot Mom’s salwar. It is with the tailor.”
“But the tailor is way beyond the signal and it is jam-packed with cars. We can’t take a U-turn now!” Navin was already restless and after knowing that they were almost about to take a U-turn, he said, “Ok I will go. You can come back walking!”
He quickly got off and waved her good bye.
Remember the rules bro. Prachi said and left.
Navin glanced at her as she went and grinned. He put on the radio. He did not wear his seatbelt.  Clearly, he had erased everything from his memory. Now he was headed towards his home…he changed the gear and now was at 55 kmph.
Although, he was not wanting to follow anything Prachi had said, he was on the right. He knew he had to take a right and did not want to bang into anyone again.
It was a notification. He removed his left hand off the steering wheel to get hold of his phone. He gripped his phone with four fingers, and with his thumb he opened the notification window. But a Moment before doing so, in a single glance, he saw that his parents had arrived there with his younger brother, Jay who had just turned sixteen.
He continued staring at his phone and then a vehicle sped by…with a jerk Navin turned right immediately. He didn’t know why. The bike had almost tripped behind him, but managed to balance itself.
While looking at his notification, he had not noticed that the car had slightly shifted to the left. This had caused the bike to edge towards the car…and Navin instantly had reacted.
Now, he was sitting head against the steering wheel, which was now throbbing a little, with pain. The mobile was now lying under his feet.
But something even severe had happened outside. The brand new SUV had crashed into a wall. Headlights broken and engine switched off. Navin looked behind to see if anyone was hurt. He could see his Mom and Dad worried and startled. A lot! They were running towards the car. Navin thought they were checking if he was fine, but he was wrong.
When he got down the car, he saw a face. A stunned one and totally in pain, but familiar! Just one name flashed before his eyes…which instantly filled him with agony, fright and horror. Jay.
The parents did not know whose car had hurt their son. The next Moment, the mother realised it was her eldest son, she got up and slapped Navin. Navin deserved the slap and he knew why, so he said, in a way to compensate for his mistake,, “Quickly take Jay in the car. He needs to be rushed to the hospital.”
Thank you.” Prachi said from behind. The tailors shop was closed, and Prachi had seen everything. She fled as soon as she had seen his car banging into the building wall.
Jay was taken to the hospital and they were told that he was fine and there was nothing to worry about. It was a minor injury.
No one had talked to Navin ever since all this had happened. But nevertheless they had forgiven him. Navin sat back in his all new SUV with Jay beside him and the rest at the back. Navin looked at Jay. Jay had a smile on his face which said, “I am absolutely fine. Not your fault.”
Navin’s head was bent with shame, but his eyes had not shifted from the road ahead him.
                                                                 driven by-
                                                                                   Shahen Pardiwala
                                  ©Shahen Pardiwala. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

We Homeschool, Yes. We Homeschool Not.

 continued from-And Announcing...The Next Performance...

                    "Petal plucking and decision making..."

“It’s not that I did not learn anything from schools…I learnt a lot…that is the very reason I home-schooled.”

When dad had told us about the idea of home-schooling…ever since I had known enough about it, I was excited…I talked about it as if I already was a home-schooler…like I needn’t go to school the next day…I had already home-schooled myself in my mind, and in a way I had already manifested the coming six months…it was a beautiful feeling to imagine…no more hectic schedules, no more exams or CCEs or evaluations or orals…no more fighting with teachers for petty marks, no more waking up seven in the morning, no more assemblies, no more awful assignments and homework (all the work at home itself) , no more buses, HODs, no more co-ordinators, no more annual days, no more anything else!!!
But it wasn’t as easy as I thought…it wasn’t a decision of buying a chocolate or taking either a bus or auto to the station. It was a decision to be made by all of us together. A decision that would affect all our lives…a decision that would have a direct impact on our future lives.
So there were apprehensions…tensions…thinking…decompressing….learning…unlearning…thinking…discussing…talking...knowing each other’s opinion...
My opinion was fixed…always…ever since the idea came into conception…at least for us…I wanted to get out of the wretched system…to get the so much of freedom that comes along with it…to do whatever I liked…to learn at my own will…at my own pace…no waiting for a teacher to teach…to reach that chapter…just learn…study…research on anything and everything I find interesting…
Making the decision was far more difficult than actually home-schooling…the shift that would come about…the so many changes…to look at it the other way…no more challenging exams…no more school friends…no more appreciation for topping exams…no more waking up and enjoying the beautiful morning (with closed eyes)…no more…actually I cannot even think about the different things I missed out on…because as I home-school, I see that I am missing really less things and practically nothing at all…I never had friends who I would actually “miss” meeting daily…I had to not worry about exams…I knew how much pain and preparation…so much stress and tension…went along to get marks…those marks…petty marks for which I did not get any felicitation…no appreciation that would actually convince me, with a force so strong that I would actually wish to give more and more exams…to score and make everyone proud…get applause, awards or some sort of appreciating gesture towards me…or anyone else for that matter…I have already described this earlier in the exams article.
Apprehensions are natural while we make any huge decisions. Especially, the ones that challenge convention! Even something as natural and simple as changing a home, needs a lot of decision making and thinking…it cannot be made in a jiffy. And when it comes to changing a school, it’s at least easier…but coming entirely out of a system followed by so many!
But we made the decision of home-schooling… ‘If you can’t change the school, change the school.’ philosophy was not working for us anymore...but then again I had been schooling for eleven years! And my younger brother, too, had been to school for six years!
What apprehensions we had…

Exams! Yes…the very thing I wrote against earlier…because I and also my brother were academically doing really well. I was always among the toppers, and usually the first ranker. I was also a part of a number of extra activities and also took part in elocutions, speeches and anchor…so it was difficult for my mother and father, because as parents they thought they are snatching away an important phase of my life.
They would be concerned, since I was a really good student and hopefully, I would have also done really well in the boards. They always believed that whatever talent we had, or whatever good we did, should shine and we should stand out from the crowd…also, they were concerned for our future…the exams held by the board would take me to a good college and then, we could get a set career. However, we weren’t completely aware of all the norms…how would I give the boards without a school? How would I get into mainstream college again, if I am home-schooling…or can I even do it?
The only way to get admission in a college was with a tenth grade board certificate and a school leaving certificate…without which, I wouldn’t be able to get into a college…the question was if I could give a tenth grade exam??? Would home-schooling prevent me from entering college? Yes, and if you are dilly dallying for between whether to home-school or not, these questions shall also pop in your minds…for a secure future…did I say secure?
The recent happenings in Bangalore and maybe many other schools, but being neglected...why? Because the security of the child is not important...because it is more necessary to get rid of the children during transition...and take leave for home?? To let the child fend for himself...If by a tiny chance, ends up being taken away by someone lifted and doesn't return...if the child is given to a stranger who may cause harm...harm to the child's dignity and life...but with great concern and anger I have to admit that these occurrences aren't coincidences but major mistakes and irresponsible attitudes of schools...when schools aren't wanting to take any responsibility for the child being harmed! The School??? The second home, supposedly?? The place where parents send children for a secure future for the child!! But what about the secure present? Are schools taking care about this grave issue of security? Of taking responsibility and care for the child's health, safety and their life? When a child is abused, the school raises their hands...when a child is hurt, the school takes no responsibility. When a child is lost, the school doesn't want to help, or even rectify the situation...make it better…
When I had been hurt in the eye, from the tone of the principal it hardly seemed that anyone was willing to take responsibility or own up that it was a mistake on their part or at least some concern or care in the tone!
Why doesn't anyone want to take the onus for anything that happens at school? Why do authorities want to blame anyone else for this? Even if the school has handed over the bus to a private travel agency, isn’t it the school and its faculties’ duty to take good care and make sure there are no problems and the children are all safe.
And why in the first place is anything like this happening? Why is a child being abused? Why are children handed out to anyone without making sure if the person is the parent?
In my first school, at least there was a system where parents were given ID cards without which children wouldn't be handed out to them...without which parents wouldn't be allowed to take the child home…But in the next school it was more of an auction while children were being handed over back to the parents! Whose child is this? Anyone from the huge crowd would spot their children and take them away...this happened inside the school premises. No checking while the child was inside the school! None either when they would go the security cabin!
And why should they? They have tonnes of important stuff to do! Save humanity maybe? Or something more significant than a child's safety at school! This was the situation during transition! At the time children were leaving for home...but when the child was inside the school, it seemed more dangerous...there was no law or order!
          A typical scenario during the lunch break can be well defined as chaos!! And this was never controlled! Never stopped! Students running up and down the stairs, running about in the corridors! Banging and pushing and jumping and kicking and fighting and falling...!!!

 It is a shameful thing that no one even bothered to get some organization to this organization!
 No one ever looked concerned that any one at any point of time and from anywhere can injure oneself or someone else! Or even the teachers! Well, a student actually banged into a teacher who tumbled and fell flat on her face...even then no one was wanting to figure out a solution for the mayhem caused...the danger during breaks was more than a cage full of tigers... real tigers are pussycats in front of these children left on their own and this destructive scene! So the future of a child going to school shall be really secure…but the secure present???

These are the questions we asked with relation to the exams…boards…after effects of home-schooling…and how home-schooling, according to our thinking, at that point of time could have affected our future prospects…but then again, another question…that could have come to anyone’s mind…when we tell that a child is home-schooling…
How Does The Child Socialize? How does he make friends of his age? How will he interact with people of his age? Will he become an introvert? Will he not be ever able to talk with people…debate…converse…discuss…speak in front of many people…will the child lose all opportunities to meet and be and talk to children his age???
Yes, all parents are worried about their child’s social life…and how their child is as a person…as a social being…also parents are worried if their child shall miss the opportunity to interact with children of his age…
Apprehension number three… What about all the free time? Will the child do what he did at school? Will he turn insincere? And then the child asks himself…what will I do in the so much of time I shall get? Wouldn’t I get bored?
And then, number four is… lack of competition. Yes…these are some of those questions…
And now to answer them...but before I get into answering…there was one thing that actually was the prime reason for home-schooling…if this organization wouldn’t have existed, I would be doing something like
(a-b)2 = a2-2ab+b2Yeah! This is because without this organization, we wouldn’t have ever known that there were so many home-schooling families…ready to discuss their journeys and their experience of home-schooling with everyone…all those new to home-schooling…all those wanting help and also clear the worries and concerns…Swashikshan
The miracle happened somewhere in October, where we went to meet some families at Sion at Farmer’s Market. Later on in January we met a lot of them at the IHC (Indian Home-schooler’s Conference). We met so many home-schooling families… realizing that so many had opted out of school, some never having sent their children to school, we were relieved to know that it was safe and absolutely fine to home-school…although there would have been many home-schooling families, without Swashikshan, as an organization wouldn’t have brought them together…we would have never home-schooled…to know that many others had taken the same decision we were dilly dallying about…that many others have done the same…broken the conventional cycle and done something different….something unconventional! It is always a relieving feeling!
So kudos to Swashikshan…here’s the site for all “wanting-to-home-school” There are many who are ready to help…interact…and let you know (including me) how home-schooling has been for them…and what are the perks that come along…and some things you may have to let go (it is also important to know that you may miss out on some things).
Exams had been a sort of significant part of my life (then)… the same time it brought along and lot of stress that has already been discussed!
However, the appreciation one gets…if not by the authorities but at least from their peers is hard to let go off…for me, it wasn’t as hard, as it may be for some others…for me, the fact that I wouldn’t have any more hassles with teachers with regards to correction of papers, answers and wrongly corrected things, it felt like a boon to think of being relieved of all of it…but then again, it’s not the same for all!  
Some may not be able to give away the pride and feeling of giving an exam…but one thing is for sure...taking a decision needs research…and also talking to people…I would give my personal opinion here…for anyone who is wanting to home-school, the person should definitely get in touch with other home-schoolers…so that they too share and help in the decision making process…meeting and interacting with the families through Swashikshan, we could take that tough decision.
Hence, we also come to know the mind set and and how home-schooling benefitted so many…how it is done (actually this is a wrong statement. Home-schooling is all about self-learning…and everyone has a unique self…so ‘how it is done’ is personal and based on the individual or family and how they want to go about it…)
Some may want to also explore the different types of home-schooling…Home-schooling is just one term given to a wide array of learning and different life styles. Taking a child out of school is not the only one thing…then there are different things that can be done…one. Home-schooling! That is, just removing the eight hours of schooling (sometimes nine for stupid sport days…add one more for the extra class…don’t go, just add one last for project days…and just one last hour…for...I can’t be that cruel to you!)…although the school hours are removed the child continues with the formal curriculum and syllabus…
Then, there is un-schooling, wherein a child doesn’t go to school…and doesn’t even follow the formal curriculum! If you are a formal schooler it is hard to believe…later on I shall also share those rib tickling experiences…those hilarious moments when we shared with people going to school, that we weren’t…but this ain’t the time…un-schooling means not doing any formal syllabus…but learning and exploring whatever the child likes or is inclined to...
And then of course, each family can choose what and how they want to “learn”…and everyone has different definitions of “learning”. Because that is what home-schooling is all about…deciding on our own and learning without a compulsory or forced structure!
Then, we come to this issue called “Socializing”...supposedly meaning that the child meets children his age…this is sometimes an important matter which makes a parent think, that being away from a crowd, he misses the peer stimulation. The continuous interaction with people which gives the child good communication skills…to avoid the child form being an introvert…here, I feel… “A person if is wanting to converse with someone, he will definitely find someone even in a room of a mere five or six people…but a person not wanting to interact at all, will not even if exposed to a hundred people!!!”

Yes, I believe that social interaction doesn’t depend on the number of people around a person, but is up to what the person wants to do...however, at the same time it is important to have at least some people around…enough to not totally cut off any social communication. However, at school, there are more chances for the child to end up with bad company….which is worse than not having anyone to talk to…(but conversation is always important) so socializing is important and if not sensible, at least unsuitable for the child’s age...also, home-schooling has an additional advantage…parents can be well aware of what interaction children are doing…and be well aware of what is happening in the lives of their children…because they are closer….however, at school what the child does, is learning and going through, there is a gap and the parent shall never know…because if the child is not interactive and doesn’t share or if he hides his feelings…in a way to bridge the gap between social interactions children with other children, the child may end up losing a communication bond and never be able to share what he is going through, with his parents…I saw many of my friends actually preferring to hide most of the things form their parents. They used to talk about things they shouldn’t…according to me at least it was not age appropriate. Anyways, what I mean is that the social exposure at school is not filtered and anyone and everyone can have an influence on the child…sometimes good, sometimes bad…at least at home who and what is having an effect of the child, is known!
Apprehension number three was that the child may vile away time. The first counterview can be, “What the heck does the child anyways do with or within those seemingly uncountable hours…???” Nothing! If filling up notebooks with something one doesn’t understand…reading worthless stuff that is forgotten the next day (the next hour or maybe the next minute, for some…)…by hearting answers that are not of any importance and doing stuff that, logically speaking is inapplicable for the rest of their lives…is called doing “something”, and if you can prove it…I’ll give you that I give to all those who can accomplish such mammoth tasks, that were impossible for even all our superheroes…(yeah…Superman, Spiderman, and even Iron Man…even all the intellectual guys gave up years back…the gift is my Google password and intellectual rights to my blog! A deal, bro?)
So, the child is wasting enough time and energy, and also some skills, confidence and talents at our schools. But then, at home the child, first of all has the time…secondly, the child has no haste at all. To complete assignments, work, schoolwork…hence, gets the time to explore different things…subjects the child is inclined to…likes to do…has the ability to do…at school life skills aren’t taught (not all. Some schools that I may be unaware of. I am just talking about the schools in my vicinity and those I went to and know of.)
The child also has more spare time than any other, since the school hours are cut off from the routine. Even if the child is doing the regular syllabus, he has time to play, write, and do all those things he couldn’t have done if he wouldn’t have home-schooled (also, a HOME-schooler doesn’t need to do any HOME-work…hope you don’t have any questions there???). And if the child even is time-passing in the time it is absolutely up to the child and how the child’s day has been divided. And what is there for the child to do. If there is a continuous stimulus given to the child and has something to do constantly, he never has the slightest chance to waste any sort of time.
And speaking about sincerity, what is sincerity? Obediently writing meaningless answers??? Dutifully doing all homework??? Unquestioningly doing what a teacher at school tells a child to do and not learning by one self??? Is that what sincerity means? Well it can be called dumbness or blindly complying with terms and rules of others. Rather than actually, practically, and logically speaking, I feel it is so stupid. Being sincere to oneself is more significant and necessary than being “sincere” for…a teacher or anyone else for that matter…but the question is that will home-schooling make a child insincere? Sincerity towards what one is doing comes from within. If the child or any person likes and enjoys what he is doing, the sincerity, hard work and dedication comes automatically, from inside!!!
Even its definition is: Sincerity is the virtue of one who speaks and acts truly about his or her own feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and desires.
 Which I feel schools are completely failing to do…maybe (only maybe!) they are trying…but the trying itself… (Really sorry) is not coming sincerely…to bring it down to one sentence…
Attempts of instilling sincerity are not being done with sincerity.
In its true literal, psychological, spiritual definition, sincerity comes from within. A child doesn’t want to study what he has to do at school, from where shall the sincerity come? A child doesn’t like to do what he is doing, how can he become sincere in his work? 
If home-schooling and left to do whatever the child wants to (with some guidelines laid down)…maybe writing, programming, and if studying at his own pace…and if the child likes to do so…than the sincerity is bound to come from inside…
And then, we come to competition. Yes, competition is important. It stimulates the child…makes one strive for better…challenges the child in different ways…learns to face challenges…the competition that one gets at school, is irreplaceable, incomparable, and cannot be achieved at home(nevertheless, if someone wants the competition and challenges to continue for the child even at home, it is easy and can be achieved…there are competitions and contests…most of them require a school but then there are several that don’t…there are online exams and regional tests….and many more, if at all you want to!)…
But honestly speaking, I feel competition is fine, to a certain limit. Unless it destroys friendships, morals, self-esteem, dignity, relationships, childhoods and lives…competition has been infused within us ever since we are born. Humans are competitive beings. There is competition for almost everything. From one’s house to hairdo, from car to cosmetics, even scores in games and likes and dislikes. Competition rules us. It makes us progress and think harder. It makes us do better. But at the same time, somewhere, I feel schools are bringing about the surge of competition to such a level it is ruining friendships and actually causing children to bully others.
Competition at school, for the marks…is a rat race…and what does one do to win a race? Run. Run really hard. And if he loses, what does he do for the next race??? Trying even harder, may be an option. But COMPETITION, to come first in the race and top, the person pushes all those who come in his way. 
When one is at the top of a mountain, shivering with cold, and has just one blanket, the others who couldn’t reach…what do they do to put down that one on the top??? They pull away his only piece of cloth, that blanket that his preventing him from being cold. They think, maybe the person will come down on their level, to be away from the cold….

the best way I could describe the situation arising due to that one senseless word “COMPETITION”…Even the synonyms of competition  are rivalry, race, struggle and war!!!  
And I know how it operates…
A friend of mine was quite a good student…and I joined the school that very year. Due to increasing portion and more of competition, two to three people would have to share the first ranker’s position. Somewhere, he was afraid I would take his position. He began teasing me. Began putting me down and kept telling me all sort of things he knew would make me feel…well, at least not what would make me feel great.
 Instead of keeping the competition healthy and enjoying and letting me enjoy our marks, he began insulting…for which I kept ignoring him (in a way it made me happy…finally, I was making someone insecure!).  HE did it to many others. But when we talk about competition it makes some people so anxious that they actually lose control.
Then, I had a friend who came up to me and told that in so-and-so game he was in the fifth level. Earlier, in front of some others he had told that he was in level eight. Surprised, I asked him and he told me not tell it to anyone else and especially one particular boy who actually was in a higher level than he was in. Wow! So now the competition from school creeps into the child in such a manner that the child is not even wanting to lose or be behind or under anyone even if it is for a petty little game!!!  
 So, I believe actually competition sometimes is good but in other times, it may cause a lot of problems. This is because children are taught to compete but not how to compete. How to handle peer pressure and that someone else can also do better than them…children are just lined up and told to compete and not actually develop a skill of competing fairly and maintaining healthy competition. Sometimes competition goes to such an extent it may harm.
Also, competition and the grading system also create a division between children. Good! Bad! That’s all.
Schools and students themselves cease to realise that the children want to actually tear down their competitors rather than accepting and trying to garner their own skills! This psychology is working against us and all students…of pitting the children in a ground full of bulls. Each bull wants to come out on the top and like eccentrics they push and dash and hit in order to come out. And at school, competition is natural…but not monitored or understood well…
If other aspects that I have described, are changed by the school, and if at all there is a better system (at this pace, probably in 3014) the children can be taught to compete in a healthy manner, accepting mistakes and taking failure in their stride, than from this point of view school wouldn’t be a place as bad as I look at from my viewpoint now!!! [Even the BFG cannot make you dream about it, let alone make it happen!]
So, these apprehensions were resolved. We learnt and unlearned, questioned and then finally too this decision to home-school.
Quite sometimes it would happen that mom or dad would say, “We’ve decided you have to go to school from next year.” At some points I and my brother had already proclaimed, if not to ours but to ourselves that we shall home-school…at such points these decision (that were actually not decisions but apprehensions) would burst our balloon of joy and hope!  Then at times it would be like all of us had decided to not Home-school and finally it was the last day of school…truly the last final exam….after coming back the joy we would share could have been of the following things but what we came to know just blew our minds and we began dancing…these were the things that made us happy that day:
The academic year was finally over!
Last day of exams! That day, we would play with our friends for a really long time and enjoy a lot!
The paper had gone really well and I was hoping full marks.
But what we were told and shown… “You are home-schooling from today!!! Here’s the school’s leaving certificate!! Amazing….undescribable…to describe this moment I can break all barriers of English grammar and spellinh! Loveli! Unimaginably scrummdidlyumtious! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!! Ms word can go take a jump and underline all these words but I can’t actually weave the moment with words…
That was all the decision making…I once again thank Swashikshan for being a part of this life changing decision and all those families who helped us in the process. Shared your knowledge…and most importantly thanks mom and dad for understanding and now giving us this wonderful life we are existing in…thank you SCHOOL…because
“It’s not that I did not learn anything from schools…I learnt a lot…that is the very reason I home-schooled.”

From The Same Series...

                  All Assembled, Now The Suffer Begins...          English Vinglish 

                                                    apprehension-ed by Shahen Pardiwala
©Shahen Pardiwala. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 16, 2014

And Announcing...The Next Performance...

                                   How I Learnt Learning

                              And Announcing...The Next Performance...

“And announcing, the next performance, by grade 7! They have prepared for the dance since two months…missed precisely what they came to school for…tired and drained their bodies for a two minute performance…and not actually learned any kind of dance…the ones who were good shall enjoy the centre while others, who have spent as much time and money as the supposedly superior, will just shake their hands in random movement…”
                     Only if the anchor was frank enough!
“And now 22 children shall play the cricket game we all were waiting for! 22 shall be playing…and ten to twelve students who have wasted their days practising in the scorching sun shall go about standing idle…giving water…imagining that they shall be on the field soon…they be the thirteen, fourteenth or fifteenth man and walk dumbfounded cheering for others…hoping someone will cheer them someday…”
                  Only if the commentator was frank enough!
Today is the sports day and we are going to have lezim and the heats…hurdles, sprints and relays! We have spent incredibly large hours wasting time on the creation of this sports day. Teachers have missed their lectures and are unable to finish their portion…which makes them exceedingly frustrated. We have called for a special chief guest, who in my view has by hearted his plastic speech for the sports day. The events are highly disorganized…while on one end the prize distribution goes on, on the other end is the relay race…the parents sit a mile away from their children…and this is going to be a regal disaster…
                      Only if the reporter was frank enough!
Copy paste all this into one block and highlight the words for me
And truly this was a disaster… let’s begin with these functions in the school I attended when I was a primary student…the sports day…annual day…extracurricular activities were a la grande! The premises being too small, and fees and budgets being very high, extravagant auditoriums and gigantic grounds were the locations for these events…
Earlier it was fun…it was great to stand on the stage and dance! Okay, not dance exactly but at least stare at the crowd in front of me…a heap of people piled onto one another on chairs and terraces is a better way to describe the situation!!!

 It was fun being the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz and an Alien too…telling those miniature two sentences…in front of a crowd! An exposure, well! It was a great experience to receive awards…
Later on, it grew into a mess and a chaos…or maybe it always existed but I was too na├»ve to understand the actual scene behind the glamour! I think the latter fits the puzzle!
I actually remember entering the stage, for my fifth grade annual performance through the wrong wing!  
        Come on! We actually practised and practised and practised for months in particular positions and sides and on the final day we actually end up dancing in spots we never expected! And just because the teacher was unaware of the wing and corresponding positions? Why wasn’t there a coordinator? Why no arrangement? Why no discipline? Why such a hurry?
But here we talk about the hard work, actually wasted!!! But what about those whose money and time were wasted? Some children actually were on the back of the stage just fumbling and doing nothing!
Maybe they were embarrassed or felt awkward dancing! They felt inferior! They felt as if all the importance, screen space and attention were for the central and first row guys! Why? Because they wanted to fit 25 students on a small little stage? Because they wanted to just get it done! Anyways only the galore matters, doesn’t it?
       The students and parents don’t actually get any kind of consideration! Their work is never acknowledged because at the very beginning of their lives, at the point when they are creating a personality, that they will bear for many years to come, they will lose confidence! Self-esteem! Dignity!
The feeling of “I am someone important” is gone…or never actually created! Or given rise to! Why? For the only reason that the school was more interested in creating headlines and have the most glorious annual day, than in nurturing the child’s skills!
 If a child is good at dancing, make him dance! But not those who hate it and is not their cup of any beverage!
       Let the child speak…he may have excellent oratory skills…maybe he is an exceptional singer…maybe he is a very confident anchor! Maybe he has some skills that can actually enhance the actual quality of the annual day rather than the galore and splendour!
       Rather than making parents spend and run after dresswalas! Rather than a boy or girl just standing at the back and rolling their arms…just waving their hands and weeping for no reason at all!
       Wait a minute! There is a reason! The reason is…the child does not at all want to be a part of what he is a part of! He wants to speak those lines that a fool fumbled in a play before them…and the one who fumbled, he wanted to dance! But does it matter?
         There are huge tables kept and mikes in front of them. 10 children sing into one mike! How many are heard? Actually speaking none or maybe hardly one or two…the ones closest to the mikes!                     Some are just giving lip sync to the song…because one girl out there wanted to be a part of the anchoring team! But no! No entry because you have been told to just sing! And that’s final.
       We do see movies that say, “Let children do what they want in life!” So, why just in life? Why not in our annual days that make us do things we don’t want to and just for the sake of it? Why is the focus completely on the schools accomplishments and what the school has been doing instead of what children of parents who pay the school (without whom it is just a building and not any kind of institution!) have won…the school has got award for the best school or whatever…why this? Why not the students’ accomplishments…
One thing that bugged me and continues doing so is the attendance award! Cycles and huge trophies for just being the most regular one! To just come every day! It’s like a forum awarding a member who comments and replies and gives baseless stupid inputs, for being active! And someone who is enhancing the quality of the forum is being excluded! Schools were doing just that! I was quite regular in school, I missed some days but was regular with my results, too!
            But there were junooni parents who actually made their children be dragged to school to get that God forsaken award! My parents were lenient and told me to be the best in my study work!  Because at school, what we thought was that is what actually matters! We were wrong! All that mattered and deserved prizes were best attendance! Awards for coming to the school!
And then we have commercials made for these things…use this amazing soap or tissue or liquid and your child will get attendance awards! He will be regular!
Come on now if the TV says that we should strive for these stupid awards, we need to! If not buy the soap we send them daily…my friends, coughing, sneezing, puking, would say, “We attend school so that we can get the award for best attendance!”
      And now, I be like “What the hell???” they actually wanted that damned thing! One of my friend’s mothers actually fought with the principal to get her child a consolation best attendance award for he had only missed half a day! Whoa! That’s hilarious but also insane!
If I had to rate my parents on the scale of 1 to 10, based on dragging me to school, making me not take any holidays if I felt not well or was tired, when I was part of the school, for a futile award, I’d give them zero…thank you for never doing such a thing, and then six months back, doing such a wonderful thing for us!
I am more concerned not for the fact that best attendance is actually an award because there are no real awards for children who have done so damn well in what the school is actually supposed to make them do! The exams! The results! No felicitation for those who actually worked so hard to get those marks! Waiting and hoping forever that someday they will be awarded!
Although, my previous one was quite anti-exams-in-schools but I feel strongly that if the school is making children study, why let the work go unnoticed! I secured 96.45 and 97.14 percentage in both my semesters in fifth, respectively! And what did I get? Nothing? Teachers said, “Congrats” some came up to specially congratulate me! Some patted me on the back! It’s a feeling that I got at those times, which is irreplaceable…but what about those awards?
 Isn’t it actually neglecting someone? Shouldn’t the ones showing improvement be told that “You are good!” that will do…the announcement on the mike is a feeling that many strive for…some need it and some want it! For that they do extraordinarily well…not only in studies but in sports, drawing, origami, singing, music, dance and drama! But is it being told to the one thousand parents? The next day, the names are forgotten…the awards are forgotten…but it will definitely leave a lifelong imprint in the mind and heart of the child “I am Special!
It is a feeling that every child desires…but the child is kept away from it for reasons…
The student wants to be a part of the drama. He is fluent…he has amazing oratory skills…but no! Why? Why, because another child who is the best friend of the Co-ordinator’s son? Because they are bunch of people who have been doing it since a really long time? Why not introduce new talent? Why not allow others who want to be seen on stage, and maybe emote really well…what can this be called? Partiality? Yes, precisely! They do not want a child to fumble…however good he may act! Why not allow a child to make mistakes? If one doesn’t make mistakes, how does he learn? How does he grow?
And for the dances, the centre is only reserved for those who the school believes should be the highlight…or be seen because the ones at the back, however tall they may be are just invisible! I was always a part of the anchoring in kindergarten and then always from the second to fourth grade…what I realized was that the exposure that I got, the two lines as an Alien, maybe three or four as the Tin Man, I got the confidence to speak in front of that many people!
           This, I was happy with…earlier I told about the children who missed the chance to do this…why didn’t everyone get a chance to give it a try and at least take their first steps into public speaking! Why wasn’t everyone given a chance to explore? At least, there was a provision that everyone could participate in everything…an eighth grader, in the last annual day I attended of that school, on the top of his voice was screaming for claps!!! More louder! More louder! It was wrong English but at least he was freely expressing…
In the latter school, there was nothing that I could call as true exposure! The decisions of what a child shall do, was not at all in the hands of the child but in the hands of the teacher in charge…and the only motive that they had, actually was to finish of the Annual Day once and for all…
In the former school; it was grandeur and glory! But here, it was a function of the humblest of sorts…and more than humble it was just a formality!
Earlier it was showing off extensively and here it was finishing it once and for all…the chaos and problems were the same and disorganization an integral part of the Annual Day! Here, it wasn’t partiality; it was imposing something on children. Imposing what they wanted us to do…rather than we deciding what we actually want to do…
What I wanted to do, never happened in any of the events that ever took place! I was always given roles in language since my oratory skills were good…but not in English! In another vernacular language I better not mention…
Four events, all including portraying skills like language, reporting, acrobatics, dance (which can also be defined as the throwing and swinging of students from one place to another, where all modern dance forms are now leading us to)…and for all I was in the language activities for my speaking skills…only for the first time I was in English…and for the rest of the three in a language I hate…maybe because I had to bear it for six long months…two months’ practise for each event! It was so jarring and so frustrating to do something I didn’t want to!
It was like I was counting notes and making entries rather than cooking or something else! I felt like actually missing days…I would see some acting in English dramas...speaking pathetically, I am no one to judge but when you are in a position, where you see someone doing what you could have done…and done better…a feeling that is inevitable! It comes when you see Federer playing tennis…and you sit in your living room on your laptop making a presentation for your meeting next week….when you could have played with Federer!       
Well, at least you could have tried…my dad’s book explains this better…but here, there was no trying…just accepting fate! Hopes, feelings, desires, were just not allowed!  I still think that if I would have been in the English plays…or at least been made the anchor…or written the script for the presenters and performances, it would have been a better disaster; at least I would be happy I would have done something I wanted to…I wouldn’t have to do something that the school wanted me to do!
Nonetheless I would have at least written a script with some sense of humor! It’s that feeling that always remains!
Wasn’t the Annual Day or any such event supposed to be for enriching a child? For letting the child express what he/she wants to? For making the student confident? For letting the children do something that they will like seeing himself doing?
An event that occurred that I shall narrate to you…it was annoying and the worst behaviour any school could or would portray…
For the last Annual Day in my last school, I was stuck again with that same language…an old man…honestly speaking it was another version of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge…I was the Amrish Puri (father of the girl)…my friend was the Shahrukh Khan (a newspaper boy), and the girl, the Kajal of the movie…the only difference being the boy and girl become brother and sister at the end and that there was no train…instead of me throwing grains to pigeons, the boy is watching television and remembering his bad old days! This was the best way I could’ve explained to you this horrible and atrocious story ever!!! In which I was made to act…on the last day of the rehearsal, I was told to bring a stick (remember, I was an old man!) for no apparent reason! The most creative way according to them to show an old man was a man with a stick!!!
And my stick had become a fantasy for all the boys in the class...I had gone to the washroom, I was walking into the class and a ruffian, swung the stick…I was totally unaware what was going on! The stick hit the eye lid of my right eye…the impact was huge and it began bleeding…I knew what I had to do…I always did…
Firstly, I rushed to the washroom to clean my eye with cold water to avoid a bump. I was in pain…I ran to the medical room…one thing I was grateful to the school for. The nurse, who was well aware of my condition, applied ice packs on my eye and my parents were called immediately…a bump was sure to be formed. I lay on the bed and within a few minutes my parents had arrived. My mom and dad were very worried. They had been concerned even if something small happened to me and told me to be careful always…
But then it had been a strike on my eye that would swell into a huge lump. Many teachers and Co-ordinators had already gathered there. The Principal was in a meeting and refused to come…my dad made her come...afterwards I was taken to the doctor…the doctor casually told a lump would form and nothing was there that could’ve been done…
I had slept at home…later on we went back to the school! Why it had happened? Why the chaos? Why ask for a stick?
What happened in the meeting was a terrible thing. The Principal, supposedly of a huge institution, seeing that I had a huge lump on my eye…and I could barely open it, and hardly walk…she asked us, “Will he perform in the Annual Day tomorrow???” What???
 Seeing that I was not even able to see form the other eye, she wanted me to perform in the Annual Day? She wanted that I should actually go and act in that wretched drama with only half my eyesight? She wasn’t concerned about the pain? Instead of telling me to rest and apologising for the thing that had happened she actually was asking me, in front of my parents who were frightened and afraid to act! She said, “I’ll announce his name!”
Whoa! “Like I performed even though I was in pain!” And we, this school are the first to have someone do like this! Headlines???
        They couldn’t see the fright! They couldn’t see the pain! They couldn’t see what we all were going through and actually not understanding the gravity of the situation of what had happened! All that was important was that their annual day should happen and there shouldn’t be any hiccups! That they actually expected my parents who were so terrified, to sit and be a part of the annual day, and me to actually go on the stage and perform? Real mature?
The school authorities didn’t care that I would be going around with a black eye for an entire month? That for a week I will be going about holding an ice pack on my eye? And what for? An Annual Day? A drama? A play? A stick to portray me as an old man?” no one was truly concerned how I was! No one asked if my eyesight would function well? No one was concerned if I would be able to see! No one was, understanding or wanting to understand the pain I was going through…
On the next day, the counselor literally called us up. “Is Shahen going to come today and perform? I am waiting for him at the school gate to take him in.” Even after telling that I would barely be able to see, that I was having a huge lump on my eye, the counsellor was audacious enough to call us up and ask us if we would be able to come! And they expected a YES???

So this was the grand Annual Days we were told to be a part of! Where we could express all we wanted! Where there was no partiality! Where everything was organized! Where everyone could do what they wanted to! Where students were given more importance than the school! Where the school authorities were so very mature!!!

From The Same Series...

How I Learnt Learning...

Good Morning Continues...

~Let's All Assemble~

All Assembled, Now The Suffer Begins...                           

English Vinglish 

                                                    performed by Shahen Pardiwala

©Shahen Pardiwala. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Me in You...

I do not live in temples alone, 
I do not live in photos alone, 
I do not live in idols alone,
I live everywhere.
I live in you, and you live in me. 
My trust has created you, and your trust, me.
I love you and you love me.
You pray to me; today, I pray to you.
Love me, but not more than yourself and your people.
Trust me, but not more than yourself and your loved ones.
Believe in my power, but not more than yourself, and your kind.
I will forgive you always, but be sure you forgive yourself and others,
with true will from the heart and mind.
I am a part of you, and you a part of me, 
If you laugh, I laugh too,
If you cry, I cry too, 
If you love, I love too, 
If you are hurt, I am hurt too.
But I bestowed on you,
powers beyond your imagination,
even before your creation.
But you need to realize, the me in you...

                                Poem by: Shahen Pardiwala

©Shahen Pardiwala. All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 10, 2014

If Facebook were Real Life...

If Facebook would be life,
Birth would be creating an account,
Infancy, your learning period,
Which would give you time to grow your friend list count.
Childhood would be fun,
No school,
For classwork, would be updating your newest selfies,
And for homework a status update a day,
And commenting on pages, giving your say.
And then for college,
There’d be different signups for different people,
Depending on style and funk,
Login for the studious,
And logout for those who want to bunk.
At this age,
You be spammers and apparently,
Put hashtags for everything,
From canteen quarrels to torn pages,
And “reported abuse” Facebook pages!
Competition would be bugging others with shameless self-promotion,
And poking friends for recreation!
Marriage would be online,
On the event page created, but for the obnoxious-looking selfies you’ll be humiliated.
The blessings be likes and for those who were against your marriage,
shall be occasional spammers.
Your child shall come along with an FB post,
“Happy to be a Dad”-feeling Daddy with Harry (or whatever the name be) with 25 others.
The name be decided,
On a poll on FB,
Mind the quarrels under your post,
They keep happening you already know
(And the names like Tammy and Uno!).
And then for the next few years,
You have a child,
Whom you shout for not uploading a
Single photo that day,
But please be kind,
For he knows your password!
And then years later,
you have 10000 friends, a million posts, a billion likes and a thousands of comments,
but no teeth at all,
do not worry, the comment box
ain’t going anywhere.
But for the video chat with me…
I am not going any further,
For till then Facebook will be something else,
Or something else, will be something else,
 But if you are the somebody behind the something else (if not your ghost)
Wait up mate!
Provided you have a Facebook Account,
I am sharing your FB post!!!
                                                             Face-Booked By Shahen Pardiwala 
                                              And now, make me proud and share it on Facebook!!!

©Shahen Pardiwala. All Rights Reserved

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