Bad looks, Good intentions

Beauty
I am as lovely as a dream in stone,
And this my heart where each finds death in turn,
Inspires the poet with a love as lone
As clay eternal and as taciturn.

Swan-white of heart, a sphinx no mortal knows,
My throne is in the heaven’s azure deep;
I hate all movements that disturb my pose,
I smile not ever, neither do I weep.

Before my monumental attitudes,
That breathe a soul into the plastic arts,
My poets pray in austere studious moods,

For I, to fold enchantment round their hearts,
Have pools of light where beauty flames and dies,
The placid mirrors of my luminous eyes.
– Charles Baudelaire

Sometimes I just sit and wonder about the way the world would look without beauty or ugliness whatsoever. The thought is crazy indeed but it does depress the hell outta me especially when I wonder the boredom and gloom one would encounter without the only thing that the world is seemingly obsessed with. I did like to believe that everyone is an aesthete.

Trailing in line with these thoughts I get a bit annoyed when I see badly maintained notice-boards in the classrooms. Isn’t a notice-board the main display of a classroom? I will call it a beautiful time-table to help teachers  keep a tab on where the class stands when it comes to the lessons taught.

I have noticed many a classes since my childhood where the notice-boards or the bulletin- boards have been left neglected and poorly maintained with minimal pictures and charts. Many teachers apparently fail to recognize the gem of a teaching aid that a notice board can be and especially when one has to arouse the creative side of a child.

How can a bulletin board help?


It’s literally the face of a classroom. So the answers to this question are quite predictable.

1. Most importantly, it can beautify a class immediately changing it from a dull place to a fun place.

2. It is a platform to utilize space to help students learn more with the help of creativity.
For eg : Language teachers can urge students to give their own write-ups

3. Teachers can themselves keep tabs on the lessons they teach by posting pictures of extra information on the respective topics, classification of the topics they are teaching, etc The picture below shows the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. I used a video on this to teach my students a poem on ‘The Caterpillar’. If a video is not available, using the notice board serves as an excellent teaching aid.

4. Notice boards can also be used as an aid for core values.

Ways to maintain a notice board :-

A notice board should always be neat and organized. A clumsy notice board is an eye sore for the viewer. An attractive notice board wins the attention of the students and automatically encourages them to actively participate in preparing the notice board whenever they get a chance which means that they would be attentive in the class and always go an extra mile to collect information to make the notice board look attractive. A minute glimpse of constructivist learning!

Here are a few points I comply with –

  1. Take advantage of all the bulletin board space in the classroom. You would be surprised as to how many ways bulletin boards can be used as real space-savers.
  2. When constructing a bulletin board, ask yourself if the students will be interested in it. Strive to create a bulletin board that sparks student interest.
  3. Bulletin boards may be used to aid in instruction. See what materials you will need for a unit of study and decide how a bulletin board may be used for that unit.
  4. Bulletin boards are a good place to post reminders or frequently used concepts such as rules, steps for beginning a lesson, or a schedule of activities.
  5. Consider titles for bulletin boards that explain the theme or purpose of the display. Make sure these attract attention.
  6. From the artistic point of view, think of colors that harmonize and balance one another. Think of a variety of materials that could be used to enhance the bulletin boards (crepe paper, construction paper, bright colored markers, cloth, etc.). There are many commercially prepared materials available for teachers, but try not to rely too heavily on these materials.
  7. Use illustrations that are current, relevant, and interesting to the students. Be careful of using too many illustrations as this will make the board look cluttered.
  8. After all the work of putting together a bulletin board, make sure all students can see the bulletin board. Sometimes bulletin boards can become covered up by other furniture, etc. in the classroom.
  9. Consider having children help create the bulletin board with supervision from the paraeducator or the teacher. The purpose of this, as with all bulletin boards, is to make it meaningful for the students!
  10. When taking down the bulletin board, store the materials in a safe box or bin too reuse if possible.
  11. An eHow page on the types of notice boards one can have in a classroom suggests excellent ideas on maintaining a notice board.

    Some interesting noticeboards –

    This page shows excellent notice boards.

    Keeping the bulletin board updated regularly is something a teacher should always strive to do.

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A PPT on Improving vocabulary

Had to prepare for a dlp regarding the teacher’s training programme I am about to conduct soon. Arduous yet enjoyable.

Improving Vocabulary

Knowledge of Vocabulary and necessarily a correct one is the need of the hour but with teachers themselves greatly lacking in this sphere..we can expect anything but nil from the students. Hence, as a result more than the normal efforts have to be undertaken when this aspect comes into consideration.

The only thing that first comes to my mind regarding this problem is – Let teachers take the cudgels first.

On a different note altogether this is how hilarious can learning English actually be 🙂

I would now like to have a damnbugger! 😀

Yet Another Movie

What moved me greatly about this movie was Calvin Lockhart’s powerful performance. Set in a school with black students predominantly, Professor Quincy Davis strives to set all the equations right when a few white students arrive but only to the discomfort of their black counterparts. This leads to a lot of insecurities, petty bitching, trivial fights and consequently, to a huge racial conflict where the blacks lose it after a point of time. Lloyd Wilkerson (John McLiam) as the dictatorial principal can also be held accountable for the horrors that follow. A white girl is stripped in the locker. A white boy is repeatedly beaten. All the whites are continuously bullied by the blacks(led by the militant student J.T.Watson). It is only Professor Quincy with his positive, encouraging, sincere and patient attitude combined with his powerful oratory and idealism who manages to handle the situation which is only a few doubts away from getting worse. Even when the black students are not eager to learn initially, Professor Quincy’s untiring and endeavoring encouragement magically coaxes them to reform themselves. I could actually empathize here with him at this point and also when every time I would see a student do something irritating and wait for him to burst into anger. But he would surprise me with his calm yet unruffled reaction. I don’t know how much of this patience can be implemented in real life especially if one teaches a class of 75 naughty, small minds but Mr. Professor has played his part in making me hopeful and hence I hope I always see his face pop up in my mind whenever I am about to lose my patience with one naughty student or the other. Hats off to Professor Quincy and hats off to this powerful drama.

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And Prof Quincy also shares an uncanny resemblance with my Politics professor (some overpowering personality he was!) Maybe that’s the reason why I like him more.

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How right is the right?

Skimming through some videos on ‘Right to education’, I fell upon a few really amazing ones. One which particularly caught my attention was this one by UNICEF.

An idealistic video that truly fulfills the purpose of advertisement and is extremely inspirational. But how far has the implementation of Right to education been really successful and does it paint that pretty a picture as the video suggests? Are the (economically backward) parents themselves, leave alone the whole village eager to send their kids to study? They always see their kids as breadwinners…in fact that’s the main motive behind having kids at the first place.

I still remember the heart wrenching story of 10 year old Sumit Jotra, who had auditioned for Dance India Dance. He would work as a shoe-shiner rather than study to earn for his family. This is just the story of one child but? How many more have I missed?

The highlights of the act:- 1.It makes education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms in elementary schools.
2.It requires all private schools to reserve 25% of seats to children from poor families.
3.It also prohibits all unrecognized schools from practice, and makes provisions for no donation or capitation fees and no interview of the child or parent for admission.
4.The Act also provides that no child shall be held back, expelled, or required to pass a board examination until the completion of elementary education.
5.There is also a provision for special training of school drop-outs to bring them up to par with students of the same age.

Let’s concentrate on the first three points first and reflect on how practical they are. Will the economically disadvantaged children really be able to cope up with the rest of the counterparts? How can one ignore the psychological trauma which even though minor can have a deep impact? Secondly, as much commendable the efforts on the part of the government seem, at a closer glance it is evident that they have clearly kept the whole situation skewed especially after refusing to reimburse the private schools yet making it compulsory for them to follow the guidelines. The quality automatically takes a backseat thus. Free Education at What Cost? The teachers too face a backbreaking and uphill task training the lesser competent students with meager facilities. While there might be a case of success or two, there are many that seem to be suffering a great deal.

Thus the whole act will affect the quality as much as it will enhance the quantity. I feel that concentrating on the qualitative aspects by keeping a special remedial coaching for these lesser fortunate students and reimbursing themselves rather than laying the burden on the already burdened private schools, improving the rural teacher training, the assessment patterns, regular and rigorous inspections and the media influence will truly make the RTE act flourish in a much more better way.

It’s important to realize that the act implementation is not just about cute kids, loving and patient teachers and  schools surrounded by beautiful landscapes as shown by the advertisements…

They’re about many more things.

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Cinema Paradiso

“No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight of the soul.” – Ingrid Bergman

How I agree with the quote when every time I see a good movie only to get swayed away to a different sphere. There have been many movies which have infringed on my educational bent of mind. So massive has been the impact that I have many a times mentally replaced myself with John Keating just for the heck of it.

This post will be dedicated to the movie that has influenced my opinions on teaching and learning to quite an extent. From time to time, I might create more such posts to update you about the wonderful universe that cinema is and how far can it influence an individual’s view on education. So here I go –

Dead Poets Society

Starring  Robin Williams as the non-conformist professor John Keating, this movie discusses about the life of pressurized students at the prestigious Welton Academy, the mission of which is – tradition, honor, discipline and excellence. Prof John with his extremely unorthodox method of teaching is a surprising breath of fresh air. I still laugh heartily at the page ripping scene.

Another endearing highlight of the movie is the use of Walt Whitman’sO Captain! My Captain‘ by professor Keating to encourage students to challenge the norms.

Albeit the movie ends with a sad note, I can never forget the whole essence of it. The way a teacher can mold the clay that a student’s mind is, is strongly depicted through this movie.