Which Value do you Value?

- Lamia Bagasrawala, Clinical Psychologist, Shishuvan School

The Project Days at Shishuvan are a wonderful presentation of all the classroom processes and practices over the last few months. As part of the Personal Development (P.D.) classes, students of class 7 – Neeti engaged in reflective discussions and activities around the theme ‘Values’. Students created journals at the beginning of the semester wherein they recorded their classroom activities, processes and reflections regularly. Students challenged the idea of ‘values in life’ and the need to inculcate these in practical ways instead of only preaching them. They discussed the difficulties encountered in upholding values across all situations and also identified and reflected upon values that are most significant to them. They shared instances from their personal lives when they have striven to follow certain values and also times when they found it difficult to do so. As part of a group activity, students created riddles about different values and finally identified eight core values important for their class. In line with the Project Day theme of ‘Systems’, students created a ‘Value System’ identifying different values relevant in different spheres of life. Students then engaged actively in creating games and activities to present these classroom processes and ideas to visitors and other students on the Project Day. Students created a quiz on different values which they associated with different animated-movie characters (such as Harry Potter, Nemo, Dory, Willy Wonka, Chutki, etc.) and cartoon-characters as well as charts for visual display and a classroom model enlisting the Process chart of all the tasks and activities done so far. Students managed the stall all by themselves, explaining the process, the eight values, the Values System, administering the quiz, calculating the responses and thanking the visitors with a Badge and Bookmark mentioning the value that they scored highest on the quiz. Students received brilliant feedback for their activity and presentation! Congratulations to them!  Here’s a sneak peek into our stall on the Project Day…


PD 7 Neeti1 PD 7 Neeti14 PD 7 Neeti13 PD 7 Neeti12 PD 7 Neeti11 PD 7 Neeti10 PD 7 Neeti9 PD 7 Neeti8 PD 7 Neeti7 PD 7 Neeti6 PD 7 Neeti5  PD 7 Neeti3PD 7 Neeti4

12th August 2016 : Librarians’ Day – Cum – Seminar

Shishuvan Invites

Shishuvan celebrates Librarians Day in honour of great Indian Librarian Padmashree Prof.  Dr S.R.Ranganathans’ 124th Birth Anniversary , by hosting a

“Seminar on Excellence in School Education : Role of Libraries”

on 12th August 2016 (forenoon, 9.00 am to 11.30am).

Event Highlights

  •                    Different perspectives on                                                                                                                  Excellence in School Education                                                                  vis-à-vis

                                                    School Library Service                                                                                       would be elicited by way of a four pronged presentations by Students, Teachers, Parents and Librarians. The presenters representing the above four would focus on their  role in the process of achievement of Excellence in School Education.

  • Focus of all presentations would invariably  be on Best Practices.
  • Prof.Coomi Vevaina (Professor of English – Mumbai University) a renowned  Educationist and author of much acclaimed book, “What Children Really Want” would grace the occasion by delivering a lecture on the topic.
  • Shishuvan Reading Programme
  • Seminar Resolutions


It would be an unique occasion for all Students, Teachers, Parents and Librarians to participate in the event to get know the nuances of Achieving Excellence in School Education – Vis-à-vis Role of Libraries. Functional and State of Art Libraries are backbones of vibrant and successful schooling. ‘School Libraries globally are envisioned as a force for the enhancement and improvement of Teaching and Learning through out the School community for Educators as well as for Students (IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto, 1999).

Who should participate?

Students, Teachers, Parents , Librarians and any person  who has genuine interest in School Education and Libraries.

No Participation fee.

Registration on ‘First Come First Served’ basis for 50 participants’.

To participate, register online  by clicking on the link given below :



Those who are interested  to speak/make presentations on the seminar theme may get in touch with the organizers.


Organizing Secretary – Rajashekhar Devarai, Chief Librarian          Organizing Committee Member -  Jamila Merchant, Librarian  

    Shishuvan English Medium School,                                                                                                                                       426, Shraddhand Road, Kings Circle, Matunga Central, Mumbai – 400019,    librariansday.shishuvan@gmail.com ; Chieflibrarian.shishuvan@gmail.com ; shraddha.asstlib.shishuvan@gmail.com ; zamilamerchant@yahoo.co.in ;    Tel : 022-24044063/64 ; Extension Numbers : 135, 136 and 118 ; mob 7738071618 ; 9969946792



-Maria Jodiawalla

(M.A. Clinical Psychology, University of Mumbai)

School Counsellor, Shishuvan School


On the 14 th and 15 th of July 2016 the Parents of Nursery grade attended a workshop titled

‘Importance of Establishing a Daily Routine for my child’. The workshop emphasized on the needs to establish a consistent routine for the child to stimulate child’s growth and development. It also emphasized the needs to develop a routine that serves the need of the child than the other family members. The importance of physical play and motivating the child to become independent in daily activities was also reinforced through this workshop.

Let’s see how did all of this happen?

The workshop began with a Taboo. Yes parents were stimulated cognitively through the game Taboo!! The rules of the games were explained and let me tell you parent’s performance on this was satisfactory ;) Parents would often say the taboo word or run out of time! However the game served its purpose and laid the foundation for further discussion.

Then parents were divided into groups and were asked to brain storm on various questions that were related to their child’s routine, their efforts to schedule it, lack of routine and various deviations in a routine. Each group presented their work and came up with interesting pointers for discussions. Parents would share personal experiences as well as strategies they do that work with their children and help them devise a routine for their child. This was an interesting learning experience for a lot of parents and some said that they would love to try it themselves. It also served as an eye opener for parents on how they were missing out important details in their child’s daily schedule. Having a rationale for the various activities that children are exposed to was also an important point of discussion.

After this elaborate discussion parents were given real life scenarios and were asked to apply these strategies to it. Their responses reflected their take back from the workshop and their zest to implement these learning’s with their children.The workshop helped to enhance rapport with parents and their participation made it a fruitful process. Not only did the parents take away from this workshop but also contributed to my learning process through their honest sharing and active participation.

20160715_095014 20160715_095004 20160714_102638 20160714_102615 20160714_102600

Struggle of Galileo – Book Review



by Palak Bham (V Dhyaan, Shishuvan)


‘Galileo Galilei’ authored by Malti Bansal is a book about how the scientist Galileo struggled to become a scientist. According to me the best part  of the book is when  the author describes about how Galileo started researching about planets and became successful.  I liked this part because after doing so much hard work he had become successful.  Galileo later identified /  introduced the 4 largest moons of Jupiter. This book is very inspirational and I now truly believe, ‘Try Try Till You Succeed!’ I would like to read many of the books published under the Series, ‘Meet the Glorious Scientists’ (under which this book is published) and recommend to my friends to read.


book review palak bham

Online Conference on “Library as Classroom”

– A Brief Report


It was indeed a unique and first of its kind experience for me to participate in the Online Conference on “LIBRARY AS CLASSROOM” held on 16th June 2016.  The event was Organized by The Learning Revolution Project, sponsored and supported by School of Information (San Jose State University) and Follet. The whole exercise of registering for the conference to attending of the conference (12.30 am to 3.30 am) was educative and useful.  This format of Online Conference was hosted on the platform Blackboard Collaborate.  And now that the session and PPTs are accessible by any one at http://www.library20.com/page/classroom-recordings

I attended the sessions of M Elena Lopez, Jessamyn West, Briyan Kennedy, Patricia Sohmer, Sally Pweharangi and Sean Casserly.  As the Conference progressed questions by participants were answered by presenters and others.  Library As Classroom is going to bring in / invite whole new set of guidelines, thinking and practices.  It is going to impact on the way libraries look like and conduct their day today businesses.

library as classroom

Details of the Conference:

  • Title : Library as Classroom
  • Date : 16th June 2016
  • Venue : United States
  • Time : 12.30 am to 3.30 am
  • Conference Platform : Blackboard Collaborate
  • Organizer : The Learning Revolution Project

It is time for Teachers and Librarians to attend such online Conferences to update their knowledge and skills on a regular basis, without ever reaching the conference venue (physical). What else could be more satisfying than attending an international conference by being at your home. Future seems to be unimaginable and unpredictable as to how contemporary Education would be conceived and delivered to the desired stake holders.

Rajashekhar Devarai

Chief Librarian, Shishuvan



Hello Mr.Shakespeare – An Evening in Nehru Centre

-Rajashekhar, Chief Librarian, Shishuvan School.


Hello Mr.Shakespeare 1

Even after 400 years of his death this mans influence doe not seem to be diminishing by any count.  Was he an elitist, school, well read, highly educated or a genius? How is it that the mankind continues to relish his thoughts and writings.  What is the secret.?  This is the legacy of this great man who could not  live over 52 years. It was altogether a different break for me to listen to Dr.Coomi S . Vevaina yesterday evening at Nehru Centre Worli.

Shakespeare seems to be her life breath through her thoughts, writings and deliberations.  Let us see how popular Shakespeare remains 400 years after his death.  A simple Google search was done and the results are interesting and as follows ;

Keywords Number of results

13 00 00 000

Shakespeare (book search)

24 90 000

Shakespeare (video search)

11 00 000

Shakespeare (News Search)

1 94 000

Shakespeare in India (general search)

2 56 00 000


1 31 00 00 000


It is just amazing! The popularity of this man never seem to diminish.  Did he ever realise and imagine that is and his writings would turn out into several libraries, a phenomenon, a wave, an ever expanding school of thought, after 400 years after his death? Perhaps no.  He was a simple unassuming scholar, down to earth, wrote and played for common man of his times. What if he did not know he was a genius, a rare genius! Dr.Coomi’s stock on Shakespeare titled, ‘Hello Shakespeare was rich in contents, thought provoking and sensitising. She was emphatic on Shakespeare’s deep understanding of human psyche and                        social / divine affairs.

Hello Mr.Shakespeare   Ms Coomi

At the outset Dr.Coomi seemed to be excited to talk and interact. She was full of life and enthusiasm.  She was so proud to pronounce that Shakespeare continues to be more popular in Mexico and India than in his home land UK.  So engrossing was her engagement that I could not stop remembering best of my English teachers at my schools and colleges where I studied (Prof Mumbai, MB Biradar, Shalini Edith and Hanmanth Rao Masther). I wish and hope to listen to her talks often in future.

Thank you Ms.Donna Reen and Ms.Arati Desai for the kind invite to attend the event.

Event detail :

  • Interactive talk on Shakespeare titled, “Hello Mr.Shakespeare’ by Coomi S Venaina
  • Time : 4.30pm
  • Date : 21st April 2016
  • Venue : Nehru Centre (Discovery of India Building)

References :


THE U14 POWER HOUSE 2015-2016

The U14 power hse names


tejasBy Tejas Kapasi.

Tejas runs a Travel Agency and has been in the travel & leisure industry for the last 18 years. .He has been an enthusiastic volunteer on Shishuvan field trips, also an active member of the Sports Committee. He has 2 sons studying in Shishuvan. Older one just gave his board exams and younger one in grade IX.



What an eventful year for Shishuvan, especially the Volleyball teams. It was a remarkable year of 2015-2016 indeed!

The Volleyball teams i.e. U17, U14 & U12 (boys and girls team) have left me spell bound. Somehow, I am trying to pen down to the best I can…

Since last 5 to 6 years I have been active at Shishuvan with few activities and one of them is Volleyball. The volleyball teams have been giving their best performances by winning 1stor 2nd or 3rd places in most of the interschool matches. (ICSE, DSO, MSSA etc.) In fact, few players have been playing state level and selected for nationals too!

The U14 boys team have been playing with such enthusiasm, dedication, efforts, skills and tirelessly. Their hard work and guidance from Coach Mr. Dhiraj Dubey has given awesome results. This U14 boys’ team has played 6 Interschool Volleyball tournaments in the academic year 2015-16 and won all of them in 1st place, means they have never been beaten in Mumbai by any school, that’s a moment of pride for everyone.

All get applauded for this, right from Team Players, Coach, School, Teachers, Management, Volunteer Parents, Sports Sir, Friends & Family Members.

These U14 boys team starts their day by getting up at 5:30-5:40 a.m. thrice a week to reach the Pavilion at 6:15a.m. for their practice. Whether it’s rain, dark winter mornings or sunshine they have been religiously practicing and enhancing their game. Here, I would like to appreciate the parents who also get up as early as 5:15 a.m. to prepare food for their kids, 2 snack boxes, 1 lunch box and 1evening snack box, (To all the Moms & Dads who have been doing this a big salute to you) not just for this team or volleyball but to all parents who have been doing this with smile on their face.

Guys just imagine a child leaving home at 6:00 in morning, later after school going for classes or tuitions and returning home around 6:00/7:00 p.m., they are tired and exhausted but, still are fully charged for the next day’s work.

This team in discussion are all playing volleyball since last 3 / 4 years who were earlier in U12 boys’ team, now U14 boys’ team and further will be U17 boys team.

This all started with the school giving a wonderful infrastructure for sports; State of art “Pavilion” where in it is now become a talk of the town with so many interschool tournaments being held as well hosted too.

I along with Mr Nikunj Lakhani have been taking out time from our work schedule to be with the team during practices as well matches too. Both of us have 2 boys and coincidentally both are in Shishuvan Volleyball U17 & U14 boys’ team

Whether the matches are in Matunga, Dharavi, Azad Maidan, Thane, Borivali, or even at times for state selections to Kolhapur or Nagpur, we have been there witnessing this journey.

As mentioned 6 interschool tournaments won in 2015-16 which includes Shiv Chatrapati Sports club tournament, ICSE, DSO, MSSA, VV Bhatt Children’s Academy (C.A cup) & Adidas Uprising Interschool tournament.

There are few reasons why it makes me write, why this U14 Volleyball boys’ team is called POWER HOUSE and why I am spell bound, I am sure once you’ll read further you all will agree with me.

Amongst, all the titles won the 5th and 6th title are very special &close to my heart.

On 31st Jan2016 Sunday morning we reached Kandivali for the C.A cup where in U17 Boys & U17 Girls won 2nd& 3rd place respectively, U12 boys also won 3rd place where as U14 boys won 1st place registering their 5th consecutive win, after the felicitation the team reached home around 7:30pm

Next day that’s 1st Feb, Std. VIII children were to leave for their educational field trip to Konkan which included this U14 boys team as well

As they were in education trip the schedule was packed with all day activities, getting up early at 5:30-6:00am having long days and being up for 16-18 hours (reason 1)

The trip was to return on 6th Feb night, but as these boys had to play the Adidas Uprising tournament which was scheduled for 6th& 7th Feb, we had taken prior permission from the school authorities to allow the boys to come a day prior. Here we (Nikunjbhai and I, as well other parents are thankful to Nilesh Sir, Principal Ms Shubhadra Shenoy & Executive Director Ms Neha Chheda for being supportive always, encouraging sports a lot.

So Nikunj Lakhani and I left for Kudal (Konkan) on 5th Feb morning and reached around 13:00 hrs

The departure for the train from Kudal was around 3:50pm and on 5th Feb this team departed in train (sitting train attached pics) from Konkan to Mumbai, their scheduled arrival was 11:00pm, but train was late and they arrived on 6th Feb early morning 02:40am at Dadar station. All of them reached home by 3:00am; in normal cases we had a doubt that one or two boys may skip but all the boys and their family were so positive that all the champs were ready at 7:15 a.m. at the meeting point where in Nikunjbhai and I picked them up, we went by two cars, and reached the MSSA Venue Azad Maidan for the Adidas Uprising Interschool Tournament at reporting time of 08:00a.m. (reason 2)

The teams were divided in 2 pools A & B, wherein they had to register minimum 2 wins to enter next stage

This team showed dedication and played with their full strength somewhere the last night tiredness was seen as they lost 1stmatch in their pool, can’t blame them understanding how their last 24 hours were! But the boys didn’t give up!  Their coach Dhiraj Sir along with the parents’ presence, motivated them with few words of encouragement, the team gathered themselves, as they are nick named by fellow school mates the POWER HOUSE, they displayed their skill and talent by winning next two matches in straight sets to reach Semi-finals, (reason 3) which was to be played next day that is 7th Feb. So here was a breather for them a welcomed overnight rest …was a blessing for them

On 7th Feb the team the re-charged POWER HOUSE (as per their reputation) played their game by beating the opponents in straight sets to enter the FINALS

The finals against Amruta Vidyalay Navi Mumbai was really a nail biting one!  As this was the same team whom they lost the 1stmatch in the pool matches. The score card was almost parallel at most stages, still the boys with their technique leaped ahead in points by wining 1st set 25-22 and second set was tensed up as opponents were initially leading, but then the boys played the game like real champions by clinching the 2nd set 25-23 and lifting the inaugural ADIDAS-UPRISING U14 boys Volleyball trophy, this U14 Boys team stands 1st all over Mumbai.

I would like to thank few people without which this wouldn’t have been possible, Dhiraj Dubey, the Volleyball Coach, Vivek Sir Asst coach, Vinod Bhandare the care taker of Pavilion,

Sports department of Shishuvan.

Tanya Adani, & Priyanshi Mehta (both std. IX girls) for always doing that extra effort for their girls’ teams to win, Neha Laud & Vrittika Survana (both Std.VIII girls) for always cheering and supporting their team as well the U14 boys team.

All Moms and Dads of this boys’ team for always being supportive, special thanks to the fathers who have been taking out time to support n cheer teams, Jeetan Visaria, Amit Maru, Rajiv Adani, Shashank Laud, Rajeev Ghoslakar, Sanket Soni, Vinay Galia. Suraj Suvarna. Girish Bhide, Sundar Nandi.

Special applause for Aditya Sawant’s Grandfather who was always there at the meeting point for pick up & drop as well at midnight 2:30am at train station. Was very much touched by this couple Vaishali-Vilas Chodankar who on a Sunday specially came to cheer the team, whose son doesn’t play volleyball at all. Thanks Vilas and Vaishali for the moral support

Last but not the least Nikunj Lakhani for being a great company as well being together everywhere, in fact eventually did find a good friend in him

All wins are always special but no doubt, the 5th& 6th title will always remain special for me. Kudos to this U14 Boys Volleyball Team for bringing accolades and achievements
They were “Tired but Unbeatable”





Glimpses of the team…

The power house5 The power house4 The power house3 The power house2 The power house




We asked them to give it a try….now they keep asking for more!!


- by Mala Balamurugan 

Mala Balamurugan is a former Corporate Banker ,currently a mother of two  and a homemaker. Mala realized that the field of education is where she wanted to be and has completed her B.ed and M.com. She is a Parent Representative and an active  member of  the Discipline Committee. Her daughter Anaghaa Balamurugan is currently studying in class 4, and her son Shlok joins Shishuvan in the coming academic year. She joined Shishuvan two years and thoroughly enjoys coming to school, even when she is unwell.


You must be wondering what this title means!! Maybe try a new food, a new hobby, a new sport…??

How about getting your grey cells ticking..you ask questions to your children, don’t you?..Now here’s your chance to answer!!

■        Sitting down with __________ provides children with a time for quiet and calmness in their busy lives.

■        ________ can stimulate  imagination and play.

■        _________ provoke curiosity and discussion.

■        ________ provides inspiration, thought and reflection

■        _________exposes children to a wide range of language features and vocabulary.

■        _________ fill a child’s mind with knowledge.

The answer to all this is just one word….did you guess it right? I am glad.

As a generation we are struggling with getting our children to hold a book in their hand, read, explore, think and walk on less travelled paths. We have been looking at ways to get them to leave that notepad, the mobile, the TV aside; even if it was for a little while. Many of us don’t know how to keep them gainfully occupied with something that does not harm them.

Most of us were looking for an opportunity that could help us do this. We had stopped believing that our children could have fun by just sitting calm – without a gadget or technology.

On 15th Oct 2015, World Reading Day, a day being celebrated in the memory of Dr. A P J Kalam; Shishuvan launched its maiden initiative of a Reading Challenge with the help of the British Council. The school’s Learning Resources Committee ( formerly known as the Discipline Committee ) was given full freedom and responsibility to run the challenge with the support of the Leadership and the Library team.

When we launched the programme we were not that hopeful of getting many registrations though we really wanted the parents to give this programme a try. But to our surprise we were able to convince over 200 parents and children from Sr.Kg to Std 7 ….and what a journey it has been!!

Children were to read atleast 6 books in 6 weeks, but many of them surprised us by reading so much more. As we were wrapping up the programme we glanced through many reviews written by the children and were so proud of the growth and enthusiasm in children. The best part was that they were themselves amazed at how they were able to read so much – so quickly.

The bookworm had bit them!! They had realised what we as parents and a school were trying to teach them for years…

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. 

The British Council conducted various workshops where we saw craetive young minds at their best. The session where they had to write their own limericks brought out the writing skills in so many. Our children surprised the facilitators by their talent, wit and humour. One of the facilitators commented that I never expected a sr.kg child to know and use the word “douse fire” when asked what will be another term you use to say put off the fire!! The magic of books had started rubbing off on them:))

The titles and the variety of BCL books, caught their interests and they realised that there can be so many different genres of books out there. By the end of the challenge many were so charged up that they wanted to read as much as possible and push their own limits.

The library staff shared:

Children wanted to keep exchanging new books and read different genres. Wherever they would see the library staff they would say…”Can we take another BCL book?”

The parents shared:

“Our children have learnt so many new words and are able to comprehend so much better. And the best part is they were gadget free!!”

I spent so much more time with my child during these 2 months, watching her read, reading some books by myself, reliving my childhood!!

 The children shared:

I didn’t know I could read fat books and complete them too!! The books were different – some stories scared me, some made me laugh, some were magical- but all were wonderful!! Can we keep reading more?

What else could we have asked for?

Even if we were able to ignite the minds of few children this year, we are hopeful this will inspire and motivate others to join the world of books and reap benefits of this silent friend for life!!

Thank you Shishuvan for this wonderful opportunity and experience!!

A peek into the Reading Challenge……


Digital Parenting Workshop

-         Lamia Bagasrawala, School Psychologist, Shishuvan School

Parents at Shishuvan are one of the most significant stakeholders in the school. They are as open to learning and exploring as they are to contributing to the growth of their children and the school. And this is what makes facilitating parent workshops enjoyable and stimulating! It’s been almost a year since I’ve been conducting Parent Workshops for parents of students in Middle School and High School and the experience has always been heart-warming. The refreshing interactions and discussions each time as well as the eagerness of the parents to learn more has always left me delighted.

This semester I decided to cover the topic of Digital Parenting for parents of students in the Middle School. As part of Personality Development (P.D.) classes, some of the topics of cyber safety were covered with the students. Additionally an introductory workshop on Cyber Safety had been conducted with the parents in the first semester. The introductory session covered up the technical chunks of parental controls, appropriate use of the Internet and the problems arising out of the misuse of the Internet. This seemed like a lot of information and one of my colleagues happened to question the need for my follow-up workshop as most of it was covered in the introductory session. This is what got me thinking about Digital Parenting through a whole new perspective. I realized that Digital Parenting was no different than Parenting itself. What makes it seem fascinating and slightly intimidating is a) it is unknown territory – since this is practically the first generation to be growing up in the digital age in India and b) we as parents and adults are also active users of the digital media too – so it’s not just kids. And this is how I shifted lens from monitoring and managing online behaviour of children – which I still consider essential and a pre-requisite for cyber safety – to modelling the appropriate behaviour in the family.

The workshop conducted with parents of students in Std. 5, 6, 7 respectively on separate days in January 2016, gave the parents a glimpse of what appropriate norm setting and behaviour management while using digital devices looks like. Parents were introduced to strategies and provided practical examples for modelling the appropriate behaviour. All this was of course achieved in the true Shishuvan style of group work and discussion based activities. Parents got into groups and enlisted points for some everyday behaviours and phenomena like – things they keep in mind while going on a detox diet, things to remember while creating a business agreement, verbal and non-verbal behaviours while engaging in real time interactions and code of conduct on the dinner table. These insights were shared and used as the starting point to explore the similarities and connections between parenting and digital parenting. Associations between day-to-day norm setting and digital management were created through this activity. It was interesting how this also helped create a base to explore individual differences. The concept of NETIQUETTE, Digital Detox and Contracting were discussed and parents were also left with examples for each as well as a sample of the contract. Parents also put down one clause that they would like to include in their digital contracts. The emphasis throughout the session was on the need for parents and families to demonstrate appropriate media use behaviours consistently in order to motivate and elicit similar behaviours from the children.

It was indeed a pleasure conducting these workshops and as always, I returned with a lot more learning and lot more food for thought. To all those adults desiring to bring about a change in their children’s behaviours, let’s reflect on what we do. It may not always be the only way to go ahead, but it can serve as a great starting point. Children See, Children do! And this video sums it up really well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d4gmdl3zNQ . Here’s to creating a safer and healthier generation of digital children!

VII - Digital Parenting1 VII - Digital Parenting VI - Digital Parenting2 VI - Digital Parenting V - Digital Parenting1 V - Digital Parenting Digital Contracts


 rushabh meha python workshopfounder, erpnext | the best code is the one that is not written

This is the journal for the fourth session of my computer programming class at Shishuvan.

The last session had ended in a crisis. We made a sorting hat (yes, like in the Harry Potter books) function that had loops, conditions and classes. By the end of the session, most of the kids were stumped.

In this session, the attendance was down to 20 (from 30), so clearly even if the found things confusing, they were still having fun and wanted to learn more. We started this session by making the sorting hat working once more. The kids got down to their machines and started typing out the code, either from their own files or from the sample I had shared earlier.

Code Mechanics

Even before someone learns to code, there are basic mechanic skills that need to be picked up. In this class, I was quietly observing how the kids were doing on that count.


If you are not familiar with the QWERTY keyboard, then typing each word takes effort. Half of the brain cells in your active zone are hunting for the next letter and the other half are trying to keep up with what is actually appearing on the screen. All of this in the middle of you are frantically trying to make sense of the underlying meaning.

Anyone learning programming has to be good at typing. Your brain can think much faster than you can type, so if type slowly, your brain will get bored. Its like what athletics is to tennis. If you are not a good athlete, you can never play good tennis.


Some of the most common mistakes the kids made in the program were spelling mistakes, or using different cases (upper / lower) or using singular nouns instead of plural. It takes some skills to consistently use the right spellings and if you are not good at English, this is hard to achieve.

You also need to be a good reader to catch spelling mistakes. When I review code at work, the first thing that catches my eye is spelling mistakes. After years of programming, I have learned that a small spelling mistake has the potential to spoil the better part of your day. The kids will have to start learning this too.

Program Layout

Since Python eschews braces to mark the beginning and end of a code block and uses white-space (indentation). Hence the layout of the code becomes very important. A child block is written “inside” a parent statement. For this you must first understand what is a code block.

if this is true:
    a code block starts here
    and is executed until
    something is written outside
    and ends here
this is outside the "if" block, and will be executed in any case

These are things that are never explicitly taught, but understood in practice. It takes some visual judgement to quickly start identifying code blocks. An experienced programmer can understand a lot from just looking at the layout of the code, but for new programmers, its one more thing to learn.

There is only one way to get good at code mechanics, writing more code.

Playing and Composing

We learn music by playing tunes composed by someone else. Once we can identify and play the basic notes, we are asked to copy music. If we do not copy correctly, it does not sound right, and that is how we learn aesthetics. As an aside, it is interesting to note that we are never actually taught to “make” our own music.

As we noted earlier, humans learn by copying, so even if the students were copying things from each other or from me, they were still learning. If they did not copy correctly, the program would throw an error or would not bring the desired result. This is where “learning” actually took place.

Programming, unlike music, has a lot of space for variation. You can choose your variable names, context (I noted some kids where coding up Percy Jackson stories) and still learn to code. To expect kids to write up their own code is probably too early. I think once they have enough confidence, they will automatically leave the copying business and get down to creation.


The highlight for me this session was that some kids were actually “hooked” to programming. They were not just hungry, but even desperate to learn more. Some kids where clearly experiencing the thrill of discovery.

A little girl, whose best friend had probably ditched her by not coming to the class, was sitting quietly all by herself in a lonely corner. Since I was pulled by the more energetic kids, I was unable to help her. I kept thinking that the poor girl must be regretting coming to this session, and must be just waiting for her parent to come and pick her.

Towards the end of the session though, she suddenly started typing out the code and was trying to make it work. Another kid helped her fix her mistakes, and together they made it work.

She was the last one to leave.

I can’t imagine how much this little girl wanted to code. Even though we are moving much slower that I thought, the kids were clearly hooked. We will keep having ups and downs, but the determination I saw today was amazing.