Few Lines From My Diary…

 

 

Rakesh Bua

-Rakesh Bua

(Father of Niharika,Std IV Karma)

The Durshet trip was clearly a once in a lifetime opportunity not just for the students but also for all the father’s who volunteered for the trip.

 

The credit for this wonderful trip goes to the staff and entire management of Shishuvan who gave more than 100% to ensure that the trip went well and each and every student returned back with fond memories.

 

The students not only got an opportunity to participate in adventurous activities but they also learnt what it is like to stay independently for 48 hours.

 

I strongly believe that such instances will strengthen the confidence of the child and motivate them to engage in outdoor activities irrespective of whether they are on a school trip or on a personal trip.

 

During meals the management had arranged for buffet ( breakfast lunch and dinner) and I saw the children lining up quite methodically to collect their plates bowls etc. The volunteers were there to serve food to the children and I could see that almost each and every child tried everything that was served to them without making a fuss.

 

The concept of enacting a play within just half an hour or so can be seriously challenging for 10 yr old children but the manner in which they participated was very impressive. The volunteers made efforts to bring out the best out of their respective groups.

 

Some of the activities were a bit scary for some children and we did have incidents when some of the children suffered injuries during the course of these activities. However none of the children showed signs of backing out and they went all the way. The credit for this again goes to the volunteers who took utmost care of the children.

 

Overall it was a beautiful trip; one that will go down as the most cherished one !

 

 

 

 

A parent’s perspective on Project Day

,MHK
Manish Kamdar is no stranger to the school blog. His daughter  Kavya is in Standard IV and Manish  is an engineer, entrepreneur, blogger and foodie. His other hobbies include stamp collecting, coin collecting, public speaking and blogging. This piece, first appeared on Manish’s blog, here.
Kavya’s school, Shishuvan, held their Project Day 2014 on July 25th and 26th. As has been the norm, every child participates in the event (will not wax eloquent on that lest I stray from my thoughts) The theme for Kavya and her class IV was India and her neighbours. Kavya sang a Bangladeshi song (she said it was written by Rabindranath Tagore), a Pakistani song (which was more like a nice prayer),and a song in different languages which had French and German words considering my little knowledge of all the languages. She was to introduce the Chinese song so as a Toastmaster in the making, it was my duty to coach her which I did and she carried it off with aplomb during the rehearsals at home.

As Friday was a working day, I could not attend the Project Demonstration, but on Saturday we were there by 0850 which was her reporting time. There was so much knowledge to imbibe from the children. I went to her class first and was greeted by a huge map of India showing mountains, plains etc. and children asked the parents questions. It can be embarrassing believe me to tell a 10 year old that you don’t know something. They would then explain it to me. Kavya and her friend were talking about National Symbol.

There were a lot of other things including a word search in Hindi which was very tough for me. Then they had capitals of states and I was corrected when I said that the capital of Assam is Guwahati: it is Dispur for those who don’t know. The children even wore the traditional attire for states and had the delicacies of that state on the table. The vada paavs and other items were tempting and I joked with the kids if they were meant for me.

The musical event then started and so I witnessed that as will be seen from the video links below. Kavya spoke well and seems to be a potential member in the making for Bombay Toastmasters.

After that I strayed into the Class V rooms just to see what was in store for Kavya next year. It was impressive to see children at that age discussing solar photovoltaic and solar water heating systems. They even had a complete chart on the Solar Park in Gujarat which was worth reading. Sometimes you skim through news paper or magazine articles but these posters are short and the copy is crisp so you can gain the gyaan you want. Try it if you haven’t.

Came back to Kavya’s class ie Standard IV and saw the Indian monuments made by them. Well, don’t expect models to be replicas of what you actually see but these were the children’s way of portraying them. Kavya had chewed my head over some words on Howrah Bridge which I gave to her courtesy Google & Wikipedia. Lo and behold, I see those words there along with their model of Howrah Bridge. Children maintain that veil of secrecy honestly. She wouldn’t divulge what to expect and it sure came as a surprise to see so many models made by the children.

The revelation for me was that they had actually contacted a school in Bangladesh and exchanged Powerpoint presentations with each other showing them their school, the country etc. And they received similar presentations from there as well. Wow. That was impressive indeed. I always wondered that pen friendship was all but over with the advent of Social media, e-mail etc. but no it is there in some other form. How I wish Kavya takes to pen friendship like my Dad (her Grandfather) and me. We have both enjoyed and continue to enjoy writing to friends over the years and they are now more than family to us.

I then heard a rhythmic loud drumming which was quite impressive so I went up to the 4th floor and saw these two boys from VII standard playing drums (sorry but for a layman anything would be a drum even if it were a tabla or mridangam). They showed great dexterity and the crowds were equally enthusiastic in cheering them. Worth a dekko any day.

Enthusiastic parents and grandparents thronged the school but honestly it was the enthusiasm of the students and teachers which could be sensed in the air and that made the whole event a memorable learning experience. Keep it up Shishuvan and keep it up Kavya and all students. Proud of you all.

Photographs available here

The beginning of the musical event with the children saying Hello available here

The Bangladeshi Song is here

The Pakistani Song is here

Kavya’s video introducing the Chinese song available here. Coincidentally I ran out of memory just when she finished speaking so couldn’t get the Chinese song.

What we teach our children – Swami Kriyananda

 

This beautifully worded piece has been shared with us by Jay Upadhyaya whose son Ahaan Upadhyaya is in Standard 1 Karma.

Jay comes from a creative background and works in the fields of  interior design and 3d  animation. He is currently  working on an in house 2d animated feature film and a mobile game on Rats.

In his spare time he enjoys cooking.

 

One of the greatest predicaments we face in our modern society is the education that we give our young. Should we cram our children’s heads with facts, or educate them for success as human beings?
We teach children how to solve problems in mathematics, but give them nothing to help them solve the problems they face in their personal lives. We flood them with a tide of facts, then tell them, as we send them out the door with their diplomas, “It’s up to you to figure out what it all means.”

The modern age is addicted to factual information. By “addiction” I mean that the fascination has reached abnormal proportions. It is necessary for us, now, to emphasise that facts by themselves cannot bestow wisdom. A blizzard of unsifted information offers no sense of direction, nor any knowledge of where one might go to find inner peace, poise, and a sense of life’s deeper meaning and joyous possibilities.
We forget that the discovery of some new fact concerning a galaxy millions of light years away has very little actual bearing on our lives here on earth. Knowledge, on the other hand, of how to get along with others, and how to be happy, has a great deal of relevance.
Spiritual and moral laws, like the laws of physics, never change. The excitement of scientific discovery has captured our imagination, but the laws that rule human conduct remain unalterable. It is the particular genius of ancient philosopher-scientists that they expressed these laws in their clearest, most practical form.
It is time to approach science from a fresh point of view. Paramhansa Yogananda offered an amazingly simple answer to modern scientists who claim that all life exists only as an outgrowth of inanimate matter. Yogananda replied, “Matter, too, is conscious, however dimly so.”
Yogananda also suggested that the effect of moral values on human nature needs to be tested, as if in the laboratory, by observing their actual effects on people. He suggested that spiritual communities are ideal places for conducting such observation. We have discovered that “children who learn to love, love to learn.”
Teachers and parents may complain that if we spend too much time teaching children these personal skills, they will be left behind in the race to acquire the information that will fit them to compete in the job market after they leave school. But this is false reasoning.
Children who learn to concentrate, to increase their awareness, and to channel negative emotions into constructive outlets are able to handle all the factual information they’re taught in school far more effectively.

There is another important dimension that needs to be introduced into schools. Children are made to study the composition of the atom. The most important question of all, however, is: “How can one find happiness?” Schools, Yogananda said, should above all be treated as laboratories for solving this most basic of human questions.
Primarily, what is needed is a system of education that will prepare children for meeting life’s challenges, and not only fit them for employment or for intellectual pursuits. And we need to see the whole of life, beyond the years spent in school, as education.

For if indeed, as most people deeply believe, life does have an ultimate purpose and meaning, then its goal must be to educate us ever more fully to that meaning. And the true goal of school must be to help prepare us for that lifelong learning process.

 

 

The value of Values – Parents and Teachers we have much to do..

By Archana Nataraj

(In this article, Archana, a Shishuvan parent and frequent blogger writes about how teachers and parents have the responsibility to help children understand values and ethics. She wrote this article for her blog, which you can visit by clicking here.)

As India continues to seethe in fury after the rape, so many new dimensions of this issue have been thrown in to the fray. I saw a good round up in the Hindustan Times (click here to read)

To me, a lot of this deals with the parent and teacher responsibilities. In Ignited Minds, Abdul Kalam says “If parents and teachers show the required dedication to shape the lives of the young, India would get a new life. A proper education alone can nurture a sense of dignity and self-respect among our youth .These are qualities no law can enforce – we have to nurture it ourselves”

But is todays’s education system equipped to shape the impressionable minds? Is there a focus on values in education? Before the nuclear family became dominant, every home had a grandparent who had the time to sit down and indulge the young in a story. I vividly recall my grandfather telling me the simplest of the values of Unity is Strength in the birds flying off with a hunter’s net story. Later my mother used to narrate these stories of Karna ,explaining the tough choices between choosing to be a true friend or choosing those who were your brothers in blood only. Or the generosity of King Sibi or justice of Birbal.. and the list goes on.

Today, these are all considered passé..only in books. The Character ethic as Stephen Covey calls them- integrity, industry, courage, patience are all replaced by quick fixes..Personality skills, public speaking , “image consulting” are the order of the day. Not that these are not essential in todays fast pace competitive life but they are secondary…But where is the time to preach these priorities? As a parent of two, in a nuclear family.. as much as I try , our night time Bath –Book-Bed Routine often goes for a toss and it is often ends in “Go to bed else you will be late for school”.

Which is why it is so so important for the schools to also focus on building character? Children spend a lot of time in schools and if the teacher is skilled in enough, Value education can and must be included in school. Talk about the need to be honest and truthful, to rush out there and help even if means missing whatever you set out to do. It upsets me that these two young lives lay there naked on the road until the cops came.. no one rushed to a hospital , no one even covered them…No one is even talking about this question.

And yes, open up. Be ready to challenge your boundries..Sex cannot be taboo.. Answer the questions your children ask.. don’t brush them away.. It may not be the whole details but it has to the truth…Whether it is good touch and bad touch told to my three year old or a brief two lines answer when my dear 6 yr old asks why is that eunuch begging on the road wearing women’s clothes?

The influence of popular culture is another thing that the school and parents can address. While I can wish that a successful heroine doesn’t need to a Chikni Chameli item number or the switch the channel and grimace when my 6 year old daughter sings öh la la la.. ab mein jawaan ho gayin”.. Do we have the guts to face it head on and explain why it is demeaning to women? Discuss why the hero taking law in to his own hands is not ok? Why it is not ok for the hero keep eve- teasing or passing derogatory “mard” dialogues? A debate in class may be just the nudge that is necessary to bring out half baked ideas and questions that young boys and girls may not have had the courage to ask anyone.Then may be a young girl wouldnt die by letting a boyfriend poke her with a screwdriver to abort a pregnancy

My kids go to Shishuvan : a school that includes gender equality in its mission. Both boys and girls wear the same kurta and full pant uniform.. that declares loudly.. that in the school we are equal students. As a girl, my school uniform does not curb my freedom to play or even sit in any way I want . In the light of the current rape case, I salute this step..whose complete value even I did not appreciate until last week. The same school also had a debate for older kids on love stories.

This is the kind of change we need. A need to focus on where we lack and then bring it to the forefront , clear any misconceptions and keep a dialogue open ..As parents and teachers, to our students and children ….we need to build strong minds that even when subjected to junk from the world around can make out that it is junk .

Like one of my favourite lines from the movie “The American President” with Michael Douglas

Lewis Rothschild: People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference

The new “Talk” you need to have with your kid TODAY – talking to kids about social media and internet

By Archana Nataraj

(Archana is a Shishuvan parent who believes that communicating with your child is the one of the most important aspects of parenting. In this article, she talks about how parents can help their children have a safe internet experience. She wrote this article for her blog, which you can visit by clicking here.)

Happy Birthday Internet. As per today’s First post article , on 1 January, 1983, the computer network officially began its technological revolution when it fully substituted previous networking systems and began using data “packet-switching”, the new method of linking computers which then paved the way for the arrival of the World Wide Web. (Click here to read the First post article). Thirty years down the line, our responsibilities as parents are suddenly growing at an exponential pace as the internet technology scales new heights.

Why? Everything is just a GOOGLE search away. Sitting here in Mumbai, I know exactly what my friends in every part of the globe are doing..Vacationing in Brazil, checking in at the airport or sipping a coffee at the Starbucks outlet in San Jose… a Facebook update tells me all that I never even wanted to know. Even the thoughts in my mind are not mine anymore, an urging prompt on Facebook tells me to update my status or may be just a 2 line Tweet? Done with that?.. let me post some more on My Whatsapp messenger..

Keeping our kids safe online now has become supremely important. But unfortunately many parents are not tech savvy enough to even be aware of what are the dimensions of danger here. Predators of a different breed lurk here ..Child molesters, identity thieves and even cyber bullies lurk in these woods. Here are some simple starters:

  1. Talk to your kids about privacy setting on Facebook or anything they post online. Unless explicitly set to a custom list, your friends’ friend and the rest of the world will be seeing it.
  2. Teach them to ask: Would I show this picture to my family? Would I speak like this with my close friends? Often children who would never utter such words find it perfectly ok to type it away to an inert computer screen. Explain to them that portraying something you are not will attract an audience you would not like to be seen with.
  3. Stop checking in at every place and giving away where you are or going to be at what time. Revealing your location on Facebook is meaningless and totally unsafe. Always think in terms of “Will I scream this loudly standing in front of my house?” .. posting online is just that!
  4. Be your child’s friend : literally and figuratively..Add a child friendly name without a photo and add yourself to your child’s friends list (the idea is not to embarrass him but to be aware). Be a cool parent.. it means not freaking out and losing control but to slowly and steadily be a true best friend to your child. Like a good cop, bad cop routine, it is very important that the child has at least one parent he can go to without fear of being punished without being even heard out. Emphasise “Families are forever, no matter what”
  5. Tell your child not to respond to anyone they haven’t met in your presence. Tell them not to respond to any messages that are mean or that in any way make you feel uncomfortable. Explicitly tell them it is not their fault, no matter what they were browsing.
  6. Most important, if they decide to meet a friend they met online, they need to inform you and go with a friend to a known public location or ideally just call him home in your presence for snacks! That should automatically weed out those with vested interests.
  7. If you are walking on the road, don’t be compelled to listen to music or chat on your phone or tweet or check your email… just walk…being aware will help you realise if someone is following you and the alertness will help you respond.

Finally, last but not the least… teach them the beauty of being offline, unplugged. This may mean a huge change in our own routines as an adult. With the influx of internet on mobile phones, no one is actually present where they physically are. Whether seated at the dining table, we are constantly replying to emails on their blackberries or reading the latest ezine on the iPods or just chatting away on the mobile phone while walking the child home…PLEASE STOP.

Talk to your kids everyday and at every opportunity about everything. If you are reading the morning paper at the breakfast table, share it with your child according to the child’s age. If you see a news item on a boy who went missing, tell your child what he needs to watch out for . If you see a rape victim ensuing from Facebook friendship, point it out to your child. As you drive, if you see cell phone towers on the side of the bridge, point it out to your child and explain what they are. If you watch a movie together, have a debate about the characters and their decisions. As a dinner routine or a night walk post dinner every single day, check in to your child’s day.

Once while I was feverishly cooking and packing three lunches in the morning ,my three-year old asked me “Amma, are you too busy now?’’ ..I stopped. I realised those were my words..I had dismissed him away at some time when he was pestering me in the kitchen. And at the age of three.. he had noted it in his mind..that I did not have time for him when I was in the kitchen. I paused and turned off the gas and sat down on my knees. I looked in to his eyes and said “Amma is never too busy for you”

Let us be there for those that are so precious to us, so that we are not the last to learn what is happening in their lives.

 

Other Links

http://www.firstpost.com/india/on-new-years-eve-17-year-old-raped-by-facebook-friend-in-delhi-575748.html

Parents’ comment on ‘Sound of Music’

It was wonderful watching the Annual show of Std. V on Thursday, 25th Oct. We were really amazed with their confidence, vibrancy and energy during the show. The efforts and hard work put by all the teachers and other staff members were quite visible. The minutest details were worked upon to put up together the best show we have ever watched. It was really very well staged with perfect coordination of live chorus singing and orchestra.

We would also like to add that it was not only the theatrical nuances that the students were exposed to during the past one month of Annual day process, they were also informed about the history during the time of the story. They also learned team work and coordination.

We also appreciate the democratic process of selecting various cast of the play and giving equal importance to each and every child. All the 108 students were equally involved in staging the final show which was certainly not easy.

Congratulations to the team and thank you once again.

Deepti and Aashish Sanghi
(Parents of Ishitaa Sanghi, Student of Std. V)

Shishuvan: An Alternative Solution

By Menaka Raman

(Menaka Raman is a former advertising professional and freelance writer. Her son Sachit is in Junior KG at Shishuvan. This article was first published here: http://www.kiducere.com/parents-speak/shishuvan-matunga-menaka-raman/)

It was in early 2010 that my husband and I put an end to the eternal NRI debate of “Should we move back to India or not?”. We packed the contents of our tiny suburban London two bed in to 70 boxes and set sail for India with our toddler son in tow.

While my husband settled down to corporate life in Mumbai, I thought my number one priority would be to find a place to live. I found out how ridiculous an idea that was at a dinner party we attended during our first week in the city.

“A flat? Sod that. You need to get your son admitted in school. Pronto.”

“But he’s only two” I feebly protested.

“Which means you’re already very, very late.”

“Call the schools now. Beg. Grovel. Lie. Go to their gates and refuse to leave. Visit them every day till they see you and register his name.”

The idea that I would have to stage some kind of dharna to get my son in to school put me off my crème brulee. But of course this was but the first of many such appetite killing conversations that I was to have over the weeks that followed regarding schools. I was told that interview coaching classes were a must and feeder nurseries were what I should be looking for. Some people just looked at me with pity writ across their face.

I couldn’t believe that getting in to a school was that hard. That there wasn’t one school out there that didn’t want parents to register their fetuses and didn’t require three year olds to know what an asparagus was.

And so began my search for something else.

When I first started researching alternative schools in Mumbai, I remember being asked “Alternative? What does that mean?”, “Please, put him in a ‘normal’ school” and “What’s wrong with the kind of schools we went to as children?”

Ah, but I knew exactly what was wrong with the kind of school I went to. Dull classes where long passages on conduction waves, Moghul architecture and calculus were recited in seemingly never ending monotony. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some things my very rigid education taught me. The importance of hard work and the mantra ‘practice makes perfect’ were all drilled in to me from an early age. But my schooling also taught me that there is only one correct answer and only one right way to solve a problem. That science and mathematics were more important than history and geography. And that doing well in exams was the most important thing. Everything else fell to the side at the altar of the mid term. No scope for creativity, free thinking or answers that lay outside the realm of the all important ‘syllabus’.

I wanted something different for our son. I wanted him to enjoy learning about the atom and relish e.e. Cummings with equal gusto. I wanted his curiosity to be encouraged not nipped in the bud. While I agree that many of these things can be inculcated at home, the more time one spends in school the more sway those hours have over a child’s brain. I wanted a school that would work with me in nurturing my child’s individuality.

But everywhere I went I met playgroup and nursery teachers who spoke about curriculum and study-play balance and an IB syllabus for toddlers. I was told about preparing children for school interviews and enabling them to face the stiff competition of modern day India. All I could think was “He is only two” and “Will I ever find the kind of school I’m looking for?”

Apparently I would. A chance conversation with a blog friend of mine lead me to the school my son would ultimately enrol in.

“There’s a fantastic school very close to where you’ve seen an apartment. Look up their website. The school’s name is Shishuvan and it’s in Matunga.”

As luck would have it, the school was having an open day for their Nursery admissions and my husband, son and I went to check it out.

I was surprised. Far from the dour office staff I had dealt with at other schools, at Shishuvan people were friendly, courteous and helpful. They actually smiled!

I liked the open door policy Shishuvan had. That we could walk in to their bright airy classrooms and ask their teachers questions.

Shishuvan believes that learning is a shared responsibility between students, teachers and parents. That it should be meaningful, relevant, and life-long for the learner and teacher. The school should feed the child’s innate curiosity, stimulate creativity and concern through actual hands-on, developmentally appropriate experience and reflection. And most importantly, that all children can learn and different students may demonstrate learning in different ways.

Central to Shishuvan’s philosophy is the idea that all of us: students, parents, teachers, administrative and support staff all hold an equal stake in the school. The great thing is the school’s philosophy and vision statement aren’t just words they use to fill the pages of their bright and cheerful website. They walk the talk. Frequent Parent-teacher meetings consist of small presentations on learning followed up by a forum in which parents can give suggestions, feedback and make complaints. Parent Sabha meetings deal with the issues raised effectively. Each and every sports day, school fair and annual day are followed up with surveys asking parents what they liked, didn’t like and what they think could have been done better. And in return, they ask for our a little bit of our time. Our time. We help make the backdrops for plays. We volunteer to man some of the stalls at the school fete. We accompany the class on excursions. I think it’s a more than fair deal.

The question I am most often asked regarding alternative schooling is whether my child will have that competitive edge. If he’ll be able to go head to head with the best of mainstream education in competitive exams and interviews. But if you’re taught from a young age that you are your own competition and that the only thing you need to beat is your own past performance then children will naturally shine. Having said that, alternative schooling isn’t for every one. The more relaxed pace of learning in pre-primary could give some sleepless nights over whether their children are ‘keeping up’ with their peers.

Not to say that they aren’t learning. Frequent field trips, audio visual, music and story sessions have taught my son a number of things this year. There’s a great deal of stress laid upon experiential learning. My son has fed cows, made chocolate laddoos and bought tomatoes from a subziwallah at a time when some schools are asking middle school parents to buy their children expensive tablets as learning aids. At a recent Parent-Teacher meeting, my son’s teacher said “We’ve been focusing on having fun this year.” I’m not complaining.

And neither is my son. Each and every day he comes home with paint stained feet and hands, glitter in his hair and a big smile on his face. His answer to my daily question of “How was school today” is an unwavering “FUN!” And I have a feeling that he’ll be giving me the same answer ten years from now.

Watching my children grow at Shishuvan

 

By Archana Natraj

(Archana is a Shishuvan parent delighted about what her children are experiencing in school. Her daughter Janani Balaji is a student of Std. II and her son Ragavan Balaji is in Nursery.)

As a parent, we strive to make the right choices for our child. Time and again, I remind myself of Khalil Gibran’s famous verses

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Being a Shishuvan parent has made me truly realise how much more I need to imbibe from these verses.

I started out screaming about the bright yellow and green uniform. “Not Smart”, ”Needs a Tie?” …then I hear my daughter proudly telling her friend..see my uniform, so bright and happy.. we are sunflowers! I realised how much we are still enslaved by the British. Instead of being proud that we are the only school that wears Khadi popularised by Gandhiji, we still remain in awe of the West and want to wear a tie to look polished and acceptable.

I look at my daughter’s English notebook and see her page of adjectives…stunning, favourite, glamorous she lists and looks for more with zest ..she is not put off by a writing exercise that asks her to list adjectives, Shishuvan has set her off on a learning adventure by asking her to describe her dear Barbie doll with the best adjectives she can find!
To learn the five senses, Shishuvan has not resorted to a teacher putting down a list..instead they joyously make popcorn ..simply SEE it grow, SMELL in its yumminess, HEAR it popping , TOUCH their creation and then TASTE it . What better way to play and learn!

I questioned the discipline in the school as I heard the roaring noise of screaming kids, until I stopped to listen and hear the thousands of questions that were pouring out of their curious minds, without any fear, fuelling a beautiful session of learning. While I see other Nursery kids from other schools crying in the morning as we await the school bus, my little boy jumps up with a ‘Yay, it’s time for school!’

Free play is fun for Ragavan

Slowly but surely, I have learnt to see it is often us as parents who are so rigid in our views that we may stifle our children’s soaring minds by trying to direct their flight . From telling her how we knew our multiplication tables at her age to marvelling at how they conducted a survey of trees, classified and put tally marks with ease doing multiple subjects at once.
From telling her how we participated in competitions and wrote exams, to seeing how much responsibility she had shouldered with ease in remembering her slots to perform at the school fair. She kept asking…Is it time for my play now, even as she was in the middle of playing fun games at a stall.. and I marvelled ..is this the same kid I have to tell “It’s time to get the bus” everyday?
From looking at the school from our days where we learnt many subjects and memorised content without any context, I see my kids learning every concept thoroughly and placed in context beautifully, in a no-stress, fun way. Then to add an icing to this cake, she is also being moulded as a responsible citizen and human being. She talks about the anti-bullying campaign to her cousins, describes the ‘Save the Tigers’ posters to our neighbour and the TetraPak Recycling we must do… as I look on in amazement.
As I get her report day card, I realise how I have grown from flipping to stop and look at her grades first. Now I slowly read the detailed story about my child at school written painstakingly by the teacher and I know Shishuvan really means it when it says ‘Every Child Counts’. Funnily enough, since I enrolled my kids at Shishuvan, the school’s magic has managed to reach out and been a teacher to me as well in many ways.

Thank You Shishuvan for standing your ground, in being different and believing in our children and letting them blossom in more ways than we have asked for.

A Shishuvan parent writes about Project Day 2012

By Manish Kamdar

(Manish is the proud father of Kavya, a student of Std. II at Shishuvan. She joined the school last year. This piece first appeared on http://manishkamdar.wordpress.com/ and is being republished here with the author’s permission.)

I was wanting to post about this for sometime now but did not find the time / inclination to put down my thoughts. This was the first project day that Kavya attended and I knew that the theme was Matunga but did not quite know what to expect. Having been born and brought up and lived in this area for 44 years I thought I knew Matunga like the back of my palm. How mistaken I was!

Kavya was narrating to us her part of the speech at home. She spoke about Hindustan Petrol Pump which is the HP Pump behind Aurora Cinema. I did not even know the name of the pump till then. So much for my back of the palm gyaan! Kavya was to report at 9 am on the 3rd for her Project Day duty which sounded intriguing to me.

At the appointed hour we reached the class and she was with some other student. I heard her narrate to some parent (she was all giggles when she would narrate to me) and then went around the class listening to other children who told me about trams and horse carriages being in Matunga.

What impressed me was that they had put up their curriculum outside on the pin board in different shapes so you had rockets, helicopters and the likes of that. Added to that they had children’s work sheets displayed on the board too. Interesting to know that children were very creative in their imagination. They literally thought out of the box and not the conventional manner that we adults would think of.

I went around to some of the other rooms to see what they had. One of them was named Post Office. Intrigued me as I was expecting stuff on philately, my hobby. But it was something else. It was a mock Post office complete with a Post Master. They had different counters explaining different products that the post office sold such as Registered Letters etc. Learnt that you could open a savings account at a post office (at the young age of 44 from a child several years younger to me:-) Thanks to the project day!) Took pictures of some of the charts to show other children and also share with my dear friend, Marina in Venice (Kavya’s Marinafai) who works at the Post office in Venice.

One of the rooms spoke of charitable institutions in Matunga. Again me being me (a typical Scorpio), I thought I knew all the institutions. How wrong I was yet again. Found out that there is an institution called Pragati Kendra barely a kilometre from home (straight down that too) which I was unaware. Thanks to the camera on the phone, I could capture these posters.

I was scheduled to be one of the panelists on career counselling for the students of Class X. It was my first time doing such a thing but it was fun meeting different people like this doctor who happened to be a year junior to me from Ruia College. After that they took us around to some of the rooms. One of which was on Educational Institutions so heard them speak on Podar College, UICT (erstwhile UDCT) and then finally had to go hear about dear VJTI, my college! Honestly Matunga is an educational hub and I was lucky never to have missed Mom’s home-made lunch which also explains my Size 0 figure:-)))

 

Saw some science projects of which one was on Water Harvesting by the children of Class VII. The report itself was meticulously made and I was amazed at the depth these children went into these days even if it were thanks to the internet. Honestly at that age, I doubt if I knew even 10% of what they all knew. Saw this amazing robotic vehicle using Lego. And the children were using a PC to control the whole thing. Children this age know far too many things than we knew at their age! Took pictures for Siddharth, Hitesh’s son who is a Lego freak.

Just a few classes I could visit due to paucity of time but honestly even if would have spent 2 days there, I would still not be able to get to all the rooms. Came away impressed that Kavya was in good hands and she was learning a lot more than the rote learning that we had (not that I am complaining…. Things have changed for the better. That was then and this is now). But yes I must admit that by living in Matunga for 44 years did not make me the gyaani baba of Matunga. I learnt this for children much much younger to me:-) Look forward to the next Project Day and this time I will be going there sans my knowledge, just a clean slate.

Pictures that I took are here.

PS (September 28, 2012): One thing I forgot to make a mention of (and I wonder how I missed it) was the brilliant song on Matunga which was written by the students and enacted as well by them. It was truly a brilliant song and anyone familiar with Matunga and surrounding areas will love it. The video is taken with the phone so pardon me if you hear me laughing or commenting but thank your stars that I am not performing the song else you would have run away:-)))