You will never be forgotten by any of us!

By Eshwar Potnis

(Eshwar is an alumnus of our school, highly sought after for his impressive drawings and sketches. Here is the text of the farewell speech he made on 22nd December 2012  for Rachana Swar, our much-loved Biology teacher who has completed three years of service at Shishuvan and is now moving on to experience the joys of maternity.)

It is not easy for a new member to adapt to a new place. And it is definitely not easy if the new place is Shishuvan, a school with some vague and different ideals. Even tougher for a teacher. But this was not at all the case when Rachana was introduced to us as our new class teacher in the year 2010.

Plus to add to the troubles, she was given a new and a completely shuffled class. But this didn’t matter to her even a little bit. She took only a few days to know her batch and in no time she was one of us! And it was seen that she was a perfect fit for Shishuvan! A brilliant teacher, mentor and even a parent for some of us. She is an all-rounder. You could approach her at any time of the day with whatever problem or doubt you would have and she would leave you only with a perfect solution for it. She also wanted everyone to excel in her subjects and she was successful in doing so.

Rachana (teacher) with Rachna (student) at an outstation field visit

If this situation of Rachana leaving would have come anytime when I were still in school, maybe I would have said No to giving a farewell speech. Only because we bid our farewell and shed our tears a long time ago, I got the courage to come up here and even speak about this wonderful person.

For me personally, Rachana has been a perfect guardian, always supported me in difficult times as a Chief Minister (of my class) though it may have got controversial sometimes. Despite that, she always held our hand and faced every criticism with confidence, steadiness and with her beautiful smile.

Rachana, I feel proud to use the term ‘teacher’s pet’ here and say that I was privileged to be one, and that too for you! It has been an honour for us and for Shishuvan to have you, and as it is always mentioned, you will never be forgotten by any of us.

Be Ready For the Next Challenge!

By Mahesh Sakhalkar

(Mahesh is a student of Std. X who joined Shishuvan only two years ago but has become a true-blue Shishuvanite during his time here. He combines his passion for sports with a flair for music, and manages to balance these with his academic pursuits.)

I was playing lawn tennis for nearly four to five years, and one day a major accident, that changed my life, took place in 2010. My right elbow was dislocated and my doctor advised me to stop playing tennis. I was totally lost. Because for me, Mahesh without sports was impossible.

After the process of the arm being in a plaster, followed by physiotherapy for six to seven months, I joined boxing. Initially, for the first six months, I was only able to raise my arm in the boxing positions because the doctor had strictly warned me that any more injury to the elbow would worsen the condition of my right hand.

I was getting back my confidence, day by day. I played my first boxing championship on 26.11.11, at MSSA, where I won my first Gold. There after I played DSO, Division, State level and some private boxing matches. Recently, on 12.12.12, I won my gold again at MSSA.

I won many, I lost many.  Winning made me confident and helped me develop myself, whereas losing taught me how to fight back by realizing my weaknesses and drawbacks, understanding how I have to change myself taking into consideration the tactics of the opponent in the situation.

Sports teaches us to accept defeat and victory with equal flair and to go forward with a new vision for the future. When we play, we cannot keep on cursing ourselves for our bad play or praising ourselves for what was done well. We have no time to regret or appreciate; we have to just go on looking at the future, be ready for the next challenge, and face the next moment with new enthusiasm. This makes you strong and alert, both mentally and physically.

Friends, though I am in Std X this year, with the support of my family and my school, I played sports for this entire year, and I am sincere and honest in my studies too. I believe both go hand in hand.

Another thing that surprised me was that for the fifth time in a row, Christ Church won the championship at MSSA. This made me jealous and I want to see Shishuvan in that same position very soon.

Story: A Disaster in Her Life

Students of Std. X were given this writing prompt for a composition task: ‘She read the text message on her phone. She paused, gasped, and took a very deep breath…’ Continue the story. In your writing bring out a sense of suspense and tension.

Here’s what one student wrote:

A Disaster in Her Life


By Aayush Vira

‘She read the text message on her phone. She paused, gasped and took a very deep breath closing her eyes with tears trickling down her soft cheeks. She stared at the photograph hanging on the wall right in front of her. She stared at the photograph with immense feelings for the person in it. Tears did not stop; instead they ran down her cheeks.

She packed her bag in haste, filling in it all the books she had with her the whole night. She sat in the corner of her room, looking through the window at the giant moon. It was a full moon. She did not move for about an hour from there, when finally she stood up at around four in the morning. The fear of examinations had slipped from her mind. She did not close her eyes the whole night.

Her exams were on the next day at nine in the morning. No sooner did she see the sun rising, she wore her shoes without tying the laces. She slammed the door of her room and went out of her house without even informing her parents in another room. The noise of the door shut did not wake her parents. She wondered why God was unjust with her. She asked this question to herself.

Without bothering about any obstacle in her way, she ran out of her house and did not stop even to cross the road. She reached the destination where her best friend once lived. On entering the house of her best friend, she found her dead body lying on the bed on which she used to sleep when she came there for an overnight stay. Mary, her friend, was suffering from blood cancer. She got to know this only when she read the text message last night. She asked herself, ‘Why did Mary not tell me that she suffered from blood cancer?’ She asked the same question to Mary’s mother. Her mother said that Mary herself did not know that she suffered from blood cancer.

Hearing this, she fell on her knees, weeping badly on her best friend’s demise, hoping for that which would never happen – her return. It was indeed a shock to her and a disaster which occurred in her life.

My Dream Pet

By Janani Balaji

(Janani is a student of Std. II at Shishuvan. In her mother’s words, she is “a curious kid , the perfect why- why girl. As you can see from this essay, she is always spinning some magic in a fantasy world. A voracious  reader, she is often lost in the world of Ronald Dahl, Narnia, the pixies and brownies of Enid Blyton, and The Wimpy Kid series. The rest of the time, she and her brother and any other kids she can rope in are engaged in furious and elaborate pretend plays from pirates to mermaids and princesses! She loves Shishuvan and thinks it is ‘perfect’ for her.)

I would like to have a Unicorn as my pet.

I would like to have her as my pet because the Unicorn is my favourite animal. Come and meet her, her name is Ariel. She has shimmering white wings and a sparkling white body with pink hearts on it. She has a rainbow coloured horn on the top of her head. Her beautiful mane almost looks like candy floss. She is lean but strong.

When I pat her, she listens to me. I feed her washed grass mixed with sugar. I take her for a small flight everyday to keep her healthy. When I hold on to her back, she soars in to the blue clouds in to a magical world.  I can even play fetch with her. I throw a stick up in the air and she swoops on it and brings it back, in the blink of an eye.

I love Ariel very much and wish my dream pet could be true!

Life of Pi: Why?

By Sahir D’souza

(Sahir is a student of Std VIII. He also serves in the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the School Parliament at Shishuvan. He is a bibliophile, and happy to live without a television.)

Yann Martel wrote a Booker-Prize-winning novel, Life of Pi, ten years ago. Recently, Ang Lee directed its film adaptation. This adaptation has been released in India. I went and saw this film. Let me tell you, I’d have preferred doing my homework.

I had heard high praise for the film (from everyone except my grandmother, who said it was horrible) and so I was raring to go. And I did. The film basically tells the tale of fourteen-year-old Pi, a boy who endures a shipwreck and then gets stranded at sea, minus any humans, but with an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra and Richard Parker, the tiger. The first three promptly kill each other. For the next hour or so, we have to endure Pi attempting to befriend his hungry and carnivorous companion. In between, another (‘beautiful’, in Pi’s words) storm (why, why?) and a completely unnecessary and, frankly, silly ‘carnivorous’ island, that devours people at night. Pi then looks more and more haggard, the tiger grown dangerously skinny, they are attacked by flying fish and are finally washed up on the Mexican coast.

But it doesn’t end there! Oh, no! Richard Parker abandons Pi (oh, how sad) and Pi has to confront some Japanese guys from the ship that wrecked. These chaps refuse to believe his tale of monstrous islands, orangutans and Richard Parker (who wouldn’t?). So, we are subjected to another quarter of an hour where Pi tells a completely silly Other Story, where all the animals turn to humans. Why, Pi, why? Are the special effects good? Yes. But there was too much of them.

I was waiting for the film to end by the middle. I have still not understood what I’m supposed to feel after watching the film: joy? Thrill? Excitement? No. I feel relief. And Lee, why did you make this film? What were you hoping to achieve? Fame? Success? With this film? Why? Why?

If you are going to watch this film, please be prepared to spend two hours (two hours!) doing nothing. This film is missable. Totally.

(Picture courtesy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/life-of-pi-movie-images-r_n_1457337.html)

Working on the Mathematics Curriculum at Shishuvan

By Susan L. Hillman

(Susan is Professor of Teacher Education at Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan, USA and was Visiting Teacher Educator at Shishuvan from 4th July – 30 November, 2012.)

I met Kavita Anand (Director of Shishuvan School) at the epiSTEME-3 conference at the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education in Mumbai in 2009. She invited me to come visit Shishuvan … and that was the beginning. I visited Shishuvan for a week, in August 2010, and that is when Kavita and I sat down to dream about some projects that I might help with during my sabbatical from my university in 2012.

Consequently, I have spent the past 5 months at Shishuvan working with teachers and school leaders, with a focus on teaching and learning mathematics.

About 3 months were spent working collaboratively with Sneha Sawant, Head of Mathematics, on compiling, revising, comparing, and updating the mathematics curriculum based on the ICSE curriculum for Std. IX and Std. X. The outcome is a coherent mathematics curriculum from Nursery through Std. X, that emphasizes learning the content of mathematics through engaging in the processes of doing mathematics. The curriculum is now available in print and digitally for use by teachers as they plan instruction.

Comparing this curriculum with other curricula such as the CBSE, IGCSE, and Common Core State Standards – Mathematics (based in the USA) led to critical analysis of the Shishuvan Mathematics Curriculum. This comparison allowed us to study what exists, in relationship to other examples, and provided opportunities to consider the rationale for specifying what, when, and how mathematics could and should be taught and learned.

The rest of my time was spent on professional development with teachers and coaching them in ways to implement the mathematics curriculum in ways that embedded the processes of doing mathematics: problem solving, reasoning, communication, connections, representation, using appropriate tools strategically, and generalizing. We studied examples and strategies for including Number Talks and facilitating classroom discussions in mathematics that focus on mathematics as a language that is spoken, heard, written, and visualized by students as well as teachers. Classroom observations and feedback sessions with teachers focused on “what went well” (i.e., www) and “even better if” (i.e., ebi).

Spending 5 months living and working with those who are dedicated to making Shishuvan School a place where quality education happens, has truly been a wonderful experience. I consider the faculty and staff my colleagues and friends.

As I prepare to return to the USA, I am looking forward very much to continuing our collaboration through various digital technologies available to us.