The many facets of the field trip to Konkan

 

 

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by Yashvi Gada

Yashvi Gada is a student of standard 9 and currently holds the post of the Cultural Minister. She enjoys poetry, eating and laughing, and most of the time will be found either talking to someone or sitting quietly in a corner reading a thick book. She frequently gets transported to other realities but when she’s on planet Earth, she loves writing stories and helping people. She also has a profound love for beautiful music, learning new things and a little bit of silence.

 

There are five field trips at Shishuvan, and as an Economics student, this was our last trip to Konkan.

The trip to Konkan wasn’t particularly unmatched, nor was there a sense of completeness, what with only half of Grade 9 going to Kuppam, but it was indeed the best learning experience I have had.

We went to varied placesacross the district of Sindhudurg, from the beaches to aluminum industries and from mango processing factories to co-operative banks. Yes, the kids must be thinking Oh, banks. How boring! But it really wasn’t. As Commerce and Economics students, banking is a vital chapter for both the subjects, and that’s where we went on our very first day.

 

The banks were really wonderful, giving loans to farmers, planning other schemes for their benefit, the kind of work they were doing and the level of customer satisfaction was great. Another place I liked was the Aluminum Industry where aluminum utensils were being made. The process was absolutely fascinating, and the best part was that they recycled all their scrap. They let nothing go to waste!

 

There were also places like the Kharidi Vikri Sangh (which was an organization that acted as the middle man between the seed and fertilizer companies and the farmers of the taluka), Gokul Dairy (yes, we visited the factory) and the taluka school where our Economics chapters came alive. Things like the Public Distribution System, Industrialization, and Human Capital were seen by us in practice. All the Eco students were thrilled.

 

The cashew and mango processing units were lovely –  the perfect mixture of food and the economy of a small-scale industry. We saw so much, learned so much. The circle times and assemblies were full of discussions, and to add to the talking- we had recap sessions at the end of the day where students formed groups and took a class on one of the places visited on the day. We got to catch up on missed points and understand other’s points of view. It was very useful.

 

The entire trip was full of learning, even more full of fun, and for me- the early morning bus journeys where I blocked out the noise from the bus and let the mountains nurture my mind. It was the perfect closure trip, the last trip.

 

One activity we conducted on the last day was the best- the Warm Fuzzy notes. Each of us had to send each other (by choice, whoever we wanted to send it to) appreciation notes. I wrote notes for many people and I received many notes as well. It was so heartwarming, the feeling that I was loved by so many and the feeling that I was making another feel as loved as I was feeling.

 

I believe that the trip deepened many bonds, enriched many minds, softened many hearts, strengthened many bodies, and most of all- brought in more smiles than ever.

In the Lap of the Konkan

 

Sahir for the Blog

By Sahir D’Souza

Sahir D’souza, a student of standard 9, serves as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs in the High School. When he has time off from school studies (which, in his disorganised study time-table, happens a lot), he reads and writes. Apart from that, he also enjoys spending time with his cats, Azeeze and Cleo. He is an eco. warrior (i.e., an economics student).

Well, off to the Konkan were we:
‘What a dreary trip it’ll be!’

But we were mistaken – and how!
For all I could say there was, ‘Wow!’

The assemblies and our morning walks.
The closures and circle-time talks.

In six days, we learnt quite a lot.
With excitement our trip was soon fraught.

We went to a mango industry;
we feasted on some mango burfee.

To Parabwada village we went,
where in a school some time was spent.

Our textbook – it fell to the side
as we all saw and listened, wide-eyed.

The stuff that we thought was a bore –
we experienced like never before.

We went to a market one day
where we learnt of their marketing way.

All in all, the trip was a blast.
We’re all sorry that it has now passed!

Kuppam memories

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By Rachel Mehta

9th karma.

 

This enthusiastic Shishuvanite loves science, exploration and writing. An extrovert Rachel Mehta loves spreading smiles and is happiest when surrounded by friends. She believes in hard work and gives  100% to all her endeavours. She loves chemistry and maths but excels at Hindi. She loves breathing in the air of positivity at Shishuvan!

 

Okay, so have you ever had a cool breeze hitting your face so hard that it momentarily makes you forget the sound of an Indian local train for a second? That happened to me. The wind was chilly at around six p.m on the way to our destination in Bangarpet. This was our second and  last school outstation field visit to Kuppam, where we had been to in the eighth grade.

Surprisingly, everything we did at Kuppam this time was different from our previous experience. But the excitement was the same –  beyond description. We reached there and it was so much like home. The people there are so warm hearted and caring that they make you feel comfortable and at home immediately. The accommodation,food and hospitality were superb and  flawless.

The science part of this trip was excellent and we experienced project based learning and independent exploration in the beautiful world of science.  We covered much ground in both theory and practicals there.

Project based learning was a new experience which asked the students to pose a driving question and through experiments we would either confirm or add changes to a pre framed hypothesis. This really changed the way I look at science. Also it was an unforgettable experience to experiment with hi-tech lab apparatus and work like mini scientists within the campus. The Agastya Foundation had made excellent arrangements for us. We stayed there for about 6 days and performed physics,maths,biology and chemistry experiments. We had sessions with highly respected professors  which enhanced and enriched our knowledge of science. The foundation has its own discovery centre and a dome theatre where we saw a short film about space.

The best parts of the trip were the community visits, where we actually stepped into the rural ways of education and visited local schools. The students there were so knowledgeable and talented in ways many could only dream of. It was a proud moment to see them. We did some short and fun activities with them.

Another favourite part of the trip was star gazing at Mallika, our residence during the visit. I could not stop admiring the sky. We got a view of Jupiter which was extremely close and the moon too.

The visit to the stone quarry, the tiring but satisfying walk to reach the peak of the ancient Kuppam Fort, the special cultural night planned for us in which we danced,sang and tried playing various instruments have given us memories we will always treasure.

I missed everybody from the economics and commerce group who had a separate trip. This was the last trip but we have so many things to remember from it. Kudos to the parents and teachers for making this happen.

I’d like to conclude by saying that fun and learning can come to you in all sorts ways and that learning through understanding is the best.

Cheers to Shishuvan and all of us!

 

Competition – An attitude turned lifestyle

By Harshil Vora.

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Harshil Vora is an almunus of the 2011-12 batch of Shishuvan and was the first prime minister of the school. Harshil is presently giving his 12th HSC examination at Ruia College, in the Vocational Science stream. His hobbies involve any experience that brings a new learning with it. He loves writing poetry, short stories and articles and is enthusiastic about playing any sport, any time. 

In the movie “3 Idiots” a character famously says  ”Competition begins ever since we are a sperm. We compete a few million other sperms, to form a cell, who becomes a human.”

So now, my question is – “Is this any evidence that competitiveness is mankind’s innate virtue?” Judging from the current lifestyle, attitude of humans  towards life, it certainly seems so.

Just look around yourself….

In class, there’s competition between nerds for the first rank, between the back bench-ers for, well, the back bench obviously.

At a traffic signal, trucks and cars and bikes alike, keep revving their engines and try to get an inch ahead of each other even when the signal is bright red! Like it’s going to make an hour’s difference to the world!

When switching from one class to another, I’ve seen students trying to run the 10-20 metres to the adjacent class just to get the first seat! Seriously?

It doesn’t end there though! There’s competition for popularity among friends, for academic scores, for athletic abilities, for unique skill sets and lots more!

People compete with everyone else to become the best, to obtain the best and to produce the best in everything they do! So now, where’s the harm here? Isn’t it an ideal situation? Competition should be healthy right?  Yes, no glitches here, IDEALLY.

Ideal conditions are perfect conditions, and perfection is like infinity, you can keep trying to reach it, but you never can. And this is why, the journey is always more important than the destination. Our journey towards perfection should be what’s more important than the ideal final destination.

Alas,  we’ve forgotten this, and it’s become quite disastrous. The competition we involve ourselves in, is it healthy? Are we really paying attention to our means of achieving what we want?

We’re not just educated in subjects in classes anymore. We’re also trained to compete for the best. We’re told that friends will end up as enemies. We’re told that be friends with those who are better than you, not those who drag you down. We’re told to be like our other friends who perform better than us. We’re taunted because of the company we keep and advised to leave some of our friends just because they don’t make it in the good books of the educationists! We’re beaten and driven with fear of severe consequences and expected to ameliorate our performance!

Is this education or slave-training? Corporal Punishments? Taunts? Fear? Pressure? Stress? Restrictions? GREAT expectations? No extra-curriculars?

Right now, we’re only students. Let’s revisit the previous sentence – “we are onlySTUDENTS!” Students, those who are learning! But do we not learn for the rest of our lives? Obviously you do! Which implies, you’re a student for the rest of your life!

You’re wondering what I am getting at? Think!  The attitude of competition with others, inculcated at a very young stage, with such intensity that it becomes your lifestyle, is going to remain with you forever! Would you like to be known as the guy or girl, who’s always trying to show that they’re better than the others? Or as the guy or girl who only cares about being the best themselves? Selfish, you’d call it? Self-obsessed is what I’d call it!

Compete! Fight! Prove Yourself! Be the best! These are great actions to follow, when you do it humanely! Now, what I don’t understand is, why would you ever compare yourself with anyone else? Hmmm…Let’s think, Lack or excess of self respect? Low or exceedingly high self-confidence? Inferiority or Superiority Complex? A hundred mark test. The best is a hundred. the best guy got 97 and the next 94. Now why would he say,”Oh, I’m second best by three marks”? It’s a HUNDRED MARK TEST! The best is a hundred, not what the other guy got! Not even the first is the best, because even he did not obtain the best!

Here it comes, the root of the statement that “Competition is Healthy” – You’ve to compete with yourself and only yourself! You can’t better anyone else, because no two are the same! Why not try this – aiming for the best possible, rather than the best achieved yet? He got a 97, so what? Don’t aim for a 98, aim for a 100! Because there’s always someone that betters the existing best, that is why the word competition even exists!

Its the healthiest or the most hazardous lifestyle, depending on how your attitude is! Compete with yourself and you’ll never be number one, but always the best! Compete with others and you might be number one for a while, but not always the best! Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely always want to be the best!

Wonder, think and observe where you lack. You might never be called a complaint box then, because you’ll only be looking at your faults and ameliorating them.

You’re not born perfect and you cannot be perfect. Yet, everyone has an equal chance of tending as much to perfection as they want. If only they will to perfect themselves with regards to themselves, and not others. (:

Be a healthy competitor, be the best of yourself!

 

The Land of Konkan

 

 

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Vivek Gala is a Standard IX student of Shishuvan. He likes music and football has been learning the flute since he was 8 years old. Vivek likes to sing and writes poems in his free time.

 

 

The land of Konkan

Rich and green

The scorching heat

The cool nights we had seen

The weather unpredictable

The buses too small

But did it really matter

We enjoyed it all

A toy factory

A wind energy power plant

A food processing unit

Does this list end? It can’t

A village of potters

A village of puppets

A village of villagers

How amazing it gets

A marvelous wonder of architecture

The brilliant Sindhudurg fort

The cooling and energizing ice-creams

The journey by boat

It was just amazing

At par with all other trips

At the end finally

I have no words on my lips.

 

On reading – part II

 

 

Written by Menaka Raman.

Menaka Raman is a former advertising professional and freelance writer. Her son Sachit is in Sr Kg Shraddha. She loves reading, running and can often be found taking deep breaths trying not to yell at her kids.

One of the first things I ever bought for my older son when he was a wee new born baby was books. My mother I remember, looked on amused, as I swept passed the Baby Bjorns, nappy pins and nursing paraphernalia and headed straight for the small collection of board books, when we went to equip myself for motherhood. I stand by my actions. Every new parent should have a copy of Peepo by Allen and Jessica Ahlberg at home. I had read all about how it’s never too early to start reading to your child, so I figured we needed the books more than the swaddle cloths.

Our little collection of books though modest in origin (The Ahlbergs, Eric Carle and Jan Pienkowski) has become something of a behemoth. Initially housed in the bottom two shelves of our IKEA bjarngyarn (Ok I made that up, but it could totally be an Ikea bookshelf name) it went on to occupy a firestation shaped bookshelf and when that couldn’t contain it, we went and got our kids (by now the second one had arrived) a proper, grown up bookshelf. Which of course is now groaning under the weight of all their books.

I love buying my children books. I purchase books for them with the same enthusiasm I purchase shoes for myself. I cannot pass a bookstore, stall, roadside book vendor and not stop and pick something up. The joke in our home is that books and water bottles have now become monthly necessities along with sugar and tea and are no longer luxuries or treats.

We read everything in our house. Mog, The Gruffalo and Knuffle Bunny have met Gajapathi Kulapathi, Sunu Sunu the Snail and The Why Why Girl. Our shelves are like an inventory of Tulika and Katha and everything the wonderful Ms. Donaldson has ever written. Amazon.in and flipkart.com don’t help matters at all. There’s a package coming in every other day, and I can’t seem to stop myself. My husband preferred my shoe addiction.

We’ve gone from strictly reading fiction to branching out in to other areas. Tulika has a great set of Science for beginners books which even my two year old loves. The DK set of young encyclopedias is glossy and full of great pictures and easy to understand factoids. And of course The Magic School Bus is a favourite, though I haven’t figured out quite how to read the story and all the little notes and asides in one go.

And then this year something magical happened. Something that I’ve been waiting for since I went and bought that very first book. My son has started to read himself. Tentatively. Small baby steps. Reluctantly at times, enthusiastically at others. But he’s getting there. And it’s amazing how much joy this can give a parent. These small little things our children do – the first time they roll over, walk, babble, put two pieces of a puzzle together… the first time they can read cat. It’s these moments that make the sleepless nights and brain frying tantrums worth it. That pride bubbling away inside, threatening to spill over and explode… it’s amazing. The intensity of it never ceases to surprise me, and I have to remind myself to reign it in, lest I become one of ‘those’ mothers.

I hope both my sons love reading as much as their parents do. In fact, I would go as far as to say, that if they didn’t, I would consider it a great failing on my behalf as a parent. Books are a solace, a joy, have taught me things I might have never learnt otherwise. Instead of sending our kids to GK Classes we should just read to them. There is more in a book than you will ever find in an hours worth of such a class. If you have the time, I urge you to read Neil Gaiman’s piece in The Guardian, about the importance of libraries... and why we should read to our children. The man is far more eloquent that I will ever be.

For some help on what to read to your kids, head to Saffron Tree, a great resource.

My father made me the reader that I am. I hope I can do the same for my kids.

On reading – part 1

Menaka Raman is a former copywriter and freelance journalist. Her son Sachit is in Sr. Kg Shraddha and she has another son Shyam all set to become a Shishuvanite this April. Menaka is a bibliophile, runner and eats too much cheese. 

Some time ago, I came across an Emily Buchwald quote. It read: “Children are made readers in the laps of their parents”. So lovely, simple and true.

My own childhood memories of reading are vivid. Dick Brown’s ‘Miffy’ stories, Mr. Men and Little Miss books, breezing through Enid Blyton before devouring Roald Dahl and then heading in the direction of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Sweet Valley High, the last a precursor to a year wasted on Mills & Boon.

My parents had one rule, if you wanted to read books you borrowed them from the library. Thankfully, growing up in Chennai you were spoiled for choice when it came to them, and still are.

From the imposing Connemara Library to the modern edifice that is the Anna Centenary Library, Chennai is a city filled with book lenders. But the city’s favourite establishments are perhaps the more humble ones, often named after a family deity: Murugan Lending, Rajyalakshmi Lending and Vinayaka Library. Crammed with books from floor to ceiling, most do brisk business on the strength of their Harlequin Romances and David Baldaccis, but you’ll often find Ghosh, Rushdie and DeLilo sitting quite comfortably next to them.

Every fortnight, my father and I would venture out post our post Saturday lunch siesta. He would kick start our Kinetic Honda to life and we’d head sraight to Eashwari, our preferred book house.

Once there, my father and I would part ways, surely an exaggeration given that the library was no larger than our living room. But those few hundred square feet were divided with enough racks to make it look like a book lined rabbit’s warren.

There was no limit on the number of books I could take out.

My father never grumbled about the dozens of books I would bring home, even when all of them were treacly Mills & Boons with titles that no doubt made him shudder in horror (The Spaniard’s Virgin Mistress; His Pregnant Secretary).

When I was ready to leave those granite-jawed Spaniards behind, my father was patiently waiting in the wings, ready to shepherd me towards other literary realms, some which I took to quite happily. Others not so much. P.G Wodehouse was a success (but then perhaps he is with all Tam Brahms of a certain vintage). Louise L’amour sadly didn’t make the cut.

But it wasn’t always my father guiding me through the maze of books. We made many a discovery together, and I still remember our mutual joy on reading Dalrymple and Theroux for the first time. And there were the times we disagreed “How can you read this Rushdie fellow?” he would often exclaim.

Books selected, we would head off for tiffin to the Woodland’s Drive In, a Chennai institution now sadly turned into a park with a duck pond. We would order our onion rava dosas and filter coffee, pick a book and start reading till our orders came.

Our conversations over tiffin and coffee often centred around books but also touched upon my father’s days at DU and my tween-ridden dramas. He would ferry me back and forth and make quiet suggestions, astute observations and sometimes, wisely, say nothing at all.

Our fortnightly library trips were something that happened all through school and college, rarely disturbed but in the case of out station visits. They didn’t stop even in the midst of board exams and college finals.

While I’m sure I sat on my parents lap and was read to as a child, I sadly have have no recollection of the same. But our fortnightly trips to Eashwari are still fresh in my mind. They made me the reader I am today.

I guess I was made a reader riding pillion on my father’s Kinetic Honda.

Thoughts on my daughter’s Sports Day

 

By Manish Kamdar

Manish Kamdar is proud father to Kavya Kamdar a student of Standard III Karma. Manish is an engineer, entrepreneur, blogger and foodie. His hobbies include stamp collecting, coin collecting and public speaking.

My daughter Kavya had to report at 0640 so the entire household was working in tandem to wake her up and then ensure she is pushed out of the house on time:-) I too was challenged today as I went to bed quite late but was categorically informed by her last night that I had to be present as I had never attended her previous sports days (Why? Search me – maybe I was traveling – a very convenient excuse to feign.)

I reached at 0705 when they had just begun. Nice weather and the setup looked nice. Reminded me of the Sports days we had at DPYA at St. Xavier’s ground in Parel all those years ago. Checked in on the phone and as expected got a response from a friend about memories of those days. Another friend, Atul confirmed that he attended his son’s sports day last year at St. Xavier’s. Good old DPYA…. Nothing has changed except that the gang of 1983 is out in the open world now.

Coming back to the day today – what struck me was the march past. Kavya was one of the two flag bearers for her class. I spoke to one of the teachers there on how every class has a different design. She informed me that they had divided every class into different groups and each group came up with their own design after which the entire class voted for the best design. The selected one became the flag for the class on the Sports Day and the kids then all got together and made the flag in the Art Class. Impressive! Democratic process plus a chance for the group to express their rationale on designing what they did and why. So the children learnt (hard) selling their ideas too. Gearing up to pitch to potential investors in the future? Who knows…

Another concept that I loved about the school is the chance for all to participate on the Annual Day (something that I had conveniently forgotten when at DPYA and bragged on stage always – apologies to my batchmates yet again). For the Sports Day also, they had the same principle and all the children participated. When I asked Kavya why some other person was not chosen as the flag bearer, she told me that he had done that role earlier. Impressive. Inculcate the leadership instinct in every child and make him / her feel special.

The games weren’t the usual 4*100 metres or such but consisted of fun games but which needed concentration and skill and they performed as a team. Honestly the games reminded me of Tele match that we had on TV during the black and white days. Fun yes but needing skill.

The announcements made by the Emcee/s pertained to the skills needed to perform in the respective game. Another notable thing was that children from the different classes read out parts of the speech which contained something that they had learnt. As a toastmaster (who has just given his first speech), realised that every child was playing a different role and was trying to excel in whatever they did however big or small, however visible or not.

I never knew the school had a band of their own (I thought that DPYA was the only one honestly and had then found the idea ridiculous). Having been for R D Burman’s events recently, realised that their band had a lot of focus on the brass section a la Kishore Soda and the children played it with aplomb. Of course they were from the senior section but kudos to them for doing so well.

Different themes they had like Kavya’s class did the Dandi March, the 4th standard children had lezim depicting the monsoons etc. Towards the end, some 50 parents also participated. After which the teachers participated.

All in all had a great time there and learnt first hand that every child is a leader – whether an R D Burman or an extempore speaker or an Olympic sprinter, only time will tell.

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.