Discipline without freedom is tyranny, freedom without discipline is chaos



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Yashvi Gada is a student of Standard X at Shishuvan. Yashvi is one of the school Prime Ministers, a voracious reader and a gifted young writer.

Yashvi’s  piece “Freedom without discipline takes man back to the dawn of civilization” was one of winning essays at The Albert Barrow Memorial All India InterSchool Creative Writing Competition.

 Only 10 essays are published in the commemorative book, and Yashvi’s was one of them.
Congratulations Yashvi.




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Happy Mappy Ride



- by Shwetha Mahadevan

The author teaches our high school geography and science. A lover of music, arts and craft – she brings them into her classroom through videos and creative display work related to the topic. This article first appeared on www.teacherplus.org

Geography is one of the important subjects in the curriculum and aims at helping one understand where places are on Earth and the relationship between them. One of the major tools used in getting information about these places is the map, apart from statistical information, pictures, etc.

So what is a map and why is it used? About.com Geography defines the map as a representation, usually on a flat surface, of a whole or part of an area. The main job of a map is to describe spatial relationships of specific features that the map aims to represent.

The study of maps and the process of map-making is referred to as cartography. Thanks to computers and the wide use of technology, maps have evolved from basic drawings to what they are now.

Mapping was never a happy affair for me; it scared me when I was in school. Little did I realize that 10 years later I would be carrying out an interesting mapping activity with my students! Two years ago, when I first started teaching geography at Shishuvan, I had no clue as to how mapping could actually be done with students in a manner that they understood. I approached Ms. Prachi, Head of the social studies department in school. She had a very interesting idea.

First the students were given mapping booklets, which had the outlines of physical maps along with the criteria that needed to be kept in mind while mapping. These criteria are also in line with the ICSE board expectations. After this, we chalked out the schedule for the class – this was an activity that would take time. So, we decided to use a double period, when the students would be with us for two full hours.

Following this, we divided the students into groups and one student as the group leader in each group. The students were spread across two classrooms and the foyer area. Every space had 2-3 stations and this way we covered almost 8 stations. Every station was allotted one physical feature (rivers, mountains, water bodies, plains, plateaus, etc). The maps with each of these features marked were put up for the kids to copy into their own booklets. Accompanying this was a small write up about the feature that the kids had to read to understand it better. A few questions were also put up which the students had to answer after referring to the reference books kept at their station.

After every 15 minutes, I reminded them to move to the next station and this way over the 2-hour periods, we were able to cover all the stations. The students sat with their groups and I conducted a quiz, following which a discussion happened on what they learnt.

We were very curious to know if this activity had really benefitted them. So we decided to ask them to rate their learning. Almost 90 per cent of the class had understood. After this, we decided to show a PowerPoint presentation where the different physical features were focussed and their history, formation, specialities, etc., were discussed. This activity went on for almost 3-4 sessions and finally we achieved our goal. Following this, assessments were conducted for regular practice. Most kids were able to score well in mapping.

The concept of mapping didn’t end within the classroom doors. It was again taken up at “The Shishuvan educational fair”. This is an event that is organized every alternate year and serves as an interface for parents, teachers, and students. Every year a theme is decided and activities that are connected to the theme in various subjects are designed. The stalls are managed by the students with the teachers being the facilitators. Every individual in the neighbourhood gets an opportunity to try out these activities and goes back home with innumerable takeaways.

This year the theme was “Differential learning”,where the focus was to have activities related to all the subjects at varying levels – levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 (varied from subject to subject) ranging from the easiest to the most difficult. For the Social Studies department, there were games on the different climatic zones, festivals, GK, etc.

One stall named “The Happy Mappy ride” focussed on the concept of mapping and comprised three levels. Level 1 was where the player had to pick up five chits. Each chit had the name of a state with some letters of the alphabet missing. For example, K – - – l – (Kerala). The player had to identify the name of the state and then locate it on the map of India (a huge cut-out was prepared before and mounted in the stall). To qualify for the next round, the player had to identify at least three states.

On reaching Level 2, the player had to pick up another five chits. Each chit contained the name of a famous personality from a particular state. For example, Aishwarya Rai from Karnataka. The player had to identify the state and place the sticker on the map of India. To qualify for the next level, the player had to identify at least three states.

The last level was the one in which five chits containing the name of the local cuisine/food/ script of the local language had to be chosen (names of festivals, language spoken, monuments, tourist places etc., could also be included). The player had to identify the state based on the clue and place the sticker on the map. Once successful, the player was declared the winner.

This year to help students as well as ease the load off the teacher, we decided to provide the students with mapping booklets that had coloured photocopies of the maps. Along with these activities, a lot of videos created by “Incredible India” were also shown to them to make them aware of the different states of the country.

As mentioned by Sir Hadford Mackengie, a noted educationist, “a map is a tool of the geographer and therefore, no lesson in geography can be called complete without the use of a map.” Let us make it a point to use the same to make our classes fun-filled and as interesting as possible.

The following links may also be helpful to plan activities on mapping –

http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/ geography/contents_maps.htm

http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/ teaching-with-maps.html

Have a happy and enjoyable ride!!!

All Children Can Learn

- By the Shishuvan Remedial Education Department

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Uma Sharma, Swati Thakkar and Ruta Godbole

This is the first in a series of articles about Remedial Education. The series hopes to help inform, educate and support parents on various aspects of Special Education services offered by Shishuvan’s Remedial Education Department.


Remedial Education is relatively a new concept in India. More than the Government laws it was the Aamir Khan film Taare Zameen Par that proved to be the much needed awakening and awareness tool, bringing Learning Disabilities and Remedial Education in to public awareness.


The Right To Education Act (RTE) made it compulsory this year for all schools to have a Remedial department.  Shishuvan however has had a Remedial Education Department since its inception.

Shishuvan is a humane school, not a special school.

The School’s Remedial Department caters to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) any student might present during their academic journey.

The department works across sections and has a meticulous system in place for observing students, identifying their special needs   and supporting them at all times. We have continual update and support sessions for teachers along with parents.

Currently, we support students with

  • Learning Disability
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Vision Difficulties
  • Poor Sensory Integration
  • Developmental Delays
  • English as Second Language (ESL) Learners
  •  Asperger’s/ Autism
  •  Slow Learner
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  •  Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

While today’s parents are better informed than previous generations when it comes to the spectrum of remedial education, there are still many myths and misapprehensions surrounding the area. This series of blog posts, hopes to address some of those concerns and shed light on certain topics.

How and when do you identify if your child has academic concerns?

Although early intervention plays a very vital role in bridging the academic gap, as long as your child is able to manage the activities in the school, even if there is a slight lag, there is no reason for the parent to panic. It is normal for children to have a + or – 6 month variation in their developmental milestones. They soon catch up on the deficit. Comparing your child with other same age children only make matters worse for you and your child. Each child is unique and has his /her own rate of development. Keep a healthy interaction with your child and expose him to a lot of multisensory experiences by exploring nature and things around you. These include, but are not limited to


This will boost his learning process and at the same time enhance the parent – child bond.

Being observant

Rather than making generalised statements such as ‘My child is not studying’, it will be helpful if you can identify the areas of concern such as, ’My child doesn’t follow multiple instructions’ or ‘My child finds it difficult to understand what he reads’, ‘My child requires consistent adult attention while doing his homework’. Only if you consistently observe something amiss in your child’s academic progress, bring it to your class teachers or the remedial educators immediate attention. Your child however young can sense your anxiety……so it’s important not to pass it on to your child, remain calm and positive while your child blossoms.



What can be done to support students with basic skills in numeracy for the 21st century?



By Susan L. Hillman, Ph. D

A Professor of Teacher Education at Saginaw Valley state University, Susan Hillman is a familiar face at  Shishuvan and has conducted many workshops on numeracy for the school. Susan has also been instrumental in developing the school’s Maths curriculum along with Sneha Sawant, Head of Mathematics.

At a recent workshop with school leaders from a variety of schools around Mumbai, we identified several “basic skills” in numeracy for the 21st century. These include (but are not limited to): organising data, estimation, problem solving, observing patterns and strategizing, analytical skills, logical thinking, application, and using digital technologies. Additionally, research on learning mathematics indicates the importance of the processes through which numeracy is developed: collaboration and multiple modes of communication (i.e., talk, write, draw, and view pictures).


One example of an excellent resource that can be used at home or at school is the website for Illuminations, supported by an active professional organization for mathematics teachers. Visit this website (http://illuminations.nctm.org/ ) and you will find many maths games and activities for all levels of learning. If you have a mobile device, you can click on the link for “Interactives” in the light blue bar near the top of the web page. Several of the activities have been optimized for free download on mobile devices. Otherwise, enjoy playing these activities with students online from your computer.


Here are some examples to enjoy with children:


For multiplication facts (multiples and factors) and strategies using logical thinking:



You can find many more activities that span the range of learning maths topics from Pre-Primary to High School on the Illuminations website. Many of these activities have explorations or extensions, as well as resources for teachers on how to use these in math class.


If you have a middle school or high school student who is not interested in math or feels like he or she is not good in maths, then I highly recommend the free online course from Stanford University, designed by Professor Jo Boaler. It should change their perspective on doing maths!


How to Learn Math: For Students (June 17, 2014 – December 15, 2014)




Check it out! Enjoy maths!

Agriculture comes alive for students

- Prachi Ranadive


Prachi teaches classes 9 and 10 in Shishuvan. She is the Head of the Social Studies department and the Head of the High School. This article first appeared on www.teacherplus.org


The most frustrating thing for me as a geography teacher is having to teach geography inside a classroom! Although I am aware that it is impractical for us to ensure that students learn about nature in nature all the time, it is definitely worth it to make an attempt wherever possible.

I wish to share a success story with you. Soil, irrigation, and agriculture are three major topics in class 10. Most students do not study agriculture (as per the ICSE board, students can attempt any 5 questions out of 9 for their exams. Each topic is one question. This gives them scope to not learn some topics) as they find it difficult to remember or analyze related factual data. I strongly believe that these three topics are not in the curriculum just for scoring marks. Students need to learn them to understand ecology and society. Knowledge of these subjects is a window to reality.

In my attempt to conceive new teaching strategies for my class, I spoke with Ms. Michelle Chawla, founder member of Tamarind Tree, a charitable trust based in Dahanu, Maharashtra. At Tamarind Tree they practice non chemical farming, and our students of class 4 visit them three times a year to experience sowing, transplanting, and harvesting of paddy. Realizing this would be useful for the older children too, we organized to take students of class 9 to their farm, once in December and then in June. The first step was identifying the outcomes from the EVS and geography curriculum related to soil, irrigation, and agriculture. Michelle worked on the outcomes which will bring to the notice of students the contemporary and traditional issues of the Warli community which practices agriculture in Dahanu.

The curriculum chalked out for the visit was based on sustainable agriculture, which teaches children their moral obligation to be caretakers and stewards of the finite resources of our planet. This visit was also meant to sensitize the children to the challenges faced by rural communities and give them first-hand experiences to enhance their understanding of the concepts related to soil, irrigation, natural vegetation, and fertilizers. We also looked at other subjects and tried to make this an integrated learning module.

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Macaulay’s Children

Rushabh Mehta is back on the school blog. His daughter Kaavya is a student of Nursery Dhyaan. Rushabh recently attended his first Shishuvan Parent’s Sabha and was troubled by the discussion on speaking only English in school. He’s written about this on his blog, and we’ve reproduced the same below with his permission. 

When the Constitution of India was drafted, the final and most ferocious debate was about the national language. In a country of more than 20 official languages, selecting one was going to be a headache. A compromise of sorts was made, the issue remained unsettled. By default, even though the English left, English remained the language of the government and ruling elite.

In the 60 years since the constitutional debate, few other issues continue to divide India more than this thorny issue of language. A storm was raised last week as the new government, issued a note to its ministers to prefer Hindi in the language of official communication. From the opposite ends, Anglophone intellectuals and regional satraps came together to defend the imposition of Hindi on them.Personally, the debate played out within me as I sat in the Parent Sabha at my daughter’s school. I learnt that the school has an “English only” policy and a few parents even insisted that we speak to our children in English at home.That hurt.

The Beginnings

In my business we interact with with people from all over the world. And I am consistently surprised that outside of the former British colonies of United States and Australia, there are very few people who are fluent in English. But they survive and prosper. Since we build a software product, we have also translated our product in many European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages, but we rarely get demand for Indian languages.

Let this fact sink in: India is the only ancient civilization in the whole world that has accepted the hegemony of English. We need to understand why.

According to many historians, the turning point was the English Education Act of 1835. Lord Macaulay, who was a member of the Council of India, a group of Britons who where helping to lay the foundations the British empire, decided that the Indian language and culture were far inferior and went on to influence the British governor to make English the official language of India. His supremacist note on the matter is widely quoted. In his view, India was an inferior civilization and it was up to the enlightened Britons to save us:

The destinies of our Indian empire are covered with thick darkness. .. The laws which regulate its growth and its decay are still unknown to us. It may be that the public mind of India may expand under our system till it has outgrown that system; that by good government we may educate our subjects into a capacity for better government, that, having become instructed in European knowledge, they may, in some future age, demand European institutions. Whether such a day will ever come I know not. But never will I attempt to avert or to retard it. Whenever it comes, it will be the proudest day in English history.

Unable to appreciate the depth and variety of Indian arts and literature, Macaulay went on to assert:

A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.

Here is the killer, Macaulay goes on to propose that the British must create a “class” of citizens who will become interpreters for the British and will help them rule over the masses:

We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.

Indian nationalists would call this class of people, us, as “Macaulay’s Children”.

East v/s West

To address the question of language further we must go into the qualities of the cultures.

While there is no doubt that when it comes to human health, freedom and material wealth, Western Civilization has done far better. Starting with the European Enlightenment to the Information Revolution, the west has lead the way. This is also human progress and we must participate in it.

But the domination of the West has also come at a cost. Over centuries they have used their superior armies and politics to accumulate much of the world’s wealth. They exploited and colonized people, enslaved them, destroyed civilizations, conducted genocides and looted their wealth. It is with this accumulated capital that they are imposing their culture on the world. These things are strange to hear because we are only taught a Euro-centric history of the world.

We must really ourselves two questions. At what cost do we want the western civilization and how much of it is acceptable?

The Case For English

The argument for English is two fold:

  1. By being fluent in English, we get to become a part of Macaulay’s ruling class (which should have been really dismantled after the British left) over the masses, there by ensuring our economic prosperity. Not knowing good English is in fact considered as a handicap within this class.
  2. In a globalized world, English is the key to knowledge and interacting and integrating with the outside world.

Both these concerns are legitimate. Even as my Marxist alter ego boils at the thought of the ruling class, my pragmatic side tells me that this is a compromise that is acceptable.

My fear is that we do not become so much English that we remain Indian only in blood.

The Case For Native Languages

Even as we learn English to secure our economic future, we must realize that our native languages contain centuries of embedded learnings. The cultural benchmarks and references that are a part of the geography and vegetation and climate can only be understood with the language. Even poetry and classics in English refer to a region most of us have never visited, whether it is Shakespeare’s plays about English aristocrats or monarchs or poetry that is talking about flowers we have never seen.

These remain empty words that we understand semantically but never really feel. Wonder why we give “warm regards” even when our climate is overbearingly hot? Or why insist on hugging when we are probably sweating? “London Bridge is falling down” is one among the favorite rhymes that are taught to children, how many of us have actually seen the bridge?

We risk becoming an empty people without any cultural anchoring to make us soar.

Personal Experiences

I was taught in a missionary school with English as the medium of instruction. Though English was almost exclusively used in classrooms, with the exception of languages of course, but outside of class there was no imposition on using English. In fact even my Christian and Parsi classmates who were uncomfortable in using Hindi, started using it outside of class. I mean, there is no comparison in the amount of profanities available in Hindi versus English (even though I never had the guts to use them).

Most of my reading was also in English. I grew up reading Enid Blytons and gorging Tintin comics. But conversations in family were always Gujarati and with friends, always Hindi. I think can converse in all the three languages fluently even though my reading is restricted to only one. Thanks to cinema and television, Hindi has retained some of its cultural significance and is even catching up in news television thanks to the anchors like Ravish Kumar. Conversations at work are always Hindi. This is was a conscious decision that I took as a founder. Even our name plate has the Devnagri script above the Roman one.

So why don’t I send my daughter to non English school. Like I said, I have a pragmatic side that is willing to compromise and also the quality of vernacular schools is not too great.

The Right Balance

I feel my cultural foundation has a lot to be desired. Even though my family did not aspire or force me to become an Anglophone, they neither inculcated a taste for native arts and literature. I just don’t want to make it worse for my daughter.

Even though bulk of my conversation happens in Hindi, my English is just fine and I will survive. I hope my language and culture survives too. I strongly feel that all Indians must try and make casual conversation in languages that are contextual to them rather than try and aspire to become Macaulay’s Children. And schools must allow children to make these decisions for themselves. These are hard questions about identity that we must think deeply about.