Homeschoolers in Mumbai

Mumbai Homeschoolers: Brief account of our recent get togethers

In India, there are many parents who have chosen to educate their children out of ‘school’. They form a small but growing number of intelligent, creative and bold individuals who are now also getting aware of the need to join together as a National Body, with a structure, to best represent their interests to the Government.

In India Homeschooling is not yet legal or illegal. Like in many other areas, the Indian Government has not given a clear decision either way. Thanks to Mike from the HSLDA and others, we are assured of support from all over the world in this aspect of educating our own children.

This nascent movement has brought many individuals together and has also resulted in many fun filled moments for us as we met for common activities.

Some of the recent outings we had as homeschoolers included a trip to the National Park in North Mumbai during the rains in July 2011. We carried snacks, and field science kits to catch and observe specimens [released back after studying them]. The children enjoyed the time together, exploring the natural environment and the stream.

It also resulted in greater bonding among the children from diverse backgrounds and staying miles apart, as Mumbai is a large city spread out over a hundred kilometers.

The stream was in full flow at the time as it was the rainy season, and many amphibians, reptiles and other animals could be observed.

One interesting observation we made as parents was that none of the kids asked each other “Which school do you go to?”!

We had another field trip to the National Park in August 2011 when a Biology expert was invited by a Homeschooling parent Poonam Kurani and she gave a wonderful talk explaining in detail the flora and fauna of the park. We parents also learnt quite a bit.

Next we had a bird watching expedition at the Silonda trail at the National Park in October 2011. This was an early morning walk with a young naturalist from Mumbai. We saw almost 30 species of birds and identified them with the guide book too. Besides that we also saw many insects, reptiles and spiders. The kids as well as adults were amazed at the diversity of God’s creation and their adaptability to diverse environments.

Some of the birds we saw included the Ashy tailed drongo pictured here below.

We also had a trip to the Nehru Science center in December 2011, where we could see science in action. We also saw Science projects from across the country done by students.

After that we went to the Nehru Planetarium and saw the skies come alive on their massive dome theatre. There were quite a few exhibits at the Planetarium too.

Pose!

Then we all gathered at the terrace of a family from Dadar and witnessed the total lunar eclipse with our naked eyes and with a reflector telescope, besides having games, quizzes and fun there, literally bringing the roof down with the children running and playing.

We discussed how eclipses are formed, and different topics under the moon!

So that is how homeschooling is catching up and spreading in Mumbai and other parts of India and this is a small glimpse of our life here in Mumbai.

We do hope you enjoyed this short article and please pray that we would continue to enjoy the freedom to educate our children out of school to make them good citizens of India and the world.

Dr. Mathew S P

www.drspmathew.wordpress.com

Hi Tech Learning?

Where is ‘education’ headed in the near future? It seems we are getting more dependent on electricity consuming internet linked gadgets. Are they good?

Here is an article from Today’s newspaper:

Tech boost worries psychiatrists

Shreya Bhandary | TNN Times of India 14th Dec 2011

Schools are slowly moving ahead with the times and technology is bringing about major changes in classrooms as well as teaching techniques. However, effects on children due to exposure to new gadgets cannot be ignored and this has been a standing debate between educationists as well as psychiatrists across the globe.

Is this good learning?
“Schools in the US and UK have done research and found that technology, when used rightly, helps in the overall development of a child,” said Vandana Lulla, director-principal, Podar International School, Santa Cruz (W). She added that the school had taken an initiative to make students use the iPad after putting a lot of thought into it.
Psychiatrists are worried about the sudden boost of technology in schools where human interaction is being replaced by latest gadgets. “I wonder if there’ll be proper use or simply abuse of technology provided to children. Especially little children, who may not understand the idea of addiction,” said Dr Sanjay Kumawat, member, Bombay Psychiatric Society. He added that once students get involved in gaming and the internet, they may lose interest in studies.
Many quoted cases where too much exposure to the internet and gadgets had led to addiction which needed psychiatric help. “Bonding between the teacher and students is the best method of education, everything else is an accessory. Students remember schools for the personal interaction they have had with teachers and colleagues, so gadgets will only reduce interaction time,” said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty.
While most schools are taking the initiative to include technology in classrooms to the best, some believe in following old techniques of teaching. “Students are anyway exposed to a lot of media and internet at home so it is important to include human interaction in schools. Even though our school is updated with latest developments in the media, our teaching methods will stay the same,” said Sudeshna Chatterjee, principal, Jamnabai Narsee School, Andheri (W).

The ‘value’ of a college education

‘Many graduates aren’t useful to society’

An article in the Times of India today 12th Dec 2011

by Hemali Chhapia | TNN

A generation ago, the Institute of Science in Mumbai was an epicentre for high-end research. It was there that the samples of rock from the moon were analysed and the effect that sulphur dioxide had on plants was studied. Today, many departments in the institution run with single faculty members; some departments have just been shut down.
Just a few kilometres away, Sydenham College, Elphinstone College and the J J School of Art and Architecture have similar tales to tell – the institutions have seen a slow painful decline, asphyxiated by the Maharashtra government’s apathy.
The city’s aided colleges, which make up a thick slice of the educational system, merely carry on from one day to the next, with no maintenance or development grant coming from the state.
Little wonder then that though Mumbai’s colleges received an above average 3.3 rating in The Times Of India-IMRB Quality Of Life Survey, the respondents still perceived institutions in four other cities in a much better light.
There is room for much improvement in many of the city’s institutes. “Something as basic and as central as the course content is not updated regularly,” said Sathaye College principal Kavita Rege. “We have failed in making many of our graduates people who are useful to society,” she added.
While principals like Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, of St Xavier’s College, said that colleges in Delhi were spoilt for all the attention they received, most acknowledged that institutes in Bangalore, Chennai and Pune had moved up the quality ladder of late. “Colleges in Delhi are hyped up. I don’t feel that students from there are any better than those from our city,” said Mascarenhas.
But while the state government’s interest in higher education has depreciated, many universities have promoted autonomy, allowing colleges to exercise the freedom to blossom. The idea has not yet become popular in Mumbai though.
There has been a sort of academic torpor, said many experts, with teachers and academicians merely continuing the same practices that have been followed over the years.
Ruia College principal Suhas Pednekar said that there has been expansion, but it has taken place with scant thought given to quality. “We don’t even try to utilize more technology in our classrooms,” added Pednekar.
But Jai Hind College head Ashok Wadia said colleges in the city were working towards improving their standards, though they were struggling.

These are just a sign of the changing times, feel many Homeschoolers, who feel that this present education system will become extinct just like the dinosaurs of yore!

Once upon a time

This is a scene set many decades into the future……

We zoom into the kid’s bedroom of a family living in a city. It is time for bedtime stories! Did you know that bedtime stories are timeless?!

Mom is with her two kids. They listen with rapt attention, as she tells them a fascinating bedtime story…

“Once upon a time, long long ago, there lived a brother and sister called Kiran and Asha, and they used to go to school.” Said Mom.

“What is school?” Asked her kids in surprise! They had never heard of a school. No one went to school!

“Well, a school was a place where kids used to go to learn. It was like a big building where many students would gather together and learn from a specially trained person called a Teacher” explained Mom.

“Aw, how strange!” exclaimed the kids! “Why would they do that?”

“Well, you know, long ago, people used to think that kids can learn only in schools” said Mom.

The boy was quite surprised by that! “Why would they think like that? Wasn’t there any internet and online learning or virtual teaching in those days?”

The mom was at a loss for words. She tried to explain that a school had a room where kids of the same age used to sit together and a teacher used to come and teach them different subjects.

The kids were amused by this concept.

“Why on earth would you put kids of the same age together, Mom?” chimed in the girl. “It sounds so artificial, I mean where in the world would you find people of the same age working or living together!?”

“Hey Mom, are you sure you are not making this whole thing up?” asked the boy.

“Ofcourse not son! Let me continue with the story so that you get a better idea of this thing called school.” replied Mom.

“Kiran was in a classroom with 40 other kids the same age. The teacher used to talk, and the kids used to listen to the teacher. If the teacher could not be heard because of the din in the classroom she would shout at the kids or threaten them with punishment to make them to listen. The teacher would work very hard to try to teach kids”

The boy asked “Why would the teacher shout at the kids? Are they her own?”

No son, said the mom. The teacher wanted the kids to study well and score in the exams.

“What are exams?” Asked both of them together!

“Exams are where the kids are given questions to answer every few months. The children used to study very hard to get good marks in the exams.” Said Mom

Ok, you mean they used to have exams to remember everything they learnt? asked the boy.

“No son, Based on their marks they were able to select different careers”

“You mean, the kids used to give exams and get marks but not remember what they learnt?” asked the girl in puzzlement

“Well, yes that was usually the case, dear…but there were exceptions” said the mother lamely, but she had to admit the exam system had been a failure almost from the start.

The kids were still quite puzzled!

“This whole school and exam thing sounds like a fairy tale story, or more like a horror story Mom!” exclaimed the boy!

The whole school and exam thing seemed too strange for the kids, so..yeah…old fashioned!

Here they could learn anything they wanted right in their own rooms, or they could go with their parents to study the real world outside!

They could play with other children when it was cool in the morning, and in the early evenings before it became too dark. They could also learn on the job about various practical things to do around the house, helping their parents and others. It was simply beyond their comprehension that such a thing as ‘school’ would exist!

Both the children were relieved! “Mom, thank God we have no more schools now! We realized how blessed we are! Thank God we are learning at home! Good night Mom, love you Mom!”

This is a peek into the future. Are you prepared?

Here are some useful sites….to help you get going..into the future!

http://homeschoolingindia.in/

http://indiahomeschoolers.ning.com/

Open Learning

Learning is a process, where the learner accesses information and ‘learns’.

With easy access to information
anywhere [Mobile phones, laptops, desktops, books], anytime [The internet is always on] — knowledge today is no longer restricted to physical classrooms. In fact, the real learning is happening laterally, outside the four walls of schools, colleges and universities. 

That is the vision we call as Open Learning.

 

Homeschooling is one way in which this dramatic paradigm shift in the field of education is being played out.

There is a note of caution here. Are you sure the information you are learning from is true and correct?

Education Times on the 5th of December 2011 wrote: These are some of the issues that were discussed and debated upon in two international conferences held recently in two parts of the world — ‘Re-inventing Higher Education’ in Madrid, Spain, and the ‘World Innovation Summit for Education’ (WISE) in Doha, Qatar. 
    Lisa Anderson, president, American University in Cairo (AUC), points out, “Most of the learning now takes place outside the classroom; through the internet and social media sites.” 
    Considering the way technology has changed the education landscape, experts working in the area of education believe that first and foremost, the traditional mindset has to change. That can help the academic community to perceive the future needs of a student going through this transition. 
    For instance, Graham Brown-Martin, founder of Learning without Frontiers (LWF), a global platform for thinkers and practitioners, argues, that in a digital age, when most of the learning takes place through video games, blogs and social media, we need to see things differently. 
    He adds that plagiarism is a serious concern today. Schools and universities are installing software to find out the correct source. “Who cares?” he asks, saying that it doesn’t matter whether a student has copied or not, but whether he or she has chosen the right text to copy. “We need to understand that the world is not about retaining facts at the moment, facts are free, but the world is about deciding which facts are true and correct,” he says. 

The future roadmap of higher education, the academic world agrees, needs to include blended methodology, lifelong learning, collaborative efforts in research and curriculum development, introduction of transnational accreditation agencies and increased student mobility. 


    While students today are versed in new technologies, thus, acquiring new skills and attitudes towards learning, universities across the world are rethinking and re-inventing their role in order to cater to new student profiles. Technology and globalisation are reshaping the way in which knowledge has traditionally been generated and disseminated — teaching students to work in multiple geographies, among others. In this new landscape, is there a need to re-invent higher education? 
    Many feel that the concept of a university is not as sacrosanct as before. “Institutes of higher learning can no longer operate as insular entities. We need more diversity, different institutes serving different needs of students at different costs,” opines David E Van Zandt, president, The New School, US. 
    Adel Adem from Eritrea, a finance student at Qatar University, agrees to say that the dynamics of a traditional classroom has undergone a major change. “With the online space coming in, students have a broader knowledge source today and universities should realise that the mode of knowledge delivery has to change to cater to a student’s individual profile.” 
    Another important change that is being observed is the role of students as stakeholders in higher education. According to Martha Mackenzie, president, Oxford University Student union (OUSU), though students are not comfortable with the consumer narrative, but because they are paying high tuition fees, they feel that they have the right to question the quality of education they are being given as they have a lot more at stake. 

 

But the ultimate question remains: Why do you want to learn? To gain more knowledge for the sake of our ego?


Times of India adds: Yet another challenge for universities is to account for the relevance of education for graduates’ careers. Do institutions of learning need to have closer ties with industry? From the student’s perspective, both Mackenzie and Tetiana Mykhailiuk, president, AIESEC International, feel that the ‘real’ motivator for higher education was and still is employment
    “Traditional universities who pride themselves on their role in imparting knowledge should not be critical but open to the fact that majority of students are not opting for higher education for the sake of education but for a better job and life. Universities should cater to a diverse group of students with different needs without compromising on intellectual integrity,” they add. 
    On a concluding note, Mohamed Farag from Egypt, studying electromechanical engineering at the University of Alexandria, says: “Universities will need to bridge the skill gap, as well as ensure a seamless shift from the classroom to the workplace.” 
    
Re-inventing Higher Education was organised by IE University and World Innovation Summit for Education by the Qatar Foundation.

At this point I would say, learning just for the sake of employment is a sad statement. It means you are placing priority on getting money over getting knowledge.

The Bible talks about the value of wisdom and knowledge as being above any worldly wealth!

Think about it…

Out of the world

It was almost like an out of the world experience. Here I was following this guy, as he was walking a few feet ahead. I could see his anger radiating out like hot yellow rays! It was as if I was experiencing all his emotions in colour.

He reached the junction and exploded in ager at someone standing there, who was blocking his way. The yellow sparks that flew out almost blinded me…wow, I said, what anger. He continued walking, fast. I was just able to catch up.

I could see the anger boiling inside him as the phone call came. Why you called me, he muttered under his breath. I could feel that he was very angry at his wife for having called him. He tried to speak normally but I could see it all in colour.

 

I saw his mind literally…the hurt and anger inside. It was not a pretty sight at all. I sensed that he was irritated with his wife for having called him to check where he was. He was feeling hurt inside, maybe saying inside, what, doesn’t she trust me to reach in time? The hurt was like some deep pain which was causing him to literally explode at her. The pain inside I could see as shades of red.

I felt like calling the fire brigade. This was a serious hazard.

I looked around at other people. There was a lady waiting for a bus. Her emotions were green, and yellow. I tuned into them and discovered that they were equally bad. Jealousy was literally eating her up from the inside, coupled with rage.

I saw yellow, red, green everywhere. God, these are really hurting people, I said.

Then a strange thing happened. Yes, I heard! I looked around, and suddenly felt God was besides me. Pure white, with an emotion like no other I have yet experienced. I could feel His love flowing out, the peace He wanted these people to experience.

God, I said. You are so awesome….. and yet the people you created go through life with such anger, hate, jealousy… why oh Lord.

They have looked elsewhere for what they want, everywhere except to me, said the Lord.

I understood. We all were at war, within ourselves and against others. All of us, when seen by God, are walking around with violent colours, anger, rage, jealousy, coveting, greed, lust and so on. How horrible we must be looking. To God, and to others. And yet, it is beyond belief that God does not look at that husband the way his wife looks, with disappointment and indifference.

God was in Christ making peace between the world and himself, not putting their sins to their account, and having given to us the preaching of this news of peace.

Rom 8:1 For this cause those who are in Christ Jesus will not be judged as sinners.

Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Rom 8:3 For what the law was not able to do because it was feeble through the flesh, God, sending his Son in the image of the evil flesh, and as an offering for sin, gave his decision against sin in the flesh:

Rom 8:4 So that what was ordered by the law might be done in us, who are living, not in the way of the flesh, but in the way of the Spirit.

Even Einstein was wrong? Then who can be trusted?

If the greatest scientist, Albert Einstein was wrong about the speed of light and nothing moving faster than light, I do not know any man I can trust….HOWZZAT!

Fresh test affirms Einstein is wrong
Times of India 19th Nov 2011

New Experiment Shows Sub-Atomic Particles Called Neutrinos Travel Faster Than Light

Something moves faster than light

London: A new experiment appears to provide further evidence that Einstein may have been wrong when he laid down that nothing could go faster than the speed of light, a theory that underpins modern thinking on how the universe works.
The new evidence, challenging a dogma of science that has stood since Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity in 1905, appeared to confirm that sub-atomic particles called neutrinos could travel fractions of a second faster.
A new experiment at the Gran Sasso laboratory, using a neutrino beam from CERN in Switzerland, 720 km away, was held to check similar findings in September 2010 by a team of scientists which were greeted with some scepticism.
Scientists at the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) said in a statement that their new tests aimed to exclude one potential systematic effect that may have affected the original measurement.
“A measurement so delicate and carrying a profound implication on physics requires an extraordinary level of scrutiny,” said Fernando Ferroni, president of the INFN.
“The positive outcome of the test makes us more confident in the result, although a final word can only be said by analogous measurements performed elsewhere in the world.”
An international team of scientists shocked the scientific world with the original findings in September. That first finding was recorded when 15,000 neutrino beams were pumped over three years from CERN to Gran Sasso, an underground Italian laboratory near Rome.
Physicists on the experiment, called OPERA after the initials of its formal scientific title, said they had checked and rechecked over many months anything that could have produced a misreading before announcing what they had found.
If confirmed, scientists say the findings could show that Einstein — father of modern physics — was wrong when he laid down in his theory of special relativity that the speed of light was a “cosmic constant”, and nothing could go faster.

It seems we need to take a major dose of humility and say “God, you are the Creator, and you know everything, we are sorry to even pretend to be God”