A tribute to Jeremy and his family

Max and Gillian went through a parents worst nightmare, the death of their child Jeremy Fernand.

Jeremy was only 19 years when he fell off a running train on the 26th of November 2017. He succumbed to his injuries at Cooper hospital in Mumbai.

It was a shock to his parents and to all of us who knew him and the family. The pain was agonizing, the questions unending.

It was like being thrown into the deepest and darkest pit possible. Gillian cried out to God, praying that if it is His will let Jeremy be raised from the dead. We all wept. Friends and family poured into their home that dark night to comfort them, shocked themselves. The people from their local church enveloped them with love and comfort.

But something unexpected started taking place almost within minutes of Gillian receiving the news at home. She started saying, “Lord if it is your will, I accept it. ” She started praising God at that most difficult moment.

Even Max who was at the Hospital, once he overcame the initial shock, was able to reach out and comfort his shocked friends who were gathered there.

What we witnessed was the triumph of the Living HOPE Jesus Christ, over death, the fleshing out of the victory Jesus won for you and me on the cross, defeating sin and death for ever, once and for all .

Max and Gillian have experienced this by believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. They were able to live it out.

At the darkest moment of their lives, this light within them shone through.

This was real faith, this was Christianity at its most powerful moment.. They were able to sing and praise God because they made a choice in their hearts to believe in the promises of God. They knew for sure that Jeremy now was, not in a better place, but in the best place possible, as Gillian kept saying in the days following.

Death was defeated that day and we were witness to it. This was when we started to understand what was meant by the eternal verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The way Max, Gillian and even Gabrielle, his 11 year old sister, conducted themselves during the days following the death of Jeremy was I think the greatest testimony to the resurrection power of Christ. Many people have been touched including atheists witnessing this. One said, if this is what faith is, I want to experience this. At the funeral where over a thousand gathered, everyone was comforted by how the parents behaved. It was almost as if the parents were drawing from an unending well, springs of living water and hope and joy just bubbled out of them.

Jeremy’s friends who worked with him at 40 Parables, a company in Bangalore gave powerful testimony to his life and how he was so different in many ways, his maturity and his wisdom. He used to think out of the box. [He was home schooled by his parents as they believed that was the best way to impart their faith and life to him]

They said that any problem, any curved ball thrown at him he could handle.

Here we saw that the greatest curved ball Satan could throw at a parent became another opportunity to display the glory of the risen Jesus Christ to the world.

All praise to our God who lives and loves us with passion. God bless you.

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More parents take to home-schooling their kids, term school studies as rote-learning

Children have always learned naturally from grandparents, parents and elder siblings by accompanying them to the market, to the jungle, to the river, or to the fields. Helping with daily tasks of sowing, harvesting, hunting, food gathering, wood cutting, thatching, attending cattle and so on… children acquire valuable knowledge about biodiversity, medicinal plants, animal husbandry, agriculture, water conservation, house construction, fishing, pottery, weaving, painting … That is EDUCATION!! http://ancientroots.in/children-tomorrows-custodians-of-traditional-knowledge-part-1/

Now it looks like city dwellers have caught on to this and are taking on to homeschooling in a big way. Here is an article in the Times of India by Freny Fernandes….

Seven-year-old Aditi Choudhary is intensely poring over a copy of an atlas and correctly spells out the capital of all nations on the globe when asked. After a pat of appreciation, she resorts to learning math. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that Aditi is getting her lessons at home and not in school for the past three years.

She is being home-schooled, just like the growing number of other children whose parents have taken responsibility as teachers, instead of sending their wards to school for what they call rote learning.

“The schools are preparing them for a rat-race. It is not about gaining knowledge these days. It is all about rote-learning and preparing them for a job market. I do not subscribe to this concept,” says Maya Choudhary , Aditi’s mother.

Shubhangi Bagul, an artist and resident of Louis Wadi, is determined to pull out her fouryear-old son from a school in Thane after a year of observing the way he was being taught.

“We enrolled our son in the junior KG of a popular school with lots of hope. The first thing that disappointed us was that it was overcrowded with 68 children and one teacher to handle them. The school’s approach was a very standard, one-size fits-them all pattern where a child’s natural instinct takes a beating,” she says.

Shubhangi’s husband, Chetanraj, also an artist, says that he wanted his son’s ability at creativity, imagination and understanding to be nurtured and sharpened. “Home-schooling is an alternative education system that can allow holistic growth, “ he says.

Most of the 500-group of parents from Thane and Mumbai who are home-schooling their children say that taking on the role of a teacher requires 100 per cent commitment.

Shruti Patil, who took an infinite sabbatical from her career in architecture to homeschool her three daughters, says, “I have not gone to work ever since I took the responsibility of teaching my children. Every night I have to think of ways to teach basic concepts to them in an interesting way. I even took a course on phonetics from Deborah Rodrigues to understand it better before teaching them. I am constantly reading up on child psychology, etc. to help me teach them better. “

Adapted from May 17 2015 issue of The Times of India (Thane) by Freny Fernandes.

What about exams or tests?

One of the most common questions we encounter as parents of three homeschooled kids is: What about exams?

Let us start with the basics: An examination, commonly known as exam, is a test to see how good somebody is at something.

If that ‘somebody’ is your child and he or she happens to attend school, the only way the teacher and you as a parent can find out how much your child has understood is by giving him a formal test.

A test or examination is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker’s knowledge or rarely skill.

A test may be administered orally, on paper, on a computer, or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills. Tests vary in style, rigor and requirements. For example, in a closed book test, a test taker is often required to rely upon memory to respond to specific items whereas in an open book test, a test taker may use one or more supplementary tools such as a reference book or calculator when responding to an item. A test may be administered formally or informally.

An example of an informal test would be a reading test administered by a parent to a child.

An example of a formal test would be a final examination administered by a teacher in a classroom.


Figure 1 A formal test in process

So what people really want to know is what about formal tests for homeschooled children?

The beauty of homeschooling is that the parents, being the teachers of the child, know exactly what their children are learning and have understood at any point in time, by giving them informal tests all the time. So for them there is really no need to do any formal testing at all! Who else needs to know how much their child has understood? Who cares for their child more than they themselves, the parents? We as parents often go beyond testing too, to find out the heart of the child, something that cannot be measured by any test.

So my simple answer to people who ask me this question is: ofcourse we as parents test them regularly and informally. There is absolutely no need to do formal testing, with all its associated tensions for the child, parent and teacher as the case may be. As the homeschooled child grows older, he or she can take formal tests as deemed fit by the parents, if they wish to prepare him or her for entry into colleges.

There are different options for homeschooled children to take formal exams at different levels, like the Macmillan International Assessment for Indian Students, The NIOS and the IGCSE etc. You will find out more details of these on my other blogs. Relax and have a nice relaxed exam-free day J

 

 

 

City NIOS candidate moves HC over no extra answer sheets rule

City NIOS candidate moves HC over no extra answer sheets rule

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MUMBAI: A clause in the rules governing the flexible National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) exams, which says that candidates are not allowed to ask for extra answer sheets, has now been challenged in court.


Jeremy Fernand, a Class 10 student,[whose parents are part of Swashikshan, the All India body of Homeschoolers], couldn’t complete his Math paper in the October exam session, didn’t know he wasn’t entitled to an extra sheet till he asked for one, because no announcement was made at the exam centre, he claims.

When his father Max subsequently wrote to the authorities, they were told the rules didn’t contain a provision for supplementary sheets.

Fernand has now moved the Bombay high court through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), praying that the rule be amended so students can use more than one answer sheet.

He has alternatively prayed that the rule be better publicized through the hall ticket and admission form well in advance so that students are prepared for it during the exam. “We are not saying that the rule is right or wrong, we are only asking that candidates be made more aware about it,” said Fernand. “Students shouldn’t find out the rule after it’s too late.”

The petition came up in the court on Friday, when a division bench of Justice SJ Vazifdar and justice BP Colabawalla said it should be heard as a writ petition. It is likely to come up before a different bench soon.

More than 20,000 students across the state appear for the NIOS exams every year.

The NIOS is an alternative system that allows greater flexibility as compared to mainstream schools.


The petition has pointed out that other boards allow the use of extra sheets and that the rule is arbitrary. “While the purpose of the NIOS is to foster the needs of the children in promoting educational programmes, such arbitrary rules are only counterproductive to the objectives of the NIOS,” it said.

  • 20 Jan 2014
  • Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
  • Bhavya Dore bhavya.dore@hindustantimes.com

Schools, Obesity, Activism and Education

Obesity on the rise in developing world: Report


The number of obese and overweight people in the developing world nearly quadrupled to almost a billion between 1980 and 2008, a thinktank report said on Friday. There are now far more obese or overweight adults in the developing world than in richer countries, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said.
The London-based institute said more than a third of all adults around the world — 1.46 billion people — were obese or overweight. Between 1980 and 2008, the numbers of people affected in the developing world rose from 250 million to 904 million. In the developed world, the figure rose from 321 million to 557 million.
“The growing rates of overweight and obesity in developing countries are alarming,” said ODI research fellow Steve Wiggins, who co-authored the Future Diets report. [Times of India 4th January 2014]

In a recent survey cum intervention program conducted by Dr. Mathew, he was surprised to find that one third of sixth grade students were obese in a well-known school in Borivali that had an attached playground! One can only imagine the plight of schools without playgrounds.

Most schools do not have their own playgrounds

As you must have read in the newspapers recently, this is a shocking statistic. Please read https://drspmathew.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/75-schools-dont-have-playgrounds/ to know more.

One possible solution is Homeschooling. In Homeschooling parents are the role models and teachers of their children, for values as well as learning. Parents teach children how to learn, so that together they can go on this journey of learning and discovering. Education has moved out of the classroom into the real world, are you prepared for the future?


Most open spaces in Mumbai have been encroached illegally robbing citizens of playgrounds and recreational grounds

This is another problem that we citizens in cities have been facing. Citizen activism is seen as the key here. http://newlinkroad.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/open-spaces-in-mumbai/

City neighborhoods barely have open spaces for relaxation and enjoyment of the outdoors. The result has taken a toll on our quality of life. The recent success of the AAP has shown the power that ordinary people can exert if they focus and persevere to be a change in their God-given area.

So parents and friends, what are you waiting for? Take charge of your life, the education of your children, and the life of your neighborhood. There is never a better time than now.

IGCSE and Homeschool

Some of us parents met with Ms. Tanya Valecha, Principal of Rustomjee School http://www.school.rustomjee.com/ on Tuesday 18th June 2013. We mentioned to her that we are part of an All India body of Homeschoolers called Swashikshan whose website is http://homeschoolers.in/

The main points discussed were:

  • Homeschooled students giving the IGCSE 10th grade exams
  • Handholding partnership with the school for homeschooled kids who are younger

The Principal was very open and supportive and patiently answered all our questions. She

Homeschooled students giving the IGCSE 10th grade exams

Homeschooled children are most welcome to give the IGCSE exam in Rustomjee. Homeschooled Students are free to choose any subject, only English is compulsory, and the minimum number of subjects is 6. Exams are held in November every year, except Hindi which is held in May. The school can administer exams for most of the subjects except those which need special examiners like for Spanish or German. For these subjects, if the Student arranges Cambridge-certified Examiners, the school can still hold exams.

Since the student will be giving the exam as a private candidate, the school only facilitates the exam and does not provide any training. The school will also not be providing any Leaving Certificate, which is one of the requirements for admission into Junior Colleges in Mumbai.

The IGCSE results come after three months, and they give actual percentages obtained now, previously they used to give grades. This helps the student to know exactly how well they have done. Also in IGCSE there is no artificial boosting of percentages with internal assessments.

She also suggested that a child should take a minimum of 6 subjects at 10th level for admission into colleges.

Handholding partnership with the school for homeschooled kids who are younger

Some parents expressed a desire to homeschool and yet at the same time wished their child to attend ‘exciting’ activities, some classes and exams conducted by the school. The Principal is most happy to accept such students.

Such students will be admitted to the age appropriate grade after an assessment is done, basically for English and Math in lower grades. They are free to attend the class or activity of their choice. They can give the exam as mutually decided, either the Final exam with the whole year’s portion, or divided in three parts. Passing percentage is 40% in all subjects.

If the student leaves the school for whatever reason, the school will give a Leaving certificate, and if the student rejoins, a fresh assessment will be done before the child is taken on the rolls of the school.

The fees applicable for such students will be 50% of the regular fees. I requested the Principal on behalf of Swashikshan to consider reduction in the fees and she promised to discuss this with the management.

She also mentioned that text books can be purchased from book stores first hand or second hand, and course worksheets are also available in case the child wants to do them.

We thank Ms. Tanya Valecha and look forward to further interactions with her and the school.

Visit to a Sculptor cum Artist

A few of us Homeschoolers went to visit a Sculptor today. We saw her use her hands to painstakingly and lovingly make clay into a face. The way she molded it, the care and attention to details, and the way she explained it to us was amazing.

She is a student of JJ school of Art, and she both does and teaches Sculpting, Drawing and Painting to students. I met her when she was admitted to my Hospital last month, and she mentioned that she was an artist. Being curious I asked more details, and she invited me to visit her studio. That set the process in motion, and today we ended up actually visiting her place.

Her place was filled with her various creations.

She does pencil drawing, water colors, acrylic colors as well as sculpture. She said that to make human figures one needs to also know anatomy and physiology, just as in Medicine.


Pencil sketch of a relative.


Color pencil drawing! Amazing real life effect.


The ever smiling artist!


Kids engrossed in watching her sculpt a face


We watched as she transformed a lump of clay into the likeness of a face. She used her hands which she moistened regularly with a wet cloth. She also used a few wooden instruments.

We were reminded of the verse in the Bible “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

(Psalms 139:13 NIV)


The finished face!

Our children also made their own clay creations.


We really enjoyed the time with her, and at the end of the visit she gave us a crate of Alphonso mangoes from her farm! God bless her.