Monday, 18 May 2009

Waldorf schools

Last evening, one of the new Waldorf schools had a "workshop" to educate parents about the benefits of the Waldorf system. True it is better, but the teacher who spoke made a couple of errors which made me think. The basic idea in these schools is that the teacher introduces concepts of say math or science or history or whatever during the course of a sort of a talk on anything...she in particular said she brings in the Pythogoras theorem when discussing Egypt, and discussed the advent of the Mughals with regard to the building of the great wall of China. All very well, but she also mentioned how she discusses the composition of air...oxygen, nitrogen and why hydrogen? is that just aslip or does she not know that the % of hydrogen is rather small? she also said that the % of oxygen must be maintained (good so far) because excess oxygen makes our skin age faster. Now of course, yes, oxidative processes do age us, but is that relevent? Such things give the children totally wrong would mean the world is designed for our benefit....haven't we done enough damage to the world without inculcating such attitudes in kids?---- and even if you wish to be anthropocentric, excess oxygen would burn everything up....forest fires we have seen so far would be kids' bonfires in comparison--but aging skin??
This makes me wonder if leaving things to teachers is such a good thing...many school teachers are learned, well read, but many are not.
This method puts too much on teachers and many may not be able to rise up to it.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

election results.

Thankfully Narendra Modi did not prevail. If the BJP had won, Modi's form of "good governance" would have been taken up pan-India and we may have had happier industrialists, but also a mini holocaust. It so surprised me that Ratan Tata gave a thumbs up for Modi after the Nano went to Gujarat, but glad the people did not think so.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Back to 44C summer from 24C holidayland.

"In boom years, I've seen some folks succeed a bit too easily, and draw some falsely flattering conclusions about themselves". This I have seen across all kinds of college students. I see it not only in my college, but I also came across such attitudes in the engineering college I visited often during my vacation.

You go to a debate competiton, 19/20 year olds talk utter nonsense in a fake accent and believe they are really good, and what's more, get prizes! They are feted by the faculty and other students, made to feel they are great. They debate with no logic, no coherence , no building up of fact, in my college, once on a debate on whether cable televison is a good thing or not, one of the speakers turned to his friend in the opposite camp and said "As if you dont watch MTV! " He thought that was a clincher!! Applause, applause! That's the quality of debate. Where are the budding intellectuals?

But then, when I watch programs on TV where issues are debated, the bigwigs dont argue all that much better either. (LokSabha TV has some good talks/debates sometimes though. They dont need TRPs I suppose).

Sunday, 3 May 2009

private colleges

Tough I malign the "paan dukaan" colleges, I must admit they cater to a section of students who perhaps need them. These colleges run with minimal infrastructure and are therefore able to charge low fees. They are on main bus routes and are therefore easy to commute to. They are in crowded residential localities and therefore many girls from conventional homes are able to attend.
The teaching staff are pressurised to get good results in the theory exam so they make the students memorise pages of notes. Many of the students are industrious and so they get spectacular marks (90%).
You may ask then what is your problem with these colleges?
There is no education...they only learn the textbooks.... that's the problem.
However, sometimes, I come across really good students in these colleges. I went as an examiner to one of these colleges. In the viva, I asked a girl a few questions, she answered well, so I went on to ask more intricate questions. She could not answer, but I was quite pleased, so told her "good, but go and find out what the answer is". The next year, I again went as an examiner to the same college. I was stunned when the girl came for her viva voce, and reminded me of my question the previous year and she gave me the answer!!! I was so impressed!
Sad part is, she is from an orthodox family, and her teachers told me she was getting married as soon as her exams got over.
Such is life.

April 17th op-ed in the Hindu has two articles. One  about the HERC and another about research in medical colleges. First the article abo...