Monday, 26 December 2011

teaching science

The PM says young people are not studying math. The same can be said for science.
This is because from the beginning math and science are viewed as difficult. They are also taught in a way that makes them difficult. The same continues in college.
There must be a way of teaching math and science that makes them easy to learn, fun and gives a sense of wonder and of achievement.
I know what it is not....It is not learning formulae and quickly plugging them in the right places to solve 'problems'. This way, children become computers ..... programmable to 'do science'.
It is also not the way some people do.......Johnny you be sodium and give this electron to Jenny here.... Reconciling realities to models is a difficult enough process. If we make up silly models, they have to unlearn weird ideas and relearn new ones.
Science should be presented as a part of life, as answer to some questions of how and why.
But what is a good way to teach science to kids?
I am still wondering... I hope to reach some conclusion by 2013 when I plan to start teaching small children.......any good idea will be appreciated!

Friday, 23 December 2011


In 1978, there was Doordarshan and our hostel common room had one black and white TV. On Wed evenings, the common room would fill up with girls all ready to watch 'chitrahaar'.
Now my Tv more than 100 channels, but I am never able to find something to watch.
News channels are on infinite loops. They are becoming worse than the serials.
Serials are good for watching in snatches...5 minutes now and 5 minutes day after tomorrow....taht's all one needs to follow them if one wishes to do so. But now news too is just like that....once in two days is all you need to see it all.

Monday, 19 December 2011


If an Indian businessman can buy up the largest steel manufacturing company in the world,
if Indian companies can invest in projects all over the world, then why this refrain that ONLY FDI can improve infrastructure in retail?
Why don't Indian companies invest more in retail ? If it is profitable for Walmart, then why not for Aditya Birla and Reliance? Can they not do whatever it is that Walmart or Tesco does ?

Sunday, 18 December 2011


The AICTE has mandated that we purchase subscription to e journals for our MBA course. The bill is likely to be a couple of lakhs per annum. Just after a discussion about this with the Head of the mngmt department, I was walking back and met a few MBA students ....they are having their internals. Each was carrying a guide book. There is this "all in one guide to MBA" that is very popular amongst students. I used to be in charge of exams, and during every exam, I have seen all MBA students faithfully studying this.
So for whom is this expenditure of lakhs per annum?
An NDTV program -- someone says the AMRI was given a high rating by the NABH. The response to that the time of inspection, the hospital was probably compliant with the high standards of the NABH.
This is what all accreditation agencies do. Just before the NAAC peer team visit, a college is dressed up, records filed beautifully, hundreds of useless books bought for the library, trees planted and the college gets an A grade.
The whole charade is such a waste of time and scarce money-- money that could be used productively.
No one really cares whether actual teaching is being done, or the learning outcome...nothing. Just comply with a few rules, keep good looking files ready and you are an A grade college.
The converse is that you may have excellent staff, students who learn a lot and a lot of value addition given to the students by the college, but if you don't have pretty files taht say so, you are a C grade college.
It's a classroom...say, class V in a boys' school. All the boys are up and about shouting, fighting, except the class monitor who, like the good boy he is, is sitting in his place writing.
When Dr Manmohan singh first became the prime minister, I thought " now we have an honest man at the helm who will not be afraid to expose and throw out the corrupt ministers because he is clean."- didn't happen....I thought "well no clear majority so maybe he can't do anything". Next time round, he had larger numbers and I thought "now he can do it".
But he is like the class monitor.
Moral of the story....' good boys' don't make good monitors.

Friday, 16 December 2011


Why do they say 'gold prices reach an all time high' ;
Or, on a December morning 'the coldest day of this season' ?
What do these statements mean?
The gold price will go up and it will get colder still tomorrow.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


A recent gift--a dell laptop. Being tech-challenged, can't say more than that.
However, now I have a laptop that comes on when i switch it on! I don't have to coax it to boot up. My old laptop behaved like a person with OCD-- I had to press the power-on button, wait a few sec, press it off, and then again on. Then it would come to life.... it must have learnt this from the pop up boxes we get when we wish to delete a file...we are asked to confirm we wish to delete. My old laptop always wanted to confirm whether I really wanted to switch it on and waste my time blogging when i had pending jobs like cleaning cupboards and folding clothes.
A swamiji from R K Mutt spoke to students. I have heard similar speeches from him. His speeches have a lot of high funda philosophy, but interesting , with anecdotes to enliven the talk.
But I never get any new ideas from them.

One new idea I liked was from this TED talk on regret. I like this way of thinking about regrets.
In my childhood, many "madrasis" living in Delhi used to eat rotis regularly--they were new to north India, but were adapting. But they liked to sieve the atta. The punjabis prefer bran left in the atta. I learnt that I liked the rotis with the bran better. The bran gave the rotis more substance, more flavour.
Regrets are probably the bran of life.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Lokpal's office
A peon in the Lokayukta's office has 3 crores.
A Lokpal who is going to look after corruption in every area of life in our country,(except of course, NGOs) going to need hunreds of peons who can amass 3 crores each.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Maybe I should change the description of my blog

I must change the title of my blog. It has now meandered from "my views on education" though it wanders back often. Maybe I have said all I had to say on the matter.
One common feature of all Universities, Govt colleges and some private ones that are administered like Govt organisations, is their admin staff. They all work at their own pace, cannot be hurried even in dire emergencies.
The QR for the job of acad clerk or PA to the dean or the accounts clerk, is that they must be philosophers, unfazed by the mad rush of lesser mortals trying to organise a seminar or get the bill passed to pay the examiner. After all, in the larger context of the universe, what is an LCD projector?
However, in the much maligned (by me) private colleges run by some politician in a block of flats, the staff is usually super efficient. They have only one boss (the politician) and do the work given to them with precision. When we go as examiners to such colleges, if we have any admin problem, one word to the admin staff, and it is sorted out immediately. They even plan the lab schedules!

I watch this TV show called Blue Bloods. It is about a family of New York Police Department officers. The show is fictional and makes all ...