• http://www.amazon.com/The-Thomases-Road-Realization-ebook/dp/B009BATQUA/

Friday, May 27, 2011

School...of Good Hope

The other day few of us, parents, were talking about the cost of education in our times. It ranged from free, to Rs 15 per month to Rs 30 per month. How the times have changed… educational institutions are now synonymous with money……"expense” to most and “making more” to some select few. Today the Mexican grass on the school lawn, the exotic food in the canteen is advertised to impress parents to empty their pockets. And guess what, it actually works!

I was talking yesterday with a former principal of a school and in a matter of time I was telling her my short experience with teaching seven years back and how frustrated I feel about the education scenario. I was telling her what I feel is required to better the situation and discussed the economics of incorporating it.

That economics should not be important in the education field cannot be justified in today's context; as Money is a priority for all private enterprises and THAT cannot be changed and better be accepted. And yet some of the consumerism plaguing schools should be removed as it goes against the very things schools are to teach like "reducing resource wastage"!. In olden times there was optimum resource utilization  In today's times Bags, Uniform, 'Adidas' white shoes, stationary and books have to be brought from the school every year.Often after giving a bag, the school wants the parent to buy smaller bags for the little kid so no one questions the load they carry! That's one time I have felt the house is full of bags; like from old schools, new school and bags as promotional gifts from consumers stores but not one to carry to school. I also wonder if there is still the concept of using old books of the elder sibling or senior students in a posh school? How many trees are we cutting, and how much resources are we wasting  to write "SAVE TREES, DON'T WASTE RESOURCES"?

 Now more on the current filthy scenario

1. Education today is not focused on bettering the standards of education but rather is focused on making money for the private owners of the institution.

a. Schools are often marketed very well but it all turns out to be a flashy crust over a highly rotting inners where a teacher in a class does not even last for more than three months (yup despite the one year bonds). One teacher lasting one year has become rare in most schools, then what can be assured about the teaching standards of a school where there are not even good, experienced, stable teachers to show off? Is the expensive grass on the lawn and the canteen food enough for the child’s development?

c. Freshers into the teaching field are loaded with as many classes possible and even classteachership (associated are meaningless paper works and record keeping) when it is well understood that loading thus would lead to lesser preparation time for each class. .(Believe me even with four hours of sleep a fresh teacher cant spare an average of 20 minutes of preparation time per period a day under the above scenario) "Teaching well" definitely does not seem to be the aim when "preparation" time is not given importance while assigning the load! The aim rather seems to be to squeeze the very life out of the teacher for the expense she is incurring on the institution in the name of a comparative pittance of a salary. And I am not much wrong in generalizing this to most schools as I confirmed from the discussion with the former principal. This is true for most schools and things are no better today than seven years back.

c. Teachers are loaded like a donkey but compared to their work their pay stays unremarkable (also compared to other less stressful professions). There was long back an article in a paper that most of the heart patients admitted in hospitals are teachers. I can believe that. My short tryst with teaching left me convinced that only someone who has no better option would want to teach under the current load scenario.

2. Bettering options for the scenario without causing a dent in the money making. Money is important agreed, but there are also possible ways of earning it by first just aiming to make for a happy teacher

a. A fresh teacher should be given less classes and facilitate a scenario where the teacher can devote atleast two hours of preparation time for each 45 minute or one hour class. When the teacher has perfected her basic subject and arrived at an appropriate teaching style in the first year, she can be slowly assigned other frill and froth work like classteachership or even more classes. The economics of this is that more breathing space would make for contented teachers who don’t run away breaking even the one year bond and thus save the school the stress of teacher hunting after every two months.

b. Facilitating the appropriate environment to hone teaching skills in the first year of a fresh teacher and making for contented teachers would lead to stable experienced teachers in a school and a good name for the school without the need for expensive marketing strategies and loads of lies. A little bit of freedom and flexibility should be allowed to the teacher, rather than deciding how the teacher should do the job (directions like -the teacher should make notes and dictate the notes, finish course by October, revise in the remaining months, apart from this,of course do what u want in the class…!!REALLY? Where now remains the time per class to do what the teacher may want to do? In fact all the inflexible directions mentioned,are a pressure to ensure conforming rather than allow creative teaching) There can be deadlines and directions but there should not be inflexibility and absolute lack of trust in the teacher's own discretion and decisions.

c. In the end having contented teachers would mean requiring more teachers per subject or even class, but I don’t think it would mean more expense to the institution over time for the institution as in the long run it has to be good bargain with a good name that requires no expensive marketing and lesser stress and expense of recruiting teachers all through the year which I feel could add up to the same increment in expense as incurred to the institution by salary increments to a stable teacher over the years. (Expense in advertising for new teachers and possibly having to offer better pay scale to draw in a good teacher after every other term or year)

The former principal realized how frustrated I felt.  She agreed that my points had base but her question was who will bell the cat? Only someone who would stick the neck out and start a school because it is not the principal who decides how the school runs but the management. Moreover why would the Management try out this change when the old system is working very well in getting in the Moolah.

Maybe somebody someday would have time and patience to try out, calculate and confirm what I am suspecting…that it would be more economical if the above changes are incorporated. Till someone with enterprise does actually bell the cat, there is still something we can do as Parents to encourage good schools. That is, as parents, do not fall for advertising gimmicks-Old School, Reputed School, Flashy attractive school prospectus. (Yes, keep in mind-almost every lofty thing fanned in front of you about a school can be ascribed to mere gimmicks) So look for schools which though may be bad in their marketing, do have stable teachers who are also known to be the best and try getting kids into such schools first before trying for any other. Another thing we fall for is the belief that higher the fee of the school, the better it is, and schools cash in on that delusion. Rich and middle class parents should avoid falling into this trap and all of us should encourage the schools of substance rather than those with well bred marketing strategies. This if practiced by all who have an excess of cash to spend, in the long run could force school managements to change their tactics and bring change 'where it matters' to draw the money minters. Till someone within the institution does bell the cat…, it's for now up to all rich parents out there to bring the change we want for our kids. They deserve a better view of schools as we had...A view we miss so badly today

Friday, May 6, 2011

Evolution, a tool in creation (compilation of a discussion)

There is an arguement that favours evolution as the creator and excludes God. Science and explanations, I feel often makes naive minds blind towards the heart of matters, it makes one believe that anything explainable is science and only if not explainable is devine. How exactly does science try to explain the term divine? "That which human mind cannot explain?" Just because evolution can explain creation, is it necessary that there is nothing devine about the process of evolution

I have wondered why most animals dont seem to have the problems that humans have. The most potent example is of how they dont need a doctor to deliver their babies. How do they deliver three four babies without a difficulty! They are perfect reproductive systems. I have been having a discussion which made me think through this and conclude that our interference with nature's elimination of the unfit is responsible for it. Evolution would have eliminated the defective body type but science and surgery made those gene pools survive. It is the will, the prayer, the spirit of man that found answers to how to save the ineffective reproductive systems...in anasthesia, in operations. Why is there these defects that cause death? I would like to point out that death is a required purpose of nature to keep the population under optimum levels. It hurts mans emotions but overpopulation hurts more eventually to the natural system. There is thus also a purpose and an end to the defects and it does seem evolution is a tool of the designer God where defects control population (rather than a separating argument that evolution cannot be divine).As a priest recently very correctly answered his own ponderings of how there can be grief in some very religious families. He asked -'is there anyone who has had only grief in life? Is there anyone who has had only joy in life? Life has both joy and grief and it has to be accepted as such.'

Now to that we may ask then is there no mercy? Infact all around we can see mercy as well. Nature makes perfect by selection of the best but god is merciful on the imperfect too. Mans spirit found answers to how to cut across evolutions elimination and perfection streak. Mans spirit dived into the devine consciousness where everything is possible. All man has been able to create is not by his complex body but he willed it first in his mind and powered it with his spirit. He found answers on how to save lives that could have been lost to their imperfections,found out how to make survival of the unfit possible..That is God's mercy. You might try to turn a cover of a Jam bottle without an aid but sometimes it is easier to do with a lever. God for some works uses Man as the lever. All complex machines that God created are also tools created for finer works. Man is a tool that God created to work out some other tricks, like working against Gods own created 'nature's natural selection system', like to make a world (we call civilization) where there is not always that fear of the predator as is in the wild etc etc.(Have u seen how a wild animal always lives a life of fear from the predator, from the forces of nature..How many times do we experience fear in our civilised living away from the wild in safe houses? We have so got used to the life of no fear that we forget that living in fear is an actual everyday part of life of the living being in the wild. Could that be why men often seek out thrills and intense experiences,instincts of a wild past?)
The spirit works with and without the body. It is naive to argue that only a body can create. Even a Human body, a designer of things is nothing without its spirit. It is the spirit of man that creates not merely its complex body. Can a dead complex body create? In that respect it may not be a complex system called body that creates things but rather a 'simple system or in other words spirit' creates things through the complex system called body too just as the spirit creates even without it.

Can then mans mind be trusted in its faith in a creator God that he cannot see, that is a mind without a body? Can we trust the mind not to be delusional?

It is true that mind may some times be deluded but it is also true that mind cannot easily be deluded. How can we call 60 percent of humanity deluded because it believes in God? It is highly improbable that so many people would be deluded about one thing. I believe that if the mind does not accept all suggested answers but is definite about one inborn answer, the existence of a certain power that designed everything then the mind need not be distrusted, for the mind is not easily deluded, just as saying it is hot when it is actually cold is not comforting, religion or the concept of a creator God cannot comfort either unless there is some truth to it.

For example why does the mind often believe in a 'certain future' just because of dreams interpreted as premonitions. What is the explanation of confidence in it and what is the explanation when it actually comes true? For the self it may be considered as a self fulfilling prophecy but what when it is related to humanity on a large scale? In "Times Life" there was an article on premonition which gave many stories of how incidents like the Tsumani in Japan, the twin tower being hit by a plane was predicted or dreamt about…"Texas physician Dr Larry Dossey, in his 1989 book ‘Recovering the Soul’, mind introduced the concept of “nonlocal mind”- mind unconfined to the brain and Body, mind spread infinitely through space and time" According to him premonition was a built in feature in man. Premonition is possible in any person some may be more aware than others. People are confident about its meaning and warn others of whom they saw the premonition for example while a person was in an auto she got a call from a friend to get out of the auto....Unheeded she had an accident immediately afterwards. There must be some reason why a mind is confident of certain messages it gets regarding the future.

Then does mind's outreach also include a very distant past too as can be understood in the concept of a non local mind? March 2, 2011 paper had an article on 'well known tales from bible which could have a basis in science'. One among them I found particularly noteworthy. It is related to the question of "do we have a common anscestor in Eve?" ...as follows

"In his book ‘River out of Eden’, zoologist and atheist Richard Dawkins used a complicated mathematical model to work backwards through our DNA geneology, saying, “ there has to be a woman of whom this claim can be made. The fact that she did live in some place and at some time is certain. So to the extent that Eve is our common ancestor, even the Godless believe she existed."

The originator of the story about eve as the first woman, mother of all mankind had definitely no idea that it could be proved scientifically, but somehow it was told as a truth to be believed in. What made the mind confident of its truth? It seems possible that mans nonlocal mind can be aware of the distant past just as it can be aware of the future. Its an obvious conclusion...
We can conclude then that mind exists not only in the body but also non locally extends outside the body and it can be inferred from the above discussion that it extends to the future and to the past, which in fact would mean it is timeless! Isn't that what we think is God?
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