Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hyderabad to Bangalore - Our first highway drive

It was Durga Puja time and we, my husband and myself, wanted to visit our relatives in Bangalore. We tried booking train and bus tickets but no luck anywhere. We finally laid eyes on our four-month old car and decided to go ahead with our first highway drive!
Being novice to highway driving, we started doing our homework. Took advice from friends who have highway driving experience and of course, our most helpful site:
This site had all the Do's and Dont's listed in a systematic manner. We prepared our own checklist using all these inputs.
First thing was to prepare the car for highway drive. Thus, we did the following:
a) Took the car to Tata service station. Oh by the way! we own a Tata Indica Xeta GLG.
b) Got the wheel balancing and wheel alignment done.
c) Checked the levels of engine oil, coolant, battery water and wiper water.
d) Got the car washed in and out.
e) Filled up the fuel tank the night before the drive + System 3G Fuel Additive.
f) Checked air pressure.
g) Kept all emergency numbers.

Preparations for the journey:
a) Copied our favorite songs in our USB stick for the journey.
b) Purchased AP and Karnataka road maps from
c) Took printouts of the complete route from google maps.
d) Diary and a pen to make notes.
e) Food supplies - Chips, cup cakes, bread, jam.
The mix of salty and sweet items was a good balance. Classic Salt of Lays was the best choice
as the rest were either too spicy or too tangy.
f) Drinks - Orange/musambi juice, Red Bull energizers, 4 bottles of water.
g) Hand towel
h) sun glasses
i) Atleast 6-7 hours of quality sleep.

Our experiences:
We started the journey on 2nd october at 6:00 a.m. We had decided to switch turns every 2 hours or so. It took us 40 minutes to reach shamshabad on NH-7 from our residence where we hit our first milestone board below. NH-7 being the straight road we had to follow till Bangalore.
So, we had to cover 547 kms to Bangalore. It did look like a lot of distance to cover in one stretch!!! Anyway, the road was more or less good. It was the time when most of the Interstate buses enter the city. Imagine I felt like a liliput in front of all the beasty buses and trucks speeding from the opposite side. After an hour's drive, I got confidence and felt like David fighting the Goliaths. The Volvo buses and the local trucks were the worst of all and the most unpredictable following Brownian Movement. Not to forget the other 4-wheelers, i.e. the cattle.

After 2 hours of driving and nearly covered 100 kms, we reached Jadcherla at 8:00 a.m., which was our first halt for coffee and breakfast. It was a decent dhaba with good refreshments and clean restrooms. The morning was still pleasant. Time to switch.
After Jadcherla, the road surface is horrible, resembling surface of Moon with craters. Poor my husband had to drive on that road for the next 120 kms till Kurnool. We reached Kurnool at 11:00 a.m. which was our next halt. Time to switch, now my turn.
At Kurnool we wanted to get refuelling done. We still had the tank half filled but just to avoid problems in the rest of the journey, we entered the BP filling station. Those guys thought that we need the refuelling desparately, hence refused having normal petrol. They said that they have only Speed. We saw the people exchanging funny looks, so we decided not to get the fuel from there.
We drove away and at Gooty, which is 90 kms from Kurnool, we got the refuelling done from company outlet of BP. We realised that company outlets are the best for refuelling on highway.

Road quality is good from here. 4-laning work is going on and the patches which are completed are really fun to drive on. An example of which is below. Of course, we have to be alert about diversions.

The other side of the divider was blocked for construction. The other completed patch was made two-way. There were fields, hills on the sides. It being a sunny day, the fields had a little dry look. We had the A/C switched on speed 2. We could beat the heat but gosh! the sun light was too bright. We realised the importance of glass film then. As a saver, we used our turkish towels to insulate the car from the light. It did make a lot of difference! Desi method!!

About food outlets on highway, there is one BP company outlet and Reliance A1 Plaza at Gooty. The menu is limited. Of course, driving on the highway, one should have an immune stomach so that one can digest the food consumed in the local dhabas!! I mean if you are one of those who are used to eating in fancy restaurants, carry your own food or travel by air!!!

Now a few word about the various specimens of drivers we encountered. The most well behaved of them all were the long distance ones who would maintain the left lane while driving and also help us in navigation while we were overtaking from the right. The worst kind, the remaining ones. Local truck drivers would overtake at high speed. Volvo buses, the drivers think that they are driving Swift car. That huge vehicle at 100 kmph overtaking a truck from the opposite side and literally would come on you!!! Then you have the reckless Scorpio drivers.

Oh another phenomena, as the heat is picking up, you observe mirage effect on the road. Science folks would understand, the total internal reflection. You need to have your calculations correct of the distance of an oncoming vehicle from the other side before overtaking. Of course, with experience you get the estimate.

Then overtaking rules, never ever overtake on blind turns and on slope.

Another thing that we observed all through the journey was that the diversion sign boards, speed breaker boards were visibly installed on the side of the road. The milestone boards were also very helpful. As we hit a new milestone board and found distance reduced, we felt elated.

The drive was smooth till we reached Karnataka. Thankfully, we had our maps in place, so we knew that the entry point is Bagepalli. But, if you do not know how to read kannada, that information is useless!! :( Thankfully, I know how to read kannada. The knowledge proved so helpful I cannot describe it.

So, we were entering Bagepalli and on one check post board, I read it written in Kannada and that is when we knew we entered Karnataka. Now, we kept driving looking for the similar milestone signboards. Guess what? We did not find any. At a stage, we were wondering whether we are still on NH-7 as even those boards were not there. We did enter many small villages and all boards on the shops were in kannada. And these small villages are not shown in the maps. Finally, we reach a big town. Now, we decided to stop and inquire and lo! that is when I read on one of the shops written in big letters(of course kannada!) Chikballapur written. Chikballapur is like just 50 kms from Bangalore. So we were sure we are on the right track! :)

And then we hit Devanahalli, where Bangalore new airport is situated and this is where we see a board written in english specifying the distance of bangalore as 30 kms. I cannot express our relief on reading this. Anyway, the 6-lane roads are fantastic. The speed limit for each lane is specified, of course, no one knows to stick to the correct lane, vexing you to the limits!!
A truck at 40 kmph in 80 kmph lane, gosh! There are so many of them that cannot list them. Besides taking care of these erratic drivers, then you have the localiites who suddenly run across the busy road. All your senses and driving skills are put to test, I tell you!

Having driven on the highway at 120 kmph, suddenly your speed is curbed to 50-60 kmph inside the city. I mean, you have to tune yourself to traffic signals again. To add to our misery, rain pouring making things more difficult. We had reached the airport at 4:45 pm and from there to indira nagar took us 2 hours! Thankfully, having stayed in bangalore we knew the routes so did not waste time searching for our way in the city.

Finally we reached our destination at 6:30 p.m. Since we both took turns in driving we did not feel dead by the end of driving. Despite all the nitwits that we encountered, the drive was adventurous and amazing experience for us. The view was very good. During this drive, we had a new found respect for Tata Motors for having designed such sturdy beast!

Oh I wanted to know what does these boards mean? Anyone who can tell me the meaning would be really helpful.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Permanent license

In continuation of my previous post, we got the permanent license within 5 days. We applied on 25th September 2008 and the license was mailed to us by Speed Post on 30th September 2008. The prompt service of the AP transport department has really made us feel good!

Guess what, two days later we went to Bangalore driving our car. I will post a new article next with complete details and pictures about the trip.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Permanent Driving License in Hyderabad

It has been a long time that I have posted anything on my blog. Today, I am in an exhilarated mood because of our excellent experience at the Hyderabad RTA office at Attapur.

My husband had applied for a 4-wheeler driving license. First, we applied for learner license (LL) and then finally permanent license (DL).

We filled Form - 1, 1A, 2 for the Learner license (LL) and submitted the following:
a) Address Proof - Rent agreement alongwith employer's letter on their letterhead and
company seal. (We needed both as we are tenants, and we did not have any bill to produce in
our name)
b) Date of birth certificate - issued by municipal corporation
c) Phone bill
d) ID Proof - PAN card photo copy
e) Photographs - 1
f) Fees - Rs. 60

We also carried the originals of all documents for verification which they did very carefully. ALWAYS CARRY ORIGINALS FOR VERIFICATION.

After being fully satisfied, the guy at the counter gave us the fee receipt which we produced at the test center and after half n hour, the online test was done. My husband got immediate score, of course he passed! :)
To our surprise, the LL was issued in 15 minutes. Before leaving, we had to purchase the hologram at the exit and stick it on the LL. It is mandatory.
The LL is valid for 6 months, but we can apply for permanent license after 1 month.

So we promptly applied for permanent license(DL) right after 1.5 months. Again, we went to the RTA office. This time, we followed the following procedure:

a) Filled Form - 4
b) Attached one self-addressed envelope
c) Passport size photo - 1
d) Fees - Rs. 415.

The guy at the counter gave us the fee receipt, which we attached to the form. The fee is valid for only 7 days. Then we went to the Kondapur Testing Ground. The forms are accepted between 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. From Attapur, we drove like crazy to reach Kondapur by 12:20 p.m. We thought we will be lucky to have our form submitted as the counter was open till 1 pm. But there, service time of each form is 5 minutes and by the time we reached near the counter the counter closed, to our utter dismay! :((

So we went the next day and after 1.5 hours in the line, our form got through the counter. The policeman checked our original RC book, insurance copy.
We were again in for a surprise to have our name called after 15 minutes, although we had like infinite applicants before us!!! Later on we got to know that since we were not attached to any agent/driving school, we were called first! Anyway, my husband drove through the tracks. In the first round, he forgot to put his seat belt. Hence, he was asked to give the test again with the seat belt(fair enough!), which he did. And lo! we got the slip with the stamp "PASSED" endorsed on it!!! :) :)
All that we have to do now is wait for the license which will be mailed to us. I hope this last leg also clears seamlessly.

I must say, all through, we had a smooth sailing. It was all done in a fair manner. We were so happy that we did not go through any agent or driving school paying them 5-6 times the amount we paid otherwise. We also found that even though you go through an agent, you need to stand in the line, give the test, then why do we need them. It is for a reason that they test the driving skills of the applicant and I feel, everyone should go through it fairly.

Things to do:

a) Never go to an agent.(You can read it aloud, if you want to)
b) Keep atleast 10 passport size photographs in your pocket.
c) Keep a stapler, gluestick, pen(both black and blue).
d) Carry your originals always. (DOB, Proof of residence, RC book, Insurance copy of your
e) Stand in proper line.
The reason for my stating the last point.
I accompanied my husband to all these offices and while we were standing in the queue, everyone would come and advise me to go and stand in the front as I am a lady. I told them, that it is not my form that I am submitting its my husband's form, therefore, we have to stand in the men's queue. Obviously, we were given queer looks from others for such statements as it seems many do it. But I found it unfair to the other men and I would have got irritated if any woman had done that while we were standing in the men's queue. Luckily, the counter guy also started refusing the forms from the lady line. Applicant has to submit his/her own form. There is no proxy business here!

This is a small thing, but a lesson that our youngsters need to learn. If things are done following the rules and in a fair manner, then everything goes smoothly.
But, today, for short term gains, we stoop to any level! Youngsters are learning the bad traits seeing the elders!

Before I end, kudos to the AP Transport department for making the license process so transparent and hassle free for the citizens! No one will cheat if there is transparency and fairness and they have set a very good example for everyone else. :) Keep it up!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Integers Math

In my teaching experience, I have found that many students of different age group, become clueless when they have to answer "Is -10 greater than -16?" This happens due to weak conceptual background in integers.

Teachers may take a little pain and take a big
chart and draw the number line with positive, and negative numbers.
Write the thumbrules on the board:

Number on the left is smaller than number on the right
Number on the right is greater than number on the left.

Allow the children to read and think about it using the chart. Ask some students to take some examples and see if something is assimilated.

Then you proceed with your own examples and fortify the concepts

Write the question on the board: "Is 4 lesser than 10?"
Ask one student to come and locate number 4 and 10 and then ask them "Is 4 on the right or left of 10?"
Assuming the student replies correctly, i.e. 4 is on the left of 10.
Repeat the thumbrule that number on the left are always lesser than number on the right.
Thus, 4 is lesser than 10.

Now let us do another comparison. Is 4 lesser than -10?
Same steps to follow. Thus time, 4 is on the right of -10.
Thumbrule: number on the right is always greater than number on left.
Thus, 4 is greater than -10.

Another comparison. Is -4 lesser than -10.
This time -4 is on the right of -10.
number on the right is always greater than number on left.
Thus, -4 is greater than -10.

Another comparison. Is -9 greater than -7?
This time -9 is on the left of -7.
Thumbrule: number on left is smaller than number on right.
Thus, -9 is lesser than -7

Another comparison. Is 1 smaller than -7?
This time 1 is on the right of -7.
Thumbrule: number on the right is greater than number on left
Thus, 1 is greater than -7.

Try this with your children, students and sometimes, even adults need this assistance and send the feedback!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Deadly Irukandji Jellyfish

Yesterday night there was a documentary on Irukandji Jellyfish (I.J.F.) on Animal Planet. I was amazed when they showed that a sting by an I.J.F. can prove fatal. You just will not be able to believe as it is just 1.2 cm by 2.5 cm body and contractible tentacles, length of which may range from 5 cm to 1 m.
Following pictures will clear how small it looks.

These jellyfish are mostly found in Australia. The jellyfish are named after the Yirrganydji people (a.k.a Irukandji), who are a group of Australian aborigines, whose country stretches along the coastal strip north of Cairns, Queensland.

It is found that these jellyfish sting from the tip of their stingers which is why the venom takes time to take effect. It causes severe pain and the venom starts taking effect after some 15-20 minutes. If timely cure is provided, then the sting is not fatal. But there are reports where few humans have died because of Irukandji sting!

Imagine such a small creature killing a full grown human being!! Wonders of nature or what may I say!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Clash of titans!

It was an awesome match on the Wimbledon grass court. The grass court king versus the clay court ruler!!! I am not to write a long, shot by shot review of the match, that one can find on all the sports websites.

I just wanted to reflect upon the show of grit, determination and the fight till the last. With all the interruptions by the rain and the losing of championship points twice in the 4th set, Nadal was still focussed and fought the 5th set and win the cup. One would expect one of the players to give up out of fatigue if nothing else in a match that lasted 4 hours 50 minutes, the longest ever played in men's singles.

I just could not sleep and kept myself awake to see the final set that finally got over at 2 a.m.
How can one miss such an astounding competition? The fact to note here is the killing spirit in both of them. They both were rivals who equaled each other in all sense of play. It was an Achilles vs Hectar fight (Those who have watched or read about Troy can draw the analogy)!!

I wonder what it would feel like being in that position where one has to prove everyone wrong by winning the title again and another has to win the grass court title for the first time after losing so many times there. Both had lot to prove or disprove. With such pressure, if one can still perform in this mid-blowing manner, then hats off to them!!

A lesson to all, never lose your focus till the end and keep doing what is required to win. There is no short cut to success, sonny!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Millau Bridge - World's highest road bridge

On National Geographic, the construction of Millau Bridge, the highest road bridge in the world, was shown. After seeing this, I was in awe of the engineers, designers, steel company - Eiffel, and all the workers who had equal share in converting this design into reality fighting against all odds of weather, wind, and Physics!! I often wonder, what a sense of success, all those people involved must be having for the rest of their lives. They have tons of stories to narrate! Awesome!

After seeing such feats achieved, I feel that there are many more courses that students can opt for besides computer science. Kids, master your concepts of Physics and Mathematics. With courses like structural engineering, one can take up professions that are mentally challenging. Children and parents, these pictures are not just to admire but also gives us something to think about out of the box!!

Following are some pictures of the modern marvel.
Read more about this by visiting

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What after Tenth standard?

Recently, many of my students contacted me for advice on which option to choose in 11th standard. All confused minds!! They all knew one thing for sure that they want to do engineering and only Computer Science stream. Thanks to the IT sector booming in India, it has heightened the expectations of the youngsters to that level, that they do not see any other field except computers, IT. These are the buzz words. Thus, they all have to concentrate on PCM!! (Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry)

With IT companies giving such attractive remunerations, who would not think of it as the first option, or may I say, the only option!! The common notion being, spend 4 years in an engineering college and lo! land up in an IT job and then life is set. The best thing is the youngsters are absolutely clear of this path. I guess our awareness level was less compared to today's school girls and boys.

I wonder how much of this will hold true after 5 years? Is the scene going to remain the same? IT sector has definitely opened up lots of opportunities for today's youth and has given the confidence to the youngsters that they can procure job acquiring certain skills. The rest they manage once they enter the jobs. But will the vacancies be as many as it is today?

Back to the confusion of the students. In order to give complete concentration to PCM, should they opt for engineering drawing, physical education, economics, computer science? Surprisingly, the top of the order is won by physical education followed by engineering drawing and then computer science!! The explanation of the order being pretty obvious.
Most of the students have enrolled in FIITJEE or Brilliants for preparation for IIT. With pressure of clearing CBSE boards after two years and to be the top ranker in the engineering entrance tests, can you blame them?

What should be the best advice to my students and all such students of today? Are there any other avenues besides IT? Can they look beyond computer science engineering? What are the various allied courses for which they can explore?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bannerghatta National Park visit!

White tiger

Bear near the van

Plant name - Birds of Paradise

Recently we visited Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore. It is some 30 kilometers from the airport.

What the place offers
The park maintains the natural wild habitat for the wild animals. The animals are freely moving and not enclosed in a cage. Lions and tigers cross your vehicle and if you are lucky perform some stunts for you as well.

The park has three sections: - Jungle Safari in enclosed vans, Butterfly Park, Visit to the zoo.
Jungle Safari is two types -
Jumbo Safari which means that the van will cover the complete jungle area and tread the regions of big black bears, tigers, lions, bisons, sambhars, elephants, etc. It costs Rs.125 per head and Rs. 50 for children (above 12 years)

Tiger Safari which means that the van will pass through only the tigers, elephants and bears regions. This safari costs Rs.75 per head.

Still camera and video camera are separately charged.

Both the safari end at Butterfly Park. This is a beautiful park recently constructed with a nice eco-system for the butterflies. It claims to have some 2000 species of butterflies inside, but we got a chance to track only 4 or 5!! Anyway, it is still worth visiting this place because of its coolness, quietness and beauty. Do not miss this.

The zoo is free viewing.

There is elephant riding as well. But it is not worth the ride as they charge some Rs.25 - Rs.50 for a small round. If you want to have just fun ride, go for it. Do not have much expectations though!

The best time to visit is during the morning hours. Plan to reach BNP by 8:45 or 9:00 A.M. Purchase the tickets for the Safari that starts at 10:00 A.M. Spend one hour from 9 to 10 A.M. visiting the zoo as all the animals and birds in the cage will be in the active mode. If you plan to go after the safari, it will be afternoon and the animals sleep in the cage. You will get all sleepy animals in the pictures.

Return to the queue line for Safari by 9:50 A.M. so that you get into the first bus. Safari will end at Butterfly Park. You can spend as much time there as you wish. You can do some creative photography there under the shade of trees, flowers around, and the hills at the back-drop.


Carry your hats if you are going during the summer months. Wear sports shoes as it is easy to walk along the pathways. Avoid high heels, ladies!!

As for food, there are some stalls for snacks and drinks. But there are no restaurants for having lunch. Best thing to do is have some sandwiches and cold drinks there and have your lunch inside the city.

Of course, you can carry you own food. There are sit-outs inside the zoo where you can eat your packed food. Pack your food in dabbas and bring paper plates and have a nice picnic in the zoo park.

Do not bring plastic bags there. Plastic bags are not allowed for the safety of the animals. Bring paper bags or you can collect some at the entrance itself.

Good water and lavatory facilities for everyone.

Do visit this wonderful place and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Second graders writing english paragraphs!!

This is a real story in one of the private schools. Venue is second standard. The classroom has 30 students with one teacher.

The students are all busy copying long long sentences in their notebooks from the black board. When the notebooks were observed, it was found that half the students were finding it difficult to write, some notebooks were just scribble pads and a few had written very neatly. Now, what were they writing.

"Q: How many days are there in a week?
A: There are seven days in a week.

Q: How many hours are there in one day?
A: There are 24 hours in a day.

blah! blah! blah!"

So, one of the student was asked to read what he has written in their notebook. And as expected, he rattled the first question with the answer. Now, a small test was done.

The board was cleared and then the following words were written: days, many, there. And then was asked to read what was written. To everyone's surprise the child could not read at all. Randomly students were asked to read, and most of them could not read at all, the others struggled with one or two words.

Now, if one analyses this situation, it reflects on what kind of primary education is imparted. The students were actually drawing the alphabets rather than recognizing the letters. They were drawing 'A', 'B', .....'Z'.

This happened because in schools, students are taught to write first, then read, and lastly listen.

Infact, it should have been the other way round.

First the students should develop listening skills. Then recognizing the alphabets, reading small words, then forming short sentences with those words. And finally, writing what has been learnt.

The sad part is the most important things that should have been done in the formative years of a child is emphasized in the later years, when s/he is already pressurized with learning other skills.

Child is always curious and ready to receive information. Our only responsibility is to provide that information in the form that they will understand quickly and emphasize it to be reinforced for retention.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Marking a science paper Dilemma

I had just started teaching 4 years ago. That time I was teaching General Science to 6th graders besides Mathematics. It was first term examination. It was the first time the students were facing an exam paper with mostly application and understanding problems. Of course, while designing an exam paper, we have to keep 35-40% of knowledge based questions for slow learners. I was given the previous years papers of the school, which much to my dislike, were all knowledge based questions. Questions like "Define....", "What is ...". But one or two questions like "Explain how this process happen", "Why ....." kinds.

Anyway, so my paper was one of the first kinds that students were appearing. There was this student who had answered all the tricky questions correctly. I was really so happy and excited correcting his paper. But excitement was short-lived when I saw the last answer. In the science paper, there was a question to draw a diagram of the digestive system. And this student had drawn all organs correctly, but instead of liver he drew lungs with alveoli, the air -sacs, and trachea. He, being very good at drawing, did an amazing amalgam of both respiratory and digestive organs! Thus, I did not give him any mark for the diagram.

Then came the result day when the students and parents are shown the answer booklets. This boy's mother comes with the answer booklet to ask me the reason for no marks for the diagram, the same assorted digestive-respiratory system. I explained her the reason. She started her parental negotiations for increasing marks. She said that he had drawn the stomach correctly, and pancreas correctly. I told her that pancreas are not above lungs! But she would not stop the negotiations. I told her that if today I give him marks, he will never learn the difference between lungs and liver. Now, that he lost a full score in Biology, he will remember it lifetime the position of lungs and liver.

Still the lady persisted, that give 2 marks out of 5 to my son so that his percentage will increase. I was getting a little annoyed now. I told her once and for all, that I will not increase the marks. I being a teacher will always want my students to understand what they are learning, writing and if decide to memorize, then to do with complete understanding. Just rote-learning is not going to help your son at all in future.

I guess, some people cannot be convinced with any amount of logic. Somehow, I managed to keep my cool and did not budge from my stand. Finally, she left. Many times parents come with such stuff when we have to decide the firm path.

What is your opinion? What you would have done?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Clockwise and anticlockwise concept

Recently I was posed a problem of teaching clockwise and anticlockwise problem to students who have never seen a clock.

I may not be wrong in presuming that majority of people have seen and used a simple water tap. I would ask the students to think how do they open the tap and close the tap.

The students will try imitating the act in the class. There lies the concept of clockwise and anticlockwise.

You open the tap in anticlockwise direction and close the tap in clockwise direction.

I would give students some bolts and screw drivers to tighten the screws on the door knob. Ask them to observe the direction of the screw driver motion.

Thus, you tighten the screws by moving the screw-driver in clockwise direction. To loosen the screw, move the screw-driver in anti-clockwise direction.

These two examples will give good sense of clockwise and anticlockwise direction to those who have never seen an analog clock.

I feel it will also give a new insight to people who have never observed or given attention to such small but very common actions of ours in the daily life!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are children really difficult?

I face this question many times, whether children are really difficult to handle?

For any teacher in todays world, the best student definition is, "a child who does his/her work in time, work is impeccable, scores highest grades, well-mannered and respects elders!!!"

Any child whose behaviour is slight deviation from this definition is a difficult child. Just because they are not able to understand this deviation, the child is termed "difficult".

But I strongly feel that this is where a teacher is required. An ideal student will excel with slight guidance anyway. It is these so-called difficult children who really need a good and wise teacher's assistance in moving towards the best fit line - ideal definition.

I know a 1st grader whose teacher would complain that he is very mischievous, creates lots of noise and has influenced the other students to this extent that the other students do not fear her anymore!! I was aghast at this complaint of a teacher about a 6 year old boy.

All children are curious and if you expect them to sit on one chair in one position for 5 hours of the day, the children are bound to be restless. Besides this discomfort caused to these poor kids, they are expected to assimilate whatever is taught to them. God!! this is like the worst torture on these little angels!!

You ask them to learn the capitals of cities. They do not understand what city is, but yes make them learn capitals of the cities. You ask them to recite rhymes, of which they understand head nor tail! Then ask them to learn tables of numbers from 1 to 5. What are these tables, they understand nothing, but yes the best child is who can rattle off these tables like a parrot!!

What do you expect at the end of all this? A restless, disinterested child whose energies are being curbed rather than being constructively channelized.

Then the teachers complain to the parents. Rather than complaining, the teachers and parents must formalize strategies to be implemented in the class and at home both in order to put the child in the right groove without troubling the child mentally, physically and emotionally.

I do not feel this is impossible, only if the parents took more responsibility and interest in their child. Even parents feel that now our child is going to school, so our responsibility is over. How can that be over? If we bring a life into this world, it is our responsibility to nurture this life in the best possible manner for the self-reliance of this life. Mind you, responsibility does not mean providing material comforts, but spending more quality time with the child.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How to divide by zero?

One day, while I was taking a mathematics class of grade 6, a student gets up and asks me in a curious and innocent tone, "Miss, till today we have divided numbers by non-zero numbers. I was told once by a teacher in 4th grade, that we cannot divide by zero. But why cannot we divide by zero? I do not understand."

I was surprised that this child had been thinking of divide by zero since 4th grade. At that time, I had to take a decision whether to discuss with the whole class or explain only him. Since, it was the last few minutes of the period, I promised him that next class I will discuss this the first thing. But before leaving, I asked the other students to ponder over the problem and discuss their finding amongst themselves before we meet in the next class. He had twinkle in his eyes that his question is finally going to get answered. Another thing I observed that he was happy that his question got acknowledged and given importance!

I had my next period with his class after lunch break. I kept thinking as to how best explain him as well as the whole class without confusing any one of them. The bell rang to mark the end of the lunch break. I went to the 6th grade and found all the students seated on their seats quietly and eagerly waiting for my arrival. I got a grand welcome by these eager young eyes. I thought that today I have a great responsibility to fulfill.

I first asked them whether they had spent time discussing amongst each other. They said that they finished their lunch in 10 minutes and spent the rest of the lunch break in discussion. Many gave the response that the answer will be zero. I asked the child who had posed the question to explain his thoughts. He said that, "zero times any number is zero. But that way I get remainder as the same number, so I get confused."

So I started from the same thread.

I asked students to tell what is 6 divided by 2. All of them in one voice said 3. So now I asked them what does 6 divided by 2 actually mean? There was silence.

I drew 6 apples on the board. Asked them to divide them into groups of 2. One child came up to the board and drew boxes around the apples to represent the group. Then she counted the boxes and found that there were 3 boxes. Slowly, they started understanding the meaning of division.

Next, I asked them to divide 10 by 5. Some students shouted the answer as 2. I was surprised to see that the others were thinking on grouping objects.

This time I asked one of the child to describe how he grouped. He drew 10 cones on the board. And then drew two boxes around 5 cones and wrote there are two groups.

Quickly, the whole class was able to grasp the concept. Then we tried some more division problems mathematically and by grouping.

Now, divide 14 by 6. They drew 14 objects, draw boxes for every group of 6, and found 2 were left out. Hence they understood the meaning of remainder.

Then, I wrote 4 divided by 0.

I drew 4 trees. Now asked the students to form groups of zero trees.

They spent some time thinking and how to form groups containing zero trees. I observed their work on their respective sheets. All were trying all combinations to draw a box that will contain zero trees.

Then finally, one child stood up and came to the board and drew an empty box. He said that, "Miss, this box contains zero trees. But how do I explain from this 4 divided by 0?"

I asked them if any one was able to form groups. Many looked puzzled. I asked them if they understood the meaning of an empty box that was drawn on the board by one student. They all understood that zero trees means no trees. Thus, the box is empty.

So, I told them that how many such boxes can you draw which contains zero trees?
Some said 10, some 20 and some said many. I asked them, I can keep on drawing these empty boxes and still have groups of zero trees. They all agreed. Does that mean I can draw infinite boxes and still have groups of zero trees? They all agreed.

I asked them what they understood by infinite. Immediately one child got up and said infinite is lots of many... Then one child answered something which cannot be counted. Bingo!!

"That is your answer to 4 divided by 0. You cannot count the groups. Hence any number divided by zero is infinity. Your remainder is 4."

One child asks, "Will that mean that 28 divided by 0 is also infinity?" I asked him to draw 28 objects and group them again with zero objects. He understood.

Just 2 minutes before the bell rang, some children come to me and said, "Miss, we never understood division. It is the first time we really understood division. But we are still not confident about divide by zero." I asked them to just focus on the division part that they have understood, the divide by zero concept we will discuss at a later stage.

After the class, I went into a pensive mood. Only if students at primary level understand the concepts then their secondary and higher level mathematics will be more seamless. Immediate reaction will be to blame the primary teachers who did a sloppy job and kept promoting confused students. But on further thinking, I do not feel that it is entirely the teachers' fault as well.

Then who is at fault? Are the curriculum designers to be blamed, who have made a packed curriculum that leaves no scope for creative and effective teaching? Is the school management, who has packed the timetable with so many activities that the teachers are stressed out planning? Are the teachers entirely to be blamed for producing ill-informed students at the end of each academic year?

I guess all of the education community has to share the blame. What do you feel?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Fake Universities

This goes to all the aspiring XII standard students who have given Boards this year and seeking admissions to the best college courses.

Before applying for any university, do verify whether it is a recognized university or not. The UGC website has a released list of the universities given state-wise, dated 16th October 2007. You can visit this website to go through the list. You can get more information on other educational websites as well.

Be careful, get proper information and then apply for the university. Imparting education is no longer a noble cause, its become highly commercial and a business.

A movie that made an Impact - "Hurricane"

On Saturday, I watched a very powerful and equally touching movie - HURRICANE. A mind-blowing performance by Denzel Washington. I would recommend everyone to watch the movie or read about Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

By the way, I am not here to write a review on the movie, but wished to reflect upon the impact of education on one's mind through tough times.

The movie depicts how Carter during his tough times in the jail was fighting against his own evil thoughts. Albeit, he had suffered from racial discrimination most of his life, yet, he always quelled the thoughts that would provoke him to do anything wrong.

In testing circumstances, each one of us gets inclined to take the easy path even if it is the wrong path. That is where our education helps us in giving the confidence to choose the right path in order to sail through the rough weather.

The discrimination power between right and wrong and the confidence to stick to the right is what education provides. Education is not what we study in textbooks, it is the experiences of life that helps us mature and develop wisdom.

Strive to be educated rather than just being an information pool of facts.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Our Education System

"Education is not given for the purpose of earning a living;
Its learning what to do with a living after you have earned it" ---------Abraham Lincoln

It took me a while to decide what should be my first post. I decided to start with the present day education system. Its utility in one's life. It's significance in nurturing one's personality.

The primary goal of today's education system seems to be earning a livelihood, nothing else. This kind of utilitarian scheme of education can help in producing people who are capable of supporting themselves economically, hopefully; but one cannot help wondering if this is all what we want.

I am not against acquiring knowledge for professional success also. It is a competitive world today. Children have to face the competition and hence, be prepared for this. But the pressure of competition has increased to this extent that right from infancy the child is fed with ideas of becoming an engineer or a doctor. A child who is still understanding his or her world around, we brain wash him or her into believing that the be-all and end-all of the learning process is to do well in examinations. These days doing well means nothing less than cent percent. Anything less than 100% is looked down upon. It is important that students are made aware of the importance of academic scores, but equally necessary is to build a foundation so that they are capable of dealing with difficult and new situations.

Our present education system lays more stress on cramming information. I will not call that information either. It is just data as everyone is so busy stuffing the child with all kinds of data that s/he is not able to develop the capacity to derive information from the vast store of data in their brains. Strangely enough, the more data we are provided with, the less well-informed we become. But who realizes that "information overload" is never fruitful.

I am still to meet real engineers, although I am surrounded by B.Techs. How many real doctors do we have around, albeit we have a crowd of doctors these days? Though there are many Ph.Ds, we have dearth of scientists in the real sense.

I will end at this note that more stress should be laid on developing the discriminating intellect to analyze the right or wrong rather than just data - overloading!!