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Your words can dig into your childs mindset June 7, 2012

Posted by aglakadam in Children n Students, parenting.
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Success Byte :

Recently I read in the newspaper about a few students committing suicide since they could not secure decent grades in their 10th or 12th class school / board examinations. I was deeply grieved to read about such incidents. After all why does the child get into such a cowardly act? Why does the child give it up and withdraw from life all together? In my attempt to research for the reason behind this, I discussed the issue with a few parent and teachers. The reason behind such acts could be many and case specific. However one common finding is lack of right communication, which makes a deep impact in the child’s mindset.

To elucidate this I share a story here. Once a fortune teller ( an astrologer) landed in the durbar of King Akbar. The king had a very special habit, he would entertain the first visitor in his court with full devotion. If the visitor was a seeker and if the king was convinced with the query / problem presented by this seeker, he would go all out to assuage the petitioner. In case the visitor was an artist, he was given an opportunity to demonstrate the art in front of the nine ministers in the court ( often called navratna – the nine gems). The fortune teller had learned the art from his guru after investing long years of penance and sacrifice. He knew that the king was bighearted and rewarded the visitors benevolently. He was an honest person and wanted to meet the King in order to earn some riches in the form of reward. The king asked him to study the horoscope of all his family members and read his report card. He would be awarded with 100 gold coins if he gave a nice forecast. After doing the necessary calculations and in-depth analysis the fortune teller presented his prediction to the King : My Lord, “you will see the dead faces of all your family members.”… the king was shocked at such a harsh remark and went berserk. He was highly agitated and ordered the fortune teller to leave his kingdom in no time or else he would be relegated to the death chamber.

The fortune teller was scared to see the kings fury and ran out of the hall to escape any further castigation. He straightaway went to Birbal. Birbal was a minister known for his extreme intelligence. After listening to his story, Birbal asked the fortune teller to change his lookout and dress-up like a saint. This saint was then presented before the king the next day. Birbal informed the king that this saint was the best fortune reader in the region. The king was apprehensive and admonished the saint to speak good words and also be honest. This time the fortune teller, guised as a saint, read the horoscope in a different manner. He told the King, “My Lord, you are so lucky, you will have the longest life in the whole of your family!” The King was so happy he presented the saint with 100 gold coins and also many more gems!

Friends, in both the cases the prediction was the same, the manner in which it was communicated made all the difference. There is a hitopedesh in Sanskrit which says, “Sada satyam bhruyat, satyam api apriyam na bhruyat” This means always speak the truth; don’t speak the truth in a manner which would sound unpleasant to the listener. Adopting the proper communication strategy plays a very big role in leading an individual towards success or failure. This applies to schools and students as well.

Say for example, “when the student does not perform well in the class examination” what does most of the parent’s / teachers invariably tell her?

SET I :

The common reprimanding statements are :

1. You are a dumb fool / duffer?

2. You cannot even answer such an easy question paper?

3. You are a failure

4. It is so tough to teach you; you idiot.

5. You are a bad boy. Etcetera.

Such harsh words said by some of the teachers & parent’s make a long sketched indent in the minds of our students. In place of making such a communication I suggest the communication should be this way :

SET II :

1. You have to become still more intelligent.

2. You could have solved this easy question had you paid attention.

3. You are yet to be a winner.

4. I will make more efforts and try to be a better teacher.

5. You are not a good boy.

When you compare the statements in both the sets I & II above, the meaning conveyed by the statements are same but the set of words used is different. When such statements repeatedly hit the eardrums of the young generation they start getting a subconscious conviction about whatever is being communicated to them. When the repeated communication received is “you are a bad boy” ultimately the child gets convinced that yes, he is a bad boy. On the contrary if the repeated communication would have been “You are not a good boy” at least the aspirational longing of being good some day would have survived in the boys mind. Through this write-up I request all those who are parent’s and/or teacher’s in this society to be sanguine in their communications with children. You may forget what you said but the impact of your words would have already started precipitating in those innocent minds.

Do’s & Don’ts : • As a parent / teacher be very selective in using words, for they might become the judgment for the student. Think over it . Your words can dig into your child’s mindset, use those astutely.

Good to Read :

Pick of the week : “”Failure Is Not an Option” by Alan M. Blankstein “Failure Is Not an Option is a deeply inspiring and practical work. The book puts students first as a moral issue and then examines all the systems and processes that need to be in place to help them. In the book six practical and useful principles have been excellently articulated. A very inspiring book and can serve as a handbook for teachers and society for teaching learning process re-engineering. Any administrator who truly wishes to change his or her school can use this book as a manual from which to design every aspect of the change process.” (Robert W. Cole.). The book speaks to the spark of caring, generosity, and greatness in every child and provides caring adults with ideas and tools to unleash this potential. It leaves no part of the child behind, and leaves no adult on the sidelines.” (Maurice J. Elias, Professor of Psychology )

Feedback : Ajit Varwandkar ( Employability Coach)

Email : ajitvarwandkar@gmail.com

Parents – be your child’s first career coach December 12, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in Uncategorized.
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Parents – be your child’s first career coach

My last week’s blog post “If your child is at the career cross road” evoked a sweet and sour response. I got many calls from readers telling why they intended to debate on some of the parenting views referred by me. Most of the responses came from the rich and the able. One gentleman said it’s about giving the best academic amenities to the child. One doctor opined that in today’s era parent’s cannot track the likes and personality of their child.  One PSU employee could not digest my statement that “excess concern about child’s career borders paranoia”. A school teacher called me to thank for the write-up, she suggested me to elaborate on the subject and hence this sequel.

For those who might have missed the last week’s write-up I recapitulate the essence.

When at career crossroads, a child is in an very sensitive stage of evolution because career decisions bear a significant impact on one’s life. Children ought to select the career which they are desperate for and not the one which gratifies parents unfulfilled ambitious. However in the process of guiding the child parents should ensure that they guard her individuality & self esteem. Irrelevant tinkering into their space will only display a lack of trust and surely backfire. Too much involvement as well as too less involvement in child’s career building process is harmful. Parents must play the role of a light house & a guide post. The light which they show should enable the child to take a career leap and also warn when there is danger.  The student should be encouraged to take informed career decisions for a prosperous future.

 

Parents are child’s first career coach and there are certain basic fundamental rules which a parent must adhere while career mentoring the child. The messages which a parent delivers can impact the educational and career choices of the student significantly. As per one survey, almost 80% of  high school students stated that they look upon to their parents when it comes to career selection guidance. Children are very smart at observation and they learn a lot from the work behavior of their parents and other adult role models.

 

Children who are particularly gifted & super talented present unique set of challenges. We come across parent’s who boast of their child being much advanced in terms of technology. The frequently orated sentence by parents is: “My son is so smart, give him the latest model of mobile handset and he will not take more than a few minutes to explore all the features and apps tucked into it.” This brings a pseudo sense of overconfidence into the parents. Career selection is different to dissection of a technical device. It is important for parent’s to understand that their children might sound hi-tech & advanced but when it comes to career decisions, they might fail to take mature steps.

 

Parental involvement should neither be too high nor too low.  Appropriate and inappropriate levels of involvement can either help or hinder the childs career takeoff. A balanced intervention can deliver positive attitude in the student which in turn will ensure better grades and effective decision-making skills.  Decisions related to career swing around the fulcrum of family idiosyncrasies and students personality. In situations of dilemma, some parents offer unconditional support to whatever career choice the ward might opt for.  This happens to be a well intentioned but a mal functioning strategy most of the time.  A child  might be capable of doing many type of jobs but in case she enters into a world irrelevant to her personality, there could be sinister consequences.   Ideally at every such stage parent should offer two or three well researched choices and then leave it up to the ward to identify the most suitable out of those.

 

The key to a successful career is being happy and fulfilled at the end of the day. This can be achieved when there is a proper match between child’s interests, values, skills and abilities with the professional demands of chosen career. Being potentially influential in the career development process of their children, parents should know to explore and use career information properly. They should take interest to identify the potentials and abilities in their children and bridge it appropriately.

 

Lessons for Excellence :

 

  • Always share closed ended solutions with your child, never leave them wondering in the wild when it comes to career decisions.
  • Parents should encourage their children to day-dream more and more about their fancied job and develop an inventory of career dreams.
  • Never forget to ask your child to have fun, in the zest to get a perfect student out of their child most of the parents forget the sports needs of their children.
  • A successful parents is open to learn new things and accept the everchanging career scope around.
  • Be open to discussions with your child, even if he has an eccentric career choice!

 

Ajit Varwandkar

 

Feedback : md@fsindia.in

If your child is at the career cross road December 3, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in aglakadam, career guidance and counselling.
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If your child is at the career cross road

Recently I attended a marriage reception. These wedding parties sometimes give you the feel of getting stranded at a fuel station. You have to stand in the long queue near the stage and wait for your turn to greet the newlywed couple!  It was 9.00 pm in the late evening and I was somehow killing time in the queue. I was anxious to dispose-off the bouquet at the earliest.

I realized someone was throwing a smile at me. It was the parent of one of the school student who had once upon a time appeared for a career guidance & counseling session with me in my office. On that very spot, standing in the queue, the concerned parents threw rapid fire round of questions at me. Sir, I want to see my daughter as an engineer, can you tell us which all colleges outside our state should we target? How should she be preparing for the examinations? Some study tips from you will really be helpful for my daughter to excel in her career, so on and so forth…..

I could see the agony in the eyes of the child. After a while I could even register a sense of embarrassment on the face of the kid. Definitely she did not want to be bothered on career selection and study tips while in the party. Any child will not like this. Parent of this student were a bit too concerned about her career. Excess concern borders paranoia. 

Many parents complain about their child’s education & career consciousness in multiple variants. A few shared here: “My child does not share his interests with me.”, “I am ready to help him but he is never keen to take our support.”, “The child is introvert at home and extrovert in school.”, “He is so stubborn when it comes to career selection and does not give us a damn.”.  

If your child is at a career crossroad she is at a very sensitive career stage. It is really rightful for the parent to be bothered about their ward’s career. It is also of utmost importance to respect the child’s individuality and give her space. I have observed that in the process of imparting right career directions to their children many parents intrude into their creativity and independence. Such attempts either miss fires or worst back fires. Such illegitimate intrusions are harmful not just for the child and the parent but also for the society.

Too much involvement in child’s career building process is equally harmful as too less involvement is. Some parents make an open offer to their children. They say, “Go ahead and do whatever you want to, we will support you”.  This decision to respect the child’s decision is really good but not really fruitful. It is the moral responsibility of the parent to first suggest a few career options and then ask the child to make a career choice. It is vital to note at this stage that before making any suggestion, child should be thoroughly accessed on interest, aptitude and abilities. Careers matching with these parameters should then be suggested to the child. If required support of professional counselors should necessarily be sought.

As per one survey an average student in India spends not more than 4 hours throughout the school life planning for life’s career decisions. Majority of the students are simply not aware of the various career options available in the society!   On the contrary they spend more than 20 hours on selecting the bike / scooty and about 50 hours selecting a house.

Career decision has a big significance in one’s life. Students should be encouraged to think on the following questions while they are crossing the middle school : “What should I do in my life?”, “what is my career inspiration”,  “what are my most liked and most disliked career streams”, “How & when should I plan my career?” When the student starts addressing these questions, we can be sure that she has started climbing the ladder of career success.

I believe that every single student has the potential to become successful in life. Parents should play the role of a light house & a guide post. They should shower enough light for the child to take a leap and also warn when there is danger.  Their support & guidance should enable the student to take informed career decisions & prepare well for future.

LESSONS FOR EXCELLENCE :

  • Failing to plan for child’s career is nothing but planning to see your child fail in her career.
  • In the process of guiding your child please ensure that you guard her self esteem. Irrelevant tinkering into her aspiration will only make her restless, insecure and insincere.
  • It is important for the parent to be self aware about career choices and be confidant about happenings in life, only then the child will inculcate these attributes.
  • Over indulgence by parent into child’s choices might display lack of trust. Beware.
  • Law of career success states that the child should select the career which she is desperate for and not the one which her parents were ambitious for at some point of time.

 

By : Ajit Varwandkar

Feedback : md@fsindia.in

These children are brand ambassadors of strength November 12, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in aglakadam, Inspirational Story.
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These children are brand ambassadors of strength

Our state Chhattisgarh celebrated its eleventh state formation day by organizing a state level fest in Raipur called Rajyotsav-2011. In between 1st Nov’2011 and  5th Nov’2011 people from all across the state gathered in huge numbers to this expo. It was an influx of almost one lack footfalls each day.

Luck struck fair for me and I got to make my presence usefully registered on this occasion. Higher Education Department of the State Government of Chhattisgarh organized a unique reality show named as “Nano Career Guidance- ON THE SPOT”. I was given the responsibility to counsel students and extend guidance in this show. In the course of these five days more than 600 students visited us. Apparently the students who visited had an inconspicuous personality but still each one of them carried a unique history. When I spoke to the students at length I understood more about life. Some students had some characteristics so special about them that one could draw a heavy dose of inspiration out if it. I present here the real life stories of a few such students.

The first story is of Dhanesh Sahu who belongs to a small village near Raigarh. He scored 87% marks in class XIIth examination. His father is a cycle rickshaw puller and mother works as a house maid. He has two sisters. Father is a drunkard and has articulated a hell in their daily life out of his bad habit. Dhanesh had appeared for pre engineering entrance and qualified to join a reputed engineering college. However he consciously decided not to take admission into engineering because his financial & family situations did not support his education. He knows he will not have enough time and money to get an engineering degree from a full-time course college.

The most appreciable part of Dhanesh’s story is that his dream & desire to become an engineer is intact with him in spite of acute constraints in life. According to him “lack of motivation” is the first commuter which starts running along with an individual as soon as he steps on the lane of problems in life. Always stand directly under the “sun rays of motivation” so that the “shadow of second thoughts” is never seen. He has already acquired the qualification of ITI and has started working with an engineering organization as a machinist. I will work for two years, earn some money for myself and then attempt to become a diploma engineer. He says “When I get enough money to sustain myself I will surely study to become an engineer in life!”

Second story to share is that of Ramashankar. With a B.Com degree in hand Ramashankar is currently pursuing his management course. He has the responsibility to support his family. Lack of financial stability compels him to earn money simultaneously along with his education. He lost his father when he was a small kid and has been into some or the other kind of occupation since those days. What distinguishes him from others is the fact that he is also working as a waiter in one of the hotels in Chhattisgarh. He’s highly inspired by Amitabh Bachchan and refuses to accept tip from his customer’s who visit the restaurant, a la Vijay in the bollywood movie “Deewar”, ‘fenke hue paise mai aaj bhi nahi leta’ ( I do not accept the fee amount,  if a person throws maney towards me ). In his words, “My only challenge is the situation when I have to serve food to my colleagues as a waiter in the restaurant. However I have no complaints, my duty is to make every situation in my stride!”

Third story is of a blind girl. She lives in one of the blind girls hostel in the city. I was exhilarated to know that this girl was pursuing her Masters in Arts. It had been a tough journey for her to reach this stage in her academic career and this was not the end of road for her. She visited us at the career guidance fare to know about the future prospects of career growth for her. Her blindness, so far, has never interfered in her aspirations. The girl says she is happy in her life and her face radiates the pleasantness. Meeting her reminds me of the miraculous achievements of Helen Keller, in her words :

They took away what should have been my eyes    
(But I remembered Milton’s Paradise).

They took away what should have been my ears,    
(Beethoven came and wiped away my tears).

They took away what should have been my tongue,            
            (But I had talked with God when I was young).

He would not let them take away my soul –  
Possessing that, I still possess the whole.

Friends there are many such children around us who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and commitment in order to make life worth living. These are the hero’s who have defeated deprivation. Such children are surely the brand ambassadors of strength and will power. My salute to them.

LESSONS FOR EXCELLENCE :

  • Success and Failure have no direct relation with ones financial background.
  • Winners focus on the possibilities and not on the limitations.
  • Champion is determined by dreams, not excuses.
  • If you choose to stay motivated in life, one morning you will get up happier.
  • If you have the necessary will, you will surely find the rightful way.

(PS. I have changed the names of children in the stories to respect their individuality)

Ajit Varwandkar

Feedback : md@fsindia.in

The Complete Thinking Children August 27, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in Management, Motivation.
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The right mobile handset for me is not just a means for voice communication but also a tool to online check my emails. I am very conservative at gadget acquisition and showoff ( if at all). I had been using the same old handset since almost five years till now when my kids admonished me to upgrade myself with the latest talk tool. Though my old phone was still able to deliver the elementary services, I succumbed to their relentless requests and changed my phone.

The shift from a routine phone to a smart phone with a million features was like a trip in the wonderland. The exuberance got hijacked when I realized that there was everything which I could live without but the most vital element, all my existing contacts, was unavailable in the new phone. It was a challenge to get the contacts transferred from symbian to android technology.

There was a vendor who could help me do this for a few hundred rupees but I did not want to share my contacts with any outsider fearing data theft! I resorted for help from a very good friend of mine, Amarjeet Singh, whom I consider as my Mobile Technology Guru (MTG). He is a man for all occasions when it comes to the last unresolved bug out of technology. After brewing a lot of ideas he gave many suggestions which were all seemingly good but very complex. Suggestions easier to execute did not work for me easily. I was disappointed; almost 1500 contacts were now waiting for a manual re-entry into this new phone. Given the scarcity of time, I had in my life, this was a daunting task by all measures. I decided to continue the use of my old phone; I remembered the adage ‘old is gold’.

My daughter Mahima pointed at me with her eyes questioning the lack of shine on my face. I told her that it was some time when I could use the new phone because the contact data was yet to be transferred. Papa give me one chance, I have some ideas and I think I can transfer all the data from your old phone to the new one. Tick tick tick ..  It was just 15 minutes when Mahima came back and shared “You can now use this new phone Papa, all your contact data has been transferred”.

. I was shocked, surprised and amazed with her technological prowess. I now knew for sure that she is an engineer material. How you could do this Mahima in just a few minutes which we could not do it over 48 hours? “You are really great”, I appreciated her. Papa you are unnecessarily praising me, it’s very easy, just use the Bluetooth and transfer all the data, that’s it! Honestly in all the wilderness this idea of transferring contacts from one operating system to another in as it is form through Bluetooth did never strike me nor my MTG.  I had searched pages on google.com for support on this subject but nowhere did I get this simple idea of transferring data. When it comes to lateral thinking, children can outperform even googl.com because they think with the ignorance of convention!

We all need to re-learn the art to think from basics, I call this as “Complete Thinking”. With age what we lose is to look at life situations from a fresh perspective always. With experiences in life we lose the ability to “think completely”. When a child arrives at a solution for a difficult situation it is invariably because of her ability to “think completely”. We, the learned professionals, are more aware and hence more biased. What might not work or what will work in any particular situation gets thoroughly ingrained in our minds. We behave as per our pre conceived and biased frame of thoughts. We look for outside of the box and close our eyes to solutions lying within our reach.

Complete Thinking helps us to look at a situation with profound simplicity. There was this story of Russian astronauts, when they first where to venture into space. Since there is no gravity up there, a fountain pen won’t work, how do they take notes in that case? Without notes the mission would fail. After many rounds of high tech discussions when the scientists could not design a pen which would work against gravity, a small kid suggested the use of pencil in place of pen! A pencil works irrespective of the gravity. This idea spread an euphoria: Wow, we never thought it this way!

At the turn of the 20th century the Y2K bug or ‘the millennium problem’ had sent waves of terror amongst all those who were on computer based data storage technology. When all the latest software languages could not deliver a solution to address the rollover” from x99 to x00, it was someone in India who used the elementary & old (and also so called outdated) language Fortran  to get a complete solution for it. A challenge which looked so massive in its nature was resolved very easily only because of “Complete Thinking”.

Let’s unlearn our old beliefs and start learning fresh again. Impossible is nothing and nothing is impossible. What we feel can’t happen, chances are that someone somewhere is determined to make it happen. Our brain gets into the pattern-making habit and this obscures obvious patterns of solutions which work. We need to turn it upside down, the change in the orientation of things can make the solution patterns emerge. Think beyond limitations. Thoughts are all powerful. Thoughts have the energy to give us all the solutions that we may need in the world. Think Completely.

LESSONS FOR EXCELLENCE :

  1. Outside the box thinking might not be a fruitful proposition unless you have done with all the conventional thinking first.
  2. In the enthusiasm to come with innovative solutions, don’t just look at things differently, look at them as if a very elementary solution was readily available.
  3. Learning new topics gives us the vision to acquire breadth of possible solutions.
  4. Don’t just think forward, sometimes think reverse and turn the thoughts upside down to reach to the right solution.
  5. When your get stuck up, think like a child or ask a child to suggest a solution.

 

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

How much homework is enough for students? August 7, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in Children n Students, National Issues.
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What is your homework policy?

I happened to be discussing about school education and child upbringing with one senior bureaucrat recently. The officer’s son was studying in one of the most prestigious ( & costly too!) school in the town, however he was still seemingly unhappy about his child’s performance at school and at home. He said, “Ajit Ji, readymade Maggy ko pani mein ubal ke agar gharwali khana parosegi to usne khana banaya bolenge kya?” ( If the housewife buys a ready to eat food, just boil’s it and arranges it for you to eat, will she be given the credit of preparing a good food?). I said, Not really. That’s what is happening to our children today. His complaint was that for every home work assignment which his son gets, he prefers to surf the internet, download the data, do a bit of copy-paste-reformat and finish the homework. I am afraid tomorrow he may upload his homework on face book and update the status!

When parent’s meet what they most of the time discuss and speak is about their children. A variety of ideas and information gets churned out in such discussions. One lady who shifted her son to a new school, feels it’s a very good school only because back home she had never seen her son so immoderately busy with his homework. In her words, “Now a day’s my son ‘studies’ a lot!” Actually her son is most of the times busy completing his homework.  On the contrary here is one senior banker who curses his son’s school like anything. What they tell the child to do at home is only to copy down the matter from textbook to homework copy. Worst is this that most of the time his son is on a multitasking mode. He does all his topo job (copy work) simultaneously while he is watching those film fare awards or other reality shows on the idiot box ( television). When cross questioned his son has a logical explanation “ Dad, till date not even a single such assignment has been checked by our teacher. She will only put a red colour mark to fulfill her statutory responsibility. Even if I write down the story of DON 2 in between the notes still I can get the “red colour OK mark and signature” from my teacher on the home work submission!”

Friends won’t you agree that doing such homework is just like eating a heavy dose of junk food which has no nourishment but only satisfies the sense of having eaten something!” If there is zero importance to homework given to children, it will only kill the students productive time and make him dull. I recall my school days when if I were to prepare for a debate on any topic first I used to use all my available information in the memory bank to scribble the preliminary framework. Then discuss it with parents and friends to make it more relevant ( obviously we did not have search engines those days!). Finally our teacher used to do the final cut and approve or disapprove the content. On the contrary in today’s era  if a student has to prepare for a debate, I can bet, 95 out of 100 students will log on to google.com and download the content (rest 5 might not have the  “right to internet” at home!)

In the current schooling system I have observed a gross disconnect between school homework and its expected output. Students from various schools share that they get homework from various subject teachers in different periods. Sometimes the summation of homework given by all the subject teachers in a particular day grossly surpasses the students capacity to accommodate. Students from lower classes are sometimes given assignments and projects which are very difficult for them to execute. In one school a class II student got an assignment to make a model of Roads and Buildings. This child has not been prepared to take on such an assignment on his own and as such the project gets outsourced to the kids parents or brother-sisters. This is a typical case of a fruitless home work. In the process the child learns to daringly fake in front of the world when she proclaims that she has done that project on her own! 

Be it an essay contest preparation or any kind of a project work submission there are off line and online companies which offer a readymade solution. This should not sound like news that there are various homework vendors available in big markets who offer to do your child’s homework in exchange of a few rupees! Home work is a booming business in a few metro’s now a days, specially the ‘bulk home work’s’ like summer home work or the winter homework!

Homework is defined as out-of-class tasks assigned to students as an extension or elaboration of classroom lessons. In effect I think, there could be three main purposes of  homework:

  1. Make the student practice at home what has been taught in school.
  2. Make her to prepare for the examinations.
  3. As an extended learning ( skill development and extra curriculum)

A lot of research has been done on the need and relevance of home work given to school children and its relevance in the current context. It has been found that homework is a largely effective in enhancing the student’s performance but only when it is executed by the student in the intended manner. According to a Duke professor of psychology Mr. Harris Cooper, there is a positive correlation between home work and student performance specially for secondary school students. Too much or too little home work, both work against the students learning aptitude. The research suggests assigning of 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. Accordingly class I students should get 10 minutes worth of homework while 9th graders can accommodate 90 minutes of homework.

Assigning homework should have educational value and should serve to enhance the learning. It should not attempt to supplement the time constraint in school in order to cover up the full course curriculum.  Homework is a tool which should be effectively and intelligently used by the school administration to leverage intellectual discipline and establishes desirable study habits. It should reinforce the lessons studied in school. As a by-product home work should bring the home and the school as well as the teacher and the parent close to each other.

LESSONS FOR EXCELLENCE :

  • Every school should have a well discussed and properly designed homework policy.
  • Before going for the internet resources, students should be educated and encouraged to at least attempt the first level of assignment with the available resource with him in his mind.
  • Feedback improves the effectiveness of homework, especially when the homework submission is genuinely reviewed and feedback given in a timely manner.
  • Attempt should be made to limit after school activities so that student has enough time to manage various other activities like sports, social networking, relationships etc.
  • Homework should entice the parents to monitor the child’s work at home, but it should not compel them to get into “on the job” execution support at home.

 

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

Birth of an Unemployable Engineer July 16, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in career guidance and counselling, Children n Students.
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Admission session is back on cards. Various academic institutes across India are into the refilling mode. Recently we had the news from Shri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi about the mind shattering 100% cut-off marks for admission. The demand supply imbalance of seats versus prospective students has surfaced yet again. Engineering has traditionally been the most preferred & “rest assured” choice of professional career for students and parent’s alike. Getting an Engineering degree is like a dream achieved. However the story post engineering is not all that encouraging these days. We have seen a large mass of unemployed engineering students struggling hard, unsuccessfully, to get into employment.

Time and again we get to see those enticing advertisements from various colleges imparting professional education. We also come to understand that India is on the path of exponential industrial growth & that industry would be requiring thousands and lacks of qualified manpower in years to come. A very important question which one thinks of is “In spite of seemingly win-win scenario for students and industry both, why is there a situation where thousands of unemployed engineers flock on the roads every year? There has to be some remarkably important phenomenon responsible to catalyze this situation. To my understanding the main reason behind this situation is that some of the institutions are giving birth to unemployable engineers. The obvious blame flame targets the mushrooming of engineering institutes, short sighted policies, lack of vision etc. On the contrary I think there is one more factor responsible for this imbalance. You would agree with me that it is the input which justifies the output. We need to take a serious look into the kind of students intake today’s institutes of excellence are forced to acquire. A few of real life experiences will elucidate my views in the next paragraph.

A parent visited us last week and wanted career counseling for their child. Father is a reputed builder and desperately wanted his son to join his business. Sir please guide my son to become a Civil Engineer. It was a close ended request. Father had not given any alternates to his son. On the first place I had doubts if the young lad even had an aptitude for engineering, leave aside civil engineering. The kid confessed, he wanted to become a stage artist. In spite of all the guidance and counseling efforts, the psychometric assessments et al, I know the boy will have to digest the qualification of Civil Engineering.

In yet another real life experience a girl child spoils her career because her parent’s are too liberal. They not only assured her to give her the financial support to visit a career counselor and get the most professional advise but also to arrange for the best education infrastructure for her. “Do what you want to & we shall support you financially” goes their words. The girl got all the more confused. All choices and no signboards from parent! Which way should I go?

Choices are the hinges of destiny, said Pythagorus. Surely so and very true also. More so when one is on cross roads of career and the decision taken today will decide the direction of the future life. With thousands and lacs of engineering seats available in India getting admission to an Engineering College is not much an issue. Any institute is as good or as bad as its faculty, campus placements and students provided the Institute is statutorily accredited and recognized.

Friends, students & parents let me share a secret with you. “Just like all medicines are helpful to cure some or the other illness but this happens only when the doctor reads the symptoms rightly and prescribe the right medicine, likewise all Engineering Branches lead to success – what is required is to have the right match.” To select the right branch is a very serious decision. This shall define the course of your career. In the process of making this decision students get strongly influenced by parents, peers and people in general. The opinion of every person you meet contributes in creating thought ripples. In the field of engineering there are immense opportunities for those with the right attitude, skills. The need is to choose the right branch as per the interest and aptitude parameter of ones personality. Opportunities will definitely follow those students who select the right academic slot for themselves. Even in times of recent recession, exciting opportunities were available for technically qualified & EMPLOYABLE manpower.

Making a BRANCH SELECTION is all the more tough when the choices are more. Before taking the right decision students should necessarily meet and discuss with at least two on job working engineers from every stream of engineering and get their opinions about the particular branch. Selecting a branch of engineering also depends on the students career planning. It is must that students should be able to evaluate their inherent personality traits and match it against those which may be the mandatory determinants for any particular branch of engineering. Not all branches of engineering may be suitable to every student. For example if you have a extremely introvert personality and you desire to become a civil engineer or get into construction activities in your life, it may not be really the right decision for you since civil engineering on field ( mostly) requires the traits of extrovert personality.

Every engineering field has its own set of challenges and opportunities. The student should first logically establish the best preferred stream of engineering by getting a. professional psychometric consultation. Having established the best branches the student should introspect and reflect about his/ her aptitude, interest and personality, the strength areas and match it with the career goal.  A lot of material is available on the internet which can be surfed to get a glimpse into the engineering branch selection subject. Its however wise & fruitful to consult seniors in the industry, teachers & placement managers, counselors & education coaches before jumping on to the final decision.

LESSONS FOR EXCELLENCE :

1. All branches of engineering have the potential to deliver a great future to the student.

2. More than selection of the institute it is the selection of the right branch which is more critical.

3. Before finalizing on any institute a student should necessarily be satisfied with the institutes accreditation status. You have all the rights to ask for these details.

4. Understand & analyse your aptitude, interest & skills and use this report to select the right branch of engineering.

5. It pays to discuss with senior / just pass-out students & relevant working professionals in the industry to get more insight about the institute and the various streams of education in engineering.

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

Quench your thirst or cut your throat? July 9, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in aglakadam, Children n Students, parenting.
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Can you be the friend of your enemy? Think twice? It’s a request – read this question thrice & then answer: is it possible for you to be the friend of your enemy? In most probability you would reply in “a big NO”. It’s comprehensible, how can one befriend an enemy? This is sure shot impossible. Going further here is one more question “When did we first learn about friends and foes in life?” Was it at school or at home or while playing with friends on the playground?

…………………..  Complete write-up in my forthcoming book…. for announcement on the book title and launch, pl keep visiting www.aglakadam.com  ……………………………………… 

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

Papa – are you happy today? June 18, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in aglakadam, parenting.
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One particular day my daughter gifted me a greeting card and demanded a party as a return gift. That’s when I came to know that the day was special for me – it was “father’s day”. Well friends, I confess that I felt a bit pampered as a father. It gave me an opportunity to meditate on my role in this universe as a father and I endorsed this to my kids. I realized that these kind of days viz. father’s day, mother’s day etc. would have been coined by someone who had a vision and realized in advance that man will be required to be reminded regularly about various vital elements of social life, which he tends to forget in the process of observing the vagaries of routine life.

An acquaintance of mine used to spend 15 – 18 hours a day at work. He never knew about the happiness or sorrows of his kids. He did not know the school timing of his children leave apart the problems faced by children at school. Whatever best the moderately educated mother could do to bring up her kids was the only parental contribution made. Father’s role was limited to arranging money for school fee and administrative expenses.  A year back when recession hit the industry, that father lost his job. That’s when he realized that he has a beautiful relationship at home as a father which he never en-cashed! Such an opportunity lost can never be compensated because children ALSO grow up with time!

We lead life as if it is a marathon race. Take a review of it and you will find that each one of us is running. When we run, we forget about everything else. A player when running on the 400 hundred meter track cannot think about his laundry bill! He has to think nothing and just run his way. This is what happens to us in life.  We keep running, sometimes aimlessly on the track or off the track. In the professional world most of the father’s play the role of a boss or a subordinate or a client or a consultant. Workaholic father’s kill their family time at workplace.  They get so much engrossed in their daily chores of activities and professional projects that they forget about their role as a father. The father always compromises & the professional always wins. This fact is hard to realize but many friends have confessed that even when they are playing with their children at home or putting them to bed ( if at all they do so) what runs over in their minds is not the happiness of being with the kids but something else related to work.

Once I saw a shopkeeper who was selling school accessories like school bags, water bottle, Tiffin box etc. There was a lot of crowd in his shop. While the children were clamoring on him to get the items of their choice their mother’s were ruthlessly busy bargaining for their purchase. In spite of all the brouhaha this gentleman shopkeeper was very cool and smiling. I could not resist asking him the secret behind his patience and peace. He said, “Sir when we start from home, every morning we keep a ice cube on our head. We know we need to maintain compose to do business.” I asked, what happens when he calls it a day at night? Shopkeeper “ “The ice melts and I vent it off on my family members!”

Father’s brash behavior at home makes things worse, children learn to make out easily how desperate their daddy is! While the kid is desperate to spend time with the father, the professional is only passionate about his work!  A project which did not take off at work will always mean dooms day at home. The five year old boy who desperately wants to see his dad happy at homes easily makes out that his daddy is miserable. When dad is back home all are supposed to be disciplined and silent as if a dictator has started his parade! Dad earns a forced respect but love depreciates. Communication stops and silence starts entering the family atmosphere. The small girl learns the lesson “father never smiles”!

A story goes round the internet where a child asks his father as to how much money he makes an hour, The father was busy with certain phone call and replies his son just to get rid of him. He says, Rs. 200/- only. After some time the son comes and asks, dad can you lend me rupees 75/-? Again to avoid the child’s disturbance the father throws a hundred rupee note at him. After some time the kid comes back to the father with Rs. 200/- in his hand now.  Seeing him back and this time along with money, the father lost his temper and screamed at the importunate child. “If you had all this money with you, why the hell have you been disturbing me for the last 15 minutes?” The kid had tears in his eyes which he tried to hide somehow, silently handed over a small envelop to his father and ran away.

Father opened the envelop only to find a letter and Rs.200/- in that envelop. The letter said :”My dear loving Dad, Here is Rs. 200/- for you. Can you please spend one hour with me today at dinner?”

The realization creeps in and hurts the busy father. You spend 365 days fulfilling your ambitions and business or work responsibilities. You take loans and build mansions. You spend your days in arranging money to pay back the debt. Commitments & promises at work steal away the precious loved ones from you. And one day you realize you are really missing the real pleasures in life. You did learn to architecture a house not necessarily a home.

I request all father’s to make amendments in their priorities of life. Compel yourself to have a few hours with your family. Re-organise your priorities or else I can honestly tell “at the end of the day you will not be happy dad!”

 Lessons for Excellence :

  1. We celebrate various kinds of days like father’s day, women’s day etc. The gist of having such days to celebrate is to remind us about our social and family responsibilities.
  2. Do not just add work days to your life, try adding life to your days!
  3. The best part of future is that it comes one day at a time, try to live each day, one day at a time.
  4. Happy fatherhood is not about provisioning for school fee or birthday party, but about spending quality time with kids.
  5. Time flies and takes away the childhood of your children, better relish it before it is too late.

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

“Plan for the BEST but be READY for the unexpected” June 6, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in Management, Motivation.
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My father has always admonished me to “hope for the best but be prepared for the worst”. I have been brought up in an environment which always inspired me to look at life in a very positive manner. I strongly felt that “accepting the worst” did defy the learning to be positive and motivated. I have been taught to lead a motivated life and also always believe in oneself. With this back ground it was very difficult for me to accept the readiness for facing the worst! However over a period of learning from life in the previous two decade, I understood the absolute truth in the concept – “to be prepared for the worst”. I have now added value to this proverb and revised it as “Plan for the BEST but be READY for the UNEXPECTED”.  Two inherent changes that I have adopted in coining the NEW proverb are : 1. Not just hope, do plan and 2. Its not the Worst, Its just the Unexpected!

…………………..  Complete write-up in my forthcoming book…. for announcement on the book title and launch, pl keep visiting www.aglakadam.com  ……………………………………… 

 

In the fast changing situations across the world, one can never permanently be in the “safe zone of success”, be ready to embrace & adopt the change.

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in