I've been reading Gautama's blogs for quite sometime now. He also has a few presentations shared on SLIDESHARE. Do copy and paste the link http://www.slideshare.net/gautama2004/how-16500-schools-changed-their-pedagogy and http://www.slideshare.net/gautama2004/reformatting-school-education.
Rather than getting to know the School, most of the times, I like to get to know the people behind it. Call it the leader!! It's the leader and sometimes a team that makes things possible.
How many schools acknowledge the supporting staff in their websites?? K Schools do and practice it. I was very impressed by Bangalore's CFL(Centre for learning) and it's way of functioning. You gotta visit it's website to get a glimpse of how a School can function so beautifully and humane.
I also present another link http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1021234084637159129&hl=en#. It's a Docu movie is about a School 'KANAVU' in North Wayanad. I am at loss of words to say anything about this dream called 'KANAVU'. Thought the Docu movie is in Malayalam there are English sub titles to it.
There are people who bring in changes, survive, create a revolution and live. I salute all those who have dared to!
Yes. CFL is a very different institution from most others. A staff member, Kamala Mukunda, daughter of renowned librarian Usha Mukunda, has written a book called "What did you ask in school today?". It is a book meant for teachers and parents. Very good book and value for money - about Rs. 180 plus. Order for it at flipkart.com.
I am a resource person at KFI. Teach History for Class 11 and 12. I do this whenever I get time.
Heard a lot about Kanavu and want to go there. Maybe during May itself. A friend has visited that school and has been speaking highly of them.
Check out THULIR in Dharmapuri Dt, run by two architects. www.thulir.org.
And check out Sholai School near Kodai. A completely self-contained school - they dont even need electricity from TN Govt - produce their own power, great food. Run by Brian Jenkins, a former KFI person from the UK.. www.sholaischool.in
Arun, who used to work at KFI in Chennai, is setting up a school near Thiruvannamalai.
I am veering around to the view that many good schools are being set up elsewhere while Chennai is full of mostly money making rackets.
Back to the topic of CBSE schools in Chennai, I discovered two good ones recently:
1. Omega International. in Manappakkam, near Porur. Offers both IGCSE and CBSE.
Reputed principal - Dr Bhavani Shankar who had a fan following when he headed Chettinad Vidyashram. He was ousted unceremoniously from Chettinad. He had to even withdraw his daughter from that school instantly. Such was the viciousness with which the management was reported to have treated him. Have interacted with a couple of teachers who seemed good and child-friendly. Big negative: it is out there in Manappakkam! Hostel facility available.
Check out www.omegaschools.org
2. Chellammal Vidyalaya. Nanganallur. Senior Principal Dr. Sekar, a renowned trainer of IIT aspirants, is bringing in lots of changes for better. Very near Hindu Mission Hospital. Teachers are paid at govt scale which ensures their stay.
Sholai is a beautiful School indeed. A self contained community kinda setup. I happened to interact with a very impressive teen from that School last December during my Blue Mountains School(Ooty) visit. BMS Ooty is another wonderful alternative school.
I am visiting Kanavu this May. I am taking my kid to Aruvacode near Nilambur. Artist Educator Jinan has a workshop for kids till May 25. We are planning a three day stay. Why not visit 'Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary' in Wayanad??
I do agree on that line of yours! Chennai indeed is in dire need of good Schools. Bangalore, on the other side has so many beautiful alternative Schools. What is stopping educators in setting up Schools in Chennai or Chennai suburbs?? I'll shop for that book recommended by you. Thank you.
I also recommend another Docu video 'Where do the Children Play' which is funded by W.K.Kellog foundation and produced by Michigan Television. I got a friend of mine (US based) shop for me!!
To order a DVD copy of 'Where Do The Children Play?' for $19.95 you can contact
University of Michigan Press
c/o Perseus Distribution
1094 Flex Dr.
Jackson, TN 38301Telephone: 800-343-4499, Ext. 154
International Customers Fax: 731-935-7731.
I am glad to know you are a resource person for KFI. Glad to make your acquaintance here too.
Very interesting and awakening thoughts/experiences on various schools. I will be joining as a teacher in one of the newly established schools. Do you have any suggestions/recommendations? I have always been teaching / training Corporates for a long time.
Dont miss Kamala Mukunda's 'What did you ask in School Today?'. Good book.
One more book I think of is Peter Senge's 'Schools that Learn'. Available at Flipkart.com for some 700 odd bucks. Takes 6 days to deliver. Great book indeed.
Tony Buzan's "Brain Child" is a good book too, mostly meant for parents but techniques are ok even for teachers.
I guess I follow a 'constructivist' approach to school education. There are a few good books on this approach. But am not sure if mainstream schools seek constructivist approach. I will shortly upload an article at this site on what a constructivist teacher would do in a classroom.
Here’s a short list on what a constructivist teacher would do in a classroom:
I will check out that DVD. Thanks.
I am very keen to know about Kanavu. We considered Sholai School as an option for our daughter but that more or less meant our moving there as teachers - my wife is a special educator. Not a possibility right now. But I have offered to teach at Sholai sometime.
Will check out Blue Mountains School.
Tell me more about this Jinan workshop. We might be interested if there is still some space. Where can I get info?
I run an education firm called 'IgniteMinds' which advocates a constructivist approach to education. We focus on rural schools, but also train teachers in urban schools. The website should be up and running in a few days. Will share the URL.
Thanks so much for your valuable inputs and time. I just ordered the book by Kamala via flipkart. I am so eager to read it. Will order the other book after my vacation around 5th of may . Thanks again for everything. Hoping to connect with you aga in in future.
Your bullet points were very good. Infact, I do it all the time with my own children(atleast some of them). Will take into account the remaining too.
I cannot thank you enough for the video link to Kanavu. I had read about this a bit but watching this was an altogether different experience.
Am looking forward to a narrative of your experience when you go there in May.
This is school. What we have in cities are mostly non-schools.
Thanks, once again.
Right said! That's what you call a 'School'. How lucky n blessed those kids could get??!! There is always enough space at Jinan's. Copy and paste the links http://my.opera.com/jinankb/albums/show.dml?id=65285, http://my.opera.com/jinankb/blog/show.dml/243590, http://www.hindu.com/quest/200409/stories/2004091102540400.htm for details.
If you are visiting Aruvacode(the pottery village), extend your trip for another two - three days for Nilambur and Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary. The Botanical Sanctuary has got another story to it!!
Thanks for your presence here. Parentree is getting more resourceful with parents like you.
hi shyma, uma and sri
guys you are just great with so much of information and resources in hand.finally there seems to be meaningful disucssion pepping up. i am unaware of all above said. i had only shared experiences of the school my children study and studied and the scenario of chennai schools.
thanks for these indepth details. i will read those books mentioned.
i need you to tell me can i compe l for a PTA in an army school. my children study at army public school, nandambakkam. its a one year old school. i am new to this kind of school so get to listen to lots of rumours rather than information about running of such schools.
can you enlighten me on
1. What do you mean by a public school?
2. Is Army school a good option for civilian students?
3. Do army schools encourage civilian involvement in its admn by way of PTA?
I am slightly disappointed with the functioning of this school with regard to qualification of teaching staff. If u can help me with my speculations it will aide me better. By the way my bachelors degree was in history. it is one subject i really love to read. nice to hear that you are a history teacher.
ur informations on schools are valuable and resourceful well my daughters are studying in a girls anglo board which is now going to changed to tamilnadu samacheer kalvi i am little bit worried about the syllabus will it be good for my daughters future if they study state board?the school is a100 year school it is agood school and run by presentation nuns with only two sections in each class the teachers are good and many of them are teachers who taught me and it is where i studied the school is not as posh or tech advanced when compared to city schools i thought of putting them in one of the reputed schools in chennai but i felt that the distance she had to commute was long it takes nearly an hr to reach the school and the school had nearly 14 sec in each class and the whole culture was new to my daughters and so i decided to cont in the same where they r now studying i dont whether i am right in my decision to cont my daughters in state board pls comment
I empathize with you completely. But relax. Here are some pointers that might help you in making decisions:
Here are my views:
1. Your daughters seem lucky that teachers who taught you are still in the profession, they are most likely to be dedicated and good. Given the very high attrition rate of teachers in schools, this seems nearly impossible in most schools. And since a school is simply as good as its teachers - little else matters much - you are on good ground here.
2. Samachcheer Kalvi is an effort to reduce the govt's administrative hassles. I dont think much of matriculation or state board syllabus or books but if you are okay with the present text books and content, no harm. I have seen the syllabus - check www.pallikalvi.in for details. It is not too bad. However, a great syllabus and decent text book would be meaningless if the teachers were bad or semi-literate, like in most schools. You are covered here. So I guess you don't have much to fear.
3. As long as your daughters are having a good time, are reasonably enthusiastic about the world around them, etc dont get worked up by state govt syllabus. There is tremendous pressure on state governments to match the reforms taking place in CBSE schools. They will follow, hopefully soon. By the way, in states like UP, ironically, the state board syllabus is seen to be tougher than both ICSE and CBSE. Only the brave stick to state board. Rest migrate to CBSE by 10th!
4. I met a girl from Modern School, Nanganallur in 2008 at the IGCSE (Cambridge) exam centre. She was taking the IGCSE exam for 10th on her own, a few months ahead of the board final exam. She studied on her own and cleared it with flying colours. Increasingly, such options are available. Plenty of diagnostic tests are available online - try ASSET ONLINE of www.ei-india.com, a fine test in science, maths, english that tell a student how good he or she REALLY is. Questions that make a student think. My daughter is enrolled in a programme of the same firm called MINDSPARK. It is excellent, self-paced online learning and assessment. There is so much to supplement what the school offers. So why worry at all?
5. I dont consider "reputed" schools to be good for ALL. Schools build reputation based on a few students' brilliant performances, which, I think, would have come anyways, irrespective of the brand of schools. No one has established any direct correlation between a school's contribution and academic performances. Schools claim credit for students' performances and it cannot be disproved. In general, I have a dim view of many "reputed" schools. Unfortunately, parents have a 'fill it, shut it, forget it' attitude to schooling and hence anxieties. Dont worry at all. Am sure, with such a concerned parent as you, your daughters would be fine with the school they have been attending now. Consider change only if they become distinctly unhappy or if the management ill-treats you. Else, enjoy your daughters' schooling. Samacheer cannot cause so much harm to make you lose sleep. At best, it is irrelevant.
Got in touch with Jinan. Working out dates for visit to Aruvacode. Thanks a ton.
Am planning to do a few treks with my daughter in the western ghats during May and early June. Checking out places like Kunjappannai (near Kotagiri, a farm run by an IIMA chap). No touristy places. If you know places that are interesting, do drop a line.
I travel with help from Ecologin, an IIT Madras based Eco Tourism firm. Highly recommended. Check out www.ecologin.org. Run by an IITian and an alumnus of IIMA. Good people to travel with.
1. PTA - I guess we are on slippery terrain here. There are cases filed in courts (PTA vs State of Kerala), but am not sure if PTA formation is mandatory across India or is simply a gentle directive from the central govt. I will check and revert on the status of PTA. I was told that Educational Reforms brought in by Sibal make it mandatory for managements to consult PTA / PTA representative on the school's governing council, on all important issues. That may be so. But does the PTA have some teeth? I am not sure. Will find out all about PTA and let you know.
PTAs have been active in places where schools have been mismanaged on a large scale. In Delhi, for example, PTAs are collectively fighting against the fee hike by private schools. Check the link below. But this looks like a state-government area and not enforced across the country.
2. I know of a couple of people who went to Army School (in Bangalore) and turned out to be fine persons. One got selected for Ashoka Fellowship, a prestigious one, this year. But I don't know if they decided to follow what the school taught or rebelled! I presume some kind of discipline does get instilled in Army School.
3. Army school being a public school, I guess, simply means it is open to civilians. Except for this specific context, there is no great meaning to the word 'public' attached to a school name. (It is not like in the US or Europe where a 'public' school has a specific connotation). Any school can call itself a 'public' school in India, like any school can call itself an 'international' school.
4. When evaluating teachers in any school, dont go by qualifications. Just check if your children likes the way teacher deals with them. Ask a few simple questions like "does your teacher ask you to copy the answer from the book or does she ask you to write on your own?". In a country where degrees are worth less than the paper they are printed on, we have to find ways to evaluate teachers better. Also, a highly qualified person need not be a good teacher at all. That calls for a different ability. Some perceptive principals in Chennai actually pick teachers who have at least failed once in their academic career. Reason: they will empathize with the hurt feelings that failure causes and hence will treat children better. I thought that was a great idea. I would be very wary of handing over my daughter to a topper right through for teaching. She is most likely to be impatient and counter-productive. Check if the teachers like the children - your children should tell you that. Forget their degrees.
5. If your children are happy in this school, think twice before taking them out. Dont go by rumours, 'reputations', etc. There ought to be more solid reasons. If the children are unhappy, remove them regardless of how good the school is.
Thanks for Ecologin. Me, Pals and Kids are going to Jinan's by the third week of May. I do travel with spouse n kids and like minded pals. As you are talking about farms, I cannot forget to mention Navadarshanam near Bangalore.(2hrs from Blore in Krishnagiri dist). Visit http://www.navadarshanam.org/ for details. Hats of to these guys.
@Mayura, thanks. It's a wonderful forum for parents like us to network and exchange info and opinion. We must thank Parentree and our kids!!
i have no words but to say thanks... your comments and suggestions gave me a new lease of life now i am confident that i am in the right path for my daughters, thanks again
hoping to keep in touch with u.
i am trying to find out if PTA is a mandatory too. i am thinking of filing a RTI for the same. regarding qualification of teachers what you say is right. my intention too was in that direction. l want a teacher who will guide my child beyond the scope of the syllabus or one who will encourage a child to provide varied information.
i take your word for, as long as my child is happy i shall continue with the school invariably, thanks always.
In ancient China, the village doctor was paid regularly only if everyone in the village was healthy and didn't require his services. When someone fell sick, the doctor's fee / salary was stopped. It was resumed only on the sick person getting well. This got the doctor to be efficient and figure out ways to quickly cure sick patients; else, he would starve!
Can we think of a similar arrangement for teachers? If the children are found to have learnt something, teacher gets paid. SWACHID (www.swachid.com) is paying teachers who can help drop-outs pass exams privately, in this way. Interesting.
Schools collect a lot of money but they dont pay teachers well at all. A teacher in a private school gets less than the pay of a BPO Driver in Chennai. One more indicator of a good private school: see if they pay close to the govt scale instead of pocket money.
The idea is excellent and if possible i can be co applicant as well
RTI to know about PTA is a good idea. But take care to see that there is some collectiveness about this and you are not doing things alone, particularly if there is resistance from the school authorities. Your PTA initiative can be positioned as an effort to open a channel of communication between the parents and the school and not as an initiative to protect parents' rights, right at the inception stage. Eventually, after acquiring enough strength and voice, it can take an aggressive stance on issues. I guess, sustained momentum will lead to that.
In schools that I am familiar with, PTAs have become lifeless within a short span of a year or two. Building and sustaining collective pressure, while avoiding direct conflicts as individual parents with the school management, is key.
Would help if you could keep us all posted on the steps. Will be educative. Thanks.
can u please tell me whether sherwood hall is a good school or not and how much is the fees in that school?? please help me out and reply soon....
Hi UmaNaren, Srihamsa,
How did your workshop with Jinan and Aruvacode visit go? We are waiting to hear from you.
Could not make it to Wayanad since there was a major health concern in the extended family. Had to change plans at the last moment.
However, me and my daughter spent 3 days in Parambikulam, an excellent and highly recommended wild life sanctuary. We stayed in Tented Niche and Sambar Machchan. Spotted almost every animal except of course the most elusive - tiger. Sighting a leopard was a thrilling experience. Discovered the wonderful music of the Malabar Whistling Thrush. Got my daughter to spot bird and the malabar giant squirrel.
Next weekend, a couple of friends with children are joining me for a trip to Pulicat Lake, north of Chennai. A place full of history and hope to learn from the local community there too.
Forgot to mention that I did speak with Jeenan. Will keep in touch and visit Wayanad soon.
this discussion sounds really interesting... cud anyone tell me abt Mrs.YGPschool / calibre academy.
hats off to all of you in this forum.. Srihamsa, Umanaren & others-----your thoughts & info are real eye-openers. My children have grown-up, but i'm awed by all the efforts--physical & mental that you seem to be putting into getting the ''right'' school( not necessarily the most famous school) for your kids..
it's been refreshing to read your posts--which do not go all out at denigrating particular schools but rather give constructive ideas & facts..
keep up the good work---i'm waiting for your posts. thanks!!
I have put my kid to psbb millenium OMR in prekg . and i am worried how the education is ?as my house is in kalvakkam. According to me, kids get better knowledge at early age and i dont want my kid to miss that ,be it class sessions or extra curricular activities. If any body has any experience with this school kindly share be its good or bad.
1. Since you have already put the child in a school, leave your anxieties behind and relax. Seeking reassurance constantly doesn't help since the decision cannot be reversed, at least, not soon. I am sure you got the child enrolled after considerable thought and you should check once in a while if the school measures up to your expectations. That is all.
2. Kids learn what they want to learn. They are not some empty vessels to fill knowledge in. "Not expecting the kid tomiss out" , "better" knowledge at "early" age, etc.. if the statements reflect intentions they could prove counter-productive. Let the child learn at his or her own pace and am sure she/he will be fine. If some key milestones are not achieved, they you may have reasons to worry about. Not otherwise.
All the best.
Hi Meena Thara,
Couldn't make it to Jinan's Workshop. My daughter was down with stomach upset after our Goa trip. We are visiting Aruvacode sometime in September. Meanwhile I am in touch in Jinan. I have plans to invite Jinan for a 'talk' to the School Parent Community where my daughter studies.
@Sumathee Thanks.... Our Children are our teachers!
@ Srihamsa How are you doing? Is your website all set and functional? Do check out www.thecreativeschool.org. A Montessori School at Bangalore. A pal of mine is involved with the School. BTW, have you guys been to Pichavaram Mangrove Forest near Chidambaram??
Cheers n Happy Parenting to all...
Website is still to be functional. Loads of info. So may take a little more time.
Hamsa, our daughter Apoorva and I made several short trips during summer to places like Kodai, Munnar, Mannavanur (40 km from Kodai).
Apoorva and I went to Parambikulam for a few days and that turned out to be a great trip. We saw everything that one could spot there except of course the most elusive creature - Tiger. She learnt to spot birds quite well. The song of Malabar Whistling Thrush is the most enchanting bird song I have heard so far.
Last weekend, Apoorva and I went on a trip to Nagla Hills and Pulicat lake with a couple of other families, including that of the founder of Parentree.in. That was an amazing trip with children having so much fun. A group called Ecologin.org organised it for us. Worth checking them out.
I am waiting for some schedule from The School KFI on my history classes as a resource person. Meanwhile, my book writing project is shaping up - on how to select a good school. Meant for parents. Hope to be done by October.
Am very keen to meet Jeenan. Will make the trip in a month or two.
Check out this link. It is as relevant to school education as it is to higher education in colleges:
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