Problem Solving Skill – a powerful tool for science education

For a decade now, our team of educators have been bracing for the radical shifts in pedagogical methods, assessments and ‘out-of-the-box’ ways to exposure, alongside the routine academics. We all, endeavour to adopt the best classroom techniques when it comes to imparting lessons and buckle up the curriculums. Most of the time, we do attain the aim of passing knowledge to the futurists; but today I am specifically referring to the path makers of nature, universe and technology – our science students.

Having said that, do we really let curiosities, scientific attitudes and thinking skills form the first foundation brick of our children?! Worth a (many) thought(s)…

Making the students go by the ‘problem solving method’ is the best way to develop their scientific attitude. One of such implementations in Samsara’s chemistry lab, dawned onto me that students would grown up to be self-reliant only if we allow them to find solutions of the problems they face and learn to shoulder the responsibility.

We know, but often fail to work the simplest ways to reach our goals of learning. How good it would be if we bring into focus the need of hands-on activities, experimentation and the like. Equipping students with the magnificent tool of ‘Problem Solving’ is THE way to empower them in finding their own way.

Yes!! Let me tell you more about it.
Once, two of my students ran into a blank-wall during a practical exam, with some salt stuck in their funnel. Like a practice they approached me for helping them out; I rather decided to go offbeat, and very diplomatically asked them to sort it out themselves; allowing them to use the available reagents in the lab. I didn’t disappear from the scene totally but kept close watch on them. They both went about using a needle to trying to dissolve the salt with water; while the success was made with their last attempt of trying an acid, making the salt and anxieties melt down simultaneously.

The Big Bang revelation for them took place in a simple school lab; and happiness on their faces stamped their first self-earned win.

When questioned about the whole process their words inferred the properties of salt but to me my students now knew- ‘nothing is impossible and failure is just the first step in the path of success’. It reminds me of the wisest words ever said for any scientific research, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?!” by Albert Einstein.

Sweta Singh | Ex-Science Educator | Samsara School

Edited by: Namrata Gupta | Blogger | Samsara School

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Go Places With Spirituality

We are bound by our human conditions so much so that we make ourselves believe nothing can be done, even before the good fight starts.

Yes, ‘The Good Fight’ which is not even close to running away from this world or the demons that work in your mind, rather make friends with them; just never get dictated by them.

To fight the bad, we need to know it first. The subtlety can be understood when we prepare to embrace ourselves wholly and spiritually. ‘Sometimes’ would not be apt to say as we are most often in such critical situations that every possible path is diluted as a deadlock, and we keep on looking for more and more options (read external patch up solutions). 

As I said, we are accustomed to silent our inner voice and choices and think-say aloud our dependence on the things and people of this world, which ironically are not capacitated enough instead, bound by the material world conditionings. 

We only have to look inside for everything that we want to know. But there’s a process.

Like all our learnings and knowledge have come through books, educators and our real life experiences, so is the need in life for a mentor, guide, master; the one who can take you higher on a spiritual platform, a raised altitude from material notions and concepts.

BELIEF – in the existence of oneself, one’s soul – is your only Qualification.

I was fortunate enough to get the guidance from my mentor- instating and reinstating my Faith and Hope in life. In this fortunate wheel of life, the vicissitudes that come along are more often than not leave us scarred and in solitude. And the one that gives us the qualm of a lifetime is the fear of losing our loved ones. When this unrecoverable loss hit me; it blew off my world; not at once though, one after the other.

The ordeal began with the tragic demise of my mother, and whilst I trudged through the phase, a few years later, it was my father’s turn to leave behind the family name to his children. Death wanted more and fed on one of my brothers. It didn’t stop here, yet again I was bared with one more human loss, the untimely death of my second brother, which still haunts me a lot. Being the youngest in my family my eyes saw many deathbeds questioning the whole universe round-the-clock – “why did this happen with me??”.

Bringing me to light were the words from my mentor –

“Although to us someone’s death may be difficult to understand and accept, from the deceased standpoint one’s death is part of their eternal life. Ultimately everything comes down to our faith. If we wish to live a life that is free of fear, doubt of anxiety it is essential that we understand two vital aspects of life. (1) The dignity of life (2) The eternity of life.”

So, with this answer I am continuing my journey through faith, practice, study and always remind myself what my Mentor says – Suffer what there is to suffer; enjoy what there is to enjoy. But never be defeated in any situation. Gradually, like the light emerges through darkness, my journey of peace emerged through the land of fear, doubt and anxiety. Of late, I lost one of my uncles (my father’s real brother) but this time I faced the situation more courageously and calmly.

I don’t know if my story can inspire anyone or even if it’s meant to, but if I succeed in changing one life by making it perceive a higher platform that every human being is entitled to, my purpose of life would agree with me. Never let yourself forget that happiness and all the magical secrets lie within us only. All we need is to believe in ourselves and discover them with an optimistic approach which will surely saturate our personality with ray of hope, zeal, courage and motivation to face life at any troublesome circumstance with smile and calmness. I will round off  with- ‘No matter what happens, the important thing is to continue with your faith. If you do so you will definitely become happy, or atleast be satisfied with your decisions. Even if things don’t get solved the way you’d initially hoped or imagined, when you’ll look back after the moment has passed, you will understand on a more profound level how it was meant to be, in your best interest and subtlety in the language of universe’.

Embrace your power to heal, fight the odds and live life !!

Reema Sharma | Educator | Samsara School

Edited by: Namrata Gupta | Blogger | Samsara School

Student-Teacher Relationship

The most important factor governing a student’s learning is dependant on the relationship he shares with his teacher(s).

Gone are the days of “spare the rod and spoil the child“. Today, teachers, better known as ‘facilitators‘, are making students aspire to be better graduates, better working professionals and even better individuals.

A teacher is faced with many daunting tasks. She needs to put herself in the shoes of her students in order to understand them well, and quickly get a feel of their hang-ups. Taking up this profession means taking up responsibility of many young, unexposed children. It requires devoted listening ears and a compassionate heart to her students.

Empathy is an indispensable quality for all teachers to possess. Besides IQ, it is very important for teachers to understand every student’s EQ (Emotional Quotient) as well.

That’s how the beautiful relationship of a mentor and a mentee is nurtured. The ‘growing up‘ phase is one dilemma for the students, when they usually fall back on their peers for advice.

Mistakes committed at this age can at times prove to be scarring. Since a child spends a majority of his time at school, it is more likely that his teachers would be in a better position to influence his decisions, after his friends.

Those blessed with facilitators who can guide them correctly, should consider themselves lucky. According to a survey done in the United States, a teacher-student relationship has been identified as a significant influence on the overall school and behavioural adjustment. Positive teacher-student relationships, defined as “warm, close, communicative” are linked to behavioural competence and better school adjustment. Other researchers found that conflict in teacher-student relationships are related to unfavourable outcomes such as a negative school attitude, school avoidance and hostile aggression among students.

A healthy student-teacher relationship is a vehicle that contributes to optimum student learning; a relationship that becomes a motivator for those involved in the learning experience.

Sunayana Gupta | Sr. Academic Coordinator | Samsara School

Celebrating Women | The Most Creative Creatures of Nature

A full circle of ethics, ocean of patience, sacrifice, forgiveness and mercy; born with the prowess to create, nurture and transform. That’s a #Woman!

People talk about women empowerment, making them stronger.

I say, look deeper they were born strong and already are the most powerful. Undeniably women have always shouldered more responsibilities than men. From being a doting mother, a perfect home-maker, an ambitious corporate achiever to an inspiring symbol of work-home-life balance.

Historically, women in India have been considered an embodiment of Goddess Durga, birth of a girl child is believed to mark the arrival of Lakshmi- The Goddess of wealth and riches. They are the whole-so bearers of life, begetting values, ethics, knowledge, emotions and all that moulds a new born into a human. With the most powerful appearances they make in life and the ferocious roles they take up to voice out the unfair, they can literally send chills run down your spine.

Undebatably, this cant be a fort upheld by someone weak. The only thing that needs a shift is in the mindsets of the Society and the way they perceive strength.

Besides, Indian women also play entrepreneurial roles in cities and contribute significantly to agricultural activities, handicrafts, village art and crafts. SBI Chief Arundhati Bhattacharya, ICICI bank head Chanda Kochhar, Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar- Shaw and HT Media Chair Shobhana Bhartia are among the world’s 100 most powerful women, according to the Forbes’ annual list , and clearly not even close to the idea of weak or dependent.

There are millions of other women in India and worldwide who are marking their paths with modern ideologies and breaking the cliche rule of ‘women can’t have opinions’.

Contradictorily, discrimination against women is reflected in recurrent incidences of rape, acid attack, dowry & honor killings, forced prostitution, female foeticide etc. Women continue to suffer from kitchen to keyboard. This is a real picture of our so called male dominant society, to put it more aptly worst mentality dominant society.

Gender discrimination  is a parasite that hampers the development of a nation. Living in a nation where women statistically constitute almost half the population, putting them aside with labels of weak and non-equal won’t ever lead to a fully grown, developed or flourishing country. It’s the prevalent ignorant minds of few blinding all, and at times even trying to influence the wiser lot. Like they say ‘A rotten apple will spoil a great many sound ones’.

The oodles of strength a home-maker constitutes in this country is un-defying and unmatchable. So, why shall there even arise a need to prove as a woman, for being a woman. Neither should be the need to prove the superiority of either over the other, as that’s exactly what we are fighting for, equality of men and women. See no one as less or more, only each one equally worthy of respect.

Stop demeaning and judging women based on their basic choice of working out (a job) or working in (homes). Being a home maker or in a cabin at a MNC, is too trivial a criteria to gauge a woman’s strength. They are the thoughts, the ideas, the visions of a woman, the fire in each one that defines her. Not whether she earns & how much, rather how driven is she to give the future a better set of individuals, working towards more peace driven society than wars, making this world more civilized than promoting the ongoing jungle approach.

The fruitive mentality of the society to enjoy women, that all give room to, is what needs to be given up. This is what making us weak, not what nature made while creating women.

Much more needs to be done. The under-representation of women and the attitudinal bias against women is reflected in several areas of employment as well, say in the police, the judiciary and the law, etc. The fixing of this downcast requires focused intervention targeting education, training, child & health care, nutrition, employment, social welfare services, support and legal safeguards are the most vital, calling us all for action.

Start with the ground work, target the roots and work on the first and foremost- AWARENESS. Self-awareness and that of your rights.

Know why you need to respect and love yourself before anyone else. God didn’t make you by fluke. He had his best ideas while creating you, you are flawless and you were meant to be this way. Don’t try to change, embrace yourself fully and then you’d know what it means to be a woman.

Awareness, Not Ignorance Builds Confidence!

Its not a very fortunate situation to stand and ask for your rights. There never should have arise the need of demanding them. But we did, a lot of us did, putting our positions at stake, compromising and accepting the wrongs we opened doors to exploitation. Remember, we get exploited when we let others do it, accepting and not voicing out the wrong make us a part of the injustice done. It’s a chain that needs to be broken. We let it all happen, and now, we have to stop!

Put your educational academic degrees to use, bring your knowledge gained through the years, into picture and have your well-read and traveled experiences and insights open up your minds. It’s contagious, you breed it, you pass on and the chain gets longer, wider, broader and stronger.

Affirmative actions in areas such as education, health and welfare to overcome entrenched discrimination caused by gender bias, denial of opportunities at work and apprehensions about not getting a fair deal, are all the clock is ticking for.

You need to rise, to give a hand to others. You need to know your rights first, to generate awareness in others and train them for economic development. Gender specific policies with emphasis on activities and resources beneficial to women would definitely help in providing greater opportunities and leaving smaller rooms for unfair practices against women.

Don’t focus on bringing about the change in the outside world without cleaning within. Work towards bringing about a radical change at home as well, where it all starts. Teach your sons to respect women, impart lessons of humanity and not encourage suppression and shutting down the voices of women. Devise atmospheres that let equality brand the personalities of all.

You are a woman, Be One! In full spectrum. Stop feeding your minds with anything or anyone that makes you feel less. Forgiveness is not the weapon of weak, but accepting unjust is.

Don’t exploit nor be at the reach of someone’s exploitative hands. This world is as much yours as of anyone else’s. Life will come at a halt if your existence is halted. Respect thy self, grow out of what you perceive as flaws as that’s the real you with no error in your human design and keep this world going. We are the life makers, we are The Chosen Ones.

It’s about celebrating womanhood, so salute the epitome of dynamism and the symbol of human strength on this International Women’s Day!!

Smita Singh | Admin | Samsara School

Edited by: Namrata Gupta | Blogger | Samsara School

 

 

 

 

Connecting School life to Real life

Core Skills journey started for most of us in October 2015. The two days session on development of (Critical Thinking) and (Problem Solving) skills through connecting classrooms, had been an exciting roller coaster ride. When I registered for the workshop, I had no idea that some day I would come so far in achieving this objective of imparting these skills to my students.

The training session by the British Council opened our minds to exploring new possibilities and pedagogy for class room teaching. The perception, questioning and group discussions were some of the tools that I used to direct students to the objective of teaching Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.

I decided to take the plunge into this challenge after doing my research. I had discussions with Parents, teachers and learners. We reached a conclusion that once these students pass out of school, they need to be assets to the society. These assets should be able to critically analyse any given issue and reach workable solutions to the unforeseen ones.

I decided to teach (attitude and tolerance) in Value Education class and I integrated it with another lesson in English in which protagonist fails to achieve his goals because of his negative and condescending attitude.

And, lo and behold…my students did me proud when they were not only receptive to questions and participative in group discussions, but also emerged with very viable and practical solutions and suggestions.

What more, they all volunteered to take up leadership roles bringing into play healthy discussions and reaching to decisions on various issues, with their friends, families, neighbours and school mates. The change reciprocated in their turned-up attitude and perception towards other people and experiences, putting them on the broader platform of tolerance and civilization.

I left the class with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. My class 9 rocks!

Capt. Praveen Roy | Principal | Samsara School

Inclusive Education | An Embrace To Special Needs

On the Footway of Education, every Teacher can recount numerous highs and lows experienced while walking their journeys across it.

To break my story, I experienced both; great moments withe days starting with hope-excitement and contentment seeping in with the fall of dusk, assuring me that I chose the right path while on the crossroads of career choices, just sometime ago.

Flipping sides, were days of contemplation questioning the same career choice; an obvious fallout of uninterested students and shying away attitudes, or worse unanticipated blow-ups with zero accomplishments.

My journey of Inclusive Education started a year ago, growing from 8 special students to 10 beautifully evolved beings now. One of the simplest qualities we as humans should attribute (but we often fail) can be seen in abundance in all these children- Truth & Loyalty of the heart.

I started my career only as a fresher with these children but with their support and smiles, I grew to work harder with full enthusiasm and devotion, casting out all the inhibitions in me of a Fresher.

As a Teacher, your relationship with a student starts the moment you meet him/her. No matter how difficult a student may be, you need to embrace the challenge of getting to know him/her. Every child is different and each one deserves love.

Life has enough hard knocks in-store for a child who struggles with education in different ways but you may be one of those few people the child believes can take care of him/her. This could make a difference in the choices they make everyday in life, or to the least in their decision of not to disrupt the regular class. They all have the courage to do something good in life. All we need to do is Hear them, Know them & Trust them.

It has come quite naturally to me that I feel bonded with my students and form endearing relationships in no matter of time. This acts as strength in getting my learnings across, improvising their attention spans and building responsiveness in them.

As a Special Educator, I firmly believe that one needs to build a healthy rapport with the students first, for them to really listen and do their best.

Teaching is a very active job, especially with these sensitive areas where establishing relationships with students is imperative, before exposing them to the regular academic curriculum.

For me one thing that holds vital importance while playing the role of an Educator is to form a positive relationship with parents in order to make them aware and give an in-depth understanding of the child’s areas of assistance. I quickly feel defeated when that doesn’t happen. I am often discouraged when parents are not ready to accept the reality of their child, which in-turn only leads to child’s loss.

Regardless of the level of Education a child can attain in life, whatever they learn today should clear their concepts for life, which is unattainable without the support and comfort of the Educator as well as of the Parents.

It’s heart breaking to see a child who was once highly motivated, now no longer shows interest because his/her parents fail to understand the true value of Education and download this expression to their child.

Children are people who have feelings, who don’t want to feel cornered. They want to learn but they also want to feel as if they have some control over themselves. I never make assumptions about a student before they come into my class.

Every student is different; no two students react in the same way. It’s our role as teachers to find out what motivates each student for learning and also what triggers them to misbehave. If we can meet this disconnect in them and drive out the negative stimulants, we can go a long way towards a more effective classroom and learning environment.

In the end, all these challenges are equally difficult and when combined, as they often are on a daily basis, almost impossible to juggle. On most days, I feel like I’m part of the juggling act in a circus. But-despite the hardships I’ve faced in my teaching – I’m determined to beat the odds and not be a statistic.

Special Education Is My Calling & I’d Always Want To Feel The Same Love For My Job As I Do Now !!

 

Ritika Tomar | Special Educator | Samsara School

 

Edited by: Namrata Gupta | Blogger | Samsara School

Lack of Harmony & Upsurge Anxiety | The Millennial Youth

Lack of the right attitude (Indiscipline, if I may say so) and Restlessness are homing in the Generation X these days; triggering and forcing us to contemplate on WHY?

We often witness problematic behaviours in our Children, and around. But have we ever tried bringing to light the reasons behind? As I give you the core, I know for sure it won’t come across as the most palatable or an anticipated marking, atleast for most of us.

We (The Adults) are more to be questioned, fairly blamed for such ado patterns in our Children.

Children have been and’ll always be Children: raw and callow, ready to experiment with and explore the world with their age-hemmed vision of life.

Their angled habit of years, make them obey their Parents, WHILST we as Parents start to obey our Children, either out of excessive love and/or benighted indifference. That’s when we open up a whole new can of worms.

The problems start to seep in, with the unruly teenage stimulating them to not just lose their control over themselves, but also make way towards uncontrolled exercise of freedom and improper behaviour.

It’s then, the word ‘NO’ sets them off, making them Defiant Children.

The Parents who do not put their foot down at the right time usually have Children, crushing the dreams of Parents and never having one, of their own. Therefore, it becomes imperative for every Parent to remember that

“Discipline Is Not a Punishment But It Is The First Act of Love, which stops a child from getting astrayed and wasting this precious gift, Life.”

As Parents, Teachers & Mentors, it is our duty to bring them up giving the right values-The Samskāras, and as the word says “that which has been put together’ and ‘that which puts together’. Absence of values will only lead to disposition of volition, turning life full of regrets and repentance.

Children are soils with the most fruitive tendencies. Don’t force, Inspire them. Not just Teach, Make them Live these values.

-Values are more important in life than fortunes

-Being together is more important than getting ahead of others

-Accepting responsibility is more important than asking for rights

-Obeying is more important than commanding

-Admitting mistakes is more important than accusing others

-Being gentle is more important than acting tough because gentleness is a sign of strength and culture while violence and cruelty are inhuman, animal traits

Give the younger generation these few simple values and it will surely help to carve a better, more responsible human being out of them and ultimately a Better Nation.

Misha Gurjar | Educator | Samsara School

Edited by: Namrata Gupta | Blogger | Samsara School