Day 109: One can only hope 

Sleep, sleep, sleep. Noon. Brunch. Read, rest, relax. Snooze, Snooze, Snooze. Wake up, bathe, study. Realize all content is from Mumbai University distance program. Feel miserable about life’s choices. Crib to SilverGhoster. U came here for a reason. You’ll understand that sooner or later. Sniff, Awhh. Bake some yummy keto bread. Coconut flour over Almond. Back to study. Give up by 10. Off to sleep. Up at 3. Finish the rest. Listening in class pays off, always.

​Highlight of the day – Make it to the corner. There is always hope just around it. Even Pandora’s box was closed in time to prevent hope from escaping.

Study all you want. Sulk all you want. But why don’t you share that yummy goodness? I mean, something more than just a slice. What good did 1 slice do to anybody?” Scotch

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Day 107: Explain Unity and Diversity in India

As expected, the Sociology exam was a bummer. 1/5th of the paper was simply about Unity and Diversity in India. Reminded me of writing similar essays in school; Social Studies, we called it back then. And at least then, all this was new knowledge and there was hope.

Now that I’ve spent 33 years in this world, I see how language divides us more than it unites. Ask every child who’s ostracized for not speaking English. I know that there is as much division between the North and the South of India, as there is between India and Pakistan. We are so hung up on our food preferences, that we’ll go hunting for an idli-vada place in New Delhi, and then complain about the poor food taste.

Our culture, our language, our eating choices, our dressing choices, our sexual preferences, our movie picks, our living spaces, the car we drive, the tourist spots we go to and the money we earn or spend; all make us more and more divided from each other than united.

As I wrote about the beauty of a Durga puja pandal in Bangalore and a Muslim community hosting Ganesha celebrations, I felt hypocritical. I felt like I was using stray incidents of color, to obscure how dull and grey this world really is. As I highlighted the cosmopolitan nature of every Indian city, I felt like I was hiding the fact that every city is one Kaveri verdict away from a curfew and localities burning.

Have I just been wearing my dark shades for too long?

I have never

The much-awaited MAED-MBAELM party happened; in the middle of the day, with the lure of free booze. Well, technically it was four out of the 12. But, it was the most likely crowd, I would say. The usual, shots, beer, pizza and I-have-never.

The dark black shades were on through the day, and I wondered if I was just becoming too cynical in life. As A guffawed at every silly joke, and touched and petted DubaiCasanova at every feasible opportunity, I reminded myself what a make-believe world this was. ‘I have made out with more than 50 men’ and ‘I have hooked up with a teacher in the Uni’ were worn like awards of honor. Such is the pitious state of today’s youth.

And through it all, what surprised me was the overly comfortable Gemini twin in me. An outsider would have found me at the center of it all, reeling in the fun, not feeling an inch out of place. I laud and condemn this strange ability that I seem to possess.

You know it’s a myth that dogs see only in black and white, right?  We actually have a reduced color spectrum, but definitely not the Grey scale. Maybe that’s the filter you need to look at the world. 

What do you think?” Scotch

Day 106: It’s a popular symbol of feminism

I’ve been nose deep in literature to prepare for the upcoming end semester exam. I start off with the subject that brought out the true expertise of the teachers in the department – Sociological foundations of Education. After the high-charged discussions on social justice and socially relevant issues of education over the summer, at Bhor, I was excited when I found out that I had this subject this semester.

And boy! What a disappointment it has been!

A few things I remember being said in class, by the respected sharer of information.

  • I wouldn’t allow my son to find himself a girl friend. It’s against my culture and culture is our God.
  • All these live-in relationships and all must make your parents so sad and disappointed in you.
  • The sole aim or purpose of a family is to give birth to young children.
  • Social stratification is natural and it’s these strata that bring a sense of calm in the society. If we were all in one big societal class, we’d kill each other and die.
  • I don’t know why the syllabus has Economic studies as a part of Sociology. Let’s skip that part.
  • All women in certain families in North India have to wear a ghunghat. They are not allowed to enter the living spaces with men without wearing the ghunghat down to their chests. It’s a popular symbol of feminism.

And a bonus one.

  • Myanmar is the capital of Burma.

I feel cheated at the end of this semester. A Master’s program should not be spending 60 hrs dishing out definitions and meaning of ideas like culture, social classes and Inequality. These should be pre-reading for the students to come prepared to class with. And the discussion should be around matters of social relevance. Nobody will ask you for the definition of gender bias in real-life. It will stare you down your face when a father chooses to pick his teenage girl out of school. And you will be unprepared to handle that situation.

All this studying and you seem to be in pain. Do you need a hug?” Scotch 

Day 62: The futility of exams 

I’ve complained about this concept a couple of times now, but the recently concluded mid semester examinations have reaffirmed the futility of the concept of examinations in my mind. It’s not a complete hatred for any form of evaluation, as it is for this specific form of summative assessments.

Especially for the Masters programs, and for courses like the Bachelor of Education, I believe it is counter-productive to expect the students to prove their learning or understanding through a 2 or 3 hour, written paper. Are we really expecting teachers, tasked with training students for the rest of their lives, to prove their qualities as a teacher by writing a 3 page essay? The problem is compounded when you are testing them on subjects like Philosophical bases of education, Child psychology, or Methods of teaching. Would you rather have me demonstrate a class using the Jurisprudential method of teaching, or would you have me write an essay on how to use it effectively? And how can you guarantee that my rote and repeat syntax of using that method is actually going to be effective when I eventually implement it in class?

Or, is that no longer the true purpose of these assessments? Are we testing if the students understand what has been taught well enough to put it to use in real-life, or are we simply testing if what was taught has been remembered by the students?

As I argue about these flawed testing methods with my teachers and other educationists, a common complaint that I hear is the lack of time considering the number of students in class. How are we to objectively evaluate a class of 60 students, if not through a common set of questions for each? The answer is already in the system: Continuous Internal Assessments (CIA). The CIAs, at least in my Uni, are mis-interpreted to short, summative evaluations every other month. I hear some departments actually have class tests and quizzes as the CIA. In fact, our mid-semester exam is considered one of the three CIAs in a semester. Beats the entire purpose of calling it a CIA now, doesn’t it?

Instead of these half-assed approaches to CIAs, what we need is for class discussions, presentations and debates to be the core of the assessment. How well a student is able to rationalize a theory of philosophy to class, should tell the teacher how well they’ve understood the concept, and therefore how well they can create new knowledge out of it. Anybody can memorize the various steps to a curriculum development process three hours before the examination and repeat it in the paper. But how well a student can actually create a mock-curriculum based on a student-audience that you’ve provided to them will truly gauge how well they’ve internalized the steps to the process. From what I see around me, just being able to successfully participate in a flipped classroom is a great assessment of their learning.

The CIAs, at their core, address the issue about having not sufficient time to evaluate each student. As you provide different, small tasks to the students, and evaluate their performance in each of those small tasks, you will be able to build a complete picture of their learning over a period of time. By splitting your effort and evaluations into smaller, logical chunks, you are technically reducing the amount of energy spent on your front as well. And let’s not give up on a process, and pick a regressive technique like a written examination, because its convenient for the teacher. It’s after all child-centered education now, isn’t it?

Day 38: Broken hand 

I took the day off to visit the doc and mend my hand. Turns out I have tendor synovitis, inflamed ligaments around the wrist. And it had to be the right hand! Turns out a cut down on the laptop, mobile phone and driving is due. I’m in a splint for 10 days and suddenly the right hand seems indispensable.

I’m already lamenting the upcoming mid semester examinations and the 2 hours’ superb of wrist ache that I have to endure. While I disapprove of summative evaluations for even school – level grades, it seems the most pointless for professional degrees like the MA and the B. Ed. As prospective teachers and administrators, there has to be a better way of proving your learning practically, then replicating psychological theories and philosophical discourses on pages. In the last year, I’ve seen a few too many students of English literature who cannot even rid themselves of their regional accent, or speak a grammatically correct sentence, and the state of their students in the future worries me.

For such teachers, a more appropriate evaluation would be an actual class conducted, or a training facilitated, as opposed to a written exam. After all, in LSRW, writing is the last skill typical taught, isn’t it? (that’s an entirely different rant for another day)

“A broken hand, you say? Could it be the mad leash pulling that I do when we’re out for a walk? No, right?” Scotch 

The breeze, aah the breeze.