Monday, June 28, 2004


The summer course on reading has made me feel enthusiastic about readign again. After a very long time I have started to enjoy reading.
Well, reading was just a hobby for me and I never liked to stick to books all the time. For that matter never like to do anything at a stretch. But somehow I am improving my reading and analysing skills through this class.
Was just wondering about my school years and the books I read. Frankly speaking,during my school years I used to spend very little time reading. But that little time was spent reading champaks( I luved the illustrations) some old chandamamas which my Mom had collected from the time we were too young to read. Other than that I luved browsing through the magazines my father bought. And of course "WISDOM" was a real good book. I luved to read it and it for sure enhanced my general knowledge and my thinking.
As I had an elder sister I did not have to worry about buying or borrowing books for the coming year.As she graduated to a higer class all her text books were mine.And during those times we had very interesting stories for our supplementary books and texts. So most of the time I used to read my text books ahead of time( well not the text but the supplementary texts which had very interesting stories by various Indian and international authors).
It was again a sort of peer pressure( or rather jealousy or maybe sibling pressure:)). My sister used to use the context of these stories which she had for her class and I used to feel j. And then as soon as I could grab them I used to read them and boast that even I knew Trojan war and Don Quixote.I wanted to be ahead of her or rather tried to oversmart her but was never successful:).

However, I am glad to have read all those books in my formative years which contributed a lot in improving my vocabulary, my creativity and my memory( I still remember them:).In fact the best part of my supplementray texts were the biographies of the authors.I now feel that those biographies had influenced me to a great extent. In fact they have developed my inquisitveness to relate a person's background to his achievements.I learnt a lot from them and had a crush on quite a few:).

We had a lot many stories written by some of the famous Indian authors and Premchand was my favourite. I really liked his stories. They almost often spoke of the struggles of the people in those times.Well, somehow I had a crush on Premchand at that point of time and liked all of his stories which I read. I also liked "Macbeth", "As you like it" and " The merchant of Venice" by Shakesphere. Leo Tolstoy was another favourite author of mine.
However the most favoruite books of mine were those written by ENID BLYTON. I loved to read her books. They were all fantasy stories wherein the trees could grow candies:) and the town always had some or the other festival of some sort.
The charachters were very funny and interesting.There were gnomes, pygmies and what not. I just can't remember any now. But I used to love reading those books. Her stories always an interesting end with a moral.
Thus a part of my childhood was spent in reading some real interesting stuff. But I just can't remember as to when I stopped enjoying reading. Could be somewhere in the seventh standard when the fear of board exams were induced in me. However, it's always nice to think back and remember those times especially when I have to read similar stuff for my student. Needless to say I enjoy reading them even now and wish my text books were as interesting as the Enid Blyton and the Munshi Premchand stories:).

Friday, June 25, 2004

It's her personality......

"Oh really"? The comment left me thinking and pondering over what she really meant? In fact I have a habit of writing everything in a detailed and desciptive way. Most of my papers and assignments are very lengthy and very detailed or "wordy". But what does it tell the reader about my personality?
Well,Courtney was suprised by the length of my lesson plans and when she showed it to Heather who happens to be my friend, she gave a very brief and postive(?)remark "It's a part of her personality. She tries to explain every small thing in detail", she said.I was a bit taken back. Of course was suprised that she knew me so well.But?..... did she mean that I am very descriptive even when I talk?And how does it reflect on my personality?

I was in fact pondering over the same topic this morning. But I have a different explanation to give.Well,I do believe that our academics and our work refelcts our personality but to a great extent there are factors which influence us to behave in a certain way or work in a certain way( may be I am supporting Watson's behaviorism and Skinner's conditioning theory now.They seem to be emebdded in every life experience for me).Thus to completely attribute my lengthy and descriptive work to my personality would be a bias.
Well, I believe I am more descriptive because of the type of education system I was exposed to all through these years till I landed up in the US.Through out my school and college years I was supposed to be as descriptive as possible.( Five marks answers at least two pages, 10 marks answers at least 5 pages). And after getting out of the examination hall the focus of our discussion would naturally be on our performance and also on who took the maximum number of additionals:).It was used to compare each other's performance and also predict their sucess in the exam.Well,no discrimination between the arts and sciences again. I was a science student and still was expected to be as descriptive as possible in my answers.

So you see It is not a part of my personality but the style of writing I had cultivated.Well,I do have some more proof to justify my say.During my proctoring sessions I am supposed to invigilate the examinations.Even this time is spent in observations and most of the time in preparing for my assignments.

Though I did it unintentionally I was suprised when I went through the answer sheets of the biostatistics students from India and America.When both the Indian and the American students took the bio stats exam, the Indian students took more time to complete the test and were also more descriptive in their answers.Most of the Indian students used pens while the Americans used pencils. Thus after collecting their papers and sneaking and peeping through them I felt I wasn't alone.

And I have another strong reason to justify my style to the education system I am exposed.One of these days an american desi had taken the test.(It was hard to know if he was of Indian origin. He rather looked like a Latin American at some point and a tanned white American at another. But still he had some faint features of an Indian.However his name which had an Indian middle name solved the puzzle).
Well, as I had expected this guy took the test in bio statistics and used a pencil and was less descriptive.So my analogies and my analyzing skills helped me to justify my style but is there something to do with my personality? What did Heather actually mean?

Though not a big issue I am still trying to analyze what she meant.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Going poetic today

Well everything seems to be perfect today. The climate I mean. It is cool, drizzling and very cosy. Somehow am feeling very romantic and poetic. Thought of sharing some of my favourite poems. The one by Rudyard kipling is my favorite. It reminds me of Sri Krishna in " THE BHAGAVADGITA" wherein he tries to explain Arjuna the essence of a well balanced person or a "sthithapragnya". I can very well relate to the readings from "The GITA" to this poem by Rudyard Kipling ..... Very inspiring and enlightening.

By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Kipling is said to have written the poem 'If' with Dr Leander Starr Jameson in mind, who led about five-hundred of his countrymen in a failed raid against the Boers, in southern Africa. The 'Jameson Raid' was later considered a major factor in starting the Boer War (1899-1902).


My other favourite poem is by Robert Frost. This one is known by many But I remember reading it as part of my English text. I really liked it and now feel like reading it again.

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Friday, June 18, 2004

Making sense of what we learn

We write,read and work on the stuff necessary to either complete our coursework or to do with our work.As we keep growing or learning and progressing through our careers and academic struggles, each one of us develops his/her own pattern of doing things.This aids or influences the way we think, the way we analyze, strategies we use for problem solving, organizing, proioritizing and planning our goals, developing our interests and fostering them etc.. etc.. through imitation and sometimes modelling them to help others.The methods of learning and the surroundings influence the individual and contribute to the evolution of the person. Hence no one person is in any way similar to another.
But.... we do need to know the best ways to function productively in the environment we live.This means to adapt, folow and function according to the rules of the society(Darwin's theory of " The survival of the fittest" is still valid).
Education plays a major role in shaping the individual. In a way the term "education" is a very broad one and every person differs in their perspective. However the end result is always enlightening and improving oneself.
So the methods/ strategies used to help students gain knowledge should be practical enough. They should be able to apply the knowledge and the skills to develop their analytical skills, problem solving skills, organizing and analyzing in a genrealized way( here "generalised" means able to apply one's knowledge in different situations using the same strategy).
Ok so the gist of the whole story or the gyan of the day is to have a practical approach towards the strategies used in teaching.
Cos our reading and learning habits have a great influence on our lifestyles too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Reading the right way

So I am a reading clinician for the next four weeks. It's a nice way to interact with kids and help them to read. Especially the struggling readers.How I wish we had something of this kind in India. Well, yes may be very soon I can start something:). However, I often feel that the way we read or the way we are taught to read is faulty. In fact a person who is a good reader( not quantitatively but qualitatively)is more successful in his academic pursuits than otherwise. In fact good reading strategies should be taught right from the kindergarten which enrich the child's brain with all the right literature and the thinking process. Reading surely helps build analyzing skills, problem solving skills and of course comprehension. All these factors are very much needed in every activity we are involved in.

So when we are reading, there should be a method to be followed.In fact most of the fluent readers do follow all these rules or the structure of reading. Well,for the adults or the fluent readers the SQ3R method ( Survey, Question, Read,Recite and Review method) really helps. gives you an idea of this method.

Ok and now coming to the emergent readers, well the kids in their formative years have to be motivated in a better way to enjoy and love reading. This can be done by choosing the material appropriate to their interest level, their ability and also the level they need to achieve. Discussing the title and trying to predict what the story is will initiate more interest and motivate them to read. Picture walk, wherein they are made to look through the various pictures and try to frame the story based on the pictures will help them to draw some more information about the story. And then while reading there should be pauses or stops wherein the child has to stop reading and then reflect back to what they read. And then questions such as what might happen next, and questions which are inferential can elicit the information and improve their comprehension.
In a similar way the texts or the books chosen for begginning readers, transition readers and fluent readers cover similar aspects based on their level.Thus the same rules applies based on the level of the reader.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Something more

It's been quite some time since I blogged in and wrote something. Well,wanted to get into some serious stuff but will be writing on it after I am done with my summer class. Proffessional knowledge would be more beneficial than my experience in this situation. However, I am just enjoying some change around me. Feels like I am in India now. It's so hot. 99F and scorching heat. But the best part is the beautiful flowers and plants which bloom all over the place. They make the whole summer look so beautiful. Well, had been to the Mormontrek heritage festival.Not a great thing happening around but it was kinda interesting. Well, in case you didn't know anything about Mormons, they were the first pilgrim fathers or the Europeans who travelled in handcarts to settle at different places in the United states.

The whole last week was a busy one attending classes and working at the International center. Well, a part of the activities of the summer clinic was to introduce oneself to the whole class. And the way it was done was quite interesting and funny. Each person was told to say something about themselves and then were asked to share three artifacts which they cherished the most. It was funny for me cos sharing three or more artifacts or something about themselves would hardly give a glance into that person's personality. Any way each one brought their stuff to school and showed them to the class. The interesting thing was that almost 80-89% of the class brought the pictures of their husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends/family members,football or something to do with the ball games, books they like to read/are reading and of course the T-shirts to represent the school or the place where they work. Well, so it seemed that almost all of them had the same tastes or things they think of to share.

However I was no different but I tried to be different( this is what I always try to be).
I am not a great fan of cricket or a ny ball game nor do I have a family. Well, I would luv to share the pics of my parents and my siblings but I had none. So was wondering what could I take to the class to show everyone. Well, I remembered that I had carried my hat which was gifted by this girl from Mizoram. During my visit to Delhi we became very good friends and on the last day she left a straw hat for me as a rememberance. I had carried it all over ot the US with me. Though I never used the hat often it was something I really liked, so I carried it with me. Well, I had my diary which was quite old but it is important as I share my apprehensions, my excited moments and some real important introspections and happenings in my life. In fact everything I write in it will give the reader an analysis of what was going on at different periods of time. And then what more.... hmm yes, I have the habit of collecting flowers and leaves unique to a certain place. Well I did have some which I had pressed and kept in my book so decided to take them . And then I had my T-shirt which was gifted to me for tutoring undergrad students in psychology. So here I was with more than three artifacts to share with the class:).

Of course thus tried to be unique in my own way.But do u think it really did tell something about me to the class? No way. I am more than what I tried to show to the class. Well, I feel everyone was something else than what their artifacts spoke.Of course their artifacts did represent something about them but for sure didn't give a true picture of the person. Now I can't understand as to why I am so bothered about the true identity of each and everyone.But I was just wondering as to why everyone one thinks in a similar way or for that matter why do we differ. Sounds puzzling but .....ok now if I start again then I will be talking about the cultural diversity and stuff like that. It's late in the night and I will stop here.

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