Posts tagged ‘lockdown’

Guru Dakshina

Ambuja Iyer, an octogenarian, logs to her computer every morning to conduct classes to hundreds of her students, online. She has mastered the technique to teach complex mathematical ideas on the digital medium so that her children do not miss out the lessons when the schools are closed during the lockdown and beyond. When many, half her age, are grappling to understand the fundamentals of various online platforms and to effectively transform them for the ‘Work From Home’ culture, here is a passionate teacher juggling the digital tools with such ease that her online classes are billed as vibrant, interactive and trend-setting. Her virtual classes today are a rage among the students and their numbers are only growing!

Moumita, a Pune-based Chemistry teacher, was at her innovative best when it came to creating a lively classroom environment for her online sessions. She used a cloth hanger tied with strings to an armchair and to the ceiling to keep the camera of her mobile phone focused on the board as she explained the complex chemical reactions and derived the equations on it. The students, sitting in the comforts of their homes, could easily understand the concepts explained as effectively as they would have in a physical classroom. And what’s more, many even recorded her sessions to recapitulate the lessons at their convenience.   

And in Kochi, Elizabeth Fernandez and her teacher colleagues of the St. John Bosco school tread miles every working day during lockdown to teach children of migrant workers living under a bridge in the city. The teachers download the content for the online classes to a laptop and play it to the children who mill around them as they explain the lesson, with masks on. The under-the-bridge classes can only be conducted after eleven, when the day has really turned hot, to facilitate children accompany their parents every morning to go for fishing, which is their livelihood. 

Ambuja Iyer, Moumita, Elizabeth and thousands of other teachers across the country struggle day in and day out to prepare lessons, conduct online classes and design offline activities so that our children remain focussed and engaged with their studies through out the pandemic period. They leave no stone unturned to understand the workings of online teaching methods, that were quite alien to them till the other day, and stretch themselves to gain expertise on various digital platforms so that student interest is sustained, classes remain effective and learning objectives, accomplished. These teachers spend hours on end recording video lessons and audio files, designing worksheets and assessment tools, and uploading feedbacks with comments…and all these are in addition to the regular job of conducting online classes. Webinars, teacher training programs and online parent meetings… and the job of a teacher during lockdown is nothing short than being herculean.

But sadly, as the physical schools are not functioning, many parents are not willing to pay up the regular school fees even when their incomes are not impacted and their children fully engaged with the online classes. As the revenue of the schools drop drastically, the schools, in turn, have resorted to cutting down the salaries of teachers and, in many cases, even stopped paying them completely resulting in desperation among the teaching fraternity. And to give vent to their anger and to bring their plight to the notice of the public, teachers, in many places, have taken to the streets, with slogans and placards.  And it was indeed a pathetic sight that, those who are entrusted with the task of shaping the destiny of our children are made to shout and plead for their basic rights, the salaries, in city squares!

The Indian ethos have always accorded a venerated position to the Guru, the Preceptor and it firmly proclaims that it is only with the blessings of the teacher, that one attains glory and fulfilment in life. And paying up for the knowledge received, the Guru Dakshina, is the binding duty so that the knowledge bears fruition.

An Ekalavya paid the Guru Dakshina by cutting his thumb for the imagined instruction received from his Guru… And we, belonging to that lineage, should show no reluctance to pay our teachers their due… without they asking for it.   

Yours

Narayanan

Post script: A Kochi teacher is using Augmented Reality (AR) to teach primary class children that gives a 3D effect.

https://m.timesofindia.com/videos/city/kochi/kochi-school-teacher-uses-augmented-reality-technology-for-conducting-lower-primary-online-classes/videoshow/76958894.cms

July 12, 2020 at 6:57 pm 18 comments

The Domestic Treaty

The bilateral treaty that I and my wife entered into during this lockdown period covers areas of responsibility in discharging the household chores and it has no clause for unilateral exit. The agreement is binding on both the parties as long as the other maintain all the conventions and does not indulge in acts of omissions, tantamount to breach of contract. The broad contours of the treaty are so framed that there is equitable distribution of work with scope for minimal infringement into each other’s territory. When all matters relating to the external affairs are purely under my realm, the operational jurisdiction of my wife’s work encompass kitchen and laundry, both critical departments that demand seasoned expertise and deep domain knowledge. And I have the responsibility to do the ground work that would facilitate seamless preparation (meaning cutting the vegetables) of sustenance food by my wife. With additional charge to ensure that the living spaces are secured for human habitation (sweeping and mopping the floor) and to oversee that all essential equipment are made ‘Mission Ready’ for the next day’s operations (in other words, cleaning the dirty utensils before going to bed), I have my KRAs clearly spelt out.  By a special provision in the agreement, I am exempted from liability that could be incurred by any act of a persona non grata, the entry of anyone into the house uninvited, and that is a big concession in these days of the Covid spread!

The cutting of the vegetables for many could be a cultivated art but for me it is nothing short than a commando planning before a surgical strike. When chopping a bunch of beans, for example, each of the pods need to be stripped off the external fibre, levelled them to uniform size and cut into pieces of equal micro length, an exercise that demands operational precision and clinical execution. When it comes to dealing with the unruly leafy vegetables, it could be an absolute nightmare with many strains intruding into the operational area while a whole stacked bunch jumps off and escape the chopping knife. Thanks to the many youtube videos, I could, at last, gain a semblance of working knowledge on the subject, after doing a few dry-runs on paper napkins.  Such is the level of the challenges that are thrown at me during this lockdown period that twenty-five years of work experience and a twenty years of education preceding it,  is hardy of any relevance today. 

 The sweeping and mopping the floor, I thought would be much simpler, like clearing the trash box of the laptop….press Ctrl+Alt+Del and all the junk is gone! But after every sweeping assignment, I need to embark upon the task of cajoling my jarred hip muscle with a lavish dose of self-massage. And when mopping becomes an essential follow-up activity, the limbs, the elbows and the calf muscles all join the chorus for an extended period of physiotherapeutic appeasement. If the going gets little harder, they all request for a moratorium from work, at least for two consecutive days, without any penalty, a demand that is in contravention to the terms of the treaty!

 The external agencies that I am to contend with are the milk supplier, the grocery store owner and the vegetable vendor. Interacting with them demand skill sets in negotiation, in supply chain management along with sorting and assorting techniques. Purchase of the vegetables, for instance, has to precede a reconnaissance mission to all the nearby vendors with the objective to make a fair assessment of the price band of each of the veggies. Armed with such a scientifically collated data, I would be in an extolled position to extract the best deal. And in these days of serious monetary constraints, when alacrity needs to take precedence over callousness, such analytics help withstand the pressure of lobbying by the vendors. 

Even after such intense planning, there were instances when I could not fully comply with the finer points of the agreement seriously jeopardising its operation. But with the help of the interlocutor, my daughter, we managed to thrash out the issues and bring truce with my wife and salvage it for another day. 

With the third extension of the lockdown announced with many relaxations, the period of the treaty too is now extended, without any relaxation!!!

Ho, it’s just about time for the next activity and a sink full of vessels is staring at me!

Regards

Narayanan

May 4, 2020 at 4:36 pm 20 comments


Recent Posts

Categories

Most popular

Chronology

August 2022
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Blog Stats

  • 27,086 hits

previous posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 462 other followers