You read in the previous article about students /children learning rapidly when they collaborate with their peers. Research says that "People learn best when they participate in activities that are perceived to be useful in real life and are culturally relevant.1" The question to ask would be if that is understood by the people who design the students’ curricula in our country. Being the parent of a four year old, I have seen group activities being conducted for Montessori kids. I can’t remember and neither could other folk (including my nieces) recollect enough instances of the schools getting students to collaborate enough and learn. Getting children together for just a regular activity or a project is not enough, and neither is getting 40 children to sit together in a class room. However, if you were to compare this to what happens in higher education (business school for instance), the difference is stark. But, then again we are dealing with a different ball-game altogether. One would think it would help to teach problem solving skills to students.
The other interesting thing that I discovered is the findings of another study published in the Journal of Developmental Psychology. This study2 was conducted across 44 children aged between three and four by Dr. Hannes Rakoczy of Max Planck institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. The children were showed a video of an invented game being played by a boy, and a man. When asked to imitate the actions showed in the game, the children imitated the adult’s actions more often than the boys. Dr. Rakoczy concluded that children chose to learn more often from adults than from children when it came to rule-governed activities like learning a new game. Besides the fact that children rely on adults in framework based, and competitive situation, the study very clearly tells us that this could have wider implications in learning social (good or bad) behavior.
1 Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989; Heath, 1983.
2 British Psychological Society (BPS) (2010, February 23). Children don't trust each other when learning the rules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved
Something that I noticed recently between my three nieces (in class XI, XII and freshman year) triggered a thought, and then led of a bit of research and finding out. One rather warm afternoon, my nieces were spending time trying to crack puzzles published in puzzle books and newspapers. One of them started on her own, the second one joined in. Gradually the eldest one got bored of watching TV and joined the younger ones.
The progress that the made together was remarkable compared to the slow start that the first young one made. It is also not as if the first one is less sharper than the other two. Very clearly three heads working together are better (you knew that), and three heads working together learned the mechanics of cracking the different types of puzzle schemas rapidly as well.
They moved from one puzzle type to the other, and cracked through rapidly. It also was evident that each of them excelled in a particular type. The gaps in understanding were filled in by the other two.
In the usual school education system, students interact with their teachers and parents. Parents and teachers interact with each other periodically, but there is hardly any formal education related interaction that students have together even sitting in a school.
This led me to do the quick search and research on the web, and not surprisingly plenty of research has been done in the past on collaborative learning. While, I read through research work, I also asked myself if children would collaborate as much if what they learned gave them a competitive edge over her/his peers.
To be continued...
[updated on Children's day, 2010]
While at school, you might have seen or faced punishment (of various types) for a misdoing and sometimes for no wrong doing at all. Punishment could be just being asked to write a corrective sentence a hundred times on the board, being detained in school, being sent out of the class-room, facing corporal punishment1 or even in some cases physical abuse.
Corporal punishment (and physical abuse), though clearly illegal in some states, is often meted out to students. There are enough news reports of kids loosing hearing after being slapped. There are also incidents of children committing suicide after being punished or insulted in school.
Surely, there are many more incidents that we could not locate on the web and many more which go un-reported. My four year old could be the next victim in a school, or it could your young apple of your eye.
We will keep naming schools (on this page) where these incidents happen (and get reported) and refuse to do business with them. Will you stand up, and refuse to send your child to any of these schools? Will the education boards take away affiliations from these schools?
1Loosely defined as: the use of physical force causing pain, but not wounds, as a means of discipline.
You will find below a list of some incidents which showed up after a quick search:
- Nov 12, 2010: Five year old Vamsi Varsha of K K Talent School, Suryapet, (Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh) got beaten by a school teacher for not having brought hi Telugu homework on Friday. The lashing left Vamsi with welts on his body. [update on children's day, 2010]
- Aug 2010: Abdul Gaffar Khan, a class X student of Rani Chennamma Memorial School on Mission Road (Bangalore) was made to do 200 sit-ups for coming in late to school. Abdul was later beaten up during the same day by the school secretary.
- Jul 2010: Class V student beaten up multiple times, by different teachers on multiple occasions at Jain Heritage School, Kempapura (Bangalore) - contribution from our readers
- Jul 2010: Parents of an VIIth standard student Siddharth Saha filed a case against six (not one) teachers including the principal of St. James High School, in Kolkata
- Jul 2010: Lakshmi, a class III student in Saharanpur committed suicide after being forced to clean the school toilet following the failure to pay the school fees on time.
- Feb 2010: Sunirmal Chakravarthy, principal of La Martinere, caned class VII student Rouvanjit Rawla. This was not the first time Rouvanjit was beaten in school by teachers. He proceeded to hang himself.
- Early 2010: Seven year old Priya Choudhury, of Tagore School Jhunjhunu (Raj.) lost vision in one eye after being thrashed by her teacher Pratibha Singh.
- Jul 2009: Class X student, Jagrup Singh died of severe beatings from his teacher at a Ludhiana school.
- Apr 2009: Shannoo Khan, a class II student of MCD school, Narela died after the class teacher (Manju) bashed the former’s head on the table and made her stand out in the sun. The fault – not being able to recite the English alphabet well.
- Mar 2009: 6 year old Sri Rohini (of St. Maria Annai Primary School, Tiruchi, TN) died after her teacher hit her on the head, locked her up in a cupboard and also threw her into a water tank.
- March 2009: A class V student of Holy Mission Academy School (in East Champaran, Bihar) was beaten to death by principal Uday Narayan Sharan.
- Aug 2008: An 11-year-old schoolboy vomited blood after he was hit by his principal in Dakshinpuri (Delhi)
- Jul 2008: A 13-year-old boy collapsed after he was beaten up by the principal at the MCD school, Mukherjee Nagar.
- Jul 2008: A 16-year-old student in Najafgarh alleged that his eardrums were damaged after his teacher thrashed him for being late to school by five minutes
- Mar 2008: A 15-year-old, class X, girl succumbed to her injuries after slipping into coma. The student of a privately run school was hit by her teacher for refusing his tuition
- July 2007: Arpit Kavadia, a class XII student, died of severe beatings by a teacher at his Udaipur school.
I have spent my life traveling full service airlines and mostly in business or in first. For a long period of time (at least on domestic routes) on Indian Airlines, till very recently on Jet Airways and a smattering of everything else. The change of career path (with the initiation of KOOLSKOOL) now gets us to look for cheaper fares, and some amount of low cost carrier flying brought in some interesting insight.
Lets do a quick comparison of cheapest available return fares on three different airlines - Indigo, Jet Airways, and Kingfisher. The route chosen is Bangalore-Delhi-Bangalore, and the dates are 26th Oct (for onward) and 30th Oct (for return). The cheapest tickets we could find are listed in table 1.
Clearly, the real low cost carrier beats every other fare hands down. But, that would be an unfair comparison. Lets bring in food. Table 1, also shows the price of food in the LCC flights. Kingfisher Red will serve you a sandwich for free and provide you a small bottle of water. The other two will sell you food for say Rs 150 a sandwich, and Rs 50 for a can of an aerated beverage. Table 1 also shows approximate costs of food that you might buy on-board. The full service airlines, of course, serve you a free hot meal (depending on the time of the day), but the stark difference still remains.
Lets now assume that you are a Platinum level on the Loyalty Programs of both Jet, and Kingfisher (Indigo doesn't have a loyalty program). You would get lounge access in most airports. Jet doesn't have a lounge at Bangalore, but they give you a food coupon. You do get to sit in peace for a while and eat a bit and/or sip a beverage. Surely that has a cost as well. Lets throw in a Rs 250 (my guess)for the food, and the same amount per passenger in the lounge. That makes is a Rs 500 (per journey) that the airline spends on you for the lounge. Table 1 above also adds the cost of lounge access to the Indigo ticket.
Add the miles twist
Now, Indigo does not have a loyalty program and thus you don't get frequent flier miles. But, assuming you are the same Platinum level frequent flier, the miles that you get are as in Table 2 on the left along with the miles that you will need to get yourself a free return ticket on the same sector.
For the final math!
So, with what we have seen so far, one calculates backwards to figure the number of flights (see Table 3) you will have to take to be able to get a free return tickets on this sector. And second, given the differential between Indigo fares and the others, how many Indigo tickets you might be able to buy within that extra flying.
This is rather clear. Talking money, it makes no financial sense to fly a full service airline at all. Unless, of course your company/ office/ employer or someone else is paying for the ticket.
- The entire analysis above is based on a spot check, and the fares of each of the airlines could easily differ on other days.
- The fares on all the airlines could have been different due to the current load.
- The analysis above is not derogatory in nature, neither is it a paid advertisement (or otherwise) of any airline. It is but an observation. A similar analysis (with similar or different result) would have been possible with other airlines in India.
- All calculations provided above are for the cheapest available fares in economy, on the airlines' individual web sites. Choosing different sectors, class of travel and source of ticketing may alter the calculations.
- Passengers of these airlines are expected to use their own judgment to purchase tickets. Our above post in no way aims to influence a buying decision.
For the last few years, besides all other types of work, even education has started to get outsourced in many ways. One kept hearing of incidents where college students from western countries got their term papers, project reports etc researched and written by Indian students or professionals for a fee. A Bangalore based company also started providing tuition in various subjects to children outside the country using the web as the communication medium. Teachers from India get on the web and teach children, and it seems quite successfully.
Now, the latest is that Ashmount Primary (a school in North London) has outsourced mathematics teaching to India. Though the news surprises you a bit, its not very untoward if you think about it. The reason for outsourcing (regardless of industry) is lack of relevant skills in the geography and thus the related cost. That is what made it work for R&D, and IT. And similarly lack of teachers in the schooling system is making it work for Ashmount Primary.
BBC reported that the students found this way of teaching to be fun. Bright Spart Education Company (BSEC) which is facilitating the classes, uses about 100 teachers from Ludhiana. Lessons get booked over a day in advance at at the rate of £12 an hour, for blocks of two to five hours. The only drawback, if you will, in the system is that the teacher and the student do not get to see each other. But, that is only a surmountable (over time) technology issue.
Please indulge my thought instigator for a moment - one of the largest problems in the education system in India is the lack of teachers. Outsourcing of education (though good for individuals) will take teachers away to teach the kids in western countries. So, the impact is...
Technology is appearing in our lives and in schools in a big way. Many of us, who remain glued to computers for a large part of the day are slowly finding it difficult to wield a pen. The prolific use of calculators makes the memorization of tables, and ability to do calculations in the head somewhat redundant. A printed book might still be delightful to hold in your hands, but the movement towards electronic gadgets and media is undeniable.
A school that we visited in Dwarka (in Delhi) showed interest in going paperless in school and bringing in systems which can integrate the Kindle into the lives of their students. It is a different matter that they admitted that they don't really care for convenience of the students or related cost factor either.
My four year old spends time with her coloring books, and other story books but is definitely more comfortable playing games on her mother's cell phone. Her interest level (or span of attention) is non-electronic matter is somewhat limited. And she is clearly not an exception. It seems usually that the children adapt to technology much faster than their parents, but also get a little less active physically.
Here is the other potential problem. Intensive use of technology, from posting homework online, class notes getting emailed and students starting to lose the "old-world" skills will find themselves somewhat stymied by challenges that the board exams pose. The board exams are not yet online (and won't be for a long time).
Technology is here to stay and grow, but can we retain some of our innate skills?
Schools these days do everything in their ability to churn out students who excel in board and other entrance examinations. Students in Class IX, get fed portions of the syllabus of Class X; students in class VII, get taught parts of the syllabus from class IX.
This can't possibly help students too much who might be too young to understand and grasp concepts from higher classes. This mechanism enables the school to free up time from the higher class and thus when the students reach (class X, from class IX for instance), they get more time to revise and practice through the class X syllabus and sample examination papers and mock tests.
Either the children will learn by rote, or they will have to take additional tuition to cope thereby just adding tremendous additional pressure on the young minds.
So, what is it that the schools are supposed to provide to students? Education and a foundation for life, or a bunch of skill sets to just do well in examinations, and entrance tests. Perhaps it is the bane of the time (and country) that we live in which forces a student (and anyone else) to compete to be able to survive. If the student does not do well in the board examinations, admission to good higher education institutions gets terribly restricted. If that happens, then the chances of making it big, using education as the base, also (perceived to, at least) gets restricted.Which implies that the schools need to prepare the students for examinations and go as far as possible to ensure that their students do well. Otherwise, their admission rates would drop! Oh, what a tangled web we weave.
Read relevant news report.
re-posted from blog Retail Magic India
The last some years has been nothing less than a train wreck, and a traffic pile up put together. Things seem to look up for a bit and then go down into the dump. Maybe, its a W-shaped recession after all. But there is a bit of a silver lining.
Retail will have a very different shape in the next decade. How should the CIOs of retail companies prepare? Here are some pointers from my experience interacting with Retail CIOs worldover for about the last seven years.
Proactive alignment with business
IT not always being aligned with the mainline business has always been the bane of many a CIO organization. Right now is the opportunity to make the change. CIOs must choose to drive leadership in IT areas which directly add to the company value propositions, and not wait for business to set direction and strategy for IT.
Act local, think Global
All retailers must think of the world as their consumer base. Thinking global does not necessarily mean proliferation to the scale of Starbucks in which case you could see half a dozen starbucks signs standing any stop lights in downtown AnyCity in the US. The Body shop is a fairly decent example, and so is WHSmiths in gradual global expansion, and reducing overall risk by placing the eggs in different baskets. Of course, this needs the processes and systems to support such geographic diversity and this is where the CIO comes in to play a major part. In some geographies e.g. India, most of this progress will be through JVs, and the CIO plays a part in integration and adapting to local IT needs
Consumer and demand driven
Retailing is slowly becoming, and will completely be Customer driven rather than merchandise driven. The hammer and nail syndrome will have to go away. As shake downs happen, the retail geography changes. New specialty, and information driven retail comes to play very strongly. Here are two examples – Airtel is the largest seller of music in India today. Best Buy’s largest competitor perhaps is Amazon, and not other brick and mortar set ups (now that Circuit City is history). Better understanding the customer behaviour is what will make the difference.
Out of the box
Time to think differently, time to adapt and bring forth disparate step changes in technology. Retailers who are able to harness technology for bringing in innovation will see progress. Technology which brings in quick supply chain squeeze, inventory handling or deliver top-line increase will see being adapted, and CIOs need to be ready to move rapidly.
Quite different from perhaps about 20 years ago, many schools in India now have computers and computer labs. The PC per student ratio is slightly better, and many government school students now have access to PCs in school as well as broadband connectivity to the web.
For all of India consider that only 18.86% of the total schools in urban areas are private and un-aided. Of these, about 38% have computers in the school for use of students. That is about 59400 of them. Of the list of schools that CBSE publishes, let us consider the 1743 schools in Delhi. This of course is a mix of schools from completely government funded, to aided schools and to private unaided schools. Of these 1638 do not report the presence of a computer lab (of course, this might include a number who have not reported numbers to CBSE). With a margin of error, that is just about 6% schools with computer labs.
Compare this to a situation which shows that the government system can be made to work very effectively too. Kendriya Vidayala Sanghathan runs a whopping 1073 schools (as of September this year) across the country. Of these, 964 schools have PCs for student use and 824 have broadband connectivity. Of course, the Annual Report of the Ministry of HRD does not specify whether students have access to all the PCs or not. Assuming optimistically, it provides a ratio of about 26 students to a PC (see detailed numbers in the table). Very clearly, while other schools (both government and private) lag behind Kendriya Vidyalayas continue to provide yeoman service in educating our young ones.