By Shanthi Ramanujam
Rather often, former students of mine studying in arts, science, or engineering colleges ring me up just to ask me what a particular English word or idiom means. Each time, I only look up the word or the idiom in the dictionary and give the meaning, lest I mislead the girl. And I tell the girl, too, that I am giving the meaning only from the dictionary. "But you can do it yourself, can't you?" I ask her. "You can look up the word yourself instead of wasting a phone call." She laughs and talks about some pleasant nothing before hanging up,
Why is it that students don't feel encouraged to use the dictionary? How often do they refer to a dictionary? On what occasions? What do they usually use a dictionary for? Do they use the dictionary at all? Do they own a dictionary? To find answers to these questions, I spoke with some students, both present and past.
The students do have a dictionary, but most of them use it just three or four times in a month, especially when they are asked to write an essay or when they are given a home task that involves the use of the dictionary. Some refer to a dictionary to check the spellings of words, while some say they consult a dictionary only to check that a word they want to use exists! Not many students use the dictionary for its primary purpose, namely, looking up the meanings of words.
Some of the dictionary features (like syllable division, pronunciation, parts of speech, usage, and etymology) to which lexicographers give much importance, are either unimportant or of peripheral importance to the students. In fact, one of their complaints is that dictionaries are cluttered with quite a lot of unwanted information.
That, I think, is the crux of the matter. If dictionaries are unappealing to students, it is because of their poor layout and typography. Design actually sets the scene. Good design attracts attention and arouses interest. If creates motivation in the reader to read further. At a glance, the reader should be able to recognize what is happening under each entry. Clear definitions, attractive information paths, and proper signposting will ensure easy accessibility. Illustrations and colour will add to the attraction.
Some of the modern dictionaries do have all these features. Take the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, for instance. The definitions are easy to understand because they are expressed in a 'defining vocabulary' of 2500 words. In the case of words with many different meanings, there is a 'menu' on a light orange screen, which makes it easier for the reader to find the specific meaning they are looking for. Words with greater frequency are printed in red; this helps the reader identify the words they are most likely to need. Example sentences are given in italics. When a word has many collocations, they are shown in a box at the end of the entry. There are hints for avoiding common errors (example: "You accept something, but you agree to do something."), and notes about the origin of words like 'Cinderella'.
Consulting the dictionary will be a delight to children once they get the right dictionary and learn how to use it.
When we think about how changes in the workplace and everyday life in the 21th century have exceeded anything we could have imagined at the turn of the century, we confront the impossibility of predicting what life will be in 2050 or at the turn of the next century. However, we do know one basic aspect of our society is important, that is, our children still need to be educated. What one generation has learned is still need to be passed on to the next generation. The very fabric of our society — work, recreation, and structures that help us to live together as communities, e.g. governance, commerce, healthcare, educational institutions, etc, depends on our ability to educate our children. And over the last century, the importance of science, mathematics, and technology education has increased dramatically. Clearly, the need for education in these areas will not only continue to be important in the 21st century, but will become even more important to each individual and to society as a whole.
"One can't believe in impossible things." said Alice.
-Lewis Carol, Alice and Wonderland
Like Alice, many educators, policy makers and even the general public respond resoundingly with "That's impossible!" when challenged to adopt a new paradigm of education for the 21st century. Most people today adhere to a paradigm of education that is strictly 19th century. But, a growing number of educators are believing in and accomplishing "the impossible".
Our assignment, "should we choose to accept?" is to take education truly into the 21st century. It is not enough to say that we are already living there. Technically it is the 21st century, but our schools are not there, and our challenge now is to reinvent schools for the 21st century - for the sake of our children, our students and the welfare of our world. Making such a paradigm shift is not easy. After all, when any of us thinks of education, we usually think of what we knew as school - the way it has always been. That is how parents, policy makers, politicians and many students think of school.
Our society is in the midst of an unprecedented explosion in all forms of technology and information. This rapid growth in new technologies or improvements, to existing technology are in turn fostering changes in education, the workforce, job skill demand, global competition, and life-long learning. We are in a knowledge-driven economy that demands highly effective workers in workplaces in which working and learning are the same activity. This opportunity encourages us to rethink much of what we do in schools, how we learn, and how we prepare students for a world which is difficult for us to envision.
Young people in the 21st Century spend their adult lives in a multitasking, multifaceted, technology-driven, diverse, rapidly changing world which is far removed from the world faced by most of their teachers at the time they entered adulthood. Despite the changes, however, schools still, by in large, look similar to the schools of the 20th and even 19th, Century. If schools are to maintain relevance, they must bridge the gap between how students will live as adults and how they learn.
It is critical that we acknowledge the need to improve academic achievement and to recognize that changing demands within an increasingly technologically sophisticated economy and global competition compel us to do so. So, being a part of the system, it's our duty as well as responsibility to change the face of the school into a learning unit.
Myths are always enchanting: they charm us away from the harsh realities of the world and keep us complacent. Established beliefs and institutions thrive where myths thrive. And, in order they would thrive, the myths about them are perpetuated in enlightened self-interest.
The school is one institution which owes its long and ubiquitous existence to the hoary myth that learning takes place as a result of teaching. As the institution grew, the myths around it grew, too, with the newer myths strengthening the older ones and all the myths together fortifying the time-honoured seminal myth of teaching producing learning.
When I was a student, I didn't learn much – at least I thought so. I thought I was too stupid to learn in spite of what I believed to be my teachers' excellent teaching, and so my veneration for my gurus remained intact. The scales fell from my eyes only much later, when I overheard two of my students soon after I had become a teacher. 'Mr Ramanujam is an excellent teacher,' said one. 'Of course, he is,' replied the other. 'But we're too stupid to understand him.' This innocuous comment dealt a severe blow to my pedagogic ego. But it set me free, at the same time, from a superstition. I began to see teaching in a new light. The light was ruthlessly uncomplimentary when it focused on my gurus. It was an agonizing experience.
Among the myriad minor myths mushrooming morbidly under the motherly care of this mammoth myth is the old wife's tale that teachers are effective communicators. If there is one thing that has struck me in all the academic staff programmes I have taken part in, it is the fact that we, teachers, are awfully bad at expressing ourselves. There are, of course, oases in that vast, dreary teaching desert, but how few they are!
Once I attended a panel discussion. The panel consisted of three college teachers, a banker, a chartered accountant, and a sugar mill owner. I listened in admiration to the sugar mill owner who was an enviable combination of a wealth of knowledge and effortless expression. The banker was precise and to the point, and the chartered accountant was much more economical with words. But the professors were a pathetic sight: they were waffling away in unhearable English.
Am I overgeneralizing from my own limited experience? I wish I was. But the voices I hear of people who are genuinely concerned about the state of affairs in education seem to chime in with my own. About three decades ago, Professor Yashpal, an exceptional teacher, wrote an open letter to us, college teachers in India, in his capacity as the Chairman of the University Grants Commission. The purport of the letter was: You are not very good. For God's sake, improve yourself!
— Ramanujam Parthasarathy
Sometime ago, an Indian professor alleged that one of his works had been shamelessly plagiarized by an American professor; the allegation was published in two parts in a leading English newspaper. A few months later, a similar charge was brought against some Indian academics. Just a few days later, newspapers reported plagiarism of an outrageous kind on the part of the vice-chancellor (VC) of an Indian university and his associates. In four of their papers published in three years, the VC and his associates had plagiarized the works of some foreign physicists. These plagiarisms were uncovered by one of the professors of the same university. The original author of one of the works, who was a professor of physics at Stanford University, alleged that the VC and his collaborators had "practically copied" a paper published by him six years ago. Predictably, the VC denied knowledge of the inclusion of his name in the papers in question. Not surprisingly, the professor who uncovered these plagiarisms was suspended.
There is an endless stream of plagiarisms in Indian universities, and even the tabloid press is not interested in reporting them unless they are outrageously shocking. Our universities are no longer proud preserves of intellectuality. A typical modern professor is no longer a person of cerebral superiority who has retreated into the wilderness of the mind: you can't expect to find him hunched over dusty volumes in a musty library or puzzled over a chemical reaction in a laboratory. The modern counterpart of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is a nouveau intellectual who has mastered the techniques of achieving "success" with hare-brained intellectuality. Plagiarism is one of the means; he has got it down to a fine art.
It is not very difficult to get a plagiarized or a substandard article published in an Indian journal. In the year 2000, I edited two issues of a supposedly scholarly journal to which a professor submitted an article with recommendations from the president of the association which publishes the journal. Both times I rejected the article as being unworthy of publication. But it got published in the very next issue. I was not surprised. In this day and age of philistinism, it is natural for one person of "Maggi-noodle" intellectuality to empathize with another.
Given this situation, it is, indeed, surprising that the VC and his friends who had plagiarized the works of the Stanford University professor could not get off scot-free. Perhaps, they had gone too far in pushing their luck.
Hit by torrential rain, landslides and flash floods causing extensive devastation at Uttarakhand, the students of Greenwood High School in Bangalore have taken a noble initiative to raise funds and materials for the affected. As per Government data, more than 1000 people including tourists have died and many are still stranded in the region without food and other essential supplies. A number of villages as well as roads have been washed away and the affected needs as much help and support at this moment. While many corporates and organizations have come forward to join hands during this hour of crisis, students from Greenwood High School also want to be part of the contribution.
The Greenwood High Trust will be donating materials worth Rs. 20
lakh, which will be added to the donations collected. A call for support
is extended to the community to support this initiative. The students
are putting their efforts together to raise funds for a natural
disaster. About 4-6 trucks will be leaving on July 6, 2013 with the
funds and materials collected. The contributions will be sent to
Uttarakhand directly by trucks via Rishikesh.
"Recovery will indeed be a long process, with many lending a helping hand. We are pleased to join this effort" said, Mrs. Niru Agarwal, Trustee, Greenwood High School.
You can drop the cartons at the School campus on any day from June 28th 2013 to July 5th 2013 (including Sunday) between 8 AM to 5 PM
Name : Rearing Educational Services*
A/C No: 05230330001664
Bank : HDFC Bank
Branch : Richmond Road, Bangalore
IFSC : HDFC0000523
Dry Food -Dry fruits, Biscuits, Jam, Beaten Rice (Poha), Almonds, Dates, Raisins Apricot, Maggie, Noodles, Glucose, Namkins Packets, Bhujia packets, Ready to Eat Food (MTR Packets), Infant's food / Feeding bottles – Baby Milk Powder, Matches, Lighter and Candles, Umbrellas & Raincoats, Blankets and Sleeping Bags, Tarpaulins and thick plastic sheets, Used or New Clothes, Sanitary napkins, Mosquito repellent, Toothpaste, Soap, Washing Powder, Disposable Spoons, plates & glass, First Aid Kit (Dettol, Sevlon, Bandage, Cotton etc.
The team of Greenwood High earnestly seeks your generous contributions for the people in distress
*Rearing Educational Services is Greenwood High's associate charitable organization. Every contributor will be provided with 80 G certificate
Kids these days are fond of numerous gadgets and games, games are something they are always fond of. There are myriad games available online which are created not only for the purpose of playing but such also for enhancing the memory and are really educational. Online games for kids can be of great fun and provide enormous learning's.
Benefits of online games for kids:
This can be a great topic of debate as many people, especially parents will possess a lot to speak about the same. Some people might believe that online games for kids are of no use and are just created by keeping only the fun factor in mind, which is certainly not true, as many researchers have proved that online games are really of great use. Following are the benefits of online games for kids:
1) The first and foremost benefit of an online game is that it teaches skills of goal accomplishment and enhances focus. Many games are formed in such a way, that one has to clear different levels to achieve the target for its completion. This creates a lot of excitement in kids, being focused towards the target make them alert in real life as well.
2) As the game holds different levels, the interesting part is, certain games along with creating different levels also encompasses different places and cultures. So, if a child is engrossed in such a game, it's great because by playing such games he is also learning about different places and cultures.
3) Certain online games have the option of multi-player. Such games teach about the team work, you can actually see how beautifully your child can understand the importance of team work, which will help him in many ways at different stages of life.
4) There are huge numbers of games available online that challenge the intellect level of a child. Such games are also known as logic games, and are created to test the intelligence level of the child. Not only this, certain logic games help children learn grammar rules, mathematic formulas and many more exciting educational stuff which your child might find a little difficult learning otherwise.
These are the most common benefits of online games for kids, there are many more and it is for sure that you will get to know about them once you allow your child to play online games, you will see the changes by your own self.
Type of Online Games for Kids:
From a huge range of online games available for kids, here are some of the games that are educational yet exciting:
1) Pile of ball.
2) Clueless Crossword
4) Find The Suspect
6) Math Search
7) The Hare and the Tortoise
8) Tic Tac Toe
9) Moon Cakes
10) Bouncing Letters.
These are just a few from the pool of astounding online games. If your child is a gaming freak, it is suggestible to get him involved in such games, fun and education factor, both the needs will be fulfilled while playing these games.