Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mistake from my board exam

Like all students I was in my tenth standard once. I remember an interesting episode from that time.

In my final board exam(not CBSE but Maharashtra board) we had a group D question which went like this:
If we put an inverted cone in a cylinder full of water, the cylinder being of the same radius and height, how much water will spill..(and the radius and heights were given.)
Even then, my memory was like a bowl containing petrol kept in hot summer sun. Things just evaporated out of it. And I could not remember what the formula for the volume of a cone was. I knew it was similar to that of a cylinder but that was the most my hard disc could store.

I tried hard but could not reach any corner of my head where i could find even a slightest hint of the formula. Ironically, almost 10 years later, I still remember exactly, that i was trying enough to remember the day when my teacher (Dhond madam) taught us mensuration.So that if not the formula I could remember the day and then get some cues to figure out the formula. Of course I couldn't.

I knew then that I was to somehow discover the formula myself. As if it was possible. But I had then and have since in many exams made an honest attempt in discovering formulas in exams. The formulas for which scientists have got nobel prices and which could have been easily learnt 10 minutes before the exams. Of course, I am never successful with those.

But then my attempts always give me some formula or the other. I remember this one particularly because this was my first. I asked for a supplementary sheet for rough work. This itself was odd because other students had done every problem asked in the paper at least 3-4 times either as practice in school or tuition or mock test. Their efforts were on writing the steps left aligned and reasons right aligned separated by a crisp line drawn with an Apsara extra dark pencil, sharpened with a mental Natraj sharpener religiously after every question attempted. I remember being jealous of the guy sitting next to me.

Anyways, so on the rough paper I drew a rectangle standing on its shorter side. In it i drew an inverted triangle, with triangle's base overlapping the rectangle's top and its tip touching the rectangle's base.

I thought that if I take this paper and cut it along the rectangle. Then if i attach a slightly long matchstick along the altitude of the triangle with a portion of the stick protruding out of the base of the rectangle. The I hold this flag like structure with the stick between my palms and rub my palms, the rectangle will rotate along the altitude of the triangle and so will the triangle. Now if I do it fast enough, won't it resemble the given problem of a cone inside a cylinder! I was excited, I knew I had found it. Yes!!

Calming myself down i thought that because triangle's area is half of the rectangle's, the volume of the cone should be half the volume of the cylinder. Because after all i can now create a cone given thousand sheets of paper with a triangle drawn on them placed next to each other slightly twisted along the altitude. So i quickly inferred the formula that volume of a cone is (1/2)*pi*r^2*h.

I only remember that "Aha!" moment which I had on arriving at this wrong answer on my own, I don't remember the regret i would surely have had once i realized that i was wrong, after coming out of the board exam.

making a new teaching model for schools

This post may just be the most important post i ever write.
I am going to attempt to develop a hybrid model for education in schools in india.
<all the things in this post are evolving with time>

Ken Robinson's TED talks and the one on RSA
Hole in the Wall
You tube for school

The models:

1. Discovery sessions (maths, science)

  • Before a topic is introduced a series of questions are asked by the teacher and answers are sought
  • This session is followed by internet class where students are given 20 minutes to loo
2. Question generation round
  • Everyday students are encouraged to ask questions in the morning. These questions are later answered by the teacher (who uses internet, expertise etc. to find them out)
  • These questions will be filtered and classified according to the subject and a database will be built so that in case of lack of questions one of them can be asked to the students to ponder upon.

3. Show and Tell (for English):

  • Daily two students come forward and show any object or idea or anything (imagination is the limit)
  • they have to talk about it for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Will improve the presentation skills and kill stage fear. Make them more vocal.
  • Improve creativity as they have to come up with good objects to show.

4. Build up (for history):

  • The students are divided into groups (say 5 of 3 each). I would also like to experiment this with 10 individual students but the idea remains the same.
  • Basically each group is given a page with a date on top. This distribution is random. So any group can get any date.
  • This page also contains a one line summary of the previous event.
  • Now the things start with a date that the teacher mentions. The teacher explains an event and sets the ball rolling.
  • The group next to it must pay attention to the event going on and if it matches the description on the top of their paper they are the next group to present the event.
  • After each event is presented, other students are made to think that why a particular step was taken.
  • Also presenting an event will involve reading the page contents and then explaining the event in their own words.
  • Students will pay attention because any event can be the one previous to their's.
  • Also because they are to reason why something happened, they are involved.
  • the suspense will kill them :)
  • they develop skills in understanding the text and presenting it in context of the story. he may also reason then and there.

Testing method should score percentage of target achieved rather than comparing scores across children. Becoming the best version of yourself. Should be the aim of education.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vasudaiva Kutumbakam

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

-John Donne

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Attempting a new song

Music someshwar
Lyrics yours truly

Saakhi re saacha tera saath hi saacha saakhi

Na vakht saacha, na rakht saacha
Khuda ke hone ka bhi kyahi bharosa?
Saacha tu khud aur saachi khudai hai

Saavan saacha, pavan saacha
Dhundli hai duniya ki reetein
Dono kal kolaahal hi badhate. Par ...

khara ya khota, bada ya chota
jag jag samajhne ko inhe banaye
sab kuch ek ye ek hi sootra hai