Every year in the beginning of the school year, schools here conduct back-to-school night. It’s an opportunity to get to know the teacher, classroom, curriculum and meet other parents. This year, due to construction activity at the school that makes mass parking unmanageable, the middle school conducted a virtual back-to-school night. Each teacher had a 8-10 minute video prepared with content specific to their subject. While the experience would have been richer with face to face meeting, the videos gave us a good sense for goals, expectation, and even personality of the teachers.
Kids use technology quite a bit in middle school. In 7th and 8th grade, the school provides ipads that they can take to their home. In 6th grade, the use of ipad, google applications and classrooms are fairly prevalent. Each teacher has his or her own website and homework is disseminated through the website.
While I am not a trained teacher, I see the use of alternative methods of learning including technology, yielding benefits when I teach in sunday school. Last week, I taught my kids in culture class dashavatar through bharatanatyam mudras, the kids loved it and memorized the sequence in sanskrit within minutes. Then, they were asked to create their own avatar using a certain website, which they so loved!
Yet, I wonder – how much of this is learning and how much of this is just playing. As in playing for time pass, not playing with the intention to learn. What is retained and what is not. Will technology deepen curiosity or heighten distraction? Time will tell!
Hari went to bed last night feeling unwell. The kind of body ache you feel when you are about to come down with something. He woke up this morning not wanting to go to school. He looked worn down but was not sick enough to stay at home. So we talked and the child reluctantly went to his bus stop with the understanding that he can call home if he continues to feel drained.
A few minutes later, he came home hastily knocking at the door. “Can you help me find my cross country jersey amma, I totally forgot about the meet today.” But aren’t you feeling sore babes? I don’t think it’s a good idea to run when you are not at your healthiest. “It’s ok amma, I want to do this. I can do this.” He still looked worn down to me. We rummaged through the drawers, pulled the jersey in the nick of the moment, and dashed to his bus stop with good luck hugs and wishes. I am not sure how the day will turn out for him, but when he is so sure about what he wants and thinks that he can, then we have to let him give it a try.
It’s a silly incident. But isn’t it amusing how far we are willing to go, and what barriers we are willing to overcome, if our heart is set on something?
We are loving middle school. We, being Hari and I. Middle school is definitely a step up from elementary and a time when kids are given responsibilities and taught to manage them.
One of the things that Hari’s school does is have blocks of time that they label as WIN or What I Need time. In this block, as the name implies, kids are encouraged to do what they need. For some, it’s time to get extra help from teachers. For others, it is time to get help for organizing their folders or go on nature walks or indulge in arts and crafts or play ultimate frisbee or do yoga and meditation. While I question, whether or not, kids really do what they need or simply go along with what their peers are into, I see value coming out of it in the long term. Perhaps, it will help them get into the mindset of looking within and inculcate the habit of unwinding.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all blocked a What I Need time in our calendars – a time when we consciously think about what we truly need and take responsibility for making it happen?
A blogger friend had posed a question on her post yesterday – If you were to begin/resume some new activity tomorrow, what would it be?
Whether or not I improve, the notion of setting self-development goals brings the much needed glitter to my mundane life. This question made me want to boil the ocean but that feeble voice of reason put its foot down and refined the list for me.
1. Be more consistent with daily meditation – 10-15 mins.
2. Be mindful – give it my all to the given moment – or at least more than what I give now.
2. Blog – discover my writing voice.
3. Dance practice – 4 times per week
If the question excites you as much as it did to me, take a moment and allow your voice of reason to come up with a list. And share it with me here, if you like…!
Happy Vijayadasami to all. May you quench your thirst to learn, grow and to just be!