042: Education help at home
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042: Education help at home

Hi… This week, we discuss all about homework and what kind of help we could receive from our parents. Mrs Aparna Dinesh, the coordinator at National Public School, Koramangala, Bengaluru, playfully explains so many things I never thought of… I asked her many questions on why its important to keep learning at home too, How to keep homework interesting? Or when is best to talk to parents I hope you enjoy listening to this episode. You can listen to other episodes from this series on my website https://www.littlemindchats.com/ Thank you..



[0.01] {Background Music}

[0.08] Siyona: Hello. Welcome to my podcast Little Minds Chats. Minds are little, not our thoughts. I’m your host Siyona. We’ve heard a few episodes on different topics about our Education. But giving us a thought, our real education starts at home and it has been proven over and over again that education should be supported at home too. To discuss this exact topic, I have with me Mrs. Aparna Dinesh. She has taught thousands of students in her 25years of being a teacher. I would like to quote her, “In the bygone quarter century, I have worked with under graduate students to students in elementary classes in different schools. I teach English and history and must say I enjoy every bit of it.” She is now working as coordinator academics with National Public School, Koramangala, Bangalore and has been there for the past 15years and proudly calls it her second home. 

[1.16] Siyona: I’m feeling very excited to speak to you. Welcome to my show Mrs. Aparna. 

[1.22] Mrs. Aparna: Thank you Siyona. I’m looking forward to talking to you as well. 

[1.27] Siyona: So am I! So, the first question is, “we have schools to educate us, then why do we still need help at home?”

[1.38] Mrs. Aparna: Okay. Can I ask you a question? What does education mean to you? What do you mean by the word Education Siyona? Could you give me an answer to that? I’m a teacher and so I’m used to asking questions.

[1.50] Siyona: Okay. So, I think education is putting knowledge into children’s head?

[1.58] Mrs. Aparna: Right. Anything more than that? No.

[2.01] Siyona: Well it’s hard to explain even if there is.

[2.04] Mrs. Aparna: Okay. Let me just tell you, you know this is something called etymology. Etymology is the route of where a word comes from. So, education comes from a Latin word called “Educere” and it means to bring forth or to bring up. Right? So that is what education means. And that cannot be confined in just school alone. When you look at education per say we have three kinds you know three different ways students learn. One is a very formal way, say you sit in a classroom the teacher comes in, could be a strict teacher, could be a not so strict teacher. That is a formal set up. Right? You wear uniform, you sit there, you need to follow a certain code of conduct. All that happens. That’s a formal way of educating. It’s something called informal when you talk to the teacher, you ask her how her day went by and things like that. And you learn by doing sometimes. That’s an informal way of learning. So, there’s something which is totally not formal or informal which we would call non formal and that’s a very unsystematic way of learning and that’s how we learn at home. So, learning from home is really, really ardent. And to, you know to guide you through that your parents are the right people, they are a resource bank who can not undermine what they know. And I would say in school we just put you in a baby pool where you put in your feet there, now you actually need to take a plunge into it. Or we can’t do that for short of time. School are too short and there should be some kind of a supplement happening at home. So, definitely we need to learn a lot more at home as well. Parents are equally equipped as teachers but why do we need school then? Is it only to learn English, Maths Siyona? What do you think?

[4.02] Siyona: I think we might need school because we will get along with other people.

[4.09] Mrs. Aparna: Right. You learn beyond text books at school. You share a desk with a friend, you know what sharing is. This is my part, that’s her part and there’s fight sometimes. But then somehow you adjust and you learn quite a bit. You learn to cope with emergencies sometimes. You need to take decisions in school sometimes. Your parents are not around to do that. So, lot of change in order there and all those learning happen at school apart from your textbook learning. Like you see, when I see a tiny toddler coming to school in KG classes, there’s wailing, screaming sometimes, you need to pull them you know that’s how it goes with our school sometimes. You know children, some come smiling and very happy, the others don’t. so, what happens there, there’s a helpless young animal coming and then, by the time they pass out of our school, grade 12, they are such happy efficient human beings. But it’s not just by learning math or science alone. We learn so many things at school. So, both are required for a child. Right?

[5.15] Siyona: Yeah. Next question is, “each of us kids learn at a different pace. Then why should parents be concerned about any possible low grades?”

[5.27] Mrs. Aparna: Yeah. That’s a good question. Being concerned is a parent’s job. All their life they are concerned more because they care about their kids, they care about you. That’s the main reason. You know, if I need to quote a little child who once came and told me “Ma’am I got a B up from C and my dad said, “if you can get a C then you can get a B and if you can get a B you can get an A””. So, child worked really hard and she got an A. you know what her dad said then? “Your grades don’t mean anything.” Right? So, sometimes what happens is grades actually do not mean anything. Unfortunately, our education is like a passport to the future and grades are like indicators of how much a person knows. Not just how much a person knows. To get into certain school, you would have written an entrance test probably to come in. Did you write an entrance exam Siyona to get into your school?

[6.34] Siyona: Yes. I did.

[6.36] Mrs. Aparna: Yes. You did. So, how would they have chosen you amongst the others who had written? Because grading matters. Grading matters because it actually admits someone in or denies someone something else. So, it is an open door to quality higher education. To get in to a good institution, sometimes you need that. I personally do not believe in grades but as a parent if you ask me, I’ll be concerned because ultimate aim of learning is to get yourself your bread and butter. What do I mean when I say I need to earn my bread and butter?

[7.14] Siyona: It so helps us go to our profession then earn enough money to run a healthy, wealthy life.

[7.21] Mrs. Aparna: Exactly. Isn’t it? So, you need that as well. So, any parent, any parent would be concerned or if his child is going to be a parasite or a drag on society. You know, you need to contribute in some way or the other so that you move ahead in life. They are actually worried than the grades alone and they do not want their kids to be demotivated. Do you think grades demotivate kids? What is your take as an 8-9-year-old?

[7.48] Siyona: Yes. For some children. They just can’t learn because they might have some kind of learning disability.

[7.57] Mrs. Aparna: Exactly.

[7.58] Siyona: And so, they might get a lower grade because their teacher and parent didn’t work hard enough. Probably, they were too busy with the other kids. And that would demotivate the kids and they might live their life thinking that they’re brainless and stupid and stuff like that.

[8.14] Mrs. Aparna: They are no good. They are no good. Right? Ideally grades, I would say we cannot grade children on the same parameter. But, unfortunately today our education system is such that we grade everybody using the same tools, same parameter. Now things are changing. We are looking at different ways and means to grade children and as you said children with learning disabilities are given a different mode to show case their learning. Say a child who cannot write without a spelling error, we would call the child who dislikes a kid, we would give some other way, an oral conversation like this whether a child speaks so beautifully gives all the answers so beautifully an I should be able to grade that child. So, I hope and pray that such a system come in very soon so that we do not need to feel demotivated. Yes?

[9.07] Siyona: Yes. Well after all, some children do keep studying only for the marks. Not for their learning. 

[9.16] Mrs. Aparna: Exactly. You’re very right. So, learning should happen when you’re in the garden, ploughing not just when you’re sitting with the books, when you’re playing. So, some kind of learning happening there. So, when I actually bump into something there you need to learn this pose and action and motion and things like that when you are moving. And if you take these examples which you learn in the park where the gravity pulls you down or you gonna round and round and learn about inertia and things like that, you will know better then. So, you should not be considering learning as what you learn only from text books.

[9.55] Siyona: Yes. That’s true.

[9.56] Mrs. Aparna: Yes. 

[9.57] Siyona: Some children when it’s time for exams, they barely go out to play. Because they want to just read, read, read, read, get that into their head. Get the marks. Do well in the exams.

[10.10] Mrs. Aparna: Right. Because some children might require more time to get things in their head. Some can just flip through and get all the points. So, there are children with variant capacities’, they would love to sit and learn 24hours before a test some of them. Some are the ones who are very cool, they finish everything much ahead and then go play come back.

[10.35] Siyona: Yeah. My next question is, “what’s the best way to get right help from my parents?”

[10.42] Mrs. Aparna: You converse, you need to let them know that you need help, any parent is concerned. It’s their job to help you out as well. Okay? So, you must remember that they are just like you, they have their own feelings. Only thing is, you need to tap them at the right time to get the right help. Not when they are right in the middle of a meeting, you run around and then you get, okay I’m too busy that shouldn’t be the thing. At some time when you talk or when you’re on a long drive you talk to them, get it out them at any point of time. But the key factor is talk, talk, talk. Keep the conversation open. We have children who do not open up to their parents. We have stories where children come and tell us parents do not have time for them. Just that they are so preoccupied with their own work. Now, look at yourself Siyona, your mom is actually packed that you made ability in you to converse with people. Hasn’t she kind of found that out and connected you with people? Yes?

[11.45] Siyona: Yes. She has indeed done that.

[11.47] Mrs. Aparna: Yes. Your job now is to work on it and use this opportunity to the optimal level. You have tapped your parent well then! That’s a right way to get help from your parent.

[12.00] Siyona: Sure is. My next question is, “Why do parents insist that we need to realize and do our home work by ourselves? Why do they not want to remind us?”

[12.14] Mrs. Aparna: you are 9years old Siyona? 

[12.17] Siyona: Yeah. I’m 9.

[12.19] Mrs. Aparna: Right. So, say in another 4-5years time, you’ll be in a better position to remind yourself. So, now what a reminder are ultimately. Reminders are just a nudge. When we were children, we have only our parents who pulled us out of bed early in the morning. Because alarm clock, that old alarm clock which used to ring you know, have you seen that winding kind of a clock?

[12.43] Siyona: Yeah. Yeah.

[12.44] Mrs. Aparna: You need to wind the spring? And it gives such a loud…

[12.46] Siyona: And then there are these two kinds of bells that clap against each other.

[12.51] Mrs. Aparna: Yes. It was in that. We used to have such alarms you know and just can’t lie down in bed because you know it gives such a shrieky sound I couldn’t lie down in bed. Now we have such musical alarms coming. You snooze it and then go back to bed again. You’re watching a movie; you don’t want to get back to work sometimes. Our parents are the best people to come and remind you. They’re actually nudging you to do something to stay focussed. You will need it initially. But I’m sure later on in life you wouldn’t need it. Say for example, you know cycling? But they would have ran behind you to hold you when you and you know they need to give you that hey Siyona, hold on to the break, otherwise you are going to fall or you’re going to hit against something. Now what happens when you’re slightly older? You’re just riding your bicycle, you’re enjoying it, suddenly a kid runs across or you have a road bump. You know when to apply the brakes. You don’t need a reminder there.

[13.49] Siyona: No.

[13.50] Mrs. Aparna: It’s part of your system, once there is discipline in you, it’s your need. It’s my task. You have an ownership. You own it. For example, your home work is your task. It’s not mummy’s task and you should take ownership for it. First is, you would love to go and order a cake for a friend or buy a gift for a friend where you have an ownership in it. Similar to that, take ownership of your homework, then you will never, ever need reminders. Reminders are required only when you don’t like something. Now home works are of two categories you know; some are fun homework. You know your teacher might give you a home work which asks to find out things for example, in my class I remember I was doing this topic on gender rules. You know what gender rules mean? 

[14.42] Siyona: Yeah like girl, boy. 

[14.45] Mrs. Aparna: Girl, boy kind of a thing. Yeah. We were doing that. Okay? And we say that there shouldn’t be any gender disparity. You should treat boys and girls or any other gender equally and all such things. So, especially in a conservative society, what we have is, we took a long time to change things. Books in India where you a lady cooking all the time and men sitting and reading newspaper, watching tv. Those were the pictures in text book for a long, long time you know. And it was always a job of a woman to cook. It was never a man’s job. It changed over time. Okay? It changed over time and I ask my children, “children tell me when you go out and rush back home, who runs into the kitchen first? Who makes the first coffee in the morning?” They say most often till now it’s mummy. Okay? I said let’s change it. Let’s do something, you ask your dads to get in to kitchen. If your dads do not get in. So, most of them they said they will catch them. I gave them a small project. They were supposed to make or cook a dish only with the person who doesn’t get into the kitchen. Most of all it was dads. So, those dads got into the kitchen with the kids and they cooked fantastic, they baked, they cooked upmas and dosa, okay noodles and they made the dads write their experience behind and students were supposed to write down the steps to make a particular dish. We compiled it into a little tiny book of us, and they gave me pictures and such a wonderful experience you know and it showed them that, I said only you should clean up the kitchen. I said mamas are not going to like it if you leave a mess. So, they did a fantastic job and came back you know. So, those are the kind of homework children love to do. But unfortunately, we can’t be giving that all the time. So, homework what does it tell you? It tells you that certain tasks are Monday, certain tasks you need to do irrespective of whether you like it or not. When mommy tells you or reminds you and tells you, you need to realize it that you need to do it yourself. You should not wait for reminders. It means that it’s going to do you good. So, take it as a big appeal.

[17.08] Siyona: Yeah.

[17.09] Mrs. Aparna: It’s going to do you good. Right?

[17.11] Siyona: Yeah. Well, in UK for all the grades including grade 6, they used to give like the most fun homework which all could ever wish for. It’s just like homework is. Textbook exercises. 1.1.

[17.32] Mrs. Aparna: Ha right. Exactly. I wish that changes Siyona. I’m with you for that. I would love to give homework which children enjoy things. Right? 

[17.41] Siyona: Yeah.

[17.42] Mrs. Aparna: You know in India it happens sometimes our curriculum is where we get your syllabus or your what you need to learn. We are actually relooking the whole thing and the whole thing and the government is come up with something called the national educational policy (not yet in). But we are on track on that, we are revising the whole idea of learning in India as well. So, I’m sure by the time you reach your middle years, we’ll have a different way of looking at learning, looking at homework and things like that. So, let’s hope for the best in another year or two. 

[18.19] Siyona: Yes. I do hope that children really, really get some fun homework. So, they just don’t have to stay at home alone and look into text book and write, write…

[18.29] Mrs. Aparna: Yes. I’m with you for that.

[18.32] Siyona: My next question is, “I love playing at home but forced to be with books because of too much homework. Any advice?”

[18.43] Mrs. Aparna: Now again we’re back to homework. So, let’s see one thing, what can we do, what we do to make this homework time fun Siyona? I’m just thinking for you. You know, what can we do? You’ve come form a place where it was all fun. The way you did homework, the way you learnt, and now you suddenly feel that, oh my God, this is quite a bit of a burden. So, how do we go about it. Let’s create a homework party kind of a thing. Let’s make it a party time. Okay? If you can think of doing some …Okay. Have you read this book “Tom Sawyer” by any chance? 

[19.22] Siyona: No.

[19.23] Mrs. Aparna: Tom Sawyer? Ha. You should ask Mamma to get it a version at least. It’s one of the best books written by an author called Mark Twain. This boy slightly older than you probably. Aunt poly she punishes him one day. You know what the punishment was? The punishment was to paint the fence. Okay? So, he pulls up his pants and he have a half-chewed apple in his hand and he starts painting the fence. And he starts humming and whistling to himself you know. Is that okay? So, let me make little fun and he started smiling and whistling you know that his friends felt, oh my God this is a punishment and this boy is enjoying it? So, they came in. You know how much fun it is to do this? Then it wasn’t any fun you know, and they said can you paint? I will give you half an apple more to you if you could let me paint. And you know you wouldn’t believe from what his friends do the work by just advertising that it’s so much fun to paint the wall. By the time Aunt Poly came in, the entire wall was painted(laughing). Right?

[20.33] Siyona: Oh my God.

[20.35] Mrs. Aparna: (laughing) I’m not asking you to pass on your work to someone else. Let’s make it fun time. Let’s enjoy what we are doing. And I’m sure that you will like it. You know it’s like cultivating a habit. It’s like you know doing things with lot of joy. And you must remember that reading and studying is as important as playing as I told you earlier. Though we see today we make a time table, today this happens, tomorrow that happens, it doesn’t happen that way. We learn from everything. So, we need to cultivate that habit and specially you know, you need to have some kind of a discipline. So, that is what I would like to advice Siyona. I always tell them the story of that newspaper boy who comes to my house in the morning you know. It’s not as cold as UK in Bangalore. But still it is still cold you know we wear our sweaters and we cover ourselves up here as well. This little boy who must be 10 or 11 years old, every morning he comes in with a stack of newspapers and he puts it here. Because parent would have got him out of a warm bed before dawn and he comes out into the cold to do this chore. And you won’t believe, he wishes me in the morning you know. “Good morning auntie” he says that. And I tell my children you know how he enjoys it. He’s being pulled out of his bed. He would have probably wanted to paly at that point or sleep for some more time. But then there’s some kind of a discipline in him at this point of time. There’s a responsibility in him. So that makes certain people extra ordinary. You know, I call such people extra ordinary people. You have a singer, you have a player, you have a successful teacher or an outstanding mother like yours. They all have taken in some kind of sacrifice at some point of time you know. Look at his little girl who’s sitting in front of me. When others are playing or having fun or watching some movies or Netflix, here she is, sitting here, talking to me about education and homework and things like that. Right? Doing something different. Isn’t it? That makes you a better person and extra ordinary person compared to others of your own age group. So, that’s my advice to you Siyona. Do something different, be with your peers but stand out. Stand up. 

[23.00] Siyona: Thanks a lot for taking your time and speaking to me and speaking to me and so many more children out there. Thank you, Mrs. Aparna. 

[23.09] Mrs. Aparna: Thank you Siyona. And I must say I really enjoyed talking to you and I wish you all the best for whatever you do in life. Thank you.

[23.20] Siyona: Thank you and you’re welcome. Those answers seem pretty convincing. I really hope you my friends now understand why our parents continuously insist on us revising, reading and writing at home.

[23.35] Siyona: If you’re unaware of this month’s competition, it’s “cooking without fire”. Make it without fire or heat. Send me a picture before you eat. I’ve started trying out a few things myself. Believe me it’s fun. And you also stand a chance to win something. Please do send in your entries and comments to siyona@littlemindchats.com. Please do follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course Instagram. Thanks a ton for listening. Bye…

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