11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”.

A wonderful post on the Education system in Finland and one I think many schools all over the world should adopt or at least consider. I plan to set up a school when I go back and hopefully it will be built on these terms.

Filling My Map

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When I left my 7th grade math classroom for my Fulbright research assignment in Finland I thought I would come back from this experience with more inspiring, engaging, innovative lessons.  I expected to have great new ideas on how to teach my mathematics curriculum and I would revamp my lessons so that I could include more curriculum, more math and get students to think more, talk more and do more math.

This drive to do more and More and MORE is a state of existence for most teachers in the US….it is engrained in us from day one.  There is a constant pressure to push our students to the next level to have them do bigger and better things.  The lessons have to be more exciting, more engaging and cover more content.  This phenomena  is driven by data, or parents, or administrators or simply by our work-centric society where we…

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Advice and comments

I had a busy schedule today. I took the cat to the vet’s and am happy to report, so far, all is well. She’s come home and is eating well. She has breast fed her sole kitten and generally seems more demonstrative than usual. Perhaps I was not wrong in taking her to the vet ?

At work today, one of my colleagues took me “out for a walk”. This is an expression used in our office, when we step out in pairs or threesomes to discuss events of the day. Events or things, which we might not be able to discuss within the confines of the office, because walls are thin, you see.

So we stepped out. As I am new at this work, this was my first experience of going ” out for a walk”. The reason my colleague wanted to walk with me was she had some advice for me.

She had, apparently noticed that another colleague of mine, who has the same work designation as I, was “observed” as being overly bossy with me. Others had noticed that this woman, was giving me orders because of her seniority in the office or because she is just one of those people,who thrive on delegating work to others and enjoying the fruits of their labor.

So, S, my colleague warned me, that if I was not careful, I would be dealt with badly here and would have to take orders from someone who was not my supervisor. Incidentally, my own supervisor, intact, everyone’s supervisor, is off on a business trip to her country. In her absence, this particular woman had decided that the department was not running well, and she needed to take things into her own hands’. And one of the ways she had decided she was going to do this is by sending emails to the others in the office, asking them to do work for her.

My questions are :

1. How come some people automatically decide to take over the reins, in the absence of the leader ?Is it a human tendency to be a shepherd and look after “weaker” sheep or is it a human fallacy to just reap the benefits off someone else’s work ?

2. If  I need to bring this to the notice of my supervisor, ( Should I ?), should i do it during a departmental meeting or in private ?

3. Do I need to bring this to the notice of my supervisor ? Is it worth it ?

4. Is this a subtle form or workplace bullying ?

Answers are welcome, from those who have worldly wisdom.

To the vets tomorrow

Those following my posts will know, a few weeks back a stray kitten delivered 5 kittens in my outdoor laundry room.

Over the past weeks, she has lost 4 of them. One, she dropped when she was climbing with it, up a wall, perhaps to hide it from predators.

The second just disappeared. Rumor has it that one of the other hungry cats ate it.

Last week, the mother kitten ( I say kitten, because she is not more than 8 months old), brought all of them out of the laundry room. Because of the extreme heat, the kittens like to hide under the tyres of my car. And the inevitable happened.

Last week, my car ( I), unwittingly ran over the third kitten. I don’t want to write about it.

And the fourth disappeared mysteriously again. One moment it was there and the next, it wasn’t.

So she is left with just one of the five. I was just imagining if it was a human mother, she would have been in eternal mourning, for her kittens. But perhaps because she is a kitten herself, the mother does not seem to show sorrow.

And now there is one. A replica of the mother kitten.

Male cats are pursuing her again. Its been six weeks since her delivery.

I have fixed her up at the vet’s tomorrow, for her surgery. Starving and unable to take care of herself, I think this would be the best option for her. Inside my heart, I seem to be having second thoughts. Should I interfere with nature ?

Who knows ?

My worst fear come true..

Morning saw me driving late to work today. My daughter was sick with a bad case of food poisoning and I was up with her last night. And she didn’t go to school today, feeling nauseous.

I had just settled in at my table, and started reading through my e-mails when I found a very familiar number ringing on my very-muted-phone. It was a dreaded number and one which I was very familiar with. It brought back familiar memories and very bad ones at that.

The number was from the Secretary of the department where I worked before. She and I were not on the best of terms to say the least. Many were the sleepless nights I spent in that department, wondering what this dreaded phone call would bring for me the next day. Would it be an order to do something I didn’t want to do or would it be a threat ? Would it be a bully phone call ? Would it bring me another insult to add to the manifold insults I had been subjected to, over the years’ ? These and many other thoughts ravaged my sickly mind, while i was working at the other place.

Today I am a free bird. No more does the fear of this phone number haunt me. I can sleep a pleasant restful sleep, through most of the night- I have no nightmares.

Then why did this familiar number resonate in my new office ? Had this person traced me out ? Had I to come out of my hiding ? Had I been traced out ?

I have written before about my extreme fear of meeting my colleagues from previous workplace at shopping malls or conferences. The same fear took hold of me this morning. Fortunately, the call went on to a missed call, after one ring. Nevertheless it was a call and it was from the Secretary.

A few moments later, I got a call from my husband saying that the same secretary had called him on his cell phone from her cell phone. As he was busy with a patient, he could not answer her call. He knew of my trepidation and wanted to tell me that he had had a call from her. But he knew not why ?

Needless to say, the entire morning was spent speculating on why she might have called.

A couple of hours later, I had a call from my sick daughter saying that this lady had called our home and she wanted to know where I was working. My daughter told her she was sick and staying at home, so the Secretary did not follow up with that line of questioning.

I reached home soon after, having taking a half day off.

I decided that enough was enough and i had to deal with my demons or my demons would end up eating me up. So taking the bull by the horns, I called her. My tone was not cordial, I must confess. I asked her, what she wanted. She said she saw that i had joined a new place and wanted to verify if her sources were correct. Skillfully i directed the conversation away from the topic of my job and its perks and everything else a curious person might want to know, into my previous job space and asked about previous colleagues. I had become quite a turner of the conversation. I surprised myself. We parted on pretty cordial terms.

The gist of the matter is sometimes, when our worst fears come in front of us, the best thing would be to take them headlong and maybe, the fearful monster might not be fearful any more.

Have I been good to my mother ?

Most of my growing years’, I have been mean to my mother. While I lived at home, before going off to college, I think of myself as being good but perhaps I wasn’t. I know I was not the easiest person to live with or even love but I like to think that my mother loved me.

But it is my college days’ that I remember the most. I did not have an easy time at college. Every single day of my fresher year, I was ragged. Ragging is a polite way of describing the various human rights abuses that take place in our educational institutions each year. Ragging changed me, for the worse. Whereas I was an optimist and a believer in the basic goodness of human nature in the past, ragging made me who I am today- mean, narrow minded, judgmental, suspicious and everything else nasty. And one of the people who faced my constant rantings against the world was my mother.

I salute her gentleness and her strength and her ability to stand by me in my times of trouble. During my first year in college, she was pregnant with her third child and she kept it from me- so I wouldn’t have an additional issue to deal with. She cradled me when I cried nights and days in her lap, on vacations from college, or on weekends and supported me through the difficult years- she told me once ” you have cried enough- more than any one could have cried in a life time- now it is time to give something back to the world that has been mean to me”. She introduced me to Norman Vincent Peale and his writings during days of my lows, so I could boost my self confidence up. I was reduced to a worm of my previous being, during my days in college and I survived only because my mother listened to me and braced me up to face the world.

I am not a good person now but I know a lot better how to deal with people, nasty and mean people. I try to believe in the basic goodness of man, but trust me, it has not been an easy deal with me. It is easier to believe that X is bad or Y is nasty.

But good or bad, I bask in the knowledge that my mother loves me and I love her.

Bless you mummy, for being there for me, all the days of my life I have lived so far. Without you this journey would have been lonesome.