Schooling (BH:D292)

May 23, 2012

Late in the evening, I find myself in a restaurant outside the women's hostel of Trivandrum Engineering college. Few inmates of the hostel are enjoying multicolored 'sip-ups'. It's hot...the evening.

Discussion over sweet milk coffee with the owner about a variety of subjects. The man is a yoga enthusiast who also runs a successful primary school in the city. His vision is to provide emotionally intelligent members to the society. "Our young women grow up unable to react. They bottle up the frustration of the repetitive teasing, taunting and abuse they continuously bear in the society. Our schools should groom girls who are bold and know how to react to abuse and injustice." He mentions that a karate class has been instituted in the school.

The man is doing an MA in psychology. I like seeing a school manager being an learner. Turns out he has send his wife also back to school so to speak. "We are not equipping our children with a healthy attitude towards failure. They are terribly scared of failure. It freezes them. You can't face life with that mindset." I bring up my favorite point about the repetitive hard-knocks and back to feet training from American football providing a healthy view of life to American students. "We rarely have team sports anymore. There is never really a defeat when it comes to video games. As long as you have the power to turn it off, you remain the ultimate winner. It is different from playing with your peers, giving and taking respect."

"Once you have a vision, it is not difficult at all to implement it in a school environment. And it is guaranteed that you will provide society with the students who carry on that vision. It is unfortunate and disturbing that most people are looking at schools are a chit fund or get-rich-quick scheme. If you squeeze the parents and get stingy with the teachers, that is the end of any vision."

We digress into yoga and psychology. He mentions a German psychologist's theory about the illusion of free will. I recall Ray Kurzweil's point about the mind being just a powerless general who thinks he is in charge but actually is informed about the troupe movements only after the troupes are already on the move. He goes gaga about the analysis of mind-matter conundrum in yoga texts. I swallow a comment about Indian thought in Ouspensky's preface to Tertium Organum.

The business of schooling is brought to the table as coffee cups become empty. "Trivandrum has the best suited environment. Qualified teachers in other parts of the state charge twice or thrice the salary. The new rule by the government that the campus should be minimum three acres is a bit troubling." He goes on into some more details about the finances. I can only be the silent learner in this part of the conversation.

"Recently a kid came to me to talk about some suicidal discussion he had heard in the family. This is a 7-8 year old. It is great to have established such a rapport, a trusting relationship with such young minds. It is the most satisfying element of the business." Amen.

I've been irresponsible with the note writing for the past few days because I have been busy most of the day typing pages and pages of the biggest business plans I have ever written. If they come to something, it will be awesome. Even if they don't, I would always have the satisfaction of having created some decent documents. Will know in a couple of weeks.

On the way back at Srikariyam, we get stuck behind a DYFI protest march against the petrol price hike. Tomorrow is yet another 'hartal'. Long lines outside every single petrol bunk as financially responsible citizens try to beat the Rs. 8 per liter increase at least by a tank. There is a huge flux board of "Vava Suresh Fans Association" at Srikaryam. It has the picture of the man standing with some python and cobra on his neck...not quite like Lord Shiva. The man renders tremendous service to the society by catching poisonous snakes, but I wonder what exactly his "fans association" does!

Carbon dating has been conducted the ancient "mana" that was supposed to have been home of Melpathur Agnihotri. Wood samples suggest that the place is 1400 years old. Article doesn't include any details of how and why the particular samples were collected and there is no mention of any peer-reviewed journal in which the full paper of the findings appear. Nevertheless, if the dating is valid, it gives the 600 AD ball park for Agnihotri and his siblings, putting them nearly two centuries earlier than Adi Shankaracharya.

Apparently, the popular Kerala breakfast dish of Appam was introduced to the state by Jewish settlers couple of thousand years ago. The coconut, toddy and other additions were Kerala enhancements to the dish. I wonder if there are other dishes that reached the state from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, Assyria etc to which coconut was invariably added spelling their doom!

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