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Re: [alt-ed-india] Re: A frenzied hunt for 4-year-olds' destinies

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  • Lalita
    Dear Hema, I really appreciate the time and effort behind your reply - and pls see my responses provided below: ... Guess you would not find it that hard - if
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 8, 2008
      Dear Hema,

      I really appreciate the time and effort behind your reply - and pls see my responses provided below:

      On 08/02/2008, Hema Gopinathan <hgopinathan@...> wrote:

      Hi Lalitha,
      Another thing that irritated me about Taare Zameen Par was that the
      child had a obvious gift- lucky. This made him 'acceptable' what if he
      was just and 'ordinary' kid who just wanted to be happy?
      I think you are extraordinary the way you let your child be- I hope
      I can do that when the need/ time comes.



      Guess you would not find it that hard - if it is a choice between what makes the child happy and whether he or she can cope with whatever pressure is exerted upon them by these outside agents - some of whom are pretty brutal in their approach. I once found a very wise article on SLD by some doc - who must have googled it. Like a fool, I thought he would provide with an insight into why my son (about 9 or 10 then) has issues with writing and called up and sought a meeting. They administered an IQ test - discussed the high score in front him and called him in for counseling. The showed him her hand and asked him to show his - then literally screamed at him that - since both have exactly five fingers; and she can write - there is no earthly reason why he cannot!  The guy behind the article asks me to come for a separate session with my husband - and when we went - explained elaborately to my husband that indulgent mothers like me foolishly try to pamper the kids and put them in no-exam systems like Waldorf. What my son really needs is discipline and the proverbial 'iron hand'. Imagine.

      But at what stage do we stop being parents and start being just
      consultants? I get that unschooling parents let the child lead the
      way. But there are a few things that I think I do know better. For eg.
      I insist my children are in bed at 8.00pm ( they are only 3 and 7),
      or that I like a structure albeit a fairly loose one in the way our
      day goes. And I really think my children thrive in the regularity
      and the rhythm of it. Infact my 3 year old son at the dot of 11 am,
      without my prompting, will get out the newspapers and lay them out
      for our watercolour time and after the session will take the bowls and
      brushes to the bathroom and start washing them. I havent taught these
      things, but they have watched me doing it. There is structure there,
      but it isn't forced.

      You surely have a point but he just turned 14 and has all the quirks of a teenager :-

      I know Waldorf didn't work for you, but one of the BIG principles of
      Waldorf is that children must know that behind all the books and the
      computer and the TV and other media are human beings who have created
      these. And that they are get this only if they another human being
      showing them this. I had an idea, maybe you have already done this,
      but you could get a loved family friend to talk to him about astronomy
      or go with him on a night safari to look at the stars or the
      nightlife. Nothing manipulative, but someone else who's equally
      passionate about the stars and the night...someone your son could look
      up to?

      I am personally very happy with Waldorf and have my 11 year old daughter in the system at the moment.

      Yes - I did try setting it up night-watches for him with 2 different  people - none of whom really made it.  Shall try again. I have not given up.
      Thanks again

      Sorry about the length of my letter too.

      Hema Gopinathan.

      --- In alt-ed-india@yahoogroups.com, Lalita <lalita.sv@...> wrote:
      > Dear All,
      > Must confess, about ten years ago, I started off my lovely bright
      son - at
      > the age of 3 and a half at one such factory school in Hyderabad called
      > Gitanjali Public School where the send kids out of the school in
      Class 8 so
      > that they can ensure a 100% pass in Standard 10 with a class average
      of 90
      > plus! In spite of being a high IQ, gifted kid acknowledged by one
      and all as
      > a 'genius' - my son has had his nose rubbed into the dust by
      teachers and
      > peers - because of his 'difference'. I pulled him out only after 2
      years and
      > chose Waldorf where again the creative side of the curriculum did
      not seem
      > to touch him at all and the method of teaching became a source of
      > for him. The teacher has also advised me that his higher
      intellectual powers
      > make it impossible for other kids in the class to vibe with him. Blaming
      > oneself does not help correct what is in the past - but am trying to
      > the situation and myself as best I can, currently.
      > So, he is home, since August, learning whatever he likes and
      browsing the
      > net most of the time. He mostly educates himself on Science & Technology
      > with special focus on astronomy and loves funny stories a lot. He
      was always
      > considered a natural at Maths, has a phenomenal memory (but cannot learn
      > anything by rote) and has a strong dislike for writing. He prefers
      > through nights and sleeping the days off, which again is matter of much
      > discussion among friends and family - perhaps even the servants! My
      > here is that he will become a total loner, as he generally hates
      outings -
      > social or otherwise. I do have some lack of clarity on what next -
      and what
      > is right for my child. Any inputs would be highly appreciated.
      > BTW, I watched the much-acclaimed Taare Zameen Par - and must
      confess to a
      > little disappointment in the end to find that child is somehow made
      fit to
      > be a part of the mainstream. We need more parents to be able to
      accept that
      > there are careers other than IT, Engg and Medicine. This brilliant
      > child-artist could have become a highly paid Animator, for one!
      > For my kid, I am open to anything - so long as it keeps him happy
      with an
      > intact self-esteem.
      > Sorry about the length of this mail.
      > Thanks
      > Lalita
      > On 08/02/2008, aparna pallavi <aparna_pallavi@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > The more education undergoes 'change' towards what the Indian
      > > industry calls 'child friendliness', the more it remains the same.
      > > two years back, before the new rules mentioned in the article came
      > > effect, parents started killing their children at age three. Now
      they are
      > > starting at one-and-a-half.
      > >
      > > Aparna
      > >
      > > *Clive Elwell <clive.elwell@...>* wrote:
      > >
      > >  *read below or go to *
      > > http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/05/asia/school.php
      > > *and see pictures also*
      > > **
      > > ------------------------------------------------------
      > >
      > > A frenzied hunt for 4-year-olds' destinies
      > > By Somini Sengupta International Herald Tribune
      > > Tuesday, February 5, 2008
      > >
      > > They offer prayers. They set aside bribe money. Their nights are
      > >
      > >
      > > This is a disquieting winter for parents of small children in India,
      > > especially here in its fast-growing capital, where the demands of
      > > and demography collide with a shortage of desirable schools. This
      > > admissions for pre-kindergarten seats in Delhi begin for children
      as young
      > > as 3 years old, and the schools they get into now are widely
      believed to
      > > make or break their educational careers.
      > >
      > >
      > > And so it was that a businessman, having applied to 15 private
      schools for
      > > his 4-year-old son, rushed to the gates of a prestigious academy
      in southern
      > > Delhi one morning last week to see whether his child's name was
      on the
      > > preliminary list for possible admission.
      > >
      > >
      > > Alas, it was not, and walking back to his car he wondered if it
      would not
      > > be better if Indian couples decided to have children only after
      > > assured of seats in school. "You have a kid and you don't have a
      school to
      > > send your kid to!" he cried. "It's crazy. You can't sleep at night."
      > >
      > >
      > > In a measure of his anxiety, the father, who runs his own company,
      > > to divulge his full name for fear it would jeopardize his son's
      chances of
      > > getting into a good school. He reluctantly agreed to be identified
      by his
      > > first name, Amit.
      > >
      > >
      > > The anxiety over school admissions is a parable of desire and
      > > in a country with the largest concentration of young people in the
      > > About 40 percent of India's 1.1 billion citizens are younger than 18;
      > > many more are younger than 30 and raising young children. For all
      but the
      > > very poor, government schools are not an option, and the
      competition for the
      > > top private schools is fierce.
      > >
      > >
      > > The scramble is part of the great Indian education rush, playing
      out all
      > > over the country and across the socioeconomic spectrum. Striving,
      > > parents are spending hefty amounts or taking loans to send their
      > > to private schools. In some cases, children from small towns are
      > > more than 65 kilometers, or 40 miles, every day to good, or at least
      > > well-regarded, schools. New private schools are sprouting up, as
      > > industrialists, real estate developers and even a handful of foreign
      > > companies eye the Indian education market.
      > >
      > >
      > > As with a lot of other things in India, supply lags far behind
      > > Cities grow, pocketbooks swell and parents who themselves may have
      > > in their childhoods want something better for their offspring.
      > >
      > >
      > > Amit acknowledged the priorities of his social class this way.
      > > has really taken over," he said. "Everyone is looking at what car
      > > driving, what clothes you're wearing, where your child is going to
      > >
      > >
      > > Vir Singh, a retired civil servant, recognized this shift in his own
      > > family.
      > >
      > >
      > > One of his sons attended government school and moved to the United
      > > to work as an engineer. Another went to a decent private school in
      > > went on to work for a multinational company, but now refuses to
      send his
      > > daughter to his own alma mater. Singh said his son wanted his child to
      > > attend only the best. "Now they want more high-fly schools," he
      > > "It's a changed society."
      > >
      > >
      > > In search of such a place, Singh went to a branch of Delhi Public
      > > - what Indians call a "public school," Americans would call
      "private" - to
      > > see if his granddaughter's name had appeared on the preliminary
      > > list. It did not. Singh grumbled about the school's criteria; he was
      > > appalled that the child of a single parent was getting preference.
      "You want
      > > the parents to split up?" he asked incredulously.
      > >
      > >
      > > The admissions process has never been easy at elite Indian schools.
      > >
      > >
      > > Once, private school admissions were based on an opaque mix of
      > > connections, money and preferences for certain kinds of families
      in certain
      > > kinds of schools. These days, as a result of litigation, there are
      > > court-mandated rules in Delhi designed to make the process fairer
      and more
      > > transparent, at least on paper.
      > >
      > >
      > > Schools are allowed to set their own admissions criteria, but
      these must
      > > be made clear to parents and followed consistently. Many schools
      this year
      > > have created a point system that rewards girls, students with
      older siblings
      > > in the same school, children of alumni and, to encourage neighborhood
      > > schooling, those who live nearby.
      > >
      > >
      > > Over the past few weeks, it has been difficult to find parents who
      > > not complaining about the new rules.
      > >
      > >
      > > Sridhar and Noopur Kannan, seeking admission to the Delhi Public
      > > for their 4-year-old son, found it absurd that girls were being
      > > even as they counted their one enviable blessing: Sridhar Kannan
      was an
      > > alumnus of the school, and a member of the screening committee
      > > him as having been a good student.
      > >
      > >
      > > Rumana Akhtar's alma mater, where her daughter would have had an
      edge, was
      > > way across town from where she now lives and therefore impractical.
      > >
      > >
      > > Alok Aggarwal's efforts to use his connections had so far done
      nothing to
      > > secure a seat for his 4-year-old son. Ashok Gupta rued his own lack of
      > > connections but had set aside more than $2,500 in case a
      "donation" would
      > > open doors. Many parents alleged that some schools continued to make
      > > exceptions in exchange for contributions.
      > >
      > >
      > > The pressures can be felt on the other side of the door as well.
      > >
      > >
      > > This year, Suman Nath, principal of Tagore International School in a
      > > crowded middle-class neighborhood, received 2,014 applications for 112
      > > prekindergarten seats. The other day, she said, a tailor who stitches
      > > clothes for her family made an appeal on behalf of her child.
      > > ministers called to lobby on behalf of certain children, she said.
      > > school director recalled receiving a phone call from the
      electricity board,
      > > threatening to cut off her school's power if a certain child was not
      > > admitted.
      > >
      > >
      > > The one change that many parents and school administrators have
      > > is that children are no longer subjected to interviews for
      admissions. At
      > > least now, Nath said, "children aren't experiencing rejection."
      > >
      > >
      > > That brought little comfort last Friday afternoon, when Tagore
      > > International posted its list of children selected for admission.
      > > was snarled just outside the school's burnished metal gates. So were
      > > spirits. Parents elbowed their way through a thick crowd to have a
      look at
      > > the list. Most left looking bereft.
      > >
      > >
      > > Shailaja Sharma, 26, said her only hope was to find an influential
      > > to ply another influential person with money. Mandira Dev
      Sengupta, carrying
      > > her 3-year-old son, Rio, in her arms, bit her lip and fought back
      > > After 17 applications, Rio had been admitted to only one school,
      and it was
      > > not one that she particularly liked.
      > >
      > >
      > > "They need to open a new school for children who haven't gotten in
      > > anywhere," said Sarika Chetwani, who had applied unsuccessfully to 12
      > > schools, including Tagore, for her 4-year-old daughter. "I'm
      totally messed
      > > up. I don't know what to do next."
      > >
      > >
      > > "Everybody is fighting for the select few," said Abha Adams, a former
      > > director of the elite Shri Ram Schools, who is heading a new
      school this
      > > year in an eastern suburb of Delhi, where land is cheaper than in
      the city.
      > > "There's not enough to go around."
      > >
      > >
      > > This week, even before the nursery school race was over, another
      race had
      > > begun. Teenagers across India braced themselves for final
      > > which determine whether and where students will be admitted to a
      > > university.
      > >
      > >
      > > On Monday, the daily newspaper The Hindustan Times published tips for
      > > parents of examination takers. "Do not nag your child," was one.
      > > was, "Remember, he is not a machine that can study for 4-5 hours at a
      > > stretch."
      > >
      > >
      > > Hari Kumar contributed reporting from New Delhi.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/05/asia/school.php
      > >
      > >
      > > ------------------------------
      > > Get the freedom to save as many mails as you wish. Click here to
      > >
      > >
      > >

    • Lalita
      Svani Thanks for the reply. He is a teenager - just turned 14. I really need to share a lot with you. I have been following up on your articles on your
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 8, 2008

        Thanks for the reply. He is a teenager - just turned 14.

        I really need to share a lot with you. I have been following up on your articles on your profoundly gifted children. My son has so far not had any such interaction with any professional qualified Teacher. In fact, his only intellectual companion so far has been myself! I happen to have a background in Sciences (BSc), MA (English) and MBA. His reading extends to all Sciences and Literature - as well as books on all the Tech biggies like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs etc. His teacher has specially asked me to make him read various biographies of personalities and I have ensured a collection of them around the house. He loves reading  Isaac Asimov, Bill Bryson, R K Narayan, Charles Dickens, Ruskin Bond, Gerald Durrell, Roald Dahl Jerome K Jerome etc. Not that he says no to Tinkles and Enid Blyton :-)

        I was going to take this offline - but Sanjay made me change my mind.

        1. Will try to see about the professors. I used to send him to play with some CDs at NIIT when he was 7 - as he used up all his collection at home and got bored. They found him very adept and were pushing me to let him learn programming. As I was trying hard at that time to see that he builds his social skills; and felt that it would interfere with his perception of others and himself (and also because he was just a baby and these computer languages come and go) - I refused to put him in. I now feel the time is ripe. Could you suggest a starting point?

        2. He is a regular at the NASA site. Pls do send the links to MIT and Yale. I have once showed him the MIT online resource. Do not know if he still uses that. Pls do send the links to the forums too

        3. About the sleeping habits, he loves the distraction-free time. But he is not socially adept and hates to go out and this habit is turning him into a bigger recluse than ever - so much so that I am also not able to spend that much time with him.

        4. My son is also not capable of showing off or acting superior. In fact, he is pathetic in his efforts to find acceptance in group games as his approach is not physical and people hate mind games.
        4. He mostly browses Wikipedia and plays some games, browses for funny stuff.and generally keeps abreast of stuff. To my utter surprise I found yesterday that he is keenly following the Hillary Clinton - Obama race in the elections. I know he loves the Tech Support type of jokes where people think they need a trap to get a 'mouse'. He does not go to ugly websites as he knows the potential virus risk, if for no other reason - and is a normal child with age-appropriate behaviour - except for his abnormal shyness and tendency to take offense easily - which is an off-shoot of his low self-confidence..

        5. Last but not the least, i have decided to switch my career to Software as a functional consultant and move to the US (My beloved Husband is a CA and an entrepreneur) - just for the sake of my kid. My papers for H1 will be filed in April 2008 - and I am desperately hoping that things will fall in place. I believe H1 is now through a lottery system? Guess that too has given me the courage to keep him home. (answering Hema here)

        Svani - Finally I thank you for your energy and genuine concern and the inputs.

        Warm Regards

        On 08/02/2008, svani <svaniacad@...> wrote:

        He is a teenager I assume. I am not sure of the resources available near where you live. But I would try and find a retired prof or instructor based on your son's passions to indulge him in some intellectually stimulating conversations. How about visits to local university dept and talking with profs? I know this sounds easier said than done, but you will never know what channels will open up where unless you try it out. How about hiring a undergrad or grad student to spend some time with your son as a buddy for astronomy discussions or physics discussions? There is so much you can do in small ways.
        If he likes higher learning in Astronomy and is independantly driven to learn them, I can pass on some wonderful online sites of free fun lectures from MIT and Yale. Also, here we get to be part of the Astronomy society and get to watch and follow all the planets through numerous telescopes and discuss them in a fun way. My kids have been enjoying this since at an early age. I am sure there is something similar that must be available back there as well. I can also pass on some online 'monitored' forums based on his interests wherein students discuss their research interests and just share their thoughts and dreams related to various subjects, games and such.
        I am not sure what he surfs on the web. It sounds like he is craving for some break through some connection to latch on to. Are you worried about his sleeping times and habits? Frankly, my ideas are not going to be popular here:). He is a teen and if he is mentally, emotionally and physically healthy, I will not worry about it as much. There is no one size fit all for sleeping either:). To be honest, my oldest spent just meagre 5hrs of sleep until she was 7, every night. I was worried sick. But here is what I learnt, that some kids and adults need less sleep to function normally and she was and is healthy and perfectly fine and was tortured when forced to sleep longer. And I realized that I am such a person and was such a child. Now fast forward to year 9, she sleeps plenty more, but still not the 8-9 hr range, and works till midnight(that is her comfort zone) and wakes up some days at 7am to get to the univ. No one is twisting her arm to do so and I would much rather prefer to sleep more in the mornings(as I am the one who is driving her). But guess what, she is happy and extremely so and insists on this routine. She is unhappy and does not feel like herself if we change things around by force. As I said, I watch her and teach her to listen to her body. At times, she takes a snooze on the way home. She knows when she needs the sleep and when she does not need it.
        I know this is not similar to your situation and your son sleeps morning and stays awake at nights. But is it because he has nothing else to do in the mornings? Is it a small short passing phase may be? If and when his purpose has been found, he would probably find his way to work the schedule. May be he is utterly bored and drifting in his mind. No matter what, please do not force him to structure just because the rest of the world have structure. I can assure you that I know plenty of families that do not have such a structure and that is why they are different. He is just functioning at the American time:) Structure should come from within and one should respect the individual for such a need or lack of it. Ask him and talk to him if it bothers you in the way of spending time with him qualitatively. May be some field trips can be included in the day times for your son to spend time on. Do not be afraid just to follow your heart and your son's needs, which may or may not be like others. What ever your concerns are talk it out openly and involve him in those discussions and find out what is in his mind. Find a way to give him that channel for his passions to flourish and let him know and assure him that you are indeed trying to do so.
        I just wanted to mention this from my experience. My kids are profoundly gifted and have always been lonely due to lack of (intellectual) peers. When I say intellectual peers, I mean like minded friends, and no way means academics. The local university profs have been the way of happiness for my daughter's interaction. She is a social kid, but seems to have painfully learnt early on to 'adapt' to the world as much as possible. She is 9. That does not neccessarily mean she has found friends in all of her adaptations. And that also does not mean she considers others unworthy. Quite to the contrary, she is painfully aware that others of her age or even older, just cannot get her and so never puts them in an uncomfortable situation to make know of the same. I teach her to embrace her difference and uniqueness and not consider it a burden. The great advantage in my houshold is that both my children are extremely close to each other and are of great comfort and mesh well in their thinking. It is also true that as she grows older and moves at her equal intellectual peers, the age would mean nothing at that point and she will find a connection among different age groups and will find different set friends. Rarely do adults have friends all of the same age and some of my best friends came in the 45plus age groups when I was 20yrs old:) It has happened to me and will hopefully happen to her and to my son and yours as well.
        Pls feel free to write offlist, if you happen to know your son's direction and interest. I will see what I can find for him

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