10. Keeping It Open

mathematics
/ˌmæθəˈmætɪks/
the study or use of numbers and shapes to calculate, represent, or describe things. Mathematics includes arithmetic, geometry, and algebra


(Pic: Internet)

Today, I attended a presentation by Dr Bal Chandra Luitel held at KU Gwarkho. Dr Luitel is an Associate Professor at the Kathmandu University and is one of the leading mathematicians in Nepal. He’s very prolific and has presented numerous papers in international conferences and workshops.

I was not overly excited about attending the presentation (since I am barely interested in Maths as a subject) but I had heard a lot of admiration regarding Dr Luitel’s works and achievements and was always curious to meet him in person.

Today’s gathering was about his recent presentation and experiences at the 12th International Congress of Mathematical Education held in South Korea.

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I used to hate Maths in school. I scored 99 and 98 on both Maths in my SLC exams, I was pretty good at it but I never enjoyed Maths, and I hated it in college too. Why did I have to learn Algebra? My teacher’s answer: It will be useful in ‘future’. I (We students) bought it. And Trigonometry? You will have use of it in your future, he said. But I didn’t want to go for Engineering or be a Mathematician. Geometry was relatively fun, but I have since forgotten those 20 plus theorems that we had to memorize. Matrix. Mean and Median. Mode. Derivative. Calculus. I don’t even remember all those terms anymore.

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09. The Rain is Raining

It’s been raining, almost incessantly, for a few days in Kathmandu. Not that heavy but enough to make you wet in few seconds if you stand outside. And, here goes one of my students in the class today.

“The rain is raining again”.
Some of his friends laugh at him and try to correct him, “It’s raining again, stupid.”
Then he retorts, “If we can say ‘the bus is coming’, why can’t we say the rain is raining?”

Seemed like a good logic to me. But I’ve been told, English is not based on logic. It’s a crazy language. But there has to be a good explanation why we can’t say “the rain is raining”.

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I love this children’s song about “rain”.
paani paryo, paani paryo
sundai chhu, sundai chhu
paani paryo tap tap, paani paryo tap tap
bhijeko chhu, bhijeko chhu

08. Teaching becomes a dead end job


(Pic: Internet)

As I am also in the School Administration, I was looking for some training programs for few new and old (I mean ‘senior’) teachers of the school. I believe in the saying – the school is what the teacher is. I am not an overly experienced teaching professional in any way. But this is common sense. I also believe that, just like any other profession, teachers constantly need to upgrade their skill and refresh their minds.

Anyway, I talked with three of the teachers and informed them about a training program that would, I thought, help them move towards competency and professionalism. They were half-excited about the prospect. I told them the school was also ready to bear half of the cost of the training. Then the typical indifferent attitude in their response. Training. Extra hours. Two more hours for a week. Missing private tuition classes. Excuses. And excuses.

The training was not that expensive at all. The school could have managed the entire expense and sent those teachers to the training for free. But, I thought the teachers should ‘invest’ from their part as well, after all they are getting a chance to enhance their skill and gain new perspective on teaching.

I was really stunned when they gave me excuses to avoid the training. If I had got similar opportunity, I would have jumped right in with total enthusiasm.

Then, I just remembered what one of my senior teachers had told me a few years ago – “in Nepal, most of the school teachers do not chose the job to be teachers, they just need something to do for a time being while making plans for better profession. Few find that ‘better’ profession, but many get stuck with the teaching job, something they never planned for. Teaching becomes a dead end job for them.”

It could be true, almost true. They have turned teaching job into an excuse, one more in their pile of excuses.

I just smiled and said a simple “Sure. No problem” to those teachers. I still had hope that some other teachers would be excited for the training.

**

While I was googling for blogs by Nepali English teachers, I found a similar grievance on this article by Ram Abadhesh Ray.

As soon as Dr. Bhandari announced that the training was without allowance, the faces of the reputed teachers of the government school were to see. They started feeling disappointment and as there was break for half an hour and then after break no government teachers were seen in training session and Dr. Bhandari was amazed and we too.” (sic)

Read the complete article here: Teacher training: for money or for professionalism?

06. Uptill now !!!

“Uptill now, no homework doing.”

I heard this crazy nepanglish today in the school. This came from a young boy from Class IV. He was complaining about his friend who never submitted his homework. I didn’t really get it the first few seconds but I realized he probably meant to say “He hasn’t done any homework till now.” But it come out in a very unique nepanglish way.

Apparently, our students have created an entirely new word on their own.

05. My Product


(Pic: Internet)

During a break, I was casually hanging out with some of the senior* teachers in the school. We were talking about the recent SLC exam result when coincidentally few of our former students showed up at the school. And, seeing them coming towards us, one of the senior teachers said with pride “Those are my products.”

Products?

Apparently, it seems normal for teachers (and schools) to use this word to label the students. “He’s my product.” “She’s my product.” Teachers love this word. May be, the word gives them some assurance, some pride… a sense of achievement.

And perhaps, it’s quite justifiable too. Products. With the prevailing education system that we have, the schools are factories and the students are products somehow.

* A senior teacher is usually someone who has been teaching in the school for a long time. I really respect such teacher, who has dedicated his/her life (and youth) to teaching and contributing to the society.

However, there are some (many) for whom teaching has become a class routine, numbers of period and salary at the end of the month. They count the days, count the sessions and count the years. They teach the same stuff class after class and year after year. They too are the senior teachers.