Thursday, 25 June 2015

Knowledge getting heavier?....or is it just the school bags!

Every morning when I pack my younger son’s school bag, it’s a bagful of mixed feelings for me.  The bag really gets heavy for a 6 year old, first standard child. There are the books, tiffins (2 of them one for the short break and the other for their lunch break) and the raincoat. My child is taller and bigger built than many others in his age group, I really wonder how the children manage this. They might have to climb stairs to reach their classrooms on the second or the third floor of the school building. The elder one’s don’t even ask… 4th grade has more subjects and ultimately more books! I am sure it’s the concern of every parent.

In fact there is an ongoing concern regarding the weight of children’s schoolbags and the impact of such heavy loads on their developing spine. It is certainly a stress for the children. It becomes a bigger concern in the middle school age group. The spine is at a critical stage of development in children between 12 – 14 years of age. This is also the stage at which the bag weight to body weight ratio is likely to be high as some students are still quite small but carry loads similar to bigger built and older children.

A general guideline of 10% body weight, initially proposed by Voll and Klimt in 1977, continues to be the recommended guideline when carrying a backpack- style schoolbag. Some recent studies have reported that carrying a heavy schoolbag contributes to musculoskeletal pain in children. This really requires some serious thought and solution on the issue of the heavy school bags!

I also wonder when every other thing is going from big to small, heavy to light weight, thin to ultra slim then why isn’t that applicable to the children’s school bags? It is an important accessory, children take so much time and pride in selecting their school bags. Boys have a range of bags that they select from and girls have another range to choose. They come in so many fancy designs and shapes. Parents and schools have the responsibility to see what best they can do to keep the load of the backpack bags manageable and safe for the children.

How can we reduce the weight of the school bag?
Here are a few guidelines suggest by Education Bureau of Hong Kong.
1.       Conducting campaign on reducing the weight of school bags to draw the attention of teachers, parents and pupils to the issue.
2.       Conducting random check on the weight of school bags and informing parents if bags are found overweight.
3.       Mobilising parents to help weighing school bags to arouse awareness of the issue.
4.       Using other learning materials to replace textbooks in the learning of some topics.
5.       Reducing the use of workbooks and replacing them by loose-leaf worksheets.
6.       Keeping pupils’ new exercise books and issuing them to pupils only when needed.
7.       Setting the maximum number of assignments for each subject as part of the homework policy.
8.       Allotting a tutorial period in the timetable for pupils to complete part of their homework at school.
9.       Scheduling PE and Art and Craft lessons for different days.
10.   Allowing pupils to wear sportswear instead of school uniforms for days with PE lessons.
11.   Encouraging the use of drinking fountains and advising pupils not to bring drinking water to school.

Schools and parents can join hands to make studies fun for children and school bags much lighter. After all, the foundation of a strong nation is laid on the core strength (spines) of the young boys and girls who’ll propel India into the next phase of development.

Picture Courtesy: Google,The Hindu, with due credits.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A stitch in time saves nine

I would like to share with you all my column in the Navi Mumbai City Line, 30th May 2015.

College admissions are on and a lot of students walk in shopping for courses and colleges. Yes the word is shopping! There is certainly some clarity with the courses one can take up after the results are declared. Some have a clear eligibility and cut off marks. Probably some of you are not really happy with your result but when you can’t change that at this stage what you can certainly do is find the best option for you. Things were different when we were growing up, completing 12th standard 21 years ago is a long time indeed and a lot has changed since then.
Things have certainly changed for the good; I believe in, “we change with changing seasons and times”. Here, not referring to the basic value system, morals and ethics but changing lifestyle. The earlier generations didn’t have so much of competition in the board exams now the toppers manage scores as high as 99 point some percentage. But the good news is that there are so many streams of study and professional courses on offer. The information is available just at the click of a button on the computer. Isn’t this fantastic?

But what I have experienced when counseling students is that when there is so much to choose from they get confused and sometimes don’t make good decisions. For example they might choose a course in Mass media or a branch of engineering as they meet the eligibility criteria and the courses are considered to be very much “In” or “Happening” among their peer group. Once they are in the programme they realize that it isn’t what they wanted or are able to cope with. Sometimes they get ATKTs.  A student who has been good all through school faring badly in college affects their confidence and self esteem. Then they look out for some other professional courses that they think they can do well in. This leads to loss of a year, some finance and also their self confidence. Some find it difficult to bounce back.

To avoid this situation, parents and students can do some research. In fact it’s a good trend that students these days meet education counselors, consult their teachers and also attend education fairs and career guidance seminars. These things help them choose what they believe is their calling. With so many colleges and seats available, it’s not very difficult to get into a professional course. Hence it’s extremely important to make a decision that’s practical, to one liking and based on good research.
The conventional streams, B Sc, B Com and BA are offered by most universities. There are professional courses such as Medicine, Engineering, Hotel Management, Hospitality Studies, BMS, Journalism, Fashion Designing, Aviation, Travel and Tourism, Shipping, Animation and  Film making to name a few. A student who has completed his 12th standard can find out more about the course of his choice and then select a good college to join that offers the programme.

One’s success is more based on making good decisions than just being brilliant and doing things without thought!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Plan the roadmap for a smooth ride into your future.

 Hello everyone!

I have been travelling on a very interesting project, you will find it soon here.. In the meanwhile I share with you all my column that was published on 30th May 2015  in the Navi Mumbai City Line, a supplement with the Newspaper here.

It’s the results time, 10th standard students have just received theirs. Some are rejoicing and some must be wondering what happened?
Result is a result that’s the outcome of any activity that had a desired goal. Certainly it doesn’t call for all the hype around it. It only indicates the options that an individual can consider following this exercise. After 10th standard there are a lot of options that a student can think of.
The first one and most common is studying 11th standard in any of the traditional streams such as Science, Arts or Commerce. A student can choose to join either a junior college or continue in his or her school if it offers 10 + 2.
Second option is a bit adventurous where a student can choose a job oriented diploma programme, there are so many on offer from various universities. The programmes can be 2 years or 3 years and some have the option of then upgrading to degree programmes. The courses can range from hospitality studies, hotel management, engineering, journalism, architecture, nursing and agriculture to name a few. ITI courses also have their eligibility as 10th standard pass.
Infact students these days look for summer internships. A lot of them utilize the 3 months of vacation for getting hands on experience. Survey, sales and marketing jobs are a hit with youngsters. Some take up work with Quick Service Restaurants such as the McDonalds, Dominos, Smokin Joes etc. Even media offers summer internships. Some take up jobs at the call centers. Depending on an individual’s liking or industry preference there’s a lot one can explore and learn about. Sometimes these things help students make career decisions and choose the courses that they’d like to study specially the new courses that the universities offer besides the traditional ones.

This time should also be utilized to do a good homework and thorough study about the courses of one’s choice. Finding the best universities and colleges offering those programmes and preparing for the same, as one has about two years time to hop on. Students these days use the internet extensively; doing some desk research is definitely a good idea. A few colleges can be shortlisted and then contacted through phone or even pay a visit to learn more about them. This is making an informed decision about ones area of specialization and career. This will keep a check on drop outs, I do see and meet people who have joined a course or a college with half baked knowledge, find that it’s not what they intended to do and drop out of the course. This leads to the loss of money, time and one’s self confidence.
My advice to the youngsters, the 10th graders is to do some introspection, find out about the course that you wish to pursue and match it with your larger goal. Sit with your parents; plan the roadmap for the next couple of years. Something that’s going to direct the way your professional and personal life moves needs a bit of planning. This is the mis en place for the bigger goal. Planning takes time, once the framework is made execution is easier.

If only great grades in the 10th or the 12th standard could decide one’s future and success then there would’ve been different types of success stories around us. Unfortunately grades don’t decide your future but a good plan pertaining to your area of study and life does.

Will leave you with these thought! Cheers 

Pic Courtesy google with due credits.