Month: February 2004

All in the family

All in the family

"The dining table is a child’s first school: CBSE Director," is the headline of an article in The Times of India dated Wednesday February 25, 2004. G Balasubramanian, director of CBSE, was in favour of banning homework for students in class I and II as young children need space, love and quality time with their parents for their, which homework hampers. It’s true that parents have the biggest influence on the personality of their children and early childhood being an impressionable age, it is important that they spend quality time with their children.

Last Sunday, more than a 100 students got to spend a whole day with their parents, thanks to a unique "Parents Picnic" organised by the Garden School of Thane. Four buses took over 250 parents, teachers and students to Gorai Beach where they camped at a local resort booked entirely for them.

The little children enjoyed thoroughly as not only did they play lots and lots of games with their friends, but perhaps for the first time they saw their parents play just like them. There were community games, quizzes and treasure hunts for parents and the children were amused to see their parents running, competing with other parents, throwing tantrums and generally behaving like little children. Such opportunities allow the child in every adult to surface and also bring out the creativity in the adults. And that helps parents connect with their child at his/her level.

Social gatherings involving the entire family help break the monotony of everyday life and foster a better understanding between the child and his or her parents. Besides, it is important for parents to unwind from time to time. Most parents are so busy with their routines that they hardly get time to relax. When parents find themselves among their kind, there is mutual empathy that helps promote significant relationships. So, get-togethers such as these not only strengthen the parent-child relationship but also establish lifelong bonds between the families of the students. There are many instances of parents who met on such occasions years ago and have continued to meet long after their children leave the school.

The picnic was a wonderful time for toddlers of Gardens School who went back home with a sense of renewed bond with their parents and looking forward to the next such picnic. And next time, the School plans to take the grandparents too!

Flowers in Bloom

Flowers in Bloom

Last week on Friday, the Garden School of Thane was blooming with flowers. Only, these were unique flowers that could walk, talk, laugh and dance. The pre-school students of the school were participating in a Fancy Dress Competition with "Flowers" as the theme. So we had roses, sunflowers, daisies and lotuses blossoming across the school.

Earlier during the week, the children were introduced to various kinds of flowers, especially those they were unfamiliar with, because they don’t see them in the school garden. The fancy-dress competition is a means of teaching children creativity and it also helps them remember more effectively. Each student had to come in front of the audience and speak a sentence or two about the flower he or she had become. Such exercises leave indelible impressions on children and whatever they learn stays with them forever. For instance, when children returned to school on Monday, and teachers questioned them about flowers, they could answer easily because they knew which of their classmates dressed up as those flowers. Every child received a gift for participation and many of them won prizes for creativity. Parents too must be credited for the hard work they put in to ensure that their child does well in such competitions.

In the past, themes such as Fruits, Vegetables, Letters of the Alphabets and even Under-Water creatures, Insects, have been given to children of the school. Children learn better when involved in some sort of activity and events such as above are good examples of unconventional, yet efficient teaching methods.

Teaching to teach
Speaking about teaching methods, Gram Mangal, an organisation committed to the betterment of Adivasis, is organising an exhibition on teaching aids. The exhibition will demonstrate new, researched tools that teachers and parents can use to make learning attractive and useful to children. These interesting tools do not use writing or reading but focus on self-learning. As such, they are not exam-oriented and therefore lay more emphasis on true understanding of the subjects as opposed to cramming for scoring higher grades. Traditional teaching relies primarily on reading and writing to explain basic concepts to children and tests memory rather than aptitude and intelligence. The methods that would be displayed at the exhibition take a practical approach that can be used from early childhood. The aids demonstrated can be used to teach students from Junior KG to class VII. Subjects such as science, geography, history and even languages can be taught using these aids.

Besides Thane, teachers and parents from Vashi, Airoli, Kalyan and Mumbai are also expected. The exhibition will be held in at Dr Bedekar Vidyamandir (A K Joshi), Gokhale Road on Saturday February 21 between 4pm and 8pm and on Sunday February 22 between 9am and 9pm. Entry is free. For more information, please call Harshada on 9820309265.

Musical Expressions

Musical Expressions

The raison d’être of Indian Music is much more than merely entertainment. And Indian musicians are not just artists who sing a song, compose a tune or play an instrument. They are, in one sense, spiritual beings, who literally live their music. This was essentially the theme of the programme "Anubhuti" organised at the Gadkari Rangayatan on February 10 2004. The evening was dedicated to senior musician and critic Shrikrishna Dalvi who passed away last month. Dalvi’s contribution to the world of music known to all music lovers in Maharastra and the programme was a fitting tribute to him.

The auditorium was packed to capacity, an evidence of the popularity of the departed soul. The evening also saw well known Thaneites offer their tribute to Dalvi. Yogaacharya Anna Vyavahare, Violin player Dr M Rajam, Senior Tabla Player Pt. Bhai Gaitonde and Professor Ashok Chitnis – all spoke about Dalvi’s contribution to the realm of music.

Corporator Vilas Samant organised the programme together with well-known Tabla Player Mukundraj Deo who presented the programme. Deo said, "We called the programme Anubhuti because we wanted to demonstrate conceptual fusion that musicians experience throughout a lifelong of learning – it is a vision that emerges and can only be experienced. And Anubhuti implies lessons gained from experience."

The programme was like a lifecycle of the musician. 14 participants comprised of singers, instrument players and dancers who explained the stages of evolution of a musician via the medium of music.

They started with Om, which has thousands of meanings, one of them being Sadhana or practice. For a musician, Sadhan is Godlike and they long for it, not to perfect their art but because it is like meditation – they feel incomplete with it. Then they dealt with Vistaar or development of music – just like everything in nature, music develops through a typical pattern known only to a musician. Chaturang or the four basic components (Vocal, Instrumental, Dance and Rasa) of music is the next stage of evolution. Then comes Dhundi (intoxication), a stage when a musician gets completely immersed in his music oblivious to his surroundings. Anand (ultimate, inexplicable joy) is the final stage which then goes back to Om to complete the cycle.

The evening truly reflected the words of a Chinese Taoist Philosopher Lao Tzu who said: "Music in the soul is heard by the Universe."

Spreading the Wisdom of Yoga

Spreading the Wisdom of Yoga

Ghantali Mitra Mandal (GMM) is known for helping people relax through Yoga. On January 26 however, the GMM members and their friends, families and associates found themselves relaxing. And causing them to relax was 72-year-old veteran TV anchor-cum-writer Mohini Nimkar. Nimkar, who is remembered for her long career as an anchor with Doordarshan from 1973 to 1993, was invited by GMM to stage her solo-act play Hasya Dindi, a light Marathi comedy that everyone present thoroughly enjoyed. "What a nice, relaxed evening. The play helped us forget all our worries," was sentiment echoed by the many who attended, among them prominent Thaneites.

The occasion was the celebration of the foundation day of GMM. 39 years ago, on January 26, 1965, Yogacharya Shri Krishna Vyavhare set up the Ghantali Mitra Mandal, a non-profit institute, with the sole objective of creating awareness about the benefits of Yoga Sadhana.

GMM has certainly come a long way since it humble beginning when Vyavahare Guruji, without neither money nor resources, decided to impart Yoga training. The task seemed uphill. But he was empowered with the knowledge he had gained under the guidance of Yogacharya Kaba Sahasrabudhe. So, much against the wishes of his wife, he sold his home furniture and began his first Yoga classes at home. Today, the institute has established itself firmly in the field of Yoga training. It has played an important role in promoting awareness and inculcating practise of Yoga among hundreds of Thane residents. Every morning, from 6 to 7 am, classes for a government recognised one-year comprehensive training course are held. Its teachers’ course for Yoga has initiated thousands of Yoga Teachers in and around the city since 1971.  

In 1988 GMM found a permanent place for its operations at the Sahyog Mandir. Since then it has become even more active in spreading the ancient knowledge of Yoga through workshops and seminars. Focused programmes for obesity, asthma, blood pressure mentally challenged children, senior citizens and other stress related health problems are regularly held. About 200 odd volunteers and 50 teachers attached to GMM conduct various short and long courses throughout the year at various places in Thane and also in Ghatkopar where GMM has a centre. 16 permanent members of the management work with dedication so that the benefits of Yoga reach out to as many people as possible.

Sujata Bhide, who is the secretary of GMM and also the editor of their publishing division, says, "We regularly organise Yoga camps to teach Mantra Sadhana, Swara Yoga (music therapy through Yoga) and other techniques. Our aim is to set up a research centre for the benefit of Thane residents."

GMM also has a culture division which Culture Division which organises cultural programmes to spread the knowledge of the Upanishads, karma yoga and so on. Their children’s division teaches how to use Yoga to improve memory and to develop a well-rounded personality.

Worldwide, Yoga has become synonymous with stress reduction and healing. But it’s expensive to learn this ancient wisdom in countries like the US.   Thanks to institutes like GMM, you need not worry about going bankrupt if you wish to learn Yoga. Simply call 25361349.