Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blessed Joseph Vaz

Also known as Apostle of Ceylon
Apostle of Sri Lanka
Memorial 16 January

Profile
Born to Christopher Vaz and Maria de Miranda, Christian parents of the Konkani Brahmin caste; the third of six children. Attended primary and secondary school in Sancoale, where he learned Portugese, and Benaulim, where he learned Latin. He studied humanities at the Jesuit Goa University, philosophy and theology at Saint Thomas Aquinas Academy.

Ordained in 1676. Preacher and confessor. Opened a Latin school in Sancoale for perspective seminarians. Always devoted to Our Lady, in 1677 he consecrated himself as a "slave of Mary," sealing it with a document known as his "Letter of Enslavement".

About this time Joseph learned of the condition of Catholics in Ceylon; persecuted by the Dutch, they had had no priests for 50 years. He sought permission to work in Ceylon, but was asked to go to the mission in Kanara. He accepted, but his thoughts and heart were in Ceylon. Vicar of Vara in Kanara, preaching, hearing confessions, visiting the sick, helping the poor, ransoming Christian slaves, working to settle jurisictional disputes that interfered with the sacraments.

Meanwhile, a small congregation of priests had formed in Goa with the Church of the Holy Cross of Miracles as their residence. Joseph joined and was elected superior. He gave a definitive canonical status to this Oratory, introduced religious exercises and charitable activities, and trained its members for the mission. In 1686 he gave up his position, and set out for Ceylon. Disguised as an itinerant worker, he reached the port of Tuticorin on Easter 1687, and then the Dutch stronghold of Jaffna in the north of the Ceylon.

He suffered from acute dysentery, contracted from the terrible travelling conditions, and upon recovery he began his mission by contacting Catholics and hiding from the Dutch. He was taken in by a courageous Catholic, and ministered to his secret flock by night. One step ahead of the authorities, in 1689 he went to the Catholic village of Sillalai and began ministering to folks in surrounding villages.

In 1690 Joseph moved on to Puttalam in the Kingdom of Kandy, where 1,000 Catholics had not seen a priest for half a century. He decided to make Kandy the centre of his apostolate, and in 1692 he left for there, hoping to obtain royal permission to travel freely. Instead, he was preceded by Calvinist accusations of being a Portugese spy, and was imprisoned with two other Catholics. There he learned Sinhala, the local language, and since the prison guards left the prisoners alone as long as they didn't try to escape, he built a hut-church and later a proper church dedicated to Our Lady, and began converting other prisoners.

In 1696 the Kingdom of Kandy was suffering a serious drought, and the king asked the Buddhist monks to pray to their gods for rain; there was no ran. He then turned to Joseph who erected an altar and cross in the middle of the square and prayed; abundant rain began to fall, while Joseph and stayed altar stayed dry. The king granted Joseph license to preach throughout the kingdom.

Making the most of his new-found freedom, he made a mission visit to the Dutch zone and visited Catholics in Colombo. Three missionaries from the Oratory of Goa arrived in 1697 to help him with the news that Don Pedro Pacheco, Bishop of Cochin, had appointed him Vicar General in Ceylon. He was organizing the basic mission structure when smallpox broke out in Kandy. His work with the sick convinced the king to allow Father Joseph every possible freedom in his labours.

Joseph carried his mission to the main centres of the island. He returned to Kandy in 1699 with Father Joseph de Carvalho who had been expelled at the instigation of Buddhist monks. He completed the construction of his new church, and went into service for the king, translating Portuguese books into Sinhala. From this vantage point, he intensified his ministry, and converted some Sinhalese notables, which gave rise to slanders against him and persecution of converts.

New missionaries arrived in 1705, which enabled him to organize the mission into eight districts, each led by a priest. He worked on the creation of a Catholic literature comparable to that of the Buddhists, and to affirm the rights of Catholics with the Dutch Protestant Government.

King Vimaldharna Surya II, Father Joseph's mentor, died in 1707, but Narendrasimha, his successor, was an even greater supporter. New missionaries arrived in 1708, and in 1710, despite health problems, Joseph took another apostolic trip. On his return, he fell ill from his carriage, and reached Kandy in serious condition. Though he recovered from a series of infections and fevers over the next year, age, work, and disease had finally worn him out. He undertook nine days of spiritual exercises prescribed by the Rule, but before the seventh day, he was called home to God.
Born
21 April 1651 at Benaulim, Salcette, Goa, India
Died
late night 17 January 1711 at Kandy of natural causes
due to the size of the crowds of mourners, his body had to be exposed for three days
buried in the church in Kandy
Name Meaning
whom the Lord adds (Joseph)
Venerated
13 May 1989 by Pope John Paul II
Beatified
21 January 1995 by Pope John Paul II at Colombo, Sri Lanka, his Cause having been pursued since 1737
Canonized
pending; if you have information relevant to the canonization of Blessed Joseph, contact:
Sanctuary of Blessed Joseph Vaz
413 Blessed Joseph Vaz Road
Sancoale P.O.
Cortalim
Goa, India-403 710
phone/0834-550263
Patronage
archdiocese of Goa and Damão, India

Monday, December 13, 2010

RTE ACT AND HOME SCHOOLING (SENT TO HERALD ON 19 NOV, NOT PUBLISHED)

The Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 states that ‘Every child between the ages of 6 to 14 years has the right to free and compulsory education.’ This is stated as per the 86th Constitution Amendment Act added Article 21A. The right to education bill seeks to give effect to this amendment. The government schools shall provide free education to all the children and the schools will be managed by school management committees (SMC). Private schools shall admit at least 25% of the children in their schools without any fee. The National Commission for Elementary Education shall be constituted to monitor all aspects of elementary education including quality.

Now, with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, which stipulates eight years of formal education for all children, parents in favour of homeschooling are confused about whether the Act has scope for their mode of education.A writ petition to this effect was filed in the Delhi High Court in March this year by 12-year-old Delhi girl Shreya Sahai, who decided to go for homeschooling as it would allow her more flexibility to pursue her interests — music, photography and painting. In April, the PIL, which said the RTE infringes on the freedom of parents and needs to be amended to accommodate homeschooling, was heard by a High Court Division Bench. While the Bench dismissed the petition, it gave the petitioners eight weeks from April 13 to make a representation to the Ministry of Human Resouce Development, asking for their vision on homeschooling. In April after the court’s advice, a group of parents who either send their children to alternative schools — there are about 100 such schools in India — and those who homeschool their wards, met in Bangalore to draft a presentation for the MHRD. The homeschoolers also drafted a letter to be sent to Minister of MHRD Kapil Sibal asking him to accommodate homeschooling in the RTE Act or clarify its stand on homeschooling and alternative education.

In India, homeschooling is slowly coming into its own. People discontented with the way schools are being run are seeking alternatives and one of them is homeschooling. Recently, The Times of India published an article on a homeschooler Master Sahal Kaushik who stood 33rd in the country in the IIT-JEE exams. His father had this to say “"I have always been a firm believer in the doctrine that anything can be learnt at any time. All you need is the right environment and an interest in the subject." And his mother added, “"It's a lot of hard work, but very rewarding too. We feel that this is an appropriate way for a child to learn, without having to face pressure of any kind.”
What is home schooling? And why are many parents opting for it nowadays? Can a homeschooler join the mainstream or is his future bleak? What sacrifices need to be made by the parent and child in order to make homeschooling a viable option?
Homeschooling is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in other formal settings of public or private schools. It was started in the United States first and spread around the whole world later. abroad. Lets look into the pros and cons of this method of education.
The advantages of homeschooling include:
1. Safety and Health: As the children don’t have to travel to school, the stress involved early morning in getting them up, rushing them off to school and ensuring that they return home safely is eliminated. When they are ill, a temporary holiday can be declared and there is absolutely no stress on the parent to get them well soon or to complete unfinished work, as we see happen so often in the formal school setup.
2. Flexibility: The academic year can be planned as per the family schedule and revised from time to time as the need arises. As it is a year-long and a lifelong process, there are no prolonged holidays for children to waste their time, getting bored and worrying their parents.
3. Undivided attention: No formal school can give undivided attention to each student in the way a homeschool can. Here the student-teacher ratio is 1:1. The parent can teach at the level of the child, allowing him to learn at his own pace, take time to comprehend the matter in-depth, and use methods suited to the child’s learning style. The curriculum can also be tailored to suit the child’s abilities and hence stress on the child is zero.
4. Moral Character: Parents are the best teachers of moral values and religious faith. They can keep a close watch and correct wrong behaviour effectively when they are constantly with the children. These are some of the advantages.
Now let’s take a look into the disadvantages. These are:
1. Lack of Socialization: Homeschooling children miss out on school events like competitions, picnics, class tours, field trips, etc.
2. Lack of Order & Discipline: In homeschooling, due to flexibility, the child may take his own time getting ready, causing discipline problems for the parents.
3. Parental Inefficiency: The parent-teacher needs to be trained in teaching methods, and how to create an environment conducive for learning at home, how to instill discipline, how to be effective in home management, etc.
My question to the Honourable Minister is this: If, as a parent, I am not satisfied with the way my child is educated at present in the formal school system and wish to teach him myself, what are the provisions in the RTE Act for the same? Do I need to be trained as a teacher or will my love for my child be enough to qualify me as the best teacher he will ever have? Will a democratic government give me the freedom to choose how to educate my child or will it enforce an unjust act upon him? Mr. Kapil Sibal, I represent a minority but I hope for justice. What will your answer be?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Experiences of Home Educating

"For some time now Anna has had a persistent idea, coming and going, of wanting to go to the woods to find an elephant.

She expressed it to her dad one day...

He explained many things to her calmly, apparently having in mind to "make the child understand" we cannot go and find an elephant...that it is not possible

Anna was listening in attention to her father's description...He said how elephants are in a land far away from here...."yes", Anna said....and that only by plane we could get there...."yes, i see", Anna said....and how the plane tickets are very expensive....."aha, yes", said Anna....and when dad's description of the obstales and difficulties was over, Anna said: "ok, let's go to the elephants then."
Mina
"I cant help but notice how naturally learning happens just being around me in the kitchen (measuring, pouring without spilling into big to small container, hand dextirity, handling cooker ..the works! and we have rhymes such as A for amma making M for mum-mum in C for cooker), which he finds very fun rather than 'A' for alligator (which he has never seen)...hopefully this kind of learning and teaching will grow on me in time."
Prema


"I am new to homeschooling as in I am a beginner just like my soon to be 6 yr old daughter is.It has been 4 months now.

Initially i left it to my daughter.I left it to her so that i could have some idea of what she wanted to do/what she would like to know about/read about. I decided to follow her cue and took it from there.
I chose a topic say on Fruits and would take out a book on it and show her pictures of different fruits and types. She would draw/color a picture perhaps or we would sing a song. There were days when i would do nothing-( i know that if i am not tuned in or in sync/anandita would not be tuned in either)..so we would spend time then eating the fruits after cutting them/peeling them/deseeding them.
I do plan the day or the morning with her and what we intend to do..and combine freeplay (puzzles/painting/waterplay/helping me at
home with chores)with teaching her through songs/books and pictures cards.

I havent thought of the future but i have decided to give this my energy for now and do it by letting go of whatevr conditioning i have grown up with.

So much depends on ones attitude. For all of us school is normal - the "accepted" thing. I also wonder what i really did learn at school that i havent learnt in my outside world. I dont remember the maths theorems or the chemistry equations or the dates in History. What did it really teach me?

But there are those times when i suddenly feel-what am i doing with her? Am i doing the right thing? For the answers to this i look towards anandita. When i see her happy and smiling, looking forward to her day,curious with questions i know that i am headed the right way.
Well,even if she doesnt smile and ask questions i still know i am headed the right way--it works both ways :)"
Jyotsna

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Experiences of Schools

"I have two children, both enrolled at an ICSE school in Chembur, a suburb of Bombay. My daughter is in the 10th and my son in the 9th.

My children are miserable. They view school as some sort of prison sentence they have to get through. Teachers who may or may not make sense and make no effort to make material interesting. Huge loads of books that have to be humped up and down five floors. Piles of homework and two weekly tests that you had better do well at. Or else.

Neither my wife nor I have pushed them to top the class. We believe there is a lot more to life than marks given for rote learning. My children read voraciously, watch films that their peer group would not understand and are able to conduct themselves with intelligence and humour.

We have considered home schooling for a while now. There are a great deal of arguments in favour – the children can learn at their own pace, learn what they need to and set their own goals. And then there are the thoughts that have stopped us thus far…

1. The children are in their final years of school. Is this a good time to switch?

2. Home schooling requires immense commitments of time and effort from at least one if not both parents. I make television commercials and my wife handles the production design of my films while working with her own clients as a graphic designer. Our hours are very irregular. For instance, I have spent the last week at the office, working all day and editing nights.

3. Like it or not, there is a stigma attached to the National Open School system. As far as my children's teachers and peer group are concerned, the NIOS is meant for dull laggards who cannot cope with the normal school system.

My children are not dull. When interested in the subject they can effortlessly top the class – and do so very often in English. When uninterested, as they are most of the time, their marks are in single digits. Consequently, the teachers believe they are malingering and berate them and threaten my son in particular with expulsion.

We have had enough. After considerable soul-searching, my wife and I have decided to remove them from their school immediately.

I do not know where we are to go from here. Home-schooling? Another school? Boarding school?"
George

Some thoughts on home schooling from a neophyte at the job…

Our children left school – hopefully, for good the day India celebrated its 60th year of Independence.

My daughter was in the first few months of her 10th Std (ICSE) my son was a year behind her. My children have been in the same school (St. Gregorios – ICSE) since kindergarten. When we informed their principal of our decision, she barely heard us out, said "Whatever.." and asked us to process our papers with the clerk. So much for caring. Suddenly, our rather controversial decision looked like a very good one.

NIOS has the (perhaps unjustified) image of being the choice of weak students. What mattered more is that the examination was a state board one (SSC) and would need plenty of learning by rote – which is precisely what had turned my children off their studies in school.

IGCSE has been a breath of fresh air. We took an initial trip to New Bombay to look at the textbooks. They are written with intelligence and care. The children have picked their own subjects and we have acquired most of the texts. The books make me feel like going back to school.

The children are committed to four hours of study a day, no less, more if they want it. They end up doing at least that much, often more. Squabbling is down, discussions are up. My son chuckles with enjoyment as he reads 'As You Like It' in two sittings. He finishes another prescribed text – Lord of the Flies – and we have a long late night telephonic discussion about the behavior of the boys in the book. Not once do any of us wonder about the questions that might be asked in the forthcoming examination.

My daughter does four straight hours of history and can barely pull herself away. She finds business studies fascinating. I tell her a dormant Sindhi gene has surfaced. She watches Arthur Miller's "Crucible" and weeps unashamedly at the end. They argue over who gets first shot at 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

We are in hunt of knowledge. There are deep veins of gold in this mine.

We have no tutors in place. We do not know how we will manage schedules on a long-term basis. The future is a vast and trackless void. But every time we see the kids study; it fills us with great optimism."
George

"We too have taken our son out of school only last week and have begun home schooling him. His happiness says it all.

What sealed it for us, while we were thinking about it for a while now for very good reasons, was that last month after eating school food, he came home and started vomiting and did not stop for more than 24 hours. They served them Methi Mattar Malai on that particular day... appropriate food for children, especially in this weather? We don't think so, but that's only our opinion.

Finally when injections did not work, he had to be hospitalised and was in the pediatric ICU for a few days where IV medication, electrolytes etc were given and it still took a few days for it to work. When we informed the school director through an sms while he was in hospital all she replied with was -- "I hope he gets well soon." That's it. No call till date to find out how he is.. His class teacher was not informed either and she finally called to find out where he was since he was absent for more than a week .

Even after we gave a letter saying we are withdrawing his admission, the class teacher was not informed and the principal/counsellor/director of this school with a "holistic approach" have still not called to ask if he's okay -- just one human being to another...

He's only in the 3rd grade so he's still got a few years to go to undo all the damage like where he was made to pull his ears exactly as directed by the music teacher ("pull it harder so you can hear how badly you sing!") , in music class, because he was not "singing correctly" and him crying made no impact on the "teacher" or being told to "get out" of art class because he kept some material in a wrong place by mistake, said sorry many times, but apparently it was an unpardonable mistake... this is an eight-year-old we're talking about. A lot of this info came out while he was lying in bed in the ICU... and there's a lot more....

These are details yes, but we are sharing it because we feel it's important in light of the latest order by the NCPCR that teachers better be ready to have an FIR registered against them for corporal punishment or even calling a child stupid, mindless etc..(TOI - Aug 10). This can be seen online in the e-paper if you have not seen it already... Does this kind of humiliation also come under the purview of this order... because it is just as damaging as other sad, pathetic, inhuman, criminal acts carried out in the name of "discipline"... how effective will the order be? But more importantly what are the state education departments doing as these incidents (a child dying or being chained) should not be taking place at all. These are children we're talking about! Where are the checks? How do private schools that don't have even the basic infrastructure thrive? how do people who don't have the requisite qualifications/mind-set become teachers in these schools? And we're not talking about children being subjected to this torture in local municipal schools alone, the higher the fees the more subtle the humiliation, children are not spared. How does this prepare them for adult life? How can people who hate children this much become teachers? We are not generalising at all, naturally we're speaking about our experiences, wishing they were different. Yes there are plenty of teachers who genuinely care and are very good but they are outnumbered by the ones who don't. We're glad that at least this order is in place... Children's rights finally being considered human rights is good but why was it any other way in the first place? Do teachers need laws in place to stop them from being cruel to children? We are not disconnected from reality or being naive, it's just a basic, simple thought... "

Manoj and Priya


"My daughter is still in the school system. But having started full day school- 9 am-3.30pm, we can see the toll its taking on her, us. We miss her terribly all day and when she comes home, all we seem to be doing is scolding her to finish her homework, to eat fast, to rush to music class etc. She is still so tiny."

Hgopinathan
"I'm not even sure my girls(soon to be 13 and 15)even qualify as children but i want to ask
anyone who has ideas on what i could do to decondition them this far down the line? Their
heads are stuffed with knowledge to pass examinations and they have nice natures
because they were brought up in a home where love,truth,peace,etc are real words that still mean something and are used to help us make decisions. But they are no nearer knowing what their innate abilities are or how to make choices that will make them happy (not to be equated with successful). I don't care if they even take exams or go to college - i just want them to make good life choices but how can they when i put them on a certain path 10 years ago and that is the only way they know. Sounds like an uphill task i know but i'm certain there is a way to do this - i just have to find it."

Iona


"I just sent my son off to school. He wasn't in a great frame of mind.
He asked, for the nth time, why he can't stay at home and learn whatever he has to. Why school. He's gone with bent head, miserable.

But today, I made him a promise. That he, and I, will be out of this senseless existence in six months time.

I did a mental checklist. There are some points that are always brought up -- in my mind and by people -- when I think of pulling him out of the system.

1. School is necessary.
What did I learn after 12 years of going to school and then college?
Nothing much. I am pretty much clueless about physics and mathematical theories. About a lot of history. And geography. And economics. I have learnt more by reading books than from my school.
I think it would be nice if I could find people who were really good teachers and could spend time with him sometimes to . I remember I had a cousin who could make physics and maths seem like magical topics. I used to often wish all my teachers were like that. Maybe from my own circle I can get some people like that for Abhimanyu.

2. Does he need a degree?
I don't know. He may. Like all those other endorements he needs to get around in this world, all those other certificates --
vaccination, passport, voter's ID, driving licenece. He MIGHT also need a degree. I am exploring that. (I haven't given him most
vaccinations. There's a woman here I know. She works in the health sector and is a well-known nutritionist in Bombay. I met her while I was staying in Goa. My boy was just born. She had her one and a half year old grandson with her. He wasn't vaccinated. Neither was his mother. Or her sister. This woman must be 70 at least. She took the decision to not vaccinate her kids at that time -- must have been in the 40s. After reading up a lot and meeting like-minded poeople ad going on what her instincts told her.)
So about that degree, I am still undecided. He can of course give an open univ exam and get his degree that way. Let's see.

3. There's that common, and I feel, rather asinine, point that people bring up when all other points have been answered. "But what about his 'peer group'?" "He needs to mix with people of his own age."
It makes it sound like all the children are inside schools, none can be found outside. My son has more friends outside the school, in the aptt complex that we stay in, than inside it.

4. He'll feel out of sync with the rest.
That one's kind of worrying. He is already the son of a single mom :-) I'll be adding on to that. I have told him why I decided to not marry. And why I feel it's as normal to me to have a child outside marriage as it is for two people to 'tie the knot.' But I can see that he has some difficulty explaining to his 'peer group' this
concept. And he can get a bit flustered.

5. What will he do when he grows up? What will he 'become'?
A sane and happy human being. I hope.

I do feel scared, very apprehensive about the step. But how much more screwed-up can life get than it is now?"

Piyasen


"My almost nine-year-old son too goes to a 'school with a holistic approach' which basically means we pay more than 10 times the amount we'd pay in a 'mainstream' school . All that's 'holistic' is their intention to make as much money in as little time as possible. The teachers are mostly mothers with at least two children in the same school and hence are doing their jobs not because they love children or teaching but because this way they can get free /subsidised education for their children.

Most of them, including the Principal, are clueless and offence is their best defence. I was once told that my son does not know how to take no for an answer (because he asked too many questions!) and that he will grow up to throw acid on some girl's face because as a child he did not learn how to take no as an answer!!!!!!!! Needless to say, I let the lady know exactly what I thought of her analysis and then told her that the next time she had an opinion to put it in writing, on the school letterhead, with a stamp and a signature and that I would take that further in the way I deemed fit... that shut her up and she treads very carefully now but if I show you my son's 'holistic report card' -- you will be shocked that grown women can be so vindictive... we did not show it to our son and never will and yes, I took it up with the woman again... which is so sad and unnecessary...

My son has been miserable to put it mildly. When he gets hit in school by older children who bully everyone around, and I take it up, I am told that it's all a part of growing up and that he will learn how to deal with aggressive people in life! Hullo!!!! If another adult hits you, you have him arrested because that's classified as assault in the adult world! There's a law against hitting all and sundry in the 'grown up world'. So what's the alternative? Teach our son to hit back? Because he can -- he's a big boy and can cause quite a lot of damage if he wants to.. We are really so proud of him for the restraint he has shown in these circumstances. From a fractured ankle to being bitten on his arm by a classmate (and getting a tetanus shot for it!) to being punched hard in the tummy, he has endured it all -- all in just three years of school. He never went to 'playgroup' or nursery, but straight to Jr Kg before this, and his kindergarten principal told us that our four -year-old son was dyslexic and a challenge! I often wonder why we bothered with a school after our experience with the kindergarten....

So that's what most 'alternative', 'holistic ' or whatchamacallit schools are all about -- higher fees for fancy terms and psycho babble that few understand or care to look beyond. And the people behind these schools are very clever indeed... This is not to say that most parents are not happy with this school.. most are, but we are not and don' t expect the school to change for us but we realise that we have to change our lives if we want to help our child live the life he deserves and give him the best we can. It's not about saving money either.

So that's our story and why we want to do it our way, we are weaning our son away from what was 'normal' for him for so long, everyday is spent weighing the pros and cons and talking to like-minded people and yes, reading these mails have helped immensely. We spend time talking to him too because it is not something we want to thrust upon him. He has to be a part of the decision too.

None of it is easy because I am a working mum too, but I have made changes in my working life to be there for my son in the last four years. My career is not important to me, by that I mean, climbing the ladder is not, I love my work and have made adjustments to ensure that I can work on my terms and it's fine by me that I stay exactly where I am and be there for my son and not be 'swiping in and swiping out' and living my life according to what someone else decrees only because they pay me... My husband has also decided to work on his own now and spend more time with his family than be at the beck and call of people who think working till midnight is 'hip'. He is working out his notice period right now. We knew we had to make changes in our life if we wanted to be happy -- and I hope we get there.

Many people have said a lot of things -- that both my husband and I are stupid not to have moved to Mumbai or Delhi as today we'd be at the top, that we are both wasting our talent (my former boss repeats this endlessly)... but we think we are where we want to be, in life and in our careers and when people say our son asks too many questions that they have no answers for and that he is a happy, intelligent child, we know our 'talent' has been put to the best possible use.

All I know is that if you follow your heart, you will do what's right for both you and your child."

Priya

"... they follow this "kids will be kids" policy and "let them figure out their own equations" etc, he gets bullied and shoved around quite a bit by the heftier boys. But they don't do much about it. It's been going on for too long now.

There are many other things. But the people who manage the school are essentially good people.

But I am not satisfied, frankly. I think the best thing is to get them out of any kind of school. Because any kind of regimen will ultimately destroy spontaneity and creativity.

I think we as parents are being cruel sometimes -- we seem to build the foundation for bad health and a dull life right from the start.
Our kids get upso early, food is shoved down so early in the morning down their throats when they haven't even woken up properly. It takes
the digestive system some time to get kicking and to shove food down 20 minutes after waking up is detrimental. Then the lunch hurriedly gulped down because they want to go down and play. Then there's the commute -- most of them commute for a long time to get to school.
There's the heavily polluted air they are breathing in every day. My son gets back around 4.30. Because he goes by the car pool. That's a
long day.

Most parents are happy with your child's school because most people do not question anything. They live the status quo."

Anuradha

Monday, November 29, 2010

ADVENT IDEAS

The Christmas Wreath.

The circle is the first known shape in human history. It is the basis of geometry, astrology and astronomy. Ancient scientists believed it had divine powers since it has no beginning or end. The circle remains the world's most popular religious shape in many faiths. Christianity uses it throughout its worship for it represents the eternal circle of life. During the Christmas season, one of the best known and sacred symbols is the wreath.
With the spread of Christianity in Europe, the wreath's purpose and use expanded in new ways. Growing Christian beliefs replaced the mystical, pagan rituals. The eternal circle symbolized the enduring love between God and his son, Jesus. Wreaths made from evergreen branches contained holly berries and red ribbons that represented the blood of Christ. The wreath became an icon of the crown of thorns that Jesus wore during his crucifixion.
Advent, Latin for the coming, is a custom of spiritual reflection started by the German people to begin the celebration of the Christmas season. A wreath contained four candles to represent a light in the darkest winter months in hope of the coming spring. Three violet candles, each lighted a week before Christmas, represented hope, peace and love. The color of the fourth candle was red, and was lit on Christmas Eve. A white candle was placed inside the wreath and lit on Christmas Day. The color stood for the birth of Jesus.
By the 15th century, the tradition of the wreath spread throughout Christianity. Pilgrims brought the wreath to America where it flourished. The advent wreath remained popular, but a secular style of wreaths arose. Ribbons of various colors including gold intertwined with beads and holly berries in large pine wreaths found their way into society. In England, wreaths also contained roses placed in the arrangement. Desert brush made up wreaths used in Mexico, and decorated Spanish missions in the Southwest.

As an ageless symbol of the light of the world and the passage of time until Christmas, the hanging of an advent wreath marks the beginning of the yuletide celebration. As time changes this custom concerning candle colors, shape, and setting on a table instead of hanging, advent candles ultimately declare the start of Christmas festivities.The three purple candles in an advent wreath represent penance. The pink candle represents joyfulness. The purple candles are lit on the first, second and fourth Sundays of Advent. The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday, also called Gaudete, which is a time to be joyful and celebrate the approach of Christmas. Some advent wreaths have a fifth candle that is white and meant to be lit on Christmas. Alternately, the four colored candles can be replaced with white candles on Christmas.

HOW TO LIGHT THE ADVENT CANDLES:
1. Light a purple or blue candle to symbolize hope or anticipation of the birth of Christ on the Sunday that falls four weeks before Christmas.
2. Relight the purple or blue candle from the previous week and light a second purple or blue candle to symbolize God's love for His followers on the Sunday that falls three weeks before Christmas.
3. Relight the purple or blue candles from the previous week and light the pink or rose candle on the Sunday that falls two weeks before Christmas to symbolize the joy associated with Jesus' birth.
4. Relight the purple or blue candles and pink or rose candle from the previous week and light the third purple or blue candle on the Sunday before Christmas to symbolize peace.
5. Relight all four candles from the previous week and light the white candle, or Christ Candle, in the center of the Advent display on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Christ.
MAKING AN ADVENT WREATH:
To create your own wreath, wrap pine garland around a wreath ring. Add colorful details with hot glue or string, such as small figures of the nativity scene. Lay the wreath on a flat surface and arrange four candles around the inside of the wreath at an equal distance apart. Place another candle in the center. Light these candles on the 12 nights of Christmas.

Making a Wreath of Kindnesses:
Make a wreath for each child in the household from a paper plate with the center cut out. Attach one pink and three purple candles made of cardstock colored with markers by bending the bottom of each about 3/4 inch and gluing them down. Glue a paper flame to the top of each candle. Cut out dark and light green slightly elongated construction-paper hearts, and give each child a thick stack. Each time the child does something kind during Advent, he can write the deed on a heart and glue it to his wreath. As the acts of kindness mount, the wreath gets nice and full.
The Advent Calendar

Advent calendars are a great way to help kids understand how long they have to wait until Christmas! Instead of purchasing a calendar that contains the usual sweets or trinkets, consider making your own advent calendar that includes a fun family activity for each day from December 1 – 24. A smart way to plan your advent calendar is to pull out your diary and include pre-scheduled events and activities (such as 'go to the school Christmas concert') in your advent calendar so that you don't wind up with too much to do on any given day. Following are a few ideas to get you thinking about what activities you might like to include in your calendar

Day 1: Make your advent calendar. Start with a large sheet and a small sheet of poster board. Use Christmas colors if you like. Cut 25 “doors” measuring about 3 inches from the small sheet. Write one of the following activities on one side of each door, using a black magic marker (or use your own ideas). On the other side write 1 number per door, using the numbers 1-25. Each day in December your family can open one door, and enjoy a holiday activity together.
Day 2: Create an Advent Wreath centerpiece for your table. You will need five candles (can be obtained at the dollar store). Use decorative candle holders if you like, to add to the holiday charm. Use real or store bought evergreen branches and any other decorations you like, to complete your wreath. A candle will be lit, and a verse from the Bible, detailing the Christmas story will be read, each Sunday in December, as well as Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. (See days 9, 16, 23, 24 and 25 for suggested verses.)
Day 3: Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” together.
Day 4: Put up indoor Christmas decorations. Save the Christmas tree for another day.
Day 5: Take food to a local food pantry or homeless shelter.
Day 6: Decorate the yard, porch, and other outside areas of your home for the holiday.
Day 7: Make Christmas cookies. Be sure to make extra for family and friends.
Day 8: Get your Christmas tree, or, if you don’t use a live tree, put up and decorate your Christmas tree.
Day 9: The Angel Visits Mary (Mark 1:1-8) reading from the Bible. Share hot cocoa and Christmas cookies together as you read these verses.
Day 10: Take Christmas cookies to a shut-in at your church.
Day 11: String popcorn to hang on your Christmas tree.
Day 12: Make ornaments for your Christmas tree.
Day 13: Watch “The Greatest Story Ever Told" together.
Day 14: Go Christmas shopping. Plan to buy gifts for a needy child or family.
Day 15: Wrap Christmas gifts.
Day 16: Read Luke 1:26-38 together. Make homemade egg-nog.
Day 17: Deliver Christmas gifts.
Day 18: Drive around your town together and look at Christmas lights.
Day 19: Go Christmas caroling.
Day 20: Bake a Christmas cake
Day 21: Watch “The Nativity” together.
Day 22: Build a crib.
Day 23: Read Matthew 1:18-24. Prepare Christmas cookies together.
Day 24 ~ Christmas Eve: Read Luke 2:1-5. Enjoy family celebrations.
Day 25 ~ Merry Christmas: Read Isaiah 9:1-6. Enj

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dear All,
I sent this to Herald for the OPinionatED column.Hoping it will be published but at least you can read.
Lol

RTE ACT AND HOME SCHOOLING

The Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 states that ‘Every child between the ages of 6 to 14 years has the right to free and compulsory education.’ This is stated as per the 86th Constitution Amendment Act added Article 21A. The right to education bill seeks to give effect to this amendment. The government schools shall provide free education to all the children and the schools will be managed by school management committees (SMC). Private schools shall admit at least 25% of the children in their schools without any fee. The National Commission for Elementary Education shall be constituted to monitor all aspects of elementary education including quality.

Now, with the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, which stipulates eight years of formal education for all children, parents in favour of homeschooling are confused about whether the Act has scope for their mode of education.A writ petition to this effect was filed in the Delhi High Court in March this year by 12-year-old Delhi girl Shreya Sahai, who decided to go for homeschooling as it would allow her more flexibility to pursue her interests — music, photography and painting. In April, the PIL, which said the RTE infringes on the freedom of parents and needs to be amended to accommodate homeschooling, was heard by a High Court Division Bench. While the Bench dismissed the petition, it gave the petitioners eight weeks from April 13 to make a representation to the Ministry of Human Resouce Development, asking for their vision on homeschooling. In April after the court’s advice, a group of parents who either send their children to alternative schools — there are about 100 such schools in India — and those who homeschool their wards, met in Bangalore to draft a presentation for the MHRD. The homeschoolers also drafted a letter to be sent to Minister of MHRD Kapil Sibal asking him to accommodate homeschooling in the RTE Act or clarify its stand on homeschooling and alternative education.

In India, homeschooling is slowly coming into its own. People discontented with the way schools are being run are seeking alternatives and one of them is homeschooling. Recently, The Times of India published an article on a homeschooler Master Sahal Kaushik who stood 33rd in the country in the IIT-JEE exams. His father had this to say “"I have always been a firm believer in the doctrine that anything can be learnt at any time. All you need is the right environment and an interest in the subject." And his mother added, “"It's a lot of hard work, but very rewarding too. We feel that this is an appropriate way for a child to learn, without having to face pressure of any kind.”
What is home schooling? And why are many parents opting for it nowadays? Can a homeschooler join the mainstream or is his future bleak? What sacrifices need to be made by the parent and child in order to make homeschooling a viable option?
Homeschooling is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in other formal settings of public or private schools. It was started in the United States first and spread around the whole world later. abroad. Lets look into the pros and cons of this method of education.
The advantages of homeschooling include:
1. Safety and Health: As the children don’t have to travel to school, the stress involved early morning in getting them up, rushing them off to school and ensuring that they return home safely is eliminated. When they are ill, a temporary holiday can be declared and there is absolutely no stress on the parent to get them well soon or to complete unfinished work, as we see happen so often in the formal school setup.
2. Flexibility: The academic year can be planned as per the family schedule and revised from time to time as the need arises. As it is a year-long and a lifelong process, there are no prolonged holidays for children to waste their time, getting bored and worrying their parents.
3. Undivided attention: No formal school can give undivided attention to each student in the way a homeschool can. Here the student-teacher ratio is 1:1. The parent can teach at the level of the child, allowing him to learn at his own pace, take time to comprehend the matter in-depth, and use methods suited to the child’s learning style. The curriculum can also be tailored to suit the child’s abilities and hence stress on the child is zero.
4. Moral Character: Parents are the best teachers of moral values and religious faith. They can keep a close watch and correct wrong behaviour effectively when they are constantly with the children. These are some of the advantages.
Now let’s take a look into the disadvantages. These are:
1. Lack of Socialization: Homeschooling children miss out on school events like competitions, picnics, class tours, field trips, etc.
2. Lack of Order & Discipline: In homeschooling, due to flexibility, the child may take his own time getting ready, causing discipline problems for the parents.
3. Parental Inefficiency: The parent-teacher needs to be trained in teaching methods, and how to create an environment conducive for learning at home, how to instill discipline, how to be effective in home management, etc.
My question to the Honourable Minister is this: If, as a parent, I am not satisfied with the way my child is educated at present in the formal school system and wish to teach him myself, what are the provisions in the RTE Act for the same? Do I need to be trained as a teacher or will my love for my child be enough to qualify me as the best teacher he will ever have? Will a democratic government give me the freedom to choose how to educate my child or will it enforce an unjust act upon him? Mr. Kapil Sibal, I represent a minority but I hope for justice. What will your answer be?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hi All,
The Homeschoolers met on 20th at the office of Valyana, Porvorim. We were 6 families with a barrelful of kids! It was really great and the time flew so fast! I hope teh next mtg will be a longer one. We'll be mtg in Jan, tentative date chosen is 9th and this may be a full day field trip to a heritage home in Quepem.
LOL, Auriel.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dear Homeschoolers,
On Children's Day,I saw a huge ad that proudly said that the RTE Act was to be implemented in Goa. While it will take some time to come into effect, what does it signify for us? Will our kids be dragged back to school to savor the 'poor fare' dished out or will we be bold enough to fight for what we want for our kids - the Right to True Education. We know how much good the homeschooling movement has been for us. It is time we made it known to others especially those who sit in the power seats. I am sure that they will undrstand and accept our style of education once they are 'educated' about it! I read a great article on Appreciation that fits in with our concept of chores for kids at home. I never quite understood the value to giving kids work to do before they begin studies, but this article helped me understand. Please read the story. It will touch your heart.
Till i type again:)
Auriel

STORY OF APPRECIATION
One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the first interview. The director did the last interview, made the last decision.

The director discovered from the biodata that the youth's academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score.

The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" The youth answered "None". The director asked, "Was it your father who paid for your school fees?" The youth answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.

The director asked, "Where did your mother work?" The youth answered, "My mother worked as clothes cleaner. The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, "Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?" The youth answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.

The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.*

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid.

The youth cleaned his mother's hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother's hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother. That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director's office. The Director noticed the tears in the youth's eyes, asked: "Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?"

The youth answered, "I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes'

The Director asked, "Please tell me your feelings."

The youth said, Number 1, I know now what is Appreciation. Without my mother, there would not be the successful me today. Number 2, by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done. Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, "This is what I am looking for to be my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.”

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?

You can let your kids live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. The most important thing is to see that our kids learn how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

HI HOMESCHOOLERS,
I WILL BE DOING MY RECORDING OF A RADIO TALK ON HOMESCHOOLING WITH 'AIR'SOON. AM QUITE HAPPY TO BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK ON THIS TOPIC AT LAST!IT AIRS ON A SAT ON MEDIUM WAVE. SHALL POST TIMING WHEN ITS CONFIRMED.
LOL,AURIEL

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hi all,
I finished reading parts of a gigantic homeschooling book by Mary Pride called 'The Big Book of Home Learning" Vol 1. It was a tedious job but i got some good ideas and an understanding of how learning takes place. Did photocpoying of the methods I want to use. In Goa, we cannot got the MAerican way, I realize, but some methods can be applied. I for one would like to teach the kids phonics and our pioneer family has a wonderful library for homeschoolers. Thanks, Velly and Anna, for creating this facility and making our work a whole lot easier. For those interested in homeschooling, call Vally at 9326128259. They live at Sucorro, Porvorim, North Goa.
LOl
Auriel

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

HI ALL,

THIS IS AN ARTICLE THAT CAME IN THE TIMES OF INDIA. READ ON.
GOD BLESS.
AURIEL


BRAVEHEARTS

It began with a simple wish to give an extended childhood to their children. Meet Ruchi and Tapeshwar Kumar Kaushik who decided to break the mould and start home schooling their children, Saras and Sahal. Last month,14-year-old Sahal Kaushik, gave all his parents' critics a fitting reply by becoming the youngest ever Delhi region topper in the IIT JEE exams and also bagging 33rd rank in the country!
Vishesh Prakash

It all started with a fairly innocuous conversation on their honeymoon, when they were talking about the kind of life they wanted to give their children. And, both Ruchi and Tapeshwar Kumar Kaushik, decided that one thing they wanted for their kids was an extended childhood! When it was actually time to send their children to school, they decided against it, choosing to go in for home schooling instead. Now, in a country like ours, that was akin to challenging the whole social structure. 'How can a child not go to school; 'What will she/he do at home the whole day'; 'How will she learn to interact with the kids' etc They heard no end of these questions from their friends and family. But they stuck to their beliefs and continued with what they believed in. For years they heard all kind of comments and questions thrown at them about how they had robbed their children of their childhood and how they were 'cruel' parents Last month, their 14-year-old son Sahal silenced all his parents' critics by becoming the youngest ever Delhi topper of the tough IIT-JEE. Not just that, he bagged the 33rd rank in the country!
Now, what caught the nation's fancy was that Sahal had defied the conventional logic by not attending school (in any form) pretty much till 2006,when he enrolled with a relatively unknown Sangwan Model School, Rohini,to enable him to sit for his 10th standard boards. Then in 2008, he enrolled with Vandana International School, Dwarka, which helped him take his 12 board exams. At the same time he was enrolled at the Narayana Institute to prepare for his IIT-JEE exams. Then, last month he became the toast of the whole nation! Now, that was as big an innovation as it could be in the field of education! Is it possible for a child to study at home and still come out on top in the education 'system' Throw these questions at 49-year-old Col Tapeshwar Kumar Kaushik, who is presently posted in Assam, and he says, "I have always been a firm believer in the doctrine that anything can be learnt at any time. All you need is the right environment and an interest in the subject."Adds, 45-year-old Dr Ruchi Kaushik,who gave up practicing medicine around a decade ago to enable her to home school her two children, "If you decide to do home schooling, then one parent has to be a home maker. You have to give them full time."
Not just Sahal, his 12-year-old sister Saras too doesn't go to school and is presently being home schooled by her mother. Ask the mother about the methodology she adopts while teaching her children, she says, "I don't really follow a structure or a curriculum. If you want to do that, you might as well send them to school. We basically go by what we want to read about. Sometimes we might study history for days on end, and at other times just decide to read a novel till we finish it. I don't try and impose on my children as to what they should study. The whole idea is to give them the freedom to choose what they want to study. "And, if that ends up with the child performing a rare feat as Sahal's, well, no one's complaining!
Does the achievement of Kaushiks mean that the schooling system is actually an overrated phenomenon? The Kaushiks themselves are quick to deny it. Says Col Kaushik, "No, we don't want to run down the institution of schools. They are a very important part of education systems, especially in a country like ours where the number of students is so huge. "They go on to add that they would just like parents to consider that there is an alternative way of educating your kids. Says Ruchi, "It's a lot of hard work, but very rewarding too. We feel that this is an appropriate way for a child to learn, without having to face pressure of any kind. "Well, that's certainly worth thinking about!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

JOHN PAUL THE GREAT

“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” — Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Józef Wojtyła on18 May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. As a youth, Wojtyła was an athlete and often played football as a goalkeeper. He also performed with various theatrical groups and worked as a playwright. During this time, his talent for language blossomed and he learned as many as 12 foreign languages, nine of which he later used extensively as Pope.

He stated that he began thinking seriously about the priesthood only after his father's death, and that his vocation gradually became ‘an inner fact of unquestionable and absolute clarity.’
He returned to Poland in the summer of 1948 with his first pastoral assignment. His first action was to kneel down and kiss the ground. This gesture, adapted from French saint Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, would become one of his ‘trademarks’ during his Papacy.
In 1960, Wojtyła published the influential theological book Love and Responsibility, a defence of the traditional Church teachings on marriage from a new philosophical standpoint.
In 1967, he was instrumental in formulating the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which deals with the same issues that forbid abortion and artificial birth control
In 1978, Wojtyła won the election and chose the name John Paul II in honour of his immediate predecessor. The traditional white smoke informed the crowd gathered in St Peter's Square that a pope had been chosen. He accepted his election with these words: ‘With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and the Church, in spite of great difficulties, I accept.’ When the new pontiff himself appeared on the balcony, he broke tradition by addressing the gathered crowd: “Dear brothers and sisters, we are saddened at the death of our beloved Pope John Paul I, and so the cardinals have called for a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a faraway land - far and yet always close because of our communion in faith and Christian traditions. I was afraid to accept that responsibility, yet I do so in a spirit of obedience to the Lord and total faithfulness to Mary, our most Holy Mother. I am speaking to you in your - no, our Italian language. If I make a mistake, please ‘correct’ me...″

Thus the papacy of Pope John Paul II began on 16 October 1978. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonised 483 Saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries.
In spite of critics who accused him of inflexibility, he explicitly re-asserted Catholic moral teachings against murder, euthanasia and abortion that have been in place for well over a thousand years. “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” —Pope John Paul II
John Paul II had a special relationship with Catholic youth and is known by some as The Pope for Youth. Before he was pontiff, he used to camp and mountain hike with the youth. He still went mountain hiking when he was pope. He was particularly concerned with the education of future priests and made many early visits to Roman seminaries, He established World Youth Day in 1984 with the intention of bringing young Catholics from all parts of the world together to celebrate the faith. These week-long meetings of youth occur every two or three years, attracting hundreds of thousands of young people, who go there to sing, party, have a good time and deepen their faith. The 19 World Youth Days celebrated during his pontificate brought together millions of young people from all over the world. During this time his care for the family was expressed in the World Meetings of Families, which he initiated in 1994.
On 6 May 2001, Pope John Paul II became the first Catholic pope to enter and pray in an Islamic mosque. Respectfully removing his shoes, he entered the Umayyad Mosque, a former Byzantine era Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist (who is believed to be interred there) in Damascus, Syria, and gave a speech including the statement: "For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other forgiveness." He kissed the Qur’an in Syria, an act which made him popular amongst Muslims but which disturbed many Catholics.
President George W. Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour, to Pope John Paul II during a ceremony at the Vatican 4 June 2004. After receiving the award, John Paul II said, “May the desire for freedom, peace, a more humane world symbolised by this medal inspire men and women of goodwill in every time and place.”

As he entered St. Peter's Square to address an audience on 13 May 1981, John Paul II was shot and critically wounded John Paul II was rushed into the Vatican complex and then to the Gemelli Hospital. When he briefly gained consciousness before being operated on he instructed the doctors not to remove his Brown Scapular during the operation. The pope stated that Our Lady of Fátima helped keep him alive throughout his ordeal. “Could I forget that the event [Ali Ağca's assassination attempt] in St. Peter’s Square took place on the day and at the hour when the first appearance of the Mother of Christ to the poor little peasants has been remembered for over sixty years at Fátima, Portugal? For in everything that happened to me on that very day, I felt that extraordinary motherly protection and care, which turned out to be stronger than the deadly bullet.”
Two days after Christmas in 1983, John Paul II visited the prison where his would-be assassin was being held. The two spoke privately for 20 minutes.[5][115] John Paul II said, “What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.″
A second assassination attempt took place on 12 May 1982, just a day before the anniversary of the first attempt on his life, in Fátima, Portugal when a man tried to stab John Paul II with a bayonet. He was stopped by security guards.

John Paul II was considered a conservative on doctrine and issues relating to reproduction and the ordination of women.While the Pope was visiting America he said, "All human life, from themoments of conception and through all subsequent stages, is sacred."
A series of 129 lectures given by John Paul during his Wednesday audiences in Rome between September 1979 and November 1984 were later compiled and published as a single work entitled ‘Theology of the Body’, an extended meditation on the nature of human sexuality. He also extended it to condemnation of abortion, euthanasia and virtually all uses of capital punishment, calling them all a part of the "culture of death" that is pervasive in the modern world. He campaigned for world debt forgiveness and social justice.
On 22 October 1996, in a speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences plenary session at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II declared the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin as factual, and wholly compatible with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Although accepting the theory of evolution, John Paul II made one major exception - the human soul. “If the human body has its origin in living material which pre-exists it, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God”

While taking a traditional position on sexuality, defending the Church's moral opposition to marriage for same-sex couples, the pope asserted that persons with homosexual inclinations possess the same inherent dignity and rights as everybody else.

On Saturday 2 April 2005, at about 15:30 CEST, John Paul II spoke his final words, “pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca”, (“Let me depart to the house of the Father”), to his aides, and fell into a coma about four hours later.The mass of the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter commemorating the canonisation of Saint Maria Faustina on 30 April 2000, had just been celebrated at his bedside,
His feelings are reflected in his words, as written in 2000, at the end of his Last Will and Testament “As the end of my earthly life approaches, I return with my memory to its beginning, to my parents, my brother and the sister (whom I never knew because she died before my birth), to the Parish of Wadowice where I was baptised, to that city I love, to my peers, friends from elementary school, high school and the university, up to the time of the occupation when I was a worker, then in the Parish in Niegowic, to St Florian's in Kraków, to the pastoral ministry of academics, to the milieu of... to all milieux... to Kraków and to Rome... to the people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.”
Since the death of John Paul II, a number of clergy at the Vatican and laymen throughout the world have been referring to the late pontiff as "John Paul the Great"—only the fourth pope to be so acclaimed, and the first since the first millenniumHis successor, Pope Benedict XVI, referred to him as "the great Pope John Paul II" in his first address from the loggia of St Peter's Church, and he referred to Pope John Paul II as "the Great" in his published written homily for the Mass of Repose. At the 20th World Youth Day in Germany 2005, Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in Polish, John Paul's native language, said, “As the great Pope John Paul II would say: keep the flame of faith alive in your lives and your people.” In May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI visited John Paul's native Poland. During that visit he repeatedly made references to “the great John Paul” and “my great predecessor”

Inspired by calls of "Santo Subito!" ("Saint Immediately!") from the crowds gathered during the funeral,[ Benedict XVI began the beatification process for his predecessor, by passing the normal restriction that five years must pass after a person's death before the beatification process can begin. This decision was announced on 13 May 2005, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima and the 24th anniversary of the assassination attempt on John Paul II at St. Peter's Square.

In early 2006, it was reported that the Vatican was investigating a possible miracle associated with John Paul II. Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a French nun and a member of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards, confined to her bed by Parkinson's Disease, was reported to have experienced a "complete and lasting cure after members of her community prayed for the intercession of Pope John Paul II".
On 28 May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said Mass before an estimated 900,000 people in John Paul II's native Poland. During his homily, he encouraged prayers for the early canonisation of John Paul II and stated that he hoped canonisation would happen "in the near future."
On the fourth anniversary of Pope John Paul's death, 2 April 2009, Cardinal Dziwisz, told reporters of a presumed miracle that had recently occurred at the former pope's tomb in St. Peter's Basilica A nine year-old Polish boy from Gdańsk, who was suffering from kidney cancer and was completely unable to walk, had been visiting the tomb with his parents. On leaving St. Peter's basilica, the boy told them, "I want to walk," and began walking normally.

On 19 December 2009, Pope Benedict XVI signed the first of two decrees needed for beatification and proclaimed John Paul II "Venerable", in recognition that he lived a heroic, virtuous life. The second vote and the second signed decree would recognise the authenticity of his first miracle (most likely, the case of Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, the French nun who was cured of Parkinson's Disease). Once the second decree is signed, the ‘positio′ (the report on the cause, with documentation about his life and his writings and with information on the cause) is regarded as being complete. He can then be beatified. Some have speculated that he will be beatified sometime during (or soon after) the month of the 32nd anniversary of his 1978 election, in October 2010.
“It will be a great joy for us when he is officially beatified, but as far as we are concerned he is already a Saint.” —Stanisław Dziwisz

Dear Readers, I express the same feelings about my favourite Pope as is written above by Stanislaw, and, together with my family, I dedicate myself to the causes he upheld. May John Paul the Great be canonised a saint soon. Please pray for this intention daily when you kneel before the Blessed Sacrament or at your regular Rosary time at home. We choose today to install his picture on our homeschool wall and pray for a miracle to happen this week that will declare him a saint.. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us and this intention. Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What is NIOS?
NIOS is an “Open School” to cater to the needs of a heterogeneous group of learners up to pre-degree level. It was started as a project with in-built flexibilities by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in 1979. In 1986, the National Policy on Education suggested strengthening of Open School System for extending open learning facilities in a phased manner at secondary level all over the country as an independent system with its own curriculum and examination leading to certification.
Consequently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India set up the National Open School (NOS) in November 1989. The pilot project of CBSE on Open School was amalgamated with NOS. Through a Resolution (No. F.5-24/90 Sch.3 dated 14 September 1990 published in the Gazette of India on 20 October 1990), the National Open School (NOS) was vested with the authority to register, examine and certify students registered with it up to pre-degree level courses. In July 2002, the Ministry of Human Resource Development amended the nomenclature of the organisation from the National Open School (NOS) to the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) with a mission to provide relevant continuing education at school stage, up to pre-degree level through Open Learning system to prioritized client groups as an alternative to formal system, in pursuance of the normative national policy documents and in response to the need assessments of the people, and through it to make its share of contribution:
• to universalisation of education,
• to greater equity and justice in society, and
• to the evolution of a learning society.
What does NIOS do?
The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) provides opportunities to interested learners by making available the following Courses/Programmes of Study through open and distance learning (ODL) mode.
• Open Basic Education (OBE) Programme for 14+ years age group, adolescents and adults at A, B and C levels that are equivalent to classes III, V and VIII of the formal school system.
• Secondary Education Course
• Senior Secondary Education Course
• Vocational Education Courses/Programmes
• Life Enrichment Programmes
The OBE programme
Envisages schooling by providing a learning continuum based on graded curriculum ensuring quality of education for children, neo-literates, school drop-outs/left-outs and NFE completers.
For implementation of OBE programme, the NIOS has partnership with about 341 Agencies providing facilities at their study centres. It is a sort of academic input relationship with partnering agencies. The NIOS provides resource support (such as adaptation of NIOS model curricula, study materials, joint certification, orientation of Resource Persons and popularisation of OBE) to the voluntary agencies and Zila Saksharta Samities (ZSSs) etc., for implementation of its OBE programme.
At the Secondary and Senior Secondary levels, NIOS provides flexibility in the choice of subjects/courses, pace of learning, and transfer of credits from CBSE, some Board of School Education and State Open Schools to enable learner’s continuation. A learner is extended as many as nine chances to appear in public examinations spread over a period of five years. The credits gained are accumulated till the learner clears required credits for certification. The learning strategies include; learning through printed self-instructional material, audio and video programmes, participating in personal contact programme (PCP), and Tutor Marked Assignments (TMA). Enrichment is also provided to the learners through the half yearly magazine “Open Learning”. The Study Material is made available in English, Hindi and Urdu mediums. The On-Demand Examination System (ODES) is in operation at Secondary and Senior Secondary stage. NIOS offers 26 subject in seven mediums (Hindi, English, Urdu, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Malayalam) for Secondary Examinations and 19 subjects in Hindi, English and Urdu mediums for Senior Secondary Examinations. Besides these, NIOS has provision of offering 10 Vocational subjects in combination with Academic subjects at secondary stage and 20 vocational subjects in combination with Academic subjects at Senior Seondary level.
Acknowledging the fact that the young entrepreneurs will be the wealth of the nation, the learner friendly Vocational Education programmes of NIOS provide excellent prospects for the learners. It offers 86 Vocational Education programmes in different areas such as Agriculture, Business and Commerce, Engineering and Technology, Health and Paramedical, Home Science and Hospitality Management, Teacher Training, Computer and IT related sectors, Life Enrichment Programmes and General Services. Knowledge, skills and qualities of entrepreneurship have been made essential components in curricula for Vocational Education with emphasis on practical and on the job training in related industrial units.
In order to upscale and place the Open Vocational Education Programme on a sound pedestal, NIOS is seeking collaboration with leading organizations in different educational development sectors like Industries, Medicines, IT etc.
Within the overall provisions of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF-2005), NIOS has brought out a significant documnet titled “Vocational Educaiton and Training: A Framework on Curriculum Imparatives with a Foucs on Knowledge Acquisition and Skills Development: Initiative through Open and Distance Learning”. It is hoped that this document with prove useful as the basis for preparing a well deliberated Programme of Action (POA) for implementation of Vocational Education Programmes through ODL.
The NIOS programmes pay special attention towards requirements of the first generation learners, physically, mentally and visually challenged learners and candidates from disadvantaged sections of the society.
How does NIOS Function?
NIOS operates through a network of five Departments, eleven Regional Centres and 3367 Accredited Institutions (Study Centres) in India and abroad. It has a current enrolment of about 1.5 million students at Secondary and Senior Secondary levels which makes it the largest open schooling system in the world.
NIOS COURSES
Secondary Course

This Course is equivalent to the Xth standard. You can choose subjects from the Scheme of Studies given below. However, you will be required to successfully complete a minimum of five subjects with at least one language or at most two languages, which is compulsory for certification.

Group-A
Hindi(201), English(202), Bengali(203), Marathi(204), Telugu(205), Urdu(206), Gujarati(207), Kannada(208), Sanskrit(209), Punjabi(210), Assamese (228),Nepali(231), Malayalam(232), Oriya(233), Arabic (235),Persian (236), Tamil (237)

Group -B
Mathematics(211), *Science(212), Social Science(213), Economics(214), Business Studies(215), *Home Science(216), *Word Processing(E)(219), Psychology (222), Indian Culture & Heritage (223), *Painting (225)
Five Subjects with at least one language or at most two languages .
Minimum of five subjects.
Two additional subject can also be taken.

Senior Secondary Course

This Course is designed for those who have passed the Xth standard or equivalent examination from a recognised Board and would like to continue their education towards a Senior Secondary Certification, equivalent to XII standard.
Your can choose subjects from the Scheme of Studies given in Table. However, you will be required to successfully complete a minimum of five subjects with at least one language or at most two languages, which is compulsory for Certification.

Group -A
Hindi(301), English(302), Urdu(306), Sanskrit (309)

Group -B
Mathematics(311), *Physics(312), Chemistry(313),*Biology(314),History(315), *Geography(316), Political Science(317), Economics(318), Commerce(319), Accountancy(320), *Home Science(321),
*Word Processing(E)(327), Psychology(328), *Computer Science(330), Sociology(331), *Painting (332), *Mass Communication (335)
Scheme of Studies
The Scheme of Studies for Secondary and Senior Secondary Courses is shown in T able-1. For obtaining a pass certificate, you are required to pass in a minimum of five subjects including one or maximum of two languages from Group ‘A’ and other three or four subjects from Group ‘B’. However, you are free to take upto two additional subjects. Thus, in all you can choose a maximum of seven subjects.
The Learners are however advised to select the subjects as per their future plan of study and work.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

HI HOMESCHOOLERS,
TODAY IS THE FEAST OF ST. THERESE OF CHILD JESUS. MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE SAINT AND ALSO BABY CHARIS' SECOND NAME. WE WILL BE INSTALLING A PORTRAIT OF BLESSED MOTHER TERESA ON OUR HOMESCHOOL WALL TODAY AS SHE WAS GIVEN THE NAME AFTER THIS SAINT TOO. MOTHER WILL BE OUR PROLIFE LIVING SAINT AND WE ARE PRAYING FOR HER CANONIZATION. PLEASE DO PRAY FOR THIS INTENTION TOO. THANKS AND GOD BLESS.
CREATED A HOMESCHOOL LOGO WHICH IS DISPLAYED ABOVE. DO COMMENT.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Data base for HS Group taken at the meeting held on 26 Sept 2010:
Valentine Coelho(16 July)Anna (9 Apr) Nadisha(29 Dec) Nimish(18 Jan)Amish(13 June)Avinash(29 Sept)Shaheen (23 Sept)
Alves Almeida (23 Feb) Maria(20 May) Avinash (15 Dec)Ravi (14 May) Anuj17 Feb)Alisha(23 May)
Nigel D’souza(28 Apr)Varenka(28 July)Yashwyn(2 April)Rinald(3 April)Yelena(13 Sept)
Lewis Sequeira(24 Nov)Zenita(24 Jan)Luke(3 July)Jerome(11 Feb)Maria(5 Oct)Clare(30 Dec)
Glenn Ribeiro Sa(20 Aug)Auriel(26 May)Kirsten(7 Nov)Aaron(30 Oct)Nathan(17 Nov)CharisAnn(18 June)
Milagres Pereira(6 Dec) Violet(24 Apr)Esmee(11 Nov)Ethel(11 Nov)Euban(24 Oct)Evely
(16 Dec)
Michael Pereira(23 May)Twinkle(8 Oct)Hansel(29 Aug)Zivel(24 Sept)Lisel(9 April)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

WHY HOME SCHOOLING?

90% chose it in order to protect their children from evil influences in the schools, Catholic and otherwise, which are pulling their children away from God, away from the Catholic Church, and away from their own family.
More and more parents are choosing home schooling because of the renewed push for explicit sex education. Some have done so because of the broad range of false and immoral ideas propagated by books, teachers, classroom discussions and peer pressure in schools. Some have chosen home education because of the lack of academics being taught in the schools. The main problem heard from parents regarding this is that children are not learning to read. No matter which method is currently in use, if it is not phonics, children will not learn to decode sounds to read words. If a child cannot read, grades in all subjects will plummet quickly.
Wishy-washy Catholic schools can hardly produce a generation of saints. The Charter of the Rights of the Family, issued by Pope John Paul II in 1982, declares that parents are not to send their children to any school which sets itself against their moral and religious convictions.
But what if every available school goes against your religious convictions? The answer is simple: Home school.
We must bring the children home to the family and teach them the truths of the Catholic Faith. Home schoolers are independent thinkers. They are not pressured to agree with the group or with an authority other than God and His representatives, their parents.
Catholic home schooling means raising cradle Catholics. A cradle Catholic is a person born into a Catholic family who is taught the culture, the traditions, and the faith of the Catholic Church by words, actions, songs, Sacraments, and sacramentals. Catholic children trained at home in a complete family catechetical program, can be, and will be, effective leaders in restoring the Catholic Church. Their devotion to daily Mass, their love for the Blessed Mother and the Rosary, their prayer and lighting of candles – all these indicate the authentic Catholic lifestyle, a deep love and understanding of Jesus and His Church.
Catholic home schooling is a family apostolate in the forefront of the spiritual battle to preserve the Catholic Faith and the Catholic culture and traditions. When homosexuality, a direct attack against family and children, is accepted as an alternative lifestyle, one can no longer pretend to live in a Christian world. The only answer is to bring the children home, keep them close, and teach them in the inner sanctum of the domestic church, our Catholic homes.

BENEFITS OF HOME SCHOOLING for the Catholic Family

• For the student: They tend to be innocent and retain their childhood at a natural pace without being thrown into conversations and discussions beyond their natural interests and maturity level. They are shaped by the family rather than by hours of interaction with others at the same level of immaturity. Another benefit is social development at different stages of maturity. Thus children learn about the needs and interests of the elderly from grandparents. They learn about the helplessness of babies and their need for protection. They learn to forgive those who disregard their possessions as they deal patiently with little brothers and sisters. Home schooled children learn to serve others as they hep younger siblings with their studies. Obedience and respect for authority are learned as parents respect grandparents, as children respect and serve parents.
• For the mother: It provides the opportunity to fulfil her responsibility in the marriage vocation to educate her children. It provides a maturing process for a young woman as she dedicates herself in service to youngsters who look up to her with loving eyes for direction. Many home schooling mothers have said that their education was wasted on them when they were young, but now they were enjoying relearning everything from how to diagram a sentence to learning about the earth to discussing the French Revolution!
• For the father: The father can see, provide, and protect his family in his home. He can share in the very joys for which he is providing because he has more opportunities to spend time with them on account of their easily adaptable schedules. If the father thinks that being at home with the children is important, you bet that these children will be at-home fathers with their children. He will lead, but also respect, and even depend on the support of his own children, especially as they grow into young adults. He will grow to understand what fatherhood means as he sees the dependency of his children who look to him for guidance, rather than to their peers or teachers. The Catholic home schooling father is likely to grow in his own spiritual life as he becomes more involved in the lessons which are permeated with Catholic beliefs.
• For the Church: Home schooling families are responding to God’s will to be open and charitable regarding having children. They have more opportunities to give good example in living the authentic Catholic life. They are supportive of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

A CATHOLIC CURRICULUM

A Catholic curriculum is one in which every subject taught is permeated with the truths of the Catholic faith. It is not a standard curriculum that simply includes a religion class. Every class is to incorporate Christ’s teachings.
• Arithmetic: Use of Biblical stories & real-life situations like going for Mass, field trips with other home school families, visits to shrines as a family, picketing abortion clinics, etc. in word problems. Foe eg., measuring the floor at the parish church, gas mileage on the way to a rosary rally, working in a Catholic book store, purchase of religious articles, and so on.
• Art: Craft ideas for special days like feasts can be developed. Learning about Christian artists and their works, the architecture of churches, paintings of the saints, etc.
• English: Almost any passage from the Bible or books on saints, Church Fathers, etc. can be used to teach vocabulary & grammar, book reports on the lives of saints, or books written by Catholic authors (G.K. Chesterton, for one), compositions on many Catholic topics.
• Handwriting: Use of Psalms and other books of the Bible can be used or any passages on saints, sacramentals, etc.
• History: History books recognise that the central event in history is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Try to incorporate Catholic achievements and missionary work in the lessons. Link time with what was happening in the Catholic domain alongside secular world history.
• Music: Music is important for children as a means of learning the Christian message, as well as giving children the opportunity to express Catholic beliefs in song. Teach music used earlier in Churches like the Gregorian chant and classical music used.
• Phonics: Use sentences from Bible.
• PE: For example, St. Paul compared spiritual life to running a race. ‘Stand tall and defend the faith’, ‘This exercise will help strengthen the stomach muscles God gave you’.
• Religion: Baltimore Catechism (CCC) includes Q & As, fill-in exercises and Bible references.
• Science: For Example, while teaching about heart and blood, we can conclude with information of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano. See God’s hand in creation of nature. Wind reminds us of the Holy Spirit. Pro-life issues can be dealt with.
• Spelling: Words from the Bible or other Catholic texts can be taught in addition to other words.
• Vocabulary: Passages can be taken from the Bible, meanings of unknown found and sentences can be made.

HOW TO BEGIN HOME SCHOOLING
Home schooling is primarily a commitment to God, and secondarily a commitment to family. Ask for the grace to know what you should do, for the courage to make the right decision, for the strength to carry it out. Make a nine-day novena, pray to the Blessed Mother for wisdom. If you finally decide after nine days of prayer and fasting that you should home school, but your spouse remains against it, wait for him/her to commit or ask if (s)he will allow you just one year as a trial.
How to tell your husband: Consider taking your husband to your local support group meetings, particularly when you know that other fathers will be present. Ask him to read up on home schooling and become more informed. If he refuses to read, then you should read and discuss the ideas with him at the dinner table or whenever you can.
Before you start, put in writing the reasons why you want to teach your children at home. Be sure to discuss this thoroughly with your spouse if possible.
How to tell the children: If your children are older, you can have a family conference. Both of you should explain to your children exactly why you believe so strongly that you should teach them at home. This will head off complaining and bitterness later.
Statement of Goals: List specific goals or objectives. Religious goals like going for daily Mass, Confession once a month. That at least once a week certain activities should relate to the liturgical calendar. Character goals like good manners, learning to be gentle with younger siblings, appreciation of parents, etc. Academic goals like finishing a standard or syllabus in a prescribed period, or completion of learning a particular skill by the prescribed period, etc. Having specific goals keeps you and your children on track. Unless you write down the goals, you will never reach them.
Post a list of the disadvantages of sending your children to public school where you can see it to remind you of why you have chosen to home school.
Parents who are home schooling their last children should make notes about the effects of school on their older children.
Neighbours: It might be a good idea to keep your children in the house during school hours. It is not a matter of hiding as much as a matter of not causing your neighbours to be reminded every day of what you are doing. Consider moving to a location where there are home schooling families.
Withdrawing from the school: Try to make the change at the beginning of a school year, or at the semester break, or during a long vacation. It is best not to have your children talk about leaving a school while they are still attending. Notify your school principal in writing, unless you have good personal relations with the school personnel. State simply that you are transferring to a new school and need the leaving certificate. If the school asks why you wish to home school, be sure to present the positive reasons without maligning the school. Say that you are going to try this alternative for a year and see how it works out.
How much Time?
It depends from child to child and from grade to grade. A boy usually needs to study his spelling longer than a girl; a girl often needs to spend more time on math than a boy. Math and reading should usually take about an hour a day; while spelling and vocabulary can usually be done in 20 minutes. English, religion, history and science are usually 30-40 minutes classes. High school classes are 50 minutes each for most students. Extra reading for
book reports can be done in the evening and should take an hour or so daily.
Parents also need time to prepare for the lessons especially with higher grades. You should figure an hour or two a week to look over what you need to do for the following week. Most students coming out of schools do not have good study skills and they need parental help whereas those who have been home schooling for several years can practically do all their high school assignments without help. However, it is important to discuss their schoolwork, esp. religion, literature and history in order to convey proper Catholic perspective.
Arranging the Home: Shaping an extra room out of some area of the house is required to create a special place for the home schooling material to be kept permanently. Some create a classroom in the basement, others in the garage. In some homes, the family room is the classroom. Others have built a small outdoor house on the property as their classroom.
It is difficult to use the living room/dining room as the main classroom. There needs to be a permanent place where books, encyclopaedias, and desks can be kept. Limit the number of items in your kitchen for you will need room for science projects and art projects. Add an altar or a holy picture in the room. Decorate the walls with maps, display boards (one for each child, if possible), etc. You should decide whether it would be easier to reach the children all together in one room, or have the children working in different rooms. Maybe, they could be separated for Math and English but could assemble for religion and music.
Working out a schedule: Most children like the most difficult subjects in the morning, with the easier subjects in the afternoon. Ask the children to outline their weekly schedules and post it near their desks.
Before you begin to home school, purchase whatever you need to set up a schooling or learning area. Make your own blackboard with plywood and black paint or paint part of one wall with paint to use as your board. Alternatively, you can paint separate areas of the room for each child to use as their special writing area. Visit other home schooling families and see how they decorate their ‘classroom’ to give you some ideas. Display your children’s special talents or hobbies prominently in the room.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hi Homeschoolers.
I got this article from archives. This is a testimony report of our pioneer homeschooling family whose photograph is in the FELLOW HOMESCHOOLERS section of this blog. Hope it will inspire and motivate you in your quest for a better life for your kids.
Regards,
Auriel.

HOME SCHOOLING COMES TO GOA
The 40th Session of the Friday Balcao on July 28 at the Goa DESC was addressed by Anna and Valentine Coelho, from Socorro in Bardez, who besides being involved in other social activities, particularly the Marriage Encounter Movement, have adopted home schooling for their children.
The children do not have to go to school every day, in sun or rain…they don't have to go for tuitions. The parents need not prepare the kids every morning for the school or reach them to school and go to collect them when the school closes, if the kids are too small to manage by themselves. The children don't pick up vices from their peers and get lot of time for play and other creative activities.
Vally, an electronics engineer, and Anna, a trained nursery teacher, were both brought up in Mumbai and moved to Goa only in 1992. Though living in nature's green grandeur at Socorro is a pleasure, their disadvantage was the lack of a good school close by. Totally "disillusioned" with the changing educational pattern in Goa, they evolved a golden mean of a non-formal education based on the pattern followed by the Salesian schools.
In this system, the children have to appear for public exams in the VI Std and the SSCE. "We took the risk. Our friends and family supported us in the venture. Of course, sometimes the elders felt that our children too should go to school like other children," Anna said.
They knew about parents, who were teaching their children at home but they were getting the books and programmes from the USA. They would post the assignment and get the feedback from there. This process was too costly. So they found out whether "it was possible to teach the children at home or whether there were rules saying that we couldn't teach them at home, and what would happen if our children wanted to appear for the X Std exam."
They use all the Goa Board books as per the syllabus and other books for reference. For the 10th Std they have the Open School syllabus, and the exams offer a choice subjects and wide options, and can be offered only after a student completes 15 years of age. They have been inspired by a lovely book called "Catholic Home Schooling", written by Mary Kay Clark.
They concede that it was no easy matter and that home schooling can hardly be recommended to other parents. The system suited their special circumstances. Of course, it involved a lot of sacrifice and special efforts, to be parents and teachers at the same time. They had to study the lessons thoroughly, patiently before they could impart instructions to their children. Now their children study on their own and consult the parent-teachers only in case of difficulties. They have already adapted themselves to the new type of schooling.
Being Catholic kids, they are never at a loss where peer group and social mixing is concerned. The children have the opportunity to meet at the Church, at catechism classes, and in the village itself. The parents take them to the Sports Authority of Goa for sports activities. Vally said, "We took them to the Bal Bhavan so they could mix with other students", and where they learnt music, dancing and other things.
"If they did not like something, we tried to change it and make it a little more interesting. We make them realise that they have to learn certain essential values, particularly religious education," the Coelho couple claims. The other advantage of home schooling is that the children don't have the tension to rush to school and are better prepared mentally to absorb what is being taught. The classes are five days a week.
Anna said, "Being a teacher myself, I was aware that sometimes teachers are not good examples to children. There are teachers who used bad language, smoke in front of the students, while we tell the children that these are not good things. Teachers should set a good examples to students at least while they are at the school premises."
Since Anna is the mother and teacher rolled in one, the children receive adequate care and attention, which is not possible in a classroom packed with students and the teacher unable to cope up with the unruly lot, while having to ensure that the prescribed portion is completed in time.
The results of Anna and Vally's endeavour in the "learning experience" reflects in the fact that Nadisha, the eldest child, has already completed X Std at the Open School examination level. She will carry on with the same system for Std XII. She gets enough time in between study and this time is being spent effectively to learn courses in Shorthand, hairstyling, etc. Nadisha, who represented by the Bal Bhavan twice in creative writing competitions at the all-India level, however, says that she would have preferred a normal school and be part of the student community, particularly, because of "competitions. I can work better under pressure". Nimish, their son is 12, loves computers and is obsessed with writing programmes for computer games.
Their home school is also a curious place, where even the grand parents form a part of the overall "learning experience". The Coelho kids watch various people at work too in their home, which prepares home-made traditional, Goan sweets. The family has grown to two daughters and three sons, and in the congenial, joint family environs they learn to adjust, care and love each other. The rare experiment is extended further; periodically, the entire family-from the youngest to the oldest-joins in a family programme, where each one of them have to perform some item or other.
Homeschooling is a family -based learning. It was started in the United States first and spread around the whole world later. According to the Americans, homeschooling is ’Learning in Freedom’. Today
more than one million homeschooled children in the United States and tens of thousands of other learners around the world are learning outside of school. As a teacher by profession, I thought it would be good to share my thoughts with you on this concept of learning.

Homeschooling has it’s own pros and cons. Here, parents need not bother about getting their children admitted in a good school, buy uniform, shoes and other stuff related to attending a regular school. They need not worry about the safety of children while going and returning from school. They can take care of their children’s lunch, snack very easily. Children get full attention unlike a classroom, where the teacher cannot give individual attention to every child. Here the parental interaction is more, as children learn to read at home.

I have a cousin sister living in United States with her family. She has four children, ranging from age 7 to one year old child. She is giving them all homeschooling, the reason being she is unable to send them all to school. All her children have very little age difference . It is really difficult to get them all ready for school in the morning. She wants to send her children to regular school after they grow a bit. That’s a good idea. When children are very young, they can be homeschooled and then admitted in a regular school.

Homeschooling children miss out many events held at school like Sport’s day, Founder’s day, picnics, class study tours, visit to a place of interest etc.

I understand, there are special books for homeschooling students. There are many children, who have successfully finished their homeschooling and have entered Universities for higher education. This is due to the fact that parents have taken sincere effort in homeschooling them.

When you talk about schooling in a private or public school, children begin to learn many other things apart from just studying in the school. They realize they have to get up early in the morning, to get ready to go to school. There is an order in their lives, which is totally lacking in homeschooling. Children may take their own time to get ready for learning, as they are going to be taught just by one of their parents. They take the parents for granted, where as if it is a school, children will learn to respect the teacher.

Children become more independant, when they are exposed to the outside world. They can achieve this only by attending regular school. They learn to tackle problems, and to get along with their friends. They are disciplined in many ways.The regular school has a counsellor, to whom children can go for any moral help.

I don’t think homeschooling has become popular in India.I have heard of parents standing in a long queue to get admission for their children to get a place in kindergarten class.

I feel,a home with parents is always a school for children at any age. They learn many things from their parents. Actually, they look up to them as their role models. So, children should be sent to regular school for regular studies since after returning from school they have enough time to learn many things from parents. They may get bored eventually, if they are with parents the whole day.

When children mingle with other people like their teachers and friends there is a growth in their personality. My advice would be to have children homeschooled, when they are very young and need parent’s help and then admit them in a proper school after the age of six or seven.