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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010




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


“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.
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.

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.