Life comes a full circle for Rohit as he helps his village

When Life comes a Full Circle

Rohit was a first generation expat from his family. He went to USA for pursuing his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and then settled there. Rohit had everything that a typical well-settled expat Indian is expected to have – a green card, a home, a family and a job profile that anybody would be envious about – he was the VP of the New Product division.

Rohit was also the only child of his parents, who now lived in Pune. He religiously had his family vacations, so that his children could form a bond with their grandparents from both the sides. But such visits however well-planned only meant visits to his parents and his wife’s parents and that was the ‘family in India’ that their children knew about.

During one such India visit, Rohit’s father asked him “Do you remember our village home in Ratnagiri?” Rohit was a bit lost at the question initially, but then he recollected a few faint memories of an imposing wada with a huge orchard at the back. His far-away look was noted by his mother and she simply said, “You might not remember much as after your high school you were usually busy with studies and later you went to USA”. Rohit’s son Anish was listening to the conversation. He quickly checked up Ratnagiri on Google and announced “Dad this looks like a cool place, let’s go there while we are in India!”

And just like that in a discussion over dinner, the Dongre family planned their Ratnagiri visit.

“Okay let’s look up some hotels” said, Rohit. His father simply said, “I will be staying at the Wada, you guys can book yourself a hotel close by”. “Does someone even live there dad?” now Rohit was genuinely surprised!

Yup! My brothers and a few of your cousins do live there. We go there every year!

This got Rohit and his family, even more excited. There were apprehensions about meeting someone for the first time, there was also the fear of how Rohit’s children will take in the rural life! As far as Rohit remembered the wada was a pretty old place.

But there was hardly any time to think! Things moved so quickly that they were to leave in the next two days!

The first thing that hit Rohit when he visited his native place was the lush greenery, smiling faces and the quiet recognition that everyone showed. Rohit and his family were greeted with a lot of warmth and Rohit reconnected with a lot of his cousins, that he remembered playing with as a kid! In the next half an hour, all his new found cousins and their children were connected online, thanks to Facebook! Anish exclaimed “Let’s do an FB live! I want my US friends to know, I have so many cousins that we could make a baseball team!”

Knowing your roots and meeting so many who can be called family was an uplifting feeling. The fear about how his family would take in a village life, melted away!

After they freshened up, Rohit along with a cousin Raghav, decided to go around the village. It was surprising that the people seemed to recognize him; there was respect in their eyes, which didn’t seem to make sense. “I never came to the village, after middle school, yet why is there this warmth?” questioned Rohit to Raghav.

Raghav smiled and steered him towards a tall building in the square “This is the government school of our village, it was started after the efforts of our grandfather! Our grandfather was a qualified doctor, educated in Pune, yet he came back and worked all his life for the upliftment of our village! He was the first doctor in this whole region and was instrumental in starting many initiatives for the betterment of health, sanitation and education in our village and neighboring areas.”

The words got etched somewhere deep in Rohit. He didn’t know much about his grandfather’s work. They came once a year for around 10 days to the village. By then, grandfather had retired and Rohit was too small to understand what his social service or ‘work’ mean! He became curious to know more about the great man!

Over the next two days, Rohit and Anish got to know a lot about the great figure. They were amazed and humbled with the dedication and efforts put in! “Apart from sharing a surname, I wonder what else do I have common with this great man,” wondered Anish and Rohit just replied “Exactly my thoughts son!”

Next day, they were going to their village deity and watching at the lush paddy fields and huge mango orchards that lined both sides of the road. “I want to be a farmer! This is so beautiful” quipped Anish. “With most youngsters not wanting to be farmers or going to cities, I don’t know how long these green surroundings would survive” said a worried Raghav. This caught Rohit by surprise!

“Why was nobody interested in farming?”

“Everyone thinks there isn’t much dignity in being a farmer, plus with so many climatic changes, farming just doesn’t seem feasible, they don’t get labor to work and you never know if there will be any returns on investment! It is a tough life.”

The answer put Rohit in deep thought! We were losing the primary life sustaining business known to man! There was something wrong here! By the time they were returning back from the temple, Rohit had his light-bulb moment! He quickly made a few phone calls and started typing away feverishly on the laptop.

For the next two days, Rohit looked like a man possessed! He was making presentations, watching videos, creating models.

“Would you be able to introduce me to the govt. school management by any chance?” asked Rohit to Raghav, just as he was sitting down for dinner. “Yes sure! I am an honorary member there, will talk and set something up by tomorrow.” But what is this about, asked a curious Raghav?

Well, I am a mechanical engineer and my company is into making machines for farming. I connected with them about the problems here and they are interested in sharing knowledge with the school students as part of their social responsibility activity. We have a branch in Mumbai and we are thinking of having yearly projects in schools that will ignite their interest in science. This will have good cash prizes that students can use for higher education.

The conversation lit up Raghav’s and Anish’s eyes! After dinner, the three of them huddled together over the presentations and there were excited exchange of ideas late into the light.

A short story about life coming a full circle and finding purpose

In the next two days, some more phone calls later, the presentation was arranged. Rohit showcased how his team would be interested in introducing basics of mechanical learning and creating farming related tools as a vocational subject in the school. This would prepare the students for the year end competition. The competition would revolve around creating simple and cost-effective machines that would help farmers.

The vocational classes would happen via video calls and once a month, one of his team members from Mumbai, would come to access the situation and understand the on ground realities.

By the end of the presentations, Rohit could sense that the teachers and the management alike were interested in trying this new way of learning. Rohit did a small introduction with students, to understand their perspective and the result was amazing! As he showed them how a cost effective rice-cutting instrument could be made by the students, he saw the excitement in their curious eyes.

“This is just the beginning”, Rohit mused to himself. He had just ignited a hundred little flames!

An innovative way to make Maths lovable – Smartick Method

Smartick helps the child to understand concepts, improve calculation skills, concentration and mental agility.

How many of you dreaded Maths in school? I know I did! I found it extremely boring and unimaginative. The whole tables, and equations and BODMAS etc. etc. made my head hurt and I always looked at ways to not do Mathematics.

I don’t think it was to do with the understanding level of the subject, but the whole boring and insipid approach made all the difference in my outlook towards the subject. I can say this confidently today, because I have experienced the transformation.

Today, I am going to talk about a new concept that is revolutionizing the way Mathematics is learned! I came across Smartick Method, when I got a mail from them to try and review it. The moment I went to their website, I knew this was going to be different and I instantly agreed.

What is Smartick Method?

Smartick is a unique online learning platform that lets a child learn at his own pace. It focuses on self-learning; thereby helping the child to understand concepts, improve calculation skills, concentration and mental agility.

What methodology do they follow?

Smartick goal is to make maths fun. They have created a healthy mix of traditional and new approaches towards learning maths. They use best traditional learning methods inspired from Japan and Singapore combined with studies from top research centers and universities like Harvard and the University of Chicago.

How does it work?

Smartick Method is designed in such a way that the child needs to spare only 15min a day! Isn’t that cool? Before smartick, making my daughter to sit for studies was a task, but now she is the one who reminds me about her daily smartick session!

Once the login is created, the child can start accessing the modules. Initially smartick offers random questions to understand your child’s level. Based on the results of the first 3-4 days, smartick daily sessions are updated. So you don’t have to worry, if x,y,z has been taught to your child or not.

My Review

My daughter is in love with Smartick! She is eager to do her daily sessions and understand her mistakes and improve. I have seen an increase in her concentration levels. As I get daily updates about her performance, I am attuned to her progress.

There is something called as smartick Brain games which is motivating and interesting. My daughter not just finishes her 15 min session, but also enjoys doing the Brain Games and virtual world access after the session.

As all the details are captured in a separate parent login, I can access it and view it anytime I want and help my child understand where she needs to improve.

This is completely self-learning based and hence I never have to sit and explain her questions or concepts. She watches the tutorials and works on her pace.

The report not just focuses on the number of correct answers but also takes into consideration her speed at solving them and her logic and reasoning.

Best Things that I liked

  • It’s just 15 min in a day, something that a child can easily do
  • It is designed for children from 4-14 year old.
  • This is an online platform, and they do not follow a school or state syllabus. The focus is on improving the child’s concepts, speed and accuracy.
  • It is accessible only on screens bigger than 7 inches.
  • Smartick complements the school curriculum and is aligned with the Common Core Standards and NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards.
  • Smartick is powered by the latest Artificial Intelligence technology: ability based, your child progresses at his or her own pace, building self-confidence, avoiding frustration, and developing a positive attitude to math.
  • The child works on mental calculationand algebra while also developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Smartick includes logic exercises that help children improve both in logical reasoning and reading comprehension.
  • Gamification elements help children be engaged and improve their concentration levels. All games in Smartick are scientifically designed to reinforce cognitive skills: perception, attention, memory and logical reasoning.
  • Referral program: Tutors/parents can benefit from a 27 dollars discount if they recommend a friend. And the new friend that subscribes will receive a 25% off the first subscription they buy.

Smartick is powered by the latest Artificial Intelligence technology: ability based, your child progresses at his or her own pace,

My suggestion

This is a paid subscription, however if I go on a vacation or do not have access to a computer for some time, there is no way I can pause the subscription. They should introduce that feature. Apart from this I can’t think of anything!

Verdict

If you are thinking about giving a gift to your child this Christmas or New Year, gift them knowledge and world-class education with Smartick Method. As a mom who has seen her child enjoy Smartick Method, I would highly recommend it. Right now, Smartick has a gift for children registering in New Year week, do check it out!

Let’s work for change in Indian Education system #LearnNotEducate #BlogchatterProjects

“The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things.”

Jean Piaget

 

#LearnNotEducate was something that was born out of the general apathy towards education system that I saw and felt in the young generation.

Let’s Learn not just Educate is a way to highlight satisfying alternative careers and busting myths related to traditional safe careers that will help the future generation choose wisely

A time when they should be brimming with ideas, discussing thoughts that could change the world or just be dreaming big, they were generally stressed, clue-less about the future or too worried about it not being mainstream. This just didn’t feel right.

Just then #BlogchatterProjects was announced and I took that as an opportunity to spread the word and ask for inputs for the idea of #LearnNotEducate.

From my end I looked for alternative careers that were satisfying and feeding the soul. I encouraged people to register for the same, so that I could bring in more stories about how the youth can follow their dreams and be successful too!

Response to Campaign

I did not expect the response that I got!

3,59,307 impressions in just 20 days with over 50 people talking about it!

More than 3,00,000 impressions for the #LearnNotEducate in just 20 days

I understand its nowhere near revolutionizing education in India, but the whole fact that so many people are interested in talking about it and have similar thoughts is encouraging! I as a Mom of two and a freelancer didn’t think my voice mattered, but this was definitely something that I found comforting.

Twitter poll to understand how people feel

A simple question – Do you believe there should be a change in the education system in India brought about some interesting answers and thoughts.

Many people had many voices and it was interesting to see their perspective

Varadarajan Ramesh – Education should be made affordable. These days running a school is a profitable business. Institutions charge preposterous fees for even Montessori. This should change pronto.

Deepa Gandhi  – There are is a need for a bigger change not only in the education system but mentality of people in our country towards it.

Varsha Bagadia – Absolutely! We need a more practical-based approach. Children who have an inclination towards specific subjects should be allowed to pursue only them.

Vikram Kamboj The education in #India should be made intellectually challenging and should questions assumptions rather than based on the rote memorization technique and orthodoxy.

This is just part one! I will be doing a similar round up about my project, and the way I see the future in 1st week of Jan, so stay tuned!

read the other articles from #LearnNotEducate

Shubha Surendra- A culinary artist

Vasudha Gokhale – A counselor and pediatric physiotherapist

Priti Talwalkar – A classical Singer

Snehal Pradhan – A cricketer

I am continuing with #LearnNotEducate series and those who wish to share their alternative careers with the world, please fill in this Google Form and I will get back to you