Theory And Practice 2 On 1 # 5.

In 1975 I was in a South Indian location as Regional Manager and I had to host a student from a College of Commerce located near by researching Management practices. The student conducted a couple of weeks of intense interviews with my team and I had many sessions explaining concepts not understood by him during the course of his interviews.

This student in due course submitted his report to his Professor with a copy to me. In that report he gave me credit for good guidance and this seemed to have influenced the faculty of that College of Commerce who sent a request to our Personnel Department that I become visiting faculty for a few sessions in their College. I did primraily as a PR exercise and thus started my experiences with class rooms from the lectern side.

In my first lecture cum interactive session, I explained some Management Principles and how they worked in practice in real life situations. The interactive session stretched well beyond the stipulated time and many questions were raised by enthusiastic students who challenged me to come up with satisfactory answers. I think that I did to their complete satisfaction.

I awaited their invitation for the next session which did not come for over a month. Those were pre cellphone days and so I could not simply call and find out what was happening. On a visit to the town I dropped in at the College and met with the faculty member who was co-ordinating the whole thing and was not very satisfied with his answers. Luckily I was able to locate the stuent at the College and he gave me the inside story. The faculty had decided not to call me any more as the thrust of my lecture and the subsequent interactive session clearly indicated that the students better be prepared to face the reality that what they learn in theory in school is not what they will encounter in practice. The faculty perhaps felt that this was demoralising or may have even felt threatened!

Fast forward to the late nineties in Pune where again I was invited by two business schools due to the intervention of students who had met me for similar sessions and exactly the same phenomenon of the faculty deciding not to call me again happened.

That is my story of my personal experience with Theory And Practice, in practice!

I can honestly say that I learnt much more about Management in practice than I did in the Business School. Many of the techniques that I learnt in school remained unused for most of my working life. As I had mentioned elsewhere in other blog posts, all that the Business School going did for me was to get me a good job through campus recruitment. It was hands on work experience that enabled me to succeed and progress in a career in Management.

I picked this week’s topic and so Shackman will choose next week’s. Please check Shackman’s take on this week’s topic.

Did School Prepare You For The Real World? 2 On 1 # 2.

What a question my fellow blogger Shackman has asked!

I was an indifferent student and failed to pass the Board Examinations for the School Leaving Certificate in the first attempt and had to take the supplementary examinations to pass them later.

I was however an avid Boy Scout and Cadet of the Naval Wing of the National Cadet Corps. These two programmes taught me a great deal of discipline, team spirit and patriotism that prepared me for the real world. Frankly speaking, apart from these two activities I cannot think of any that helped me later.

If however Business School is also included in the title, then I would say, yes it certainly did to the extent of getting me a Management Trainee’s position in a great company. Here too, what I learned as a trainee and junior Manager in the firm helped me a great deal later in my life than the theoretical knowledge that I had picked up in the Business School.

What both these institutions taught me however was how to learn. That prepared me for the real world as it does even today.  This is why I maintain that education is learning to learn.

Shackman picked this week’s topic and so I will choose next week’s. Be sure to check Shackman’s take on this week’s topic.

Class Room.

A young friend Chinmay has posted this on his facebook page and I am amazed that things have not changed since my school days!  And those were over half a century ago!

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I went to a ‘boys only’ school but even there, we had dreamy eyed boys in love with some girl from another school. Since it was a school in Tamil Nadu, almost all these boys were more or less sure to get married to their cousins and so the star gazing! Other than that little variation, we had all the other varieties.

Corporal Punishment.

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Corporal punishment in schools has been banned in India since 2010.

Despite the ban such punishment keeps taking place with tragic consequences which get reported in our press and there just does not seem to be any end to it. If anything the brutality seems to be increasing. Untrained teachers, money making schools more interested in quantity over quality catering to two income households who are only too happy to see the children being disciplined in schools and many other sociological factors play their respective roles in this mess. The latest instance to hit the headlines shows how totally unqualified persons become teachers for want of alternative sources of income,

My views on this subject have been very clearly and unambiguously brought out in my post Corporal Punishment And Mr. Kuruvilla jacob that I wrote around the time that the punishment was banned in India.

I have not changed my views but am pleased to see many young parents from among my friends and relatives approaching child rearing in a holistic manner where it is unlikely that their children will face tragic consequences of corporal punishment.

Ashok who has suggested this topic is a young socially conscious activist lawyer who is doing a lot of good work in this and other related areas and it is to be hoped that such initiatives from the non government sectors will bring about the massive holistic changes that will be needed in the total country. I doubt that merely legislating on the subject will bring about any meaningful change.

I hope that you enjoyed reading my take on this subject which was chosen by Ashok for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where five of us write on the same topic. The four other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

My First Memory.

My first memory is my going to a Montessori School in Chennai. I distinctly remember Mrs. Fletcher who was gentle grey haired lady who lived upstairs in the two storied mansion which had all the classes downstairs except one, for the third standard on the first floor. I went to that school till the third standard and was taken out to go to another school when my father moved from Chennai to Mumbai.

Apart from Mrs Fletcher who was the Head Mistress, we occasionally came across Mr. Fletcher who would take classes when one of the teachers was absent. What I remember about Mr. Fletcher is the way hair grew in abundance around his ears and his very bushy eyebrows. He looked formidable. They had a son Babu, who was then going to a college but would also stand in for any absent teacher.

I also remember two teachers. One Rosemary Teacher and one Lily Teacher. (That is how teachers are addressed in some schools in India.) The former’s son James was my classmate and best friend.

There was more playing and horsing around in that school than serious studying and I always remember that when I see children going to school now a days with satchels weighing a ton, and also taking additional tuition, even for lower standards.

My mother used to give me a tiffin box to take to school with rice and yogurt mixed with a dollop of jaggery and I used to relish that during the lunch break. I used to be taken to the school about two kilometers away from our home and back by a cycle rickshaw every day. I vaguely remember some occasions when my father used to drop me off in his car and I would be dropped back home by Babu on his bicycle.

I also remember my younger brother Arvind joining me in the same school for some time and the two of us would go together and return every day. At home too, there was no homework and we would spend most of our time playing something or the other or making things with Meccano sets. Our hero was our uncle, father’s younger brother who would bring these sets every now and then. We also had many Indian indoor games to play and of course the usual out door games like cricket, gilli danda, marbles, tops etc. We would also use up great many drawing books with pencil and crayon drawings and water colour paintings. I used to be fascinated by the dog resembling a greyhound and dalmatian combined that would be printed on the Reeves painting box. All my life I had looked for a dog that would resemble that, without success.

Unlike my grand nephews and nieces of that age now, I don’t remember ever studying at home during that period.

I do however remember group punishments in school as well as at home and who better to remind me of those than my co punishee Arvind who posted this on FaceBook.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where thirteen of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by The Old Fossil. The twelve other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Anu, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

The Salt Of The Earth.

This is Shanmugham, my friend from the park. He is from Tamil Nadu and wears the traditional dress of that state; white dhoti and half sleeve shirt. He speaks the same language as my mother tongue and that is the factor that brought the two of us together.

He is a retired farmer from the Kaveri delta. He comes from a village very close to my ancestral village. One of his sons now manages his agricultural interests. He has another one running a very profitable fly ash brick making industry, close to his farm lands. One of his sons is a Manager in a Five Star hotel in Quatar and another is the Executive Chef in a Five Star hotel in Pune. He has come to Pune to spend time with the last.

Where I sit in the park after my walk, to my left all my English/Hindi speaking friends sit and to my right, Shanmugham and another Tamil speaking friend Ganesan sits, and occasionally, another Tamil friend Ramanathan joins too. An important friend, Rangachari has just gone off on a three month tour of South India and the Far East Asia. All these gentlemen live with their sons as do I. The difference being that they keep visiting their many sons, while I stay put with my one and only child Ranjan. All of them keep visiting their daughters too.

Whenvever any of these friends come home, my father is over joyed as he can speak to them in Tamil and he particularly likes to chat with Shanmugham with whom he shares the agricultural background.

My English/Hindi speaking friends wonder how I can survive in the stereophonic cacaphony every evening and are convinced that I am a freak. I agree.

Shanmugham is my current link to my roots and some common sense solutions to life’s problems. He is totally guileless and entirely fits this definition of the phrase of this blog post: “Those of great worth and reliability.” All his children, the four sons and two married daughters as well as a brood of grand children adore him as I can make out from the telephone calls that he keeps getting from around the globe as well as from the way he is treated by his local family.

He neither speaks nor understands any language other than Tamil. He has studied up to the fourth standard in a Tamil medium school, and while is literate, not very well read. He is wise and his IQ must be over 140. He had to stop schooling to help his father run the farm and so lost out on formal education. For all that, he has ensured that all his children studied and the results are there for all to see.

His background, one foot in the village and the other in other towns and cities of India as well as overseas, is repeated all over India and is a factor behind some good and some bad developments. His story however is full of the good developments. With this particular story as a backdrop, this NYT article shows how complex and enigmatic India is.

I am privileged to have him as my friend and I am flattered that he considers me as a good friend too.