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Boarding schools provide comprehensive education to students

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image source: en.wikipedia.org

By Somrita Ghosh

New Delhi: The best memories of students are perhaps of hostel life. From dormitory days to winning any sports event, from celebrating birthdays to supporting each other during tough times, the stories are never ending. And these memories are reignited in a new work penned by a headmaster and narrated from his point of view.

“With a Little Help from My Friends” (Rupa, pp 222, Rs. 250) is a tell-all memoir replete with some of Dev Lahiri’s fondest memories surrounding his college days, his decision to leave a well-paid job and re-start his career as the headmaster of a boarding school and going on to be associated with some renowned schools across the country.

His journey as a headmaster was also riddled with controversies. The book is an account of the challenges that come with heading a residential school in India to the loneliness and vulnerability associated with the job.

“Boarding schools are very important in today’s tuition-driven culture because they provide an opportunity to their students to acquire a holistic education,” Lahiri, who has been the headmaster of prestigious institutions like Lawrence School, Lovedale and Welham Boy’s School, as also as housemaster at Doon School, told reporters in an interview.

“Also, in most boarding schools, children grow up making no distinction between themselves on the basis of caste, religion, region and what-have-you. These schools also teach students to be very self-sufficient,” Lahiri told reporters in an interview.

Ragging and bullying often become a major issue in boarding schools. Lahiri too had to face the wrath of parents when his students became victims of ragging.

“The first step in tackling ragging is to acknowledge that it exists, which unfortunately most institutions are unwilling to do. The next challenge is to get the victims to speak up and break the conspiracy of silence that surrounds the issue. It requires a huge team effort on the part of all stakeholders – teachers, students, parents and the management to tackle this menace,” said the now-retired principal, who currently resides at Dehradun.

Talking of teenagers, Lahiri said that they need to be handled with a mixture of firmness and kindness.

“The boundaries that they can, and cannot, the cross should be clearly defined – and better so in consultation with them and with their consent. The most important thing is to “be there for them” and to make them know that they are respected and cared for – but that they have to reciprocate as well,” added the author.

In an era where parents push their children to extremes in education, Lahiri strongly felt that schools are not the place where a student’s career should be decided.

“In my view, schools should be the place where we open up the child’s mind to all the possibilities that surround him/her and equip him/her with the wherewithal to make the decision at the appropriate time – which is much later. Unfortunately, in our system we ‘box’ children in from as early as Class 9. Having said that, it is important to encourage children to experiment, explore and discover for themselves where their greatest talent (and happiness) lies,” Lahiri maintained.

The author also voiced concern over the Indian education system falling behind other countries.

“In India, school education has never really been a priority for our planners and so we are being left behind quite rapidly. The movement has been away from ‘content’ to ‘skills’ for the new world order, but in India the focus, by and large, is still on content,” he responded.

Lahiri also raised concerns over imparting education right way in schools and colleges.

“We have to give school education the primacy it deserves. There is no systematic, scientific programme of teacher training in this country and that needs to be a priority area. The focus in classrooms will have to be to move away from content and rote learning to encourage children to think for themselves, ask questions, be critical, engage in team work, take part in research and reference, respect diversity and communicate effectively,” Lahiri contended. (IANS)

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Professor Offers Students Higher Grade For More Sleep

Bessesen notes that some medical school programs require student doctors to sleep more to prevent accidents.

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A graduate from Columbia University's School of Engineering sleeps during the university's commencement ceremony in New York, May 16, 2012. VOA

No amount of lecturing seems to persuade students to get more sleep.

But one professor uses bait they can’t resist.

Michael Scullin teaches the science of sleep to psychology students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He lectures about physical and mental health problems caused by a lack of sleep. Those problems include difficulty focusing and controlling one’s emotions, and increased risk of disease.

“When you are at your most sleep deprived is when you are least likely to be able to judge how sleepy you are, and how much that sleepiness is impacting you,” Scullin says.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises adults to get at least seven hours of sleep a night to stay healthy, but more and more Americans report getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night.

His students seemed to enjoy the class, Scullin says. But when he asked if they were getting more sleep after what they learned in class, most of them said no.

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A student sleeps in the hallway of Hall Memorial Building on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, Oct. 6, 2006. VOA

So Scullin came up with a plan to get his students to sleep more: He offered them extra points on their final exam, the most important test in the class.

The plan worked better than Scullin expected. Students who slept more performed better in two different classes, and Scullin published his findings in two academic publications last November.

How did the study work?

Scullin started the experiment with his psychology students. He told them that if they agreed to sleep at least eight hours a night for the five nights before the final exam, they would get several extra credit points. But if they agreed to take part in the study and failed to get the required amount of sleep, they would lose points on the exam. The students would wear special devices that recorded their sleep data.

Only eight out of the 18 total students in that first group agreed to take part in the experiment. Yet all the students who took part performed better on the exam than those who did not, even before the extra credit points were added. On average, they earned about five points more on the exam.

Scullin decided to repeat the study with another group of 16 design students. He chose not to punish students who failed to sleep the full eight hours per night, and got the same results.

sleeping, impairment, inflammation, SLeep
Don’t consume caffeinated drinks less than six hours before you go to sleep. Pixabay

Daniel Bessesen, as associate director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, researches sleep. He says Scullin’s study supports the idea that sleep helps academic performance while students who cram — or stay up the night before the test trying to memorize the material — are likely worse off.

While Scullin’s study fits in with other sleep research, Bessesen says for it to be more scientific, the two groups should have been studying the same subject and taking the same test. In addition, students should have been randomly chosen for sleeping or staying awake.

How to get people to sleep more

Scullin and Bessesen offer some advice on how to get more sleep each night:

  • Parents, try to get enough sleep to role model good habits to children. Bessesen notes that some medical school programs require student doctors to sleep more to prevent accidents.
  • Avoid looking at electronics before you fall asleep.
  • Don’t consume caffeinated drinks less than six hours before you go to sleep.
  • Try to go to sleep at the same time every night.

Also Read: New Sleeping Pill Can Help Patients Wake up in Response to Threat

  • If you are lying in bed and cannot calm your mind, get out of bed and spend five to 10 minutes writing down all of your thoughts.
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back asleep, do not turn on the lights! Instead, get out of bed and go into another room. Wait there until you feel tired. (VOA)