Wednesday February 21, 2018
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Kalam wanted IIM-S students to suggest ways for making Parliament more productive

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By Aishwarya Nag Choudhury

The demise of the former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam is being mourned all over the nation. Popularly known as the ‘Missile man’ of India, Kalam was on a trip to Shillong when he passed away on Monday evening at the age of 83.

He was on his way to speak to the students of Indian Institute of Management Shillong (IIM- S). However, he collapsed while addressing the students around 6.30 pm and was immediately rushed to Bethany hospital, where he died at 7.45 pm.

While television screens, newspapers, and social media are overflowing with the news of Kalam’s demise, Srijan Pal Singh MD of Giving Light, author and advisor to APJ Abdul Kalam, who was travelling with the former president has written an account of his last day on his Facebook wall. Singh, who was a student of Kalam starts his tribute by saying “This is what I will be remembered for…”

Singh’s post recorded the activities of the former president on his last day. He wrote about the flight, and how he complimented Kalam on the color of his suit. “He was wearing a dark colored ‘Kalam suit’, and I started off complimenting, ‘Nice color!’ Little did I know that this was going to be the last color I will see on him.” wrote Singh. He gave an account of their travel, the two and a half hour car ride, and an exercise he prepared for the students after the speech.

For the past two days, Dr. Kalam was worried that time and again Parliament, the supreme institution of democracy, has been dysfunctional. He said, “I have seen two different governments in my tenure. I have seen more after that. This disruption just keeps happening. It is not right. I really need to find out a way to ensure that the parliament works on developmental politics.”

He then asked me to prepare a surprise assignment question for the students at IIM Shillong, which he would give them only at the end of the lecture. He wanted them to suggest three innovative ways to make the Parliament more productive and vibrant. Then, after a while he returned on it. “But how can I ask them to give solutions if I don’t have any myself.”

They also discussed the environment and the Punjab attacks during their ride. Kalam was concerned about a security personnel who had to stand throughout the journey in an open jeep and later personally thanked him. This, Singh said “was an experience from the beauty of his humility.”

On reaching the University, Singh recalls the president did not want to be late for the lecture. “Students should never be made to wait, he always said,” Singh wrote. “Two minutes into the speech, sitting behind him, I heard a long pause after completing one sentence. I looked at him, he fell down. We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving him with whatever I could. His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain, only purpose was visible,” he added.

Srijan Pal Singh, in his post, wrote about a conversation he had with Kalam a few days prior to the trip. “Often he would ask me, you are young, decide what you will like to be remembered for? I kept thinking of new impressive answers, till one day I gave up and resorted to tit-for-tat. I asked him back, first you tell me, what will you like to be remembered for? President, Scientist, Writer, Missile man, India 2020, Target 3 billion…. What? I thought I had made the question easier by giving options, but he sprang on me a surprise. “Teacher,” he said.” On revealing the account of the last day of the former president, Singh posted “This is what I will be remembered for…”

On retrospect, Singh writes that ‘Teacher’ is what he always was; standing and lecturing till his last breadth. He ends his post by thanking Kalam for his many contributions to his country. “The man is gone, the mission lives on. Long live Kalam,” posted Singh as a conclusion to his tribute.

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A lesson in the woods may boost kids’ learning

Moreover, the number of times the teacher had to redirect a student's attention to their work was roughly halved immediately after an outdoor lesson.

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Just sitting in classrooms makes children more dull. Wikimedia Commons
Just sitting in classrooms makes children more dull. Wikimedia Commons
  • To help students concentrate and learn more, teachers have found a new way of teaching them.
  • This technique of teaching outdoors will boost children’s mental capabilities to learn and remember.

Are your students unable to concentrate on their lessons in the classroom? Take them for outdoor learning sessions.

According to a study, a lesson in the lap of nature can significantly increase children’s attention level and boost their learning.

While adults exposed to parks, trees or wildlife have been known to experience benefits such as increased physical activity, stress reduction, rejuvenated attention and increased motivation, in children, even a view of greenery through a classroom window can have positive effects on their attention span, the researchers said.

The study showed that post an outdoor lesson, students were significantly more attentive and engaged with their schoolwork and were not overexcited or inattentive.

Taking students outside help them concentrate more. Wikimedia Commons
Taking students outside help them concentrate more. Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, the number of times the teacher had to redirect a student’s attention to their work was roughly halved immediately after an outdoor lesson.

“Our teachers were able to teach uninterrupted for almost twice as long at a time after the outdoor lesson and we saw the nature effect with our sceptical teacher as well,” said Ming Kuo, a scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers tested their hypothesis in third graders (9-10 years old) in a school.

A few minutes outside help students concentrate better. VOA
A few minutes outside help students concentrate better. VOA

Over a 10-week period, an experienced teacher held one lesson a week outdoors and a similar lesson in her regular classroom and another, more sceptical teacher did the same. Their outdoor “classroom” was a grassy spot just outside the school, in view of a wooded area.

A previous research suggested that 15 minutes of self-paced exercise can also significantly improve a child’s mood, attention and memory. IANS