Does this Ring a Bell with You?

In one of the schools where we attended the open house this month, the director was very eloquent about the non-intrusive and soothing environment they provide at their school. She also mentioned that they believed in empowering students and letting them share the daily school responsibilities along with the teacher. She said they do not have a school bell. All they had was a whistle that they blew few times a day to indicate recess/lunch on and off times; and that too because kids are far off in the schoolyard or playground during that time. They might not be able to see the clock. But other than that they didn’t ring or even have any other school bells. They didn’t want to startle the students. Also this is one of their methods to teach the kids time management.

This conversation brought back some bittersweet memories from my childhood.

I once studied in a public school that was poorly funded. The money was so scarce that the administration and teachers had to be constantly creative on how they spend without compromising the quality for the students.

When the school had started few years ago they couldn’t afford a new school bell. I am not taking about the shinny brass ones. They didn’t have enough money to buy the plain old cast iron bells. So a staff member rode his bicycle to the nearest railroad yard and brought back a 3-foot broken and abandoned railway line. They hung it at school as a bell. And imagine what did they use as the clapper – A good old hammer.

railway line bell

I visited this school of mine in 2012 December after many decades. Things have changed and improved beyond my imagination. The school has grown multifold in all aspects. Although they use an electric bell now, they still have the railway line bell displayed as memento in the assembly room.

Image courtesy: Google

Gamble & Games of Chess

crazy parenting fails chess baby winner

Playing Against Odds

Gamble and Games of Chess: Thats what parenting surmises to. Indicators are available throughout history to backup this conjecture.

The gamble starts at conception and stays till birth. We put huge bets for a healthy child. That is genuine and fair bet. This is the phase were our assumed influences are least powerful. Apart from healthy eating and warm lifestyle, we fortify the daily nutrition with classical music and with long discussions on science, math, sports, geography, art, literature, history and so much more. We think we are booting up the system and process with the best we can afford. We keep tweaking the prototype of the end product in our subconscious mind. Looks, definitely a factor, whatever pleases us or the ones that our society approve. Mind & Behavior, has to be unique, of a genius, of a prodigy. Yet there is much anticipated anxiety mixed with unlimited happiness until the D-Day of arrival.

And ofcourse, for many years that ensues!

Then, Baby arrives or in some fortunate cases, Babies arrive. Beacons go flaring up urging us to think rationally. We can’t keep betting any more. It doesn’t take us long to realize that we have to adopt and adjust. The tiny ones have subtle and not so subtle ways of helping us make that realization.

Now is the time when we start playing chess. We calculate our every move. We think five to six steps ahead in the process, think of the counter moves and alternate paths, we take game plan references of other parents whom we think of as success.  Sometimes we play multiple games simultaneously. Our opponents are seasoned players too. They keep us on our toes. Our opponents come in all shapes, sizes and form. There is the Grand Master, child himself/herself with a mind of his/her own. Finance, health and legal are considerably strong opponents. Other opponents are institutions like school, day care, doctor’s office, enrichment classes and similar. Or they could be the judgmental and opinionated family, friends and society. These days we even see resources and technology as competitors. The list goes on. And on goes the games for years.

I am currently playing chess. I started it few years back. I have years to go before I can assess my position. So I asked my parents if they won or lost in their chess game(s).

They guffawed at the question.

They said, “We like to think we won, after loosing every game we played”.

Photo Credits: From chessblog.com