Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 3rd Week

On Sep 13th, Sunday as part of Team Asha, two kids from Thulir finished their first half marathons and one of them finished his first 10K run. They all did really well. The rest of the Team Asha folks also did great at the Kaveri Trails. You can read more about it here.  You can read about the training for thulir kids here.

More photos here- Kaveri marathon

Sita School

On Monday, I reached Sita School at around 8:20 A.M. But, it had rained quite heavily the previous day and the trails were too slippery and muddy. We decided not to take a risk and not do the running in the morning. We did the prayers at 8:45 and it was decided that if it got more sunny and dry we could do the running. Jane had just come back from her trip to Pune and we discussed about a child who has not been coming to school for a while. The child has not been feeling well, lost his appetite etc. The children from around his house mentioned that he got scared about something and doesn't want to come to school. Jane mentioned that this had happened before and he has a fear for devils and the evil spirits. I decided to accompany Jane to his home, while one of the other volunteers, Sandy handled english instead of computer science for two groups. Before we left, the younger children wanted to show us a house they built in the morning (complete two storey house!)

More photos here- Sita_school_home

The child was happy to see us. But, the family background of the child was quite impverished. The father has not been supporting the family and has not been a constant presence of support. After the conversation with the family and the child, Jane and I had a discussion on fears and how to address fears of children. Would just rubbishing them actually help the child get over the fear? A more sensitive approach is required. At the same time reinforcing the child's fears by going for occult practices is not advisable at all! Most times this happens in the villages and this is a very strong community feeling that can't be challenged easily. Jane emphasised that we should help the child in believing in more postive aspects in life that can thwart the negative thoughts and overcome their fears.

After I returned from the village, I did computer science with the chetana group. The three girls were their usual enthusiastic stuff and we started of with something really interesting! I went over the 'Scratch' program for them and explained how it is similar to the game of 'computer-operator' we played last week. I explained how there is a scripts section and the controls can be used to make the animation act in a particular way. The children had a lot of fun changing the cartoon, adding sounds, trying to make different dialogues etc. I gave them a homework of trying to create their own story using scratch! Later I narrated the classroom experience to Jane and she felt it was very interesting. She wanted to use it to depict the story that nandana kids were doing as part of their english lessons. Anyways, while the rest of the school was closed the next week, the nandanda kids will be there in order to prepare for their 7th open exams.

On Friday, Preeti and I reached the school along with a friend, Balaji. Balaji has been a long time asha volunteer and also coached the thulir kids for their long distance runs. This week we did an interesting workout (courtsey a book on 'new age games' borrowed from Jane :) ). We did a short run across the open fields to a green wide clearing outside the school. Then we split the kids into two teams. One of the teams would be the clock and the other team would race the clock (hence, I came up with the name - 'Racing the clock' :) ). So, the 'clock' team would form a wide circle and will keep passing the ball in a clockwise manner. Each pass from one member to the other is a 'tick'. Meanwhile, as soon as the clock starts, the first runner from the other team runs around the circle (or clock) and comes back to the starting point, thus passing a key to the next runner in the queue. When the whole team finishes running, we get the total no. of ticks. Later, the teams interchange roles and the second team's ticks are counted to see who could go faster. The kids had a lot of fun doing this. It was also quite tiring! We did our drills and went for prayers.

After prayers, Preeti started the session on nervous system. Jane, Preeti, Kamala and I had discussed how best to start the session and finally Jane proposed that we start with a small game to introduce the idea of reflexes. The kids already played this game which involved a keen observation of the other player's movements and responding to it. Thus, Preeti introduced the concept of voluntary or learned reflexes.

More photos here- Sita_school_nervous_system

Later Preeti introduced the idea of involuntary reflexes. She then discussed the concept of nerves and also addressed myths about 'cramping' (i.e. its related to muscles and not nerves). We played a few short videos on nerves and explained how the nervous system is constituted. Later, Preeti went into more detail and explained why some reflexes are voluntary and some are not. She demonstrated some of the involuntary reflexes like our reactions to knee raps etc.

More photos here- Sita_school_nervous_system

By the end of the session, we asked the children to document their understanding of the discussion and the nervous system. We also gave them a jumbled order of our sequence of reaction to a stimulation. One of the children found it very hard to understand. Even after Preeti went over it couple of times, she couldn't understand the whole sequence of response. Finally, she could reproduce the correct sequence, but we were not sure if shw understood it. We will have to provide other activities to see if she grasped the concepts. This would be something that Kamala would do in her classes.


On Wednesday, I didn't have an usual run and hence started later than usual for Ananya. But, I got struck in the monstrous Bangalore traffic. It was sickening and I was so very thankful that I didn't have to endure this every day like most office-goers! The children were engaged in a puppetry workshop and I decided to call off the class as I would get only few minutes with them.

On Thursday, Preeti and I reached in time and found that the heavy rains from the previous day had made the whole approach road slushy and slippery. We decided not to do the run outside of school. After the usual drills, we introduced a new workout - 'Racing the clock'. The game is described in the section above. The kids really loved the game and got very involved. But, the game soon took a competitive color. A few kids got too serious with the idea of counting and they started complaining about the larger circles that the opposite team made, not doing the relay run properly etc. But, overall they had a very good speed workout which was mostly 'fartlek' (non-regular fast and slow intervals). We played the game for quite sometime and later did the stretches. The Ananya kids have slowly warmed up for the stretches as they see it as a challenge and try to beat the count of seconds when holding on to stretches.

After breakfast, we had a short maths class (cut short for puppetry sessions). I used Arvind Gupta's website to plan activities for the class. The focus was on paper folding and identifying shapes and angles. We did paper folding to make a protractor. So, the kids could measure angles of 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120 and 150 degrees without using a regular protractor quite accurately! The kids found this very interesting. Then we did an activity to see hands on that the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degs and the angles of a quadrilateral add up to 360 degs. They cut out any triangle of quadrilateral they wanted and then tore of only the corners of the shape and put them all together. In the case of a triangle, they got a straight line, giving 180 degs and the quadrilateral gave a circle with 360 degs! We ended the session with a simple paper toy - a rabbit which could flap its ears :)


  1. Good stuff Santhosh. I finally got around to reading your blog :)

    It is awesome to know that you are also involved in teaching things other than running.

  2. Thanks Gaurav for visiting the blog :) - Ya..the effort is to erase the lines between running, physical activity and learning. Of course, based on the needs of the school I jump in to help out wherever possible as well.