Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Walong Visit

Please see my ebook ' Visiting Walong'


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Some stray thoughts on professional teaching methods –

Nowadays, several of us are involved in training-teaching-learning processes. Whether, as resource persons in a workshop or as a trainer in a training session or module developers, we are in adult education. If we are not educationists, or not psychologist, are we competent? It is only recently that faculty development among health professionals has started but most of us become trainers on self learning or experiential learning methods. Are these only applicable as adult learners? I don’t think so. In fact, Julie Conlan, Sarah Grabowski, Katie Smith, Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia (Authors of Review of Adult Learning at also believe that these methods are applicable even in childhood.) My belief is on small experiences again at my school Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.

Some expirience of ‘experiential and self learning’

In August 1965, the India – Pakistan War broke out. We were early teen agers studying Social Science text book when the war started. A normal reaction of fear and excitement – of black outs, of combats and of war propogandas – was natural. Every morning there was siren exercise at the school ground. But, our social science teacher changed the syllabus and his role – he took permission to adapt the 6 months syllabus into Kahmir issues, Indo Pak War, the military structure, role of UN etc., etc. Sources was supposed to be magazines, newspapers, radio like AIR, VOA and BBC, some stories, II WW comics etc. We were to prepare a daily news item and inform the daily prayer session of the whole school! We had groups for projects – about the structures and strengths of Indian and Pakistani Armed Forces, about history of Kashmir issue, history of Indo China War etc. etc. For the first time the ‘boring’ subject became an exciting and action oriented one. The groups competed for better presentations and better knowledge. A group actually went and met some high rank in the 3 wings! Incidentally, the whole class passed with bright marks! Involvement of the children was high, converted fear factor into a creative one. Its imprint is still palpable – I can ‘see’ the face of Shri M L Sharmaji – my ‘facilitator’ cum teacher!

What I am saying is nothing new, all our eminent schools have this as a part of teaching method. I am questioning ourselves: do we have in medical, para medical education such methods? How much of our education is based on problem based, learner centered, experiential/action learning methods? To what extent are we flexible in teaching in the formal education system? A survey conducted among medical students by CHC a some time back had pointed out a similar problems.

My loud ‘diptinking’

Have we done so in our ASHA/CHW training? We stick to one approach, one manual and train the trainers accordingly and defeat the very purpose of flexibile, learner centric approaches. My dilemma is what to do can be fixed but can how and who be also fixed? In an action learning, there can be a group of learners and a facilitator/learner’s coach or counselor (in the Open Distance Learning’s parlance). The trainer can learn how to train while doing, so the ToT should be an orientation workhop and the real ToT should be while working as the facilitator and not in the classroom! Let there be an observer and review meetings for discussing the Pros and Cons, areas of improvement etc. Even comparatively less educated self learn, learn while doing but trainers are not so less educated. They are doctors, nurses, social workers who have their own experience, knowledge of education, knowledge about the content etc. How much of instructions would have retention when action is in different environmental settings required?

What are your thoughts? Experineces? Experiments?

Monday, August 3, 2009

How and Why - did I get became the worm in the apple of health!

I was in my Higher Secondary – 9th standard at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya at Lodhi Estate, New Delhi. (Walking through the Lodhi Gardens and coming out from a gate where World Bank has an office today was a routine exercise.)

Trigonometry (we used to call the exercises as tanning by sins and its coses) and Chemistry were my pet and scoring subjects. Biology, particularly dissecting cockroaches, earthworms and frogs were interesting activities.

Once, we dissected an earthworm and removed its brain. We put it in cockroach’s head! Our biology teacher spanked us orally but we called it The Transplantation of the Brain! This was a couple of years after the first human to human heart transplantation was done by Christiaan Barnard.

While biking back from the school to home, we argued if it is possible to transplant Leyland engine into a Tata Benz bus! Because the Delhi bus service was dismal then but they were TATA Benz buses. Mumbai had Leyland but services were excellent. The hypothesis was: the cause of DTC’s dismalness was the bus engine! At the end of the day - and of 12 golguppe each, we concluded that transplantation was biologically possible but mechanically not and closed the chapter. One of the argument was – you can’t transplant the mercury barometer’s dial to the anerobic baromenter, can we, so shut up. I think peer and unauthentic sanskars of intense, logical but futile debates during the school days were essential to become an mfcite!

I found math and physical sciences as very interesting and scoring but biological ones exciting! The Adolescent Kink retained me in bio though I scored better in HSC in PCM and when testing self in the IIT Entrance Test scored fair. A wrong decision not to go in engineering field landed me in medical.

So, I am here…sometimes weeds also get medical value, isn’t it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Visiting Walong - Some noteworthy noting!

During the 1962 Indo China war, as a 10 year old but avid newspaper reader, I recall Battles of Bomdi La and Walong as brave heart efforts of Indian soldiers! Later, during the 1965 Indo Pak war, our social studies school teacher replaced classroom teaching with assignments to recall the previous Indian wars. We the young VII std students collected information, stories about the army which fought such battles, about the weapons and ammunition used etc. And once again, in 1975, as a fresh doctor in his first job seeking exercise, I had applied for MO, PHCs posts in Arunachal Pradesh – and Walong was one of them! So, once a happenstance, twice, a coincidence but thrice being a conspiracy, I had to go there. Now, the absurdity of the Indo China War or war in general is clear but the old memories remain. So in January this year I went to Walong,. The results of my investigations are here in form of an e-book!

Arunachal Pradesh – the Land of the Rising Sun is the largest state of the North East region where the dawn breaks. Literally speaking, it has the sunrise point of India – at Dong village. The state is twice as large as Kerala. The diversity of the land and rivers, of grass, plants and trees, of birds and animals, of neighbourhoods, of crops and of the people residing there is such that it would not be wrong to call it a miniature India.

Public Private Partnership has taken roots after the NRHM was launched. Several governments announced and tried to hand over the PHCs to voluntary organizations for managing it. The purpose was that they can apply innovative methods to make services more accessible and user friendly. States like Karnataka tried it quite successfully earlier. Arunachal Pradesh being a remote state it was a challenging field to provide Primary Health Care. Karuna Trust , a renowned NGO from Karnataka accepted this challenge and the Government handed over 9 PHCs covering approximately 2 lakh population. In January 2009, I visited one of the PHC to learn the good practices applied at the PHCs by Karuna Trust.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dip Tinking by D*H*R*U*V* M*A*N*K*A*D

American Humor is an old and avidly read - and seen on the screen - tool to reduce depression and high blood pressure. Mark Twain's Colonel Beriah Sellers, two lovable frauds in Huckleberry Finn, the King and the Duke, James Thurber's 'a little man', Clarence Day Sr. a stockbrocker-cum-father of Clarence Day Jr. in printed literature were pen-driven ticklers. Charley Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy or Sister Mary Claernce of The Sister Act films, Chief Inspector Clauseau in the Pink Panther series in cinema were camera captured de-depressers.

Hyman Kaplan is one such character of American Literature created by
Leo C. Rosten.(lee Leonard Q. Ross) He is a middle-aged Jewish immigrant who is studying English at the beginner’s level. The story 'Dip Tinking by H*Y*M*A*N* K*A*P*L*A*N' is a platter of his dreams and thoughts with a tang of black humor - live humor of those who are struggling to learn how to create their own identity, a decent livelihood, a presence in a society where competition is a way of life.

So, you would see some of my 'dip tinking' on this blog. Think about it! Enjoy it!

Jai ho!