Argumentative Writing Workshop – May 2020
It was an intense session where kids picked their topics and were taught techniques on how to write a persuasive essay. The course invited an investigative journalist also to speak to students on avoiding bias while writing
Below are few of the essays submitted by the students.
WHY MIDDLE CLASS INDIAN PARENTS DO NOT ACCEPT THEIR SONS AS CHEFS
by Krishaneel Thakore, age 11
My cousin, Revanth cooks very well. He hesitated to tell my aunt and uncle that he wanted to become a chef. Finally, one day he asked them. The answer was a ‘NO’. Why do middle class Indian parents not accept their sons being chefs? This was the question in my head. I heard them say that they wanted him to become an engineer because there was not enough respect for chef.
In Indian culture, the best cooks are men. Bheema and Nala the king are the best examples for this. In fact, Bheema worked as the head cook for one year in Matsyadesam (Virataparva, The Mahabharata of Veda Vyasa).
Another example is Jaymukh, who is sixty-two, learned to cook while working decades ago as a door-to-door fabric salesman. He had a hard time finding food that he liked during his travels, so he taught himself to prepare simple dishes. When he got married to Arumugam’s mother, Selvi, in 1990, he settled down in Chengalpattu, where the locals were so impressed with his culinary skills that they insisted he start a dhaba, or roadside food stand, specializing in biryani. Arumugam has fond childhood memories of his dad’s cooking. “I remember coming home from school and my dad had made pepper crabs,” Arumugam said. Jaymukh sometimes cooked outdoors for the family—the same way that his own father prepared meals.
Today Arumugam and Jaymukh live a comfortable life making food for everybody in the village. This is a very good example for men being good cooks.
Middle class Indian parents say that there is no dignity in being a chef and ‘men do NOT cook’. In fact, few parents even say that only effeminate men cook. This not true. Even if it is true, how does it matter? The focus is on the career that the child wants to choose. The gender does not matter. Moreover, the chef cooks with his heart in it and wins the hearts of his clients. What a way to live!
The larger problem is when few parents do not give their children an opportunity to choose their career. They think career is all about earning money. They forget that the career should be the person’s love and life.
The only solution for this problem is that the mindset of the society has to change. A child can choose from many professions.
My mother, Dr. Yashoda Thakore is a dancer who teaches at The University of Silicon Andhra, California. She has students much older than her. This is because their parents did not allow them to pursue dance as a profession when they were younger. Now they are doing it when they are old enough to take their own decisions. This is praiseworthy. Nevertheless, practice of dance after a certain age is stressful for them.
When my mother was a kid, her father tried to persuade her to become an engineer or a businessperson. However, my mother made up her mind to be a dancer. Now she is a full-fledged, established dancer with a PhD in Dance and Yoga.
There are more examples, like the Lady with the lamp, Florence Nightingale. She was a child whose parents strongly disagreed for her to be a nurse but wanted her to marry a rich person and live a peaceful life. Nevertheless, she held the ground, strove to become a nurse, and succeeded in being a very helpful nurse by helping many soldiers in the Crinean war in 1853-1856.
There are many such examples in which a person is very successful when one does what they love and there will be more such examples in the future.
Few parents do not accept their child’s decision. When a person peruses a profession of one’s choice that they love and are good at, they are bound to succeed and live a happy life. This is possible only if the mindset of parents like my aunt and uncle changes. Then my cousin Revanth too will be a happy chef.
Is online learning a substitute for face-to-face learning?
by Arjun Agarwal, age 13
The coronavirus outbreak has forced schools across the world to use online platforms such as Zoom, Google Classroom etc. as a tool to continue education. But is it even a patch on classroom learning? According to a group discussion by teachers which was conducted by testway, E-learning has helped students explore more about the concepts that they are learning. Not only this, if used to its full potential, is more accurate than classroom learning as Indian textbooks tend to be outdated sometimes
But the teachers, when asked whether this should continue to replace classroom learning, strongly disagreed! They have given a valid reason, that the social interaction with other students is just not the same as a physical class setting. After the same organization did a similar discussion with students, we find that their opinion couldn’t be more contrary to that of the teachers! While the teachers mentioned that they didn’t see online learning allowing the same amount of social interaction, the students say that online learning has helped them collaborate better with their classmates. While the general opinion of the educators is that online learning makes group projects difficult, students on the other hand have found that to be the most interesting part of their e-learning experience.
In my opinion, e-learning has taught students to look beyond textbooks as the source of knowledge, something that was just not possible to be taught inside the four walls of the classroom. According to a survey done by communitycollegereview.in, 46% of college students in the U.K and the U.S have taken at least one online course, if not more. This is because people can watch videos related to the topic taught at their own pace. They can look at a particular video again in case they have not followed any concept. This has enhanced their understanding. There are several tools, apps, videos to make learning engaging, interactive and fun. Some difficult science concepts such as light or the human body can be understood better using these tools which is not always possible in a physical classroom setup.
Visual learning always outperforms auditory learning. People tend to believe what they see much more easily than what they read. Not taking away that people can still be auditory learning, research done by a website called Scholarworks confirms, visual learning helps people remember for a long period of time. Auditory learning helps us remember equally well but for a short period of time. However, this has a considerable impact on our eyes. The impact of screen time has to be considered for the future of blending learning.
Traditional school also has its pros. Sports forms a huge part of the term ‘school’. There is no school without sports, but there is also no learning without understanding. Performing arts is another thing that cannot be done online. But in classrooms, students are asked to merely memorize everything without actually understanding what it means. E-learning is a tool which has a lot of potential to interest children in various subjects. Teachers can still go on droning about what they are reading from the textbooks. But they could also show videos relating to the topics. Of course network issues should also be taken into consideration.However, according to a report by orleansmarketing, about 4 billion people have a stable connection. I personally thought as a student that I learnt better online.
Both traditional school and online learning have their pros and cons. The world is our teacher. E-lessons provide us with a larger range of courses. You can sit in India and learn a pre-recorded course taught by a Harvard professor. Both need to co-exist to make a good school. We need to be able to have the best of both worlds. For many schools, blended learning is the way ahead.
Scholarworks.in (no e-source)
Indiatoday(magazine, no e-source)
Communitycollegereview.in (no e-source)
Are exams necessary in school?
by Nikhil D’souza, age 12
This is the common question that every student asks in their life, it is a question that everybody can relate to. Even children at the age of 3.5 years have to give an interview to join nursery/Montessori in school. Students have to give exams to be promoted to the next class then give board exams in grade 10 after grade 12, they have to give various entrance exams to join professional courses that they want to join. The preparation for these entrances also start well before time by way of mock tests. Every year there are also leaks in papers across India causing anxiety among students and they made to rewrite their exams.
But are so many exams truly necessary, isn’t there a better way to test one’s intellect or ability than rote learning and exams. I personally feel, exams are an unwise move that puts unnecessary burden on both children and parents and ruin the joy of learning and the search for knowledge.
Have we forgotten the purpose of education? The primary purpose of education is to teach value to students, develop their thinking skills and learning abilities. However, exams are giving students unhealthy competition between themselves. We are so fixated with exams that if one doesn’t do well he or she is deemed a failure by all others. It’s disheartening to see the loss of morale and discouragement that we see around. We read about many suicides every year after a student fails an exam or they can’t cope with the pressure that an oncoming exam puts on them& they feel like a failure. The NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) reported 9,478 suicides in 2016, 9,905 in 2017 and 10,159 in 2018 this alarming rise in the number of suicides should be a big cause of concern for the education system. Infact, during the grade tenth exam results of 2018 there were 28 suicides per day in India !.
Why are we obsessed with exams when many countries have abolished the concept of exams on the primary and secondary level. Exams do not define intelligence, we know that as even the great scientists like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton failed in their exams.
It is thought by many that without exams students wont concentrate on their studies and won’t work hard but I feel that exams can be substituted by other assessments. There can also be projects, field trips, debates, presentations and experiments. All of them can be put in a student portfolio so that the teacher can assess the student. These will not only test the student’s ability to apply what they learnt to answer but will make students enjoy learning. We need a more holistic approach towards education.
Some countries have abolished the concept of exams. Finland, for example does not have exams in any schools, but at the same time if one searches on the internet for the best schools in the world Finland will dominate the results. They have a single exam at the end of college called the Finnish matriculate exam. They also start school at the age of 7 not 3.5 years like in India.
The problem lies with the word intelligence. The common definition, that of possessing ‘a quickness of understanding and an ability to apply knowledge and skills to a high level’ – should give us pause to ask how well equipped our current examination system is to deliver? Exams cannot define intelligence as we lose many talented people by thinking this way. Students are preoccupied studying for exams and teachers are preoccupied making scripts. The education system is truly obsessed with exams it’s time we realize it is doing us more harm than good.
Why the NBA Should Resume Their Season
by Rithwik Jampana, age 14
The NBA shut down their season in mid March due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is no doubt that it was the right move at the time, given that two players in the league had already been infected by the virus. But two and a half months later with signs that the curve in the United States is starting to flatten why don’t we resume the NBA season, taking proper safety precautions.
Discussions have started within the organisation between team owners, managers, and the commissioner Adam Silver debating whether to start the season, and if so when and where.
The season without the effect of the pandemic has already been financially taxing, having lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to a controversy with China. Not resuming the season could lead to more losses of billions of dollars. The money the NBA makes is a result of gate revenue (ticket sales), National TV rights deals, media rights deals, and merchandise. If the NBA season were to resume, gate revenue would still be zero, losing around eight hundred and fifty million dollars, as they would play in empty stadiums, but TV rights deals would skyrocket. This has been proven by the recent NFL draft and TV show the Last Dance. Both had made incredible amounts of money, the Last Dance averaging six million viewers. The NBA has a twenty four billion dollar deal with ESPN, ABC, and TNT, which is worth 2.4 billion this year alone. The TV ratings would be able to cover to an extent for the gate revenue. Totally the NBA will anyways lose one billion dollars if the NBA were to continue due to empty stadiums, but if it were not to continue losses would be in excess of two billion dollars. The NBA also contributes to the US economy. The advertisements played during games benefit companies tremendously. NBA teams are very important to their local businesses as well. A study showed that employment rates in bars in a 1 mile radius around the stadium Lebron James moved to increased by 23.5%.
The NBA must crown a champion for this season, and resuming is the only way to do so. Many teams have built themselves for a run this year, and millions of fans have waited years for their team’s chance to win the trophy. The lakers are an amazing example. The Lakers had been terrible since Kobe Bryant’s achilles injury in 2013, and have successfully rebuilt and experts believe they’re the team to beat in the playoffs. Not only the Lakers but several other franchises have rebuilt in an effort to win this year, the Nuggets, Bucks, Clippers, Celtics all part of the title race. The NBA also has a unique opportunity to experiment with a new playoff format to crown a champion. These have been a possible 1-16 seeded playoffs, a group format, or a play-in for teams in contention if there is no continuation of the regular season. All of these would be fascinating to watch.
The players need to stay in shape, so they are performing at the required level. Opening up team practice facilities around the country could do the trick, but game speed is much different than practice. Resuming play will keep the players in top shape. Many players do not have at home gyms, and courts to practice, even top players like Jayson Tatum saying he has not put up a shot in a few months. During theNBA lockout season in 1998 Shawn Kemp gained thirty pounds, telling his coach later that he did not expect the NBA to return that season. This could become the case for many players.
The question many people have about the NBA season resuming is the safety of the players. But this has been answered with plans for games if the NBA is resumed to be played in the ESPN Wide World Of Sports in Orlando. This complex is situated on the Disney World Resort containing three arenas, many practice facilities, weight rooms, dining options, and thousands of hotel rooms. They will try to contain the players to this facility spreading over two hundred and fifty five thousand square acres. NBA Spokesperson Mike Bass, said they will be working with health experts and government officials on guidelines to ensure that the appropriate safety protocols are followed. Sources say the NBA is also arranging for fifteen thousand coronavirus tests.
When the NBA resumes it can be carried out safely by following these precautions. The NBA should test the players every three to four days. The players on the bench should be required to wear masks and remain at least six feet away from other players on the bench. It would not be possible though for players on the court to wear masks or protective gear as it would hamper their performance. If somehow there comes a case in the NBA where a player does get infected by the virus they should be immediately isolated from the team. When players are off the court they must maintain social distancing, and wear face masks. If the NBA is able to resume, and finish their season safely it will be an enormous success.
– Albert. “Potential Financial Implications of the Suspended NBA Season.” HeatHoops, potential-financial-implications-of-the-suspended-nba-season. – Bontemps, Tim, and Brian Windhorst. “The NBA in a Bubble: The Blueprint for How the League Could Finish the 2019-20 Season.” ESPN, ESPN, 24 May 2020, the-nba-bubble-blueprint-how-league-finish-2019. – 20-season. – Mannix, Chris. “The NBA Should Return, But Should It Crown a Champion?” Sports Illustrated, 26 May 2020, nba-playoffs-crowning-champion.