Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Altars in my school

As a student I cannot remember any classroom that had an altar. It wasn't just there but it would have been good if we had it. A place where one could say a short pray or find refuge when in need.
























But today, most classrooms in my school has an altar. The students offer water (choeb) and burn incense sticks in the morning and also butter lamps on auspicious days. In each class there is a student who initiates the offerings. And amazingly in all the cases it is always the boys who do this. But it could be also because the boys spend a lot of time in the classroom than the girls.


When you walk into a classroom in the morning you smell the incense burning and personally I feel that experience very prolific to the energy that accompanies me there. 

Some more photos 







The altars are made by the students themselves. They are made out of cardboards and painted elaborately. The kuthangs were also stitched by students. Of course they didn't do it in the school because the school doesn't have the necessary facilities or the tools. But something like this can be made abrasive if we can give them the support they need.  


Students offer nendar (money) before they sit for their exams. The money is later used to buy incense sticks or oil for the lamps. 






But I was also wondering, what about the christians or the hindus who are the minorities. Do they have an ambivalent attitude to these happenings? Or have they understood that "All religions are doors to the same House" - Steve Jobs.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Argumentative Essay

I met many challenges, many I never anticipated as a teacher. But at the top of the list, without any doubt will be teaching how to write an argumentative essay. I had no idea but I had to teach it, it was totally frustrating and scary at that time. The English curriculum was new and so was I. But that was not the problem, the problem was no getting any help because most teachers were new to the curriculum and the orientation program missed the teachers at PHSS. The most scary situation for a new teacher is letting your guard down, in this case, mine was having no idea about the essay and hoping my students would not ask me about it everyday.

The teacher's guide (BHSEC English) didn't help because it doesn't have even the slightest diminutive tip/hint on the essay. The essays given for study in the textbook were confusing. And I cursed the damn essay/s and the people who wanted teachers to teach this essay. I later found out the curriculum specialist themselves (national) were not very sure about the different essays that were expected to be taught. None of the essays in the text books (11 &12) fit into the argumentative essay format or the pattern. It was very frustrating at times when I could not find any help. The school didn't have internet and most teachers had their own vague ideas about the argumentative essay anatomy.

So, I drove 10 km every evening to my father's office for about two weeks to browse for samples and online help. After spending substantial time and scanning through numerous sites and samples I finally discovered the one that we teach our students today. I don't know if it is the best sample but we are making it do with our students.

But I also found out that writing an argumentative essay has many good learning aspects and the essays that I wrote as a students can never be compared to what my students write. It is different from other writings. It helps one to be more critical and it stimulates one to consider aspects from different angles that rig and ascertain the validity of the argument. It helps one think at the higher levels of analysis, evaluation and creating a stand in an argument. A writing that is rhetoric and firm makes a good argumentative essay. I see it to be far more matured than the other essays. It may not let a writer play with words and give it the spontaneity of the creative mind but it certainly helps one gather one's functional language vocabulary and practice using it.


The link below will take you the sample essay.
http://www.buowl.boun.edu


Monday, November 4, 2013

Superstition


The Bhutanese have a superstition that certain women have negative spirits ( a cultural gender discrimination). These bad spirits are called soendae. The soendae live within a person and thrive when they are able to make other people sick. The person who is the host has little knowledge of the negative spirit living within her. When a soendae has visited a person, that person becomes sick or sometimes even die if the remedies are not carried out in time. When one washes his or her body with a herb called tsoe (rubus), scratches appear on the part of the body that has been exposed to the soendae.
In certain parts of Bhutan, it is also believed that the soendaes maneuver in the form of small flames, hopping and wiggling from place to place. And if one is brave enough to whack it with a stick, the host becomes sick the next day. Bruises appear from the beating received.
It is also believed that soendaes have groups and they sit for meetings before they proceed with their hunt. If the hunt is unsuccessful, then the weakest soendae will have to sacrifice her child or her husband.

The dark clouds hovered in the distant horizon. Lightning flashed, crackling the bleak sky and the thunderous roar followed. Flames sparked, wiggled playfully and consumed themselves into forms out of the dark misty air. They gathered at a dark stone slab where they convene their usual meeting. It was hunting season.

Murmurs rose and fell and they dispersed.

Through the window a vague hazy scene of a family having dinner is seen. The view hovers from one window to the other zooming in and out on the people in the house; all the while the people are unaware of the visitor.
While the family is busy the one-year-old baby is crawling and is playing. The visitor tries to break in but at the door the guardian deity flairs so it hovers to a window. Seeing that the window is open, slips into the house and moves towards the baby. It observes the baby from a distance and sudden fear engulfs it. It sees the baby fearlessly munching everything in its path. It chews a comb, a doll, a steel mug, and goes on and on. Salivating and mauling with groans and cries it moves fearlessly. The soendae hovers back and in its ghostly paleness it almost disappears as fear strikes its very being. With a swirl of twist and zooms, it vanishes.

It is also believed that demons/ghost/witches/evil/soendae fear babies (1-2 years) because the baby knows no fear. It puts everything in its mouth; a basic survival instinct.