Having fun with simple interest

By Arindam Nag, Founder, Learnhive

One of the best ways to make learning fun is for parents to engage children in activities
from our day-to-day lives, tying the activities to concepts that they learn in school.

save money

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/815274

Take for example the concept of simple interest that is usually introduced around the 5th  grade in Indian schools. I have twins, a boy and a girl, who are currently in 6th grade. My son was probably a financier or accountant in his previous life. He has kept a keen interest in money matters from a young age. He seems to remember all of his (pocket) money earnings and promises of monetary benefits made by us. However, my daughter on the other hand is more than happy to let her brother handle her accounting and easily parts with her share. So naturally when they were being taught simple interest, one showed more interest than the other.

My wife and I decided to use this opportunity to give them some real world experience of managing money and explain how banks function. We opened up accounts for both of them and asked them to put a portion of their pocket monies in their respective accounts. We explained that the money in the bank would earn them interest as they had learnt in school. Once they had sufficient money, they could even opt for a fixed deposit that would earn them higher interest. This was followed by some quick calculations to show how many additional scoobi strings / novels and other goodies they could buy by keeping the money in the bank rather than at home. This led to further conversation on how banks could afford to give interest. Both of them then got into finding their perfect signature. This entire episode seems to not only have piqued more interest in my son to read financial news articles (he now regularly looks at the currency rates in the morning newspaper), but seems to have also kindled more awareness on money matters for my daughter. They will be learning compound interest in school later this year, which they are looking forward to.

Masterchef Australia is also one of their favorite TV programs. The twins have started using terms like “adding acidity to the sauce” when they help their mom in the kitchen. Examples for chapter on Acids and Bases…here we come…

What were your experiences in explaining concepts to your children? What examples did you use?

About the Author:

Arindam Nag is a  Founder and Director at Learnhive; he has over 15 years experience in information technology. He worked for over 13 years at one of the world’s leading investment banks, Goldman Sachs in various engineering and technology leadership roles. He has a Masters in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a recipient of National Talent Search Scholarship. He is a staunch believer in using technology to bridge the gap in the educational divide that exists not just in India but the world over.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Should we abolish final examinations?

By Captain Unni Krishnan, Founder and Director, LearnHive

What does examination do? It rates the examinees based on their proficiency and the result helps allow them make choices regarding the next steps.

preparing for exams

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1275249

Let us take a look at some things in life: friends, job, marriage partner, promotion. Don’t all these things depend on our choice? When there is a choice, you select and when you select one out of many it means competition?

If as an individual we can create competition, it is bound that in this world competition will be manifold and the only way to survive is to prepare for competition .

By abolishing exams, we are treating the symptom rather than find and treat the cause. Let us understand that with an increasing population, competition is not just bound to exist but will only increase.

Well then what can we do? The best way to handle competition is to prepare for it. This means we cannot wish away examinations.

Let us re-look at the world around us. Education in addition to creating awareness must also prepare students for their profession. The biggest opportunity is that just as the number of students has increased the avenues of careers/ profession has also increased.

Unfortunately the education system in India has not changed accordingly especially at the school level. We can think and will realize that school education need not be so broad based. The subject skills required by an engineer are not the same as what is required by a journalist, media analyst, economist, fashion designer, dancer or a movie editor. Also as per the theory of multiple intelligences, children are adept at different skillsets and hence perform better in certain subjects.

Aim of restructuring education should be to prepare students for the current scenario. One of the possible ways of doing this is to rework the number of subjects that a student is being examined in. If a student is going to be examined in the subject he/ she likes and wants to specialize in, it is quite possible that the student will not be stressed. We all know that we have to prepare more in subjects that we are weak in. While a student studies a broad base of subjects, when it comes to the important Board/ Qualifying examinations, the choice of subjects that they wish to pursue may only be examined. This will see a larger motivation among students in their preparation for exams and also bring down stress levels.

About the Author:

Captain Unni Krishnan is a Founder and Director of LearnHive; he is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of Primus Public School, Bangalore. Prior to that he was the Founder and Trustee of Indus International School. At Primus, he has been instrumental in implementation of new teaching pedagogies. He has seamlessly integrated the International and Indian syllabi to help prepare students for higher studies both in India and Overseas. Capt. is a ‘Sword of Honor’ from the prestigious Officers Training Academy of the Indian Army.

 About Learnhive:

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Make learning effective – address the misconceptions

By Shiv Shankar, Founder and CEO, LearnHive

Did you know that kids have strong misconceptions? Watching lecture based video lessons will not help the kids to learn the concepts. This was explained in an recent  article. An example of misconception is that kids believe that the earth is flat. When the (video) teacher explains that the earth is round, the kids imagine that it is like a pancake, round and flat. So, how do we solve this problem and make learning more effective?

It is very important to bring out the child’s misconceptions and replace it with the correct concepts. Following the above example, asking the question whether the earth is like a pancake and explaining that the earth is like a ball will remove the misconception. Derek Muller in his Ph.D. thesis explains the best ways to teach Physics by addressing the common misconceptions.

It is now time to abolish monologue lecture videos as a means to teach concepts. A concept can be taught very effectively if a student is included in the video and there is a dialogue with a student. The student in the video should actively ask questions to clarify the misconceptions. This will help the child who is watching the video to assume the role of the student in the video and activate mirror neurons leading to better learning. Arindam Nag, one of our co-founders has applied this principle and did an excellent job of explaining the concept of infinity to his daughter. You can watch this awesome infinity concept YouTube video .

What common misconceptions do your children have? Share the misconceptions with us and we will help you to  teach the correct concepts.

I have given some references below if you are interested in exploring further.

References:

  1. “Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.”- Book: How people learn?
  2. Mental Models of the Earth:  A Study of Conceptual Change in Childhood
  3. Expert gently asks whether Khan’s Academy videos promote meaningful learning
  4. Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education
  5. Mirror Neuron – wiki
  6. Learnhive video – Concept of Infinity

About the Author:

Shiv Shankar (shiv@learnhive.net) is the co-founder and CEO of LearnHive. He cofounded Learnhive committed to creating a unique knowledge ecosystem which will make it easy to create, organize, share and obtain learning materials for K-12 education.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Are Children Learning or Studying?

By Captain Unni Krishnan, Founder and Director, LearnHive

Children are most precious to parents and their future the top most priority for them. It is with the purpose of helping their child achieve great heights that parents seek the best possible education for them.

Having been educated in the post independence but pre economic autonomy era, I have experienced a system of education that is skewed towards marks rather than towards knowledge. Every opportunity of employment was governed by “What degree do you have?  What marks did you get?”. The questions “What is it that you know”? or “What is it that you can do”? had no relevance. This led to a single point of focus in education which clearly conveyed that “marks are not everything but they are the only thing”.

Admission to a good college ensures a good placement and in turn admission to a good college is based on the marks that you achieve in the Board Examination or the Entrance Examination.

In this age, when success is measured by remuneration, getting qualifying marks becomes all important. What this has done to the education system is that it has taken away the aspects of learning like  application, analysis, creativity and innovation and got students oriented to just studying for examination with the sole aim of getting marks. This has resulted in a rat race where education related discussions revolve only on cut-off marks. The effect of the percentage phenomenon has been such that it has engulfed even the education boards resulting in a cut–off at 100% this year. What next?

Let us ask ourselves, does a 100% mean the student has mastered that complete subject and is a pundit at it?

Childhood comes once in a life time and sadly the pressure of contesting at every step has taken away the social aspect of growing up with friends and appreciating others. All that matters is ‘I’ ‘me’ and ‘myself’. All assessments create a student represented just by numbers.

Sadly, in this whole journey, what we have left behind is the need for real education. Education was meant to help a child learn and then apply that learning to life in different situations that they would come across. Today, education has got limited to studying for marks and learning is of no consequence.

As per our philosophy parents and teachers are potters and are trying to give shape to their children. There is a Chinese saying “Give a potter a seed and you will get a Bonsai”. If you give a seed to a Gardner, you can have a tree that will give you flowers, fruits and even shade.

The same philosophy applies to business as well where it is essential to emphasize on creating a work ecosystem that provides every individual an opportunity to optimise their potential, work on their strengths and avoid areas of weakness; profits are bound to come in.

To prepare our children for the new era, let us try to get their focus on learning to experiment rather than just study for marks because this will help them be creative, innovative and in turn successful in life.

About the Author:

Captain Unni Krishnan is a Founder and Director of LearnHive; he is also the Founder and Managing Trustee of Primus Public School, Bangalore. Prior to that he was the Founder and Trustee of Indus International School. At Primus, he has been instrumental in implementation of new teaching pedagogies. He has seamlessly integrated the International and Indian syllabi to help prepare students for higher studies both in India and Overseas. Capt. is a ‘Sword of Honor’ from the prestigious Officers Training Academy of the Indian Army.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).

Wings of Success!

sampada.bidikar@learnhive.net

You may have heard about this story of a man and a cocoon that goes as follows:

A man once found a cocoon. He observed a small opening and was curious. He sat and watched the caterpillar for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. It was trying hard to emerge from the cocoon, going back and forth, stopping at times, and trying to find its way out. The man felt bad for the caterpillar, seeing it struggle.

The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man watched the butterfly, expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed.

The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realize that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluids from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. [1]

He did not understand that every step in the process is important. And if you skip one step, though you might seem to have reached your destination, the result might not really be the best.

To reach any goal, there are no shortcuts. Everyone has to go through the rigorous process and follow the path to reach their destination. Struggle is nature’s way of bringing out the best in us. That’s the law of nature.

We too should take our time, find our path, celebrate and enjoy every milestone along the way till we reach our destination.

Most of us know this philosophy, but how many of us really follow it? Unlike the man in the story, do we let our caterpillars come out of their cocoon on their own, by letting them go back and forth, have their own pace, making sure they accomplish every milestone, so that finally they can emerge as beautiful butterflies? Even if we want to, do our children have the leverage to do things their own way and at their own pace?

All children are naturally curious about things and passionate about learning. But somewhere down the line, in this bizarre game of learning, they get lost. During the game, they might stumble at a step or need more time than others to complete a step. Unfortunately, we do not always give them the opportunity to pause and think, or revisit a previous step, since we hurry them to catch up with others. So they tend to skip some important steps. They may reach the finish line but more often than not, the learning is incomplete or is lost. And that’s a heavy price to pay. Because as Albert Einstein rightly said “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”

Education today is operating on a factory model, where children are pushed through the system for a period of 12 years. The expected outcome is for them to be “educated” citizens, graduating with the exact same skill sets, so that they are eligible for higher education or for getting jobs [2] . But that is not how it really works, does it?

Through this system we might be able to achieve the quantitative goal of literate citizens, but what about the qualitative goal?

Today’s classrooms do not give our children the opportunity to study at their own pace, or in their own way with their preferable learning style. Nor is there enough time to revisit a concept which is either not understood or misunderstood. Willard R. Daggett (Ed.D, CEO of the International Center for Leadership in Education.) has accurately stated the reason for this as – “We have organized schools not by how kids learn; they have been organized by an easy way to teach.” [2]

There is a lot of research happening in the Learning Sciences to bridge this gap. Different sciences like psychology, computational sciencesociology, anthropology, child psychology and cognitive science contribute to the “Science of Learning”. There are many papers published on the best practices of teaching, different models and styles of learning, and much more.

And with the aid of technology, there is lot of scope for progress and an excellent opportunity to offer our children the right resources to learn and grow.

References:

[1] http://www.forwardsteps.com.au/docs/Struggling-Butterfly-Story.pdf

[2] http://dreamsofeducation.wordpress.com/

About the Author:

Sampada Bidikar (sampada.bidikar@learnhive.net) is the Team Lead – Content Development at Learnhive.

 About Learnhive: 

Learnhive is a leading provider of technology based learning solutions for K12 students, parents, and tutors. Our goal is to make curriculum based learning more effective and fun. We specialize in providing after school learning solutions for students and parents. Our flagship product, Personal Concept Tutor™ gives students the flexibility to learn concepts at their own pace using a wide variety of materials and resources suited for their individual needs. Our technology is compatible with multiple device formats such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones to make learning more fun, interactive and available to students anywhere and at anytime. Signup for free to access the learning materials (lessons and exercises).