Thursday, July 20, 2017

Naming Ceremony of our son.

Dear son Yashayr  Daiwik Bhandari,

Yes thats your name. Yashayr Daiwik Bhandari. Yashayr means ‘wealth’ (in sanskrit , And in dzogkha: Ya means high and shayr means shine)and Daiwik means 'grace of God'; Yes you are our irreplaceable wealth and indeed a grace of God; A blessing from heaven.

Priest Modan Pokhrel undertaking the ceremony
On 16th July, the whole family again got engrossed in your naming ceremony at our place in Changzamtog. The naming ceremony is known as Naamkaran in Hindi and Nauran in our Nepali culture. The ceremony was administered by Pandit Mohan Pokhrel.
Uncle Yamuna helping me during the ceremony

The event is usually held on 11th day after birth. The naming ceremony is one of the lavish events. 

Your daddy had to be with the priest performing the various rituals related to the elaborated religious ceremony. The culture has been passed down from generation to generation. It has lived for more than 5000 years now! There must be something so subtle and powerful we cannot easily deny or neglect the rituals. Thus, your daddy accepted to conduct the ceremony wholeheartedly.  Two long hours of offering, prayers and mantra recitations were religiously undertaken for your overall wellbeing.
                                
Your daddy didnt know much about the procedures involved. Uncle Yamuna made himself available during the ceremony to assist me. You have to know that as I am very grateful to him so is the whole family because your uncle has been always there in all major family events/crisis making sense of the situations. By the way, the uncle priest was also considered enough to repeat instructions in simple Nepali so I could complete the ceremony without leaving anything incomplete.
                                  
After prayers being offered; offerings made and Yagna (ceremonial rites to god) done, the family members were summoned for the much awaited moment. To hear the auspicious letter sound pronounced by the priest of which the name of the New born shall start with. The auspicious letter sound are Ya or yaa. The name could start with either sound. With great happiness we named you Yasayr!

After the announcement, you were taken outside by your grandma to veranda, as instructed by the priest, to help you stand on your feet touching a lump of cow dung and also make you do surya darshan (showing to the sun for blessings). This is done to get liberated from all impurities. Thus, from that day, relatives and friends could visit you as and when they wish to.

    Stepping on cow dung; an act to purify.
Grandma helping you see the mighty sun.
                                             
I knew that you would be the center of attention during the ceremony so your daddy bought some gifts for your brother Herish and sister Neha and Deepanjali. Why? Because I read somewhere that during such events siblings feel isolated because the center of attention would be the New born. They would feel neglected. Hope your daddy made them happy by presenting a jumper to Herish, a colouring book for Deepanjali and a Short story book for Neha didi. We could only do the presentation of gifts at the end of the naming ceremony.
Sister Deepanjali with her gift
                                         
Neha with her gift.
                                      

Herish with his gift.
However, according to the age old culture, your mom will have to wait till 22nd day before she would be allowed to enter inside our alter room. She wont be also allowed to prepare meals for others during this period. 

Grandma Juma Subedi and uncle Matrika with you
                               
Aunt Homa presenting you a gift

Aunt Binda presenting you a gift.
Many relatives and family friends came to pay you a visit. To congratulate us and to wish you good health, success and happiness. Along with them many gifts also came home to celebrate your arrival. To host large number of visitors is a daunting task. Both your grandmas, aunts (Binda and Homa) and other relatives were very busy in preparing meals and serving the visitors. You got to thank them one fine day.
                             
                                        
                                    
This will bring a smile on your face. In the following day grandpa was seen folding your loincloths neatly. Grandma was seen resting with you after the hectic day. 

Grandpa busy with your loincloths.
Grandma's special moment with you.
And amidst these, we were to hear another news. We receive a photo sent by an uncle from our village sharing a good news on WhatsApp. Our young cow has given birth to a healthy calf. Icing on the cakeI thought. The family had another beautiful reason to be glad and to remember this auspicious month. The month of your birth (6th July), the sixth day celebration (11th July and your naming ceremony (16th July). 

Our cow with her New born calf.
                                   
Love you
Mom and Dad.
Date: 20th July, 2017.

#Yagna Picture courtesy@uncle Matrika.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

His Destiny is being written!

Dear son,

The day before Yesterday, on 11th of July, we celebrated “Chowtoe” (The sixth day). It was to mark 6th day of your arrival to this earth as our son. Because in Hindu culture there exist a religious practice and believe that on the 6th day after the birth of a child, Vidhaata (the Goddess of destiny) would quietly enter the house around midnight to pen down the destiny of the newborn. 
Though this ritualistic celebration is not so commonly practiced but your grandmother informed me about it so we together decided to organize it. That was three days back. In the morning of 11th July, I went out do some shopping for we have also decided that we would be serving meals to our relatives who we have invited to visit us. There also exist a belief that on 6th day, relatives and friends would eat and drink without any restrictions as it is considered very auspicious day. Else relatives and friends wont eat from the birth day till the naming ceremony which falls on 11th day. Close relatives and the family members of the new born kinda become untouchables during this period.  
                                     
However, the most excited team member was your grandmother. Right from the morning as we rise for the day, she was preparing diya (special lamp) to have it lit throughout the auspicious day, drawing swastikas on papers so she could paste it where ever appropriate to give it the divine ambience and lay out flowers and rice grains elegantly on a bowl where the lamp which symbolize Vidhaata is lit.
                                       
Beside the special lamp she had also placed a red pen and a new diary for Vidhaata; the Goddess of Destiny to write the future of the newborn. Traditionally people use banana leaves for some reasons.

Not to forget, your grandfather was also equally engrossed right from the morning penning down lines of praises to the almighty. Later in the evening we came to know that he was to sing those lines while relatives had gathered for Bhajan to invoke Vidhaata to embark for a special journey to our home.
                                                 

                                   

It was an auspicious day so we also wanted you to wear new clothes. There was incessant rain outside but it didnt raise a single hair of my arms. I went and daddy bought a new cloth for you. The first set of shirt and pant for you to wear on the most significant day of your life.

                                                                                
On the previous night, your grandmother and I had cleaned our rooms and rearranged the set of furniture in our house so to make our living room more spacious.  For many relatives, far and near, were invited for the event. 

                                      

Early afternoon, your aunt Binda(along with her husband), grandmother and I got ourselves busy preparing feast for the visitors. 
                                       
Uncle Matrika led the Bhajan (hymns singing) program. Singing and simultaneously playing keyboard to orchestratorchestrate  a soothing melody with great divinity and your grandfather was literally full on. Singing his heart out. Quite often off synch but that wont deter his enthusiasm and energy.

                                       
He kept going. Till the end. Rest of the family members and relatives became the choir members mostly being led by uncle Matrika and your grandfather. The clueless choir members and the lead singers decided to call it a day when the bajaj wall clock read 9:30 Pm.

Meanwhile as we prepare, sing and eat dinner, this whole time, you were nestled under your mothers torso and she was breast feeding you with utmost sense of satisfaction and pride for she gave birth to you after anxiously waiting for you for nine long months.
                                                    
Your uncle Amrit, aunt Ganga and maternal grandmother were also present during the event. 

By 10:30pm, dinner was served and the small yet highly significant program came to an end. As we see off our relatives we again invited them for your yet another important day; naming ceremony which is scheduled for July 16, 2017. This coming Sunday.

Before I end, let me inform you that meanwhile as we wait for 16th of July, we are thoroughly involved in listing possible names for you. We did have a healthy debate so far over various names for we care how you would be best referred to. 

With love 
Your mom and dad.
Dated: 13th July 2017.






Thursday, July 6, 2017

Our Mother: The undisputed Superhero.

I am posting this so someday my son, nieces and nephews can read and learn about their grandmother. Acknowledge her sacrifices and appreciate a life she had lived as a daughter and have been living as a caring mother and an incredible grandmother!

My maternal grandparents 

Born In 1963 at kandung, Tendu, Samtse to a farming couple Mr. Jainarayan Dhal and Mrs. Krishna Maya Sharma my mother Mrs. Bhanki Maya is second youngest among ten siblings. Six of whom were sisters and four other were brothers.

As she remembers, she was in the company of her mother, father and her youngest brother for a considerable period of time during her young age as her elder sisters and brothers had already moved out on their own. She would often accompany her father herding goats and cow on lonely hills of Kandung while her brother was enrolled in a makeshift hut which functioned as a classroom for his share of education.

My maternal uncle had to be escorted to the hut on a nearby hill where he along with five other children from the valley gathered to learn reading and writing. Mr. Bishnu Bhakta Dhal who had returned from Vindraban, India after completing his studies had volunteered to help children learn Nepali language.
My mother had to escort him to his school early in the morning because he was scared that the tutor would scold if he reports late. The other reason for my mother to escort him was that they often would encounter bear, deer and other wild animals on their way to school.

The family use to live in a two storied wooden house with thatch roofing. During summer season rain and strong wind would often damage the roof forcing them to be under makeshift huts for days. My mother was six years old then when her father decided to migrate his family to Hangay, the present village.

On coming to a new place things didnt change a lot. Till she was eight she continued herding cow, buffalos and goats.

At the age of nine she took up all the household responsibilities and succeeded in convincing her brother to continue his studies. He was very adamant, as my mother remembers, insisting that he would also stay at home. But mother could make his mind to leave for his betterment. He was to leave for Trongsa for his formal education at the age of five.

While other siblings had already settled on their own in places far and wide and at a tender age of nine my mother bravely took care of her parents and also looked after all household chores. Leave alone the herd of cattle to be looked after.

After completing all house chores she would run out with same robustness to look after their cattle along with her father.

By fourteen she started working in fields during paddy cultivation. She would be everywhere extending her helping hand to her fellow villagers. Among many fields and houses, she would be summoned to help my paternal grandparents. Apart from helping in cultivation work in my paternal grandparents field she would also help in their daily chores.  It was during this frequent visit of my mother, then a village girl, to my fathers place that they became acquainted with each other and had expressed their desire to stay together forever.

They got married in May 18th 1978.
My paternal grandmother and my parents  (elder sister and me on ggmothers lab)


For next five months she stayed at her maternal home because Dad had to return to Thimphu to complete his Training at Serbithang Veterinary Training Center.

Along with dad in 1979 she came to Thimphu but stayed less than a year and had to again leave for village.

While at village mother gave birth to our elder sister. Dad visited her and stayed for 13 days after which he had to leave for Thimphu to attend the call of the Nation.

At the age of nineteen, for the final time, she decided to come to Thimphu because it was difficult for her to look after her child and work too. So she left for Thimphu along with kewal uncle who was on his summer vacation.

Maternal grandfather had to sell millets to cover her travel expenses. She was given Nu: 80. The otherwise travel companion who was supposed to be of help vomited profusely, she narrates with a smile on her face.  They reached Thimphu by 10 pm.

At Chubachu mom started growing potatoes, chillies, cabbages and cauliflower. She remembers selling potatoes for Nu: 0.15 per kg, chillies were sold for Nu: 3 per kg and cauliflower for Nu: 0.50 per kg.
In 1981, at Dechencholing (Dharina), the second place of posting of my dad, she engaged herself in cultivation. She specialized in potatoes cultivation.
Father being a vet officer of the Royal Palace, they stayed at Dharina along with other Royal household maids.
My mother was fascinated with the maid who were assigned with specific task. Koma, jeweleries, cow herders. Zoo keeper (deer, reindeer, peacock, fheant takin) , weavers; male and female.

While at dharina. Dad use to often accompany Major Rinzin when ever he played archery.

Clerk Sangay, responsible to the Royal housemaids, use to run a cloth store and use to  be very generous by gifting my dad clothes, pair of shoes, socks and also invited for meals too wherever dad helped him treat his herd of cattle stationed in the wilderness of kabesa.
After one and half years , dad had to go back to vet hospital at chubabchu.
While at Chubachu he was called for duty to treat Gonglan Lham Dorji cow and pet dogs. He was very generous. He would often give him Nu: 5 or nu: 10 with which my mom and dad use to watch Nepali and Bollywood movies screened at the Lugar Theater.

Thus after many movies watched, on a faithful day of 5th May 1983 I was born at the JDWNRH.

Dad came back from Australia after 3 months and mom gave birth to our younger sister in 1986.

In Dec 1986 father got transferred to Paro thus for next 30 years we started our voyage travelling across the Country where ever dad was transferred. Staying at one place for few years and moving on to another.

Along the journey of her life, she never pampered herself. For she was guided by her own mission. A mission to mend us, forge good manners in us and one day enable us all to stand on our own feet.

She took up many odd jobs to not necessarily to meet the expenses of her own family but in her pursuit to give the best in life for her children. She implemented her farming skill in growing vegetables for self-consumption wherever a patch of land was seen around dads office or the office quarters we lived in. Working at a construction site, running a small pan shop on a single wooden table during the weekly mart in Samdrup Jongkhar and of late at our home town too.

She is back in Thimphu again. This time to assist my wife and me while my wife give birth to our first child.
My mother along with my mother in law congratulating each other on arrival of the newest member in the family.


And during the frequent walks ; Whenever we happen to pass the Food Cooperation of Bhutan go-down at Changzamtog, she would narrate one particular incident. Our younger sister was not born yet. She narrates how she carried a load of 50 kg sack of rice on her back, made me sit on the sack and help my elder sister walk holding her hand from changzamtog to Chubachu.

Thats a mother's  life.  A super woman's life. A short biography of a superhuman.

Seeing her work for the  betterment of her family all these years my heart ache to have not being able to thank her. I know i won't be able to thank her enough for she contributed so much, sacrificed so much and her deeds are indeed irreplaceable. Thank you and love you mom.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Memories of May: The launch of my Book, Teachers Day and meeting my former students.

For teachers across our Nation the month of May starts with the celebration of Teachers Day coinciding the Birth anniversary of our beloved King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. As usual the school leaders coordinated the celebration supported strongly by student dancers, singers and performers to entertain us, their teachers, on the Teachers day. I enjoyed a lot. The homemade cards with handwritten messages, other valuable gifts from students and sumptuous lunch host by school leaders thoroughly pleased us.

                                         
At Druk we have a culture where Former students who have graduated from our school also join in to celebrate this special day with their teachers. They bring in some more cakes, sweet memories and warm hugs along with them. We cant ask any more than that. But something more was waiting particularly for me before I could call it a day!

                                      
It was already 3:30 PM in the afternoon of May 2nd. I expected nothing exciting to happen. But as luck would have it, my Book Publisher Mr. Bedu Prasad Bhattarai, the proprietor of DSB Enterprise text me to collect the copies of my much awaited Book Eight: Nyingtob Tsherings Amazing Journey from his book store.

He had printed 1000 copies to display for sell during the following Book Fairs in Mongar followed by another Book Fair in Punakha. He informed me to collect some copies to help sell it within my friend circle and colleagues at Druk School. The day then became too early to call off. I had been waiting for this moment for a long time. And finally I could hold the copies of my book with fathomless contentment in my heart and escalated excitement in my spirit.

The Title of the Book gave me an instant idea on how my maiden book would be launched. Taking pictures of eight individuals who are akin to the eight characters in my book at eight different locations and sharing it on Facebook would be the strategy to launch my book. The idea thrilled me.

There I waswith full of energy and determination to execute this weird but low cost yet reaching to larger audience to launch my book. Like my protagonist of the book who is in his own amazing journey, I too embarked on a memorable and exciting journey of launching my book at eight different locations meeting eight different personalities and simultaneously selling my own book. I often announced to the strangers and friends alike that its fun selling ones own book. I went on to share with my friends that I would one day post an article in my blog with the title The Author who sold his own book.


Thus 2nd May was the first event to launch the book. On 5th may, which also happen to be my birthday, I dedicated the day to hold the 2nd event to launch the book. 3rd and 4th events were held on 12th and 25th May respectively. On 28th may, I could complete my 5th event to launch the book. 6th event was held on 2nd June and now I am left with two more events to complete the series of eight events to launch my maiden book. The upcoming locations and the personalities need to be withhold to let readers do some guess work.

On 8th May, apart from launching and selling books, I happen to receive a friend request from a young girl. Looking at her profile picture, her face absolutely looks familiar. We started chatting instantly and what I came to realize simply spellbound me.

The young girl who had sent me a friend request on Facebook happen to be Miss Sherab Lhamo my former student of Lichen community Primary school in Trashi Yangtse. I was her class teacher in the year 2010. We were meeting after 7 long years though on Facebook. And soon, on my request, she text me snapshots of her school mates Facebook profile.  I then could meet with the rest of my students of 2010 and 2011. They were studying in class IV and class V when I was working there as a Light Drukyul teacher.

It was and it is a very pleasing experience to chat with them and know where they are and to realize how much you as a teacher had been entrusted with this very responsible duty to make a difference in their lives. I dont claim to be the best teacher but I tell you they have many good memories to share with me.

My two years teaching experience at Lichen Community Primary School will always remain close to my heart as the school is my Alma Mater of my career as a teacher and a place where I could be a small part in many childrens life in their pursuit of greater dreams.

The month of May began and came to an end too in celebrating the special relationship of teacher and student. My book Eight: Nyingtob Tsherings Amazing Journey also in many ways celebrate the valuable relationship which is enjoyed between a teacher and a student. A sender and a receiver. An agent of Change and the Change itself. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Detriments of Kegan’s Cooperative Learning

Detriments of Kegan’s Cooperative Learning: Why Kegan’s Cooperative Learning is not picture perfect.

A literary review.

“In its most basic sense, cooperative learning is group work in which two or more students work together to complete a class assignment. Even though cooperative learning creates a focus on student learning, there are disadvantages to this strategy…” writes Jana Sosnowski
The paper discusses the major flaws and disadvantages of Kegan’s Cooperative Learning. The dissertation is divided into five topics. 1. Difficulties faced by teachers. 2. Difficulties faced by learners. 3. Spencer Kagan's Thoughts on Cooperative Learning. 4. Students feedback 5. My own experience with Kegan’s Structure.

The difficulties of the Kegan’s Cooperative Learning strategy for teachers are due to the following reasons.

Lesson Planning Can Take Longer time.

Jana Sosnowski argues that when children work in groups, interacting with each other, the task of teacher to handle the class becomes very difficult. The lesson plan and assessment tool need to also be designed beforehand for the whole class. The lesson design must engage all group members. The teachers also have to be very vigilant to monitor the activities of the groups.

Classroom Management Challenges

Christine Bartsch  believes “while many of cooperative learning’s disadvantages affect the students, the strategy can also provide difficulties for educators. For students to work together, they must talk to one another. Any teacher who has managed a classroom of 20 to 30 students knows that kids with permission to converse with one another invariably speak increasingly louder, which can become a distraction from the learning process. It is also impossible for one teacher to constantly monitor each group, which can result in off-topic chatter. Students working in groups might also leave their seats to review materials together. Without strict discipline, cooperative learning can reduce an organized classroom to utter chaos.”

The Kegan’s Cooperative Learning strategy is also unfavorable for learners as they are required to be in groups for conduct of tasks because of the following reasons.

Uneven Workloads and Evaluations

Christine Bartsch argue “Beyond personality conflicts, cooperative learning can also result in an uneven distribution of the workload. At its best, cooperative learning encourages students to support and inspire one another, with all involved experiencing an equitable growth in knowledge. Unfortunately, in some instances, more advanced students simply take over the majority of the project for the sake of ease and speed rather than helping struggling students learn. Conversely, indolent students might deliberately rely on more diligent group members to complete the work and avoid exerting any effort themselves. In both cases, the result is not only an uneven workload but also uneven learning that can lead to some students falling behind. The same holds true for student evaluations, as it is often impossible to evaluate group members individually. This can result in all group members receiving the same grade or credit regardless of how much they contributed.”

Same Grades; Unequal Effort.

Jana Sosnowski states that when groups are assigned to perform or complete a task, the flaw of Cooperative learning is that members of the group would put in unequal effort. The one who contributes more and the one who is least bothered land up earning same score as it is a group assignment. When written assignments are assigned the teacher would be able to assess individual’s contributions. The teacher could move around to monitor but the sheer size of classroom and to monitor individual members of groups would be a daunting task for the teacher.

Group Dynamic Dilemmas

Christine Bartsch strongly argue that the Cooperative Learning heavily depends on the successful working of the groups children are put in. These children will have different abilities and conflict between individuals can reduce or halt the working of the group where by the tasks at hand is not completed. Children won’t have social skills to handle the conflicts for common good and such situations will not foster any sort of learning. Children who have grievance outside classroom over other group members may also refuse to work for the group where by the collective task won’t be successfully executed. There are situations were groups will be supervised by personalities who are not necessarily good at completing or executing the assignments. All these problems are possible because you as an individual is put in a group of people where you are supposed to perform well as you would do if you were allowed to undertake any task on your own.

Groups Can Be Overly Social

Jana Sosnowski further adds, “Cooperative groups can be created by student or teacher selection, and each has some disadvantages. When students are allowed to select their own groups, they may choose based solely on social preference, which may encourage students to stray from the assigned task. On the other hand, if the teacher selects groups, there is a danger of grouping together students of similar abilities, which may create a group of very weak students or grouping students who may not work well together”

Discussing the disadvantages of the Kegan’s Cooperative Learning, Dr. Kegan shared (As cited in Dr. Spencer Kagan's Thoughts on Cooperative Learning. Para.4 and 5) that children who lack social skills would not be able to participate in group activities. Often it might lead to task and social conflicts.

Working in a group may also result in forcing one of the members to work for the group.
Some members may also disapprove answers and suggestions from other members fearing they would look foolish and face failure. They may start blaming each other if the task fails.
Competition between teams may lead to losing the spirit to compete when the loser team keeps losing. This may result into lower scores and lower self-esteem.

The working in groups will also lead to dependency on the group members which will make some members not able to work alone.

Teachers sometime would miss to assist the groups which have not understood the task.
The following is a list of feedback received by Cathy Middlecamp from her students with regard to Collaborative Learning.

People need to go at different speeds: “There may be one group member who doesn't learn as quickly as the others, and get left behind, and ultimately not learn anything at all. Similarly, if one does not learn as quickly and the group tries to slow down to explain things to this member. The whole group may end up falling behind.”

Someone may try to take over the group: “More problems occur when one person is a control freak, not willing or able to trust the abilities of others in the group. This can again result in discord and a lack of cooperation amongst the group members. Put simply, one person can drastically affect the group either positively or negatively”

Quiet people may not feel comfortable: “More quiet people may not feel comfortable expressing themselves and their ideas with a group.”

Sometimes people just don't get along: “There could be arguing with group members. When you put a group of people that have never worked together, different personalities might lead to arguments, this would waste time and lead to an unproductive group.”

People may not pull their weight: “If you are the only one in your group that is willing to do the work and the rest of the people just sit back and watch, it can get very frustrating. If you try to give them things to do and help them get involved in the group, their lack of motivation and care may produce poor quality work in which, many times, you get graded on too.”

It is not fair! “All the group members may not participate equally. In this kind of situation, one might feel that he/she can take a back seat and let the other members do all the work. This is not fair because often, the group is given one grade, and that may not be representative of each member.”

A concept may not be understood as well if a person doesn't have to figure it out: “Sometimes peer groups get lazy and just give group members answers to a certain problem without explaining how they arrived at their conclusions. Because of this, no real knowledge has been gained."

The time spent talking about irrelevant topics is unbelievable:

“The freedom to talk often greatly reduces the efficiency of my group work. As soon as we are set free to begin whatever the task or project is, the uncontrollable temptation to talk about plans for the weekend, what happened last weekend, or this incredible whatever that someone witnessed/heard about sneaks in. The time spent talking about irrelevant topics is unbelievable when seriously considered.”

My experience with Kegan Structure:

Druk School teachers had a week long rigorous training on Kegan’s Cooperative Learning in the year 2012. With great hope to benefit the fruits of this new strategy, I enthusiastically implemented the strategies and structures along with the rest of the faculty members. The gambits and cheers to encourage learners were instantly welcomed. As benefits were quickly enjoyed, the disadvantages were also encountered sooner.

The students seated in groups encouraged them to talk more. It soon reciprocate in wasting time chatting with each other often distracting the classroom and tasks remained uncompleted.

The examination oriented education system also discouraged the implement of Kegan CL structure at length because children were to be taught to test.

Examination based assessment is followed in our system and the Syllabus coverage is paramount irrespective of quality in delivery or span of time spared to discuss particular topic in length. If Exams are limited to one in an academic year and the syllabus is condensed where by an avenue is opened for more discussions and dialogue sessions which will foster better learning. In addition to the difficulties of Kegan’s CL Structures, the class size of 40-60 students in a classroom is another hindering for Bhutanese classrooms to implement the Kegan’s CL structure.

Conclusion
All said and done, this paper only discusses the negative aspects of Kegan’s Cooperative Learning Structure and strategies. The hyperactive nature of 21st century learners, the differences in personalities and the different ability of the learners makes Kegan’s Structures for learning quite difficult. However, there is a scope to assess and look into the advantages of the structure too and strike a balance to benefit students at large.


Bibliography
Dr. Spencer Kagan's Thoughts on Cooperative Learning.(n.d.)Retrieved from.http://www.teachnology.com/currenttrends/cooperative_learning/kagan/
Students speak out on Collaborative Learning.(n.d.) Retrieved from http://archive.wceruw.org/cl1/cl/story/middlecc/TSCMD.htm
Three Disadvantages of Using Cooperative Learning. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://classroom.synonym.com/three-disadvantages-using- cooperative-learning-10044274.html
Three Disadvantages of Using Cooperative Learning. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://classroom.synonym.com/three-disadvantages-using- cooperative-learning 10044274.html

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Arigatōgozaimasu Mrs Satomi

Mrs Satomi, a JICA volunteer is seen busy at the Community Health Services centre, JDWNRH providing her valuable service. She is from Japan and has been working in Bhutan for a little less than a year. She along with her in -country colleagues have initiated ''parenting session'' to orient would -be -parents on baby and mother care after baby is born. The one which my wife and I attended was secondth of such sessions initiated by her.

                                    
Her passion for the work she does exudes profusely. With smile on her face she welcomes the participants.  The way she hundles the plastic/rubber dummies for demostration is also with great care as though the dummies were living beings. In its true sense, a professional health worker! 

                               
She would occasionally insert dzongkha phrases in between her discourse and her delivery sounds that of a seasoned dzongkha  speaker.

She would set up the conference room arranging and rearranging the chairs for participants who get inside creating more space both inside the conference room and in her heart for people who were there to attend her passionate and close to heart presentation.

                                     

Then she would invite her three other Bhutanese colleagues  with utmost courtesy. They would promptly start sharing about the importance of Breast feeding, delicate procedure for baby bathing, immunization timings and items to get ready during delivery.

Mrs Satomi would coordinate the whole discourse  passing  dummies and other items for display to her colleagues as they speak on their designated   topics.

                                     
While her colleagues inform the house Mrs Satomi would keep glancing at us with a wide smile on her face. Her cheerful face unlike what we normally see in our hospitals lights up the faces of the would-be-moms and nervous dads.

A sincere gratitude and respect for Mrs Satomi who thought of this noble initiative and has already helped many would be  moms to better understand pregnancy and motherhood through her two invaluable sessions
                                          
On behalf of all the would -be- parents of Bhutan and specially from  my wife and me, we would like to pray God to bless you with more strength to continue and highwaltage energy to do what you do the best!

Mrs Satomi arigatōgozaimasu!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

History’s relation with Geography: Based on the impression of how geography of Bhutan has influenced its history.

Introduction:
“Almost always the present can be explained only by the past.  It is by the interaction of history into geography that one attains the very soul of a country.” Jean Sermet.

Geographer Jan O. M. Broek has written that one of the main distinctions between geographers and historians is that the former try to understand the structure of a region without looking into its past while the latter seek to view the integration of the region over time.

The relation of History and Geography is intertwined. They cannot be studied in isolation. They can only be comprehended and understood in unison. History will describe the people and their culture where as the facets of location, climate and land features are subject matters of Geography.

All Curdles of Human civilization, be it Nile civilization, Indus Valley, Mesopotamian civilization, etc. started along the big rivers and also across flat land where agriculture could be easily carried out. Why? Because rivers provide the requirements as follows; 1. Constant water supply. 2. Water for agricultural activities. 3. Fertile soil for agriculture activities. 4. For ease of transportation via water ways and 5. Flat lands are easier for construction of buildings and houses.

These civilizations had very rich customs and culture which are the bases for the current culture and traditions people across the globe practice and preach. These civilizations gave the world languages, religions, rituals, beliefs, inventions and the set references for people to progress and promote communities and societies for the betterment of the mankind.
The influence of geography on history of mankind and of countries is the paper’s subject of interest. The relationship of History with geography is evident and thus the influence of geography in shaping the National history of Bhutan is worth discussing. The following paragraphs attempts to explain Bhutan’s history being greatly influenced by its geographical features.

I have discussed how Bhutan’s History can be traced with regard to its geographical elements thereby showing a close relation between History and Geography. The purpose of this paper is also to show the influence of one subject over another. The dissertation is being presented through series of sub-topics for clarity and to achieve more detailed explanation.

Bhutan as a Sanctuary:
Bhutan was regarded as a safe haven for exiled leaders and Buddhist practitioners. The pristine environment and high mountains invited many scholars to meditate and a few to seek refuge in the wilderness of Bhutan.

Sedha Gyab, one of the sons of King Singala of Serkhya (Kapilavastu) was forced to go into exile after he lost in one of his family disputes. He decided to move towards Bhutan and took refuge in Bumthang where he proclaimed as the king there.

Later when he fell seriously ill, Guru Rinpoche was invited for the first time to Bhutan so he could cure him. On Guru’s arrival, many places in Bhutan were blessed and turned into Beyuls, these hidden lands are believed to be the secret entrances to the Guru’s Paradise.

An Indian Prince called Vesantara (Drimed Kuenden) accompanied by his wife and two children were also exiled to the mountains of Bhutan. On their journey through the Black Mountains (Jowo Durshing) the prince gave his eyes to a blind old man and later gave away his children to the local people of Bubja village under Trongsa Dzongkhag. His kind heartedness and uncommon generosity have moved Bhutanese to become more compassionate.

Your famous religious and military General Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel had to move out of his homeland Tibet to Bhutan because his life was at risk. The dispute over the issue of reincarnation of Kyenkhen Pema Karpo, a great Drukpa Scholar, accompanied with various good omen to travel south, he left his land to live in Bhutan.

He could establish Drukpa Kagyupa as the most dominant sect of Buddhist teachings in Bhutan and gave Bhutan a unique identity and create a nation state.

The arrival of these great Buddhist scholars and their contribution has shaped Bhutan’s history. Bhutan neither can rely on its military force nor does it have a stable economy to assert its independence and sovereignty. The culture and tradition are the arsenal in ensuring the country’s security and sovereignty in the years to come. These aspect of rich culture of Bhutan has also enable us to earn foreign revenue through ever growing tourism sector. It has also helped Bhutan earn a reputation in the world stage.

The State of Isolation:
A landlocked country sandwiched between two Asian giants and the various geographical features (Education, 2009) like dense forest and malaria inflicted swampy plains in the south, snow-capped mountains and passes being covered by snow throughout the year, the mountainous terrains and being located far from the silk route led Bhutan to its state of isolation.

While in the state of isolation Bhutanese could build and preserve the rich culture and tradition which are the pride of the Nation. The Bhutanese people worked hard to sustain themselves during isolation and they became fearless to any foreign intruders with who they fought gallantly to protect their land.

The state of isolation was indeed a blessing in disguise because we remained independent, culture was preserved and we didn’t have to face the crisis like the economic depression of 1930s and the World War I and II. The sheer location and the geographical features prevented Bhutan to get involved and thus gave Bhutanese people and the able leaders the luxury to define their own destiny. It was only in early 1960s under the leadership of Third King of Bhutan Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who steered country’s development by opening the doors of the country for modernization.

British Raj, British –Bhutan relation and its Impact:
The location of Bhutan led British send mission after mission (Education, 2009) to Bhutan so they could set up their trade links with Tibet. British wanted Bhutan to act like a stepping stone or a bridge for them to travel to Tibet and greatly sell goods to make profits for themselves. These missions which span a period between 1774 with Gorge Bogle’s mission to A.J Hopkins visit in 1926 during the coronation ceremony of King Jigme Wangchuck the Second Hereditary King of Bhutan has significant influenced in shaping the history of Bhutan. A few missions were detrimental on Bhutan’s sovereignty and many other missions were to consolidate the renewed friendship shared by the British and Bhutan for mutual benefit.

The dark episode of Duar War between Bhutan and British (Hasrat, 1980. pp 109-119) resulted in the annexation of the great fertile plains of Assam and West Bengal by British from Bhutan swiftly changing the map of Bhutan. British wanted these plains as it were very fertile land favorable to plant tea, wheat and timber.

To put an official end to the Duar War British proposed a treaty which Bhutan readily agreed to sign in fear of another war. This Treaty which came to be known as Treaty of Sinchula commenced a new relationship with British India which only got better in following years in terms of personal ties between the successive monarchs and the British Raj and later with independent India.

As the country’s military strategist during the Duar War Jigme Namgyel gained respect both from his enemies and from his own people in the battle field. He was thus accepted as the leader of Bhutan which further solidified his hold over the country.

Ugyen Wangchuck, Jigme Namgyel’s son, was presented with insignia of the Knight Commander of the Emperor of India (K.C.E.I) by Sir John Claude White and with the insignia he was honored with ‘sir’ title for his service as a successful mediator between Tibet and British India. Sir John Claude White, the then Political officer of Sikkim, was well received at Punakha Dzong. The sheer geo-politics involved in his accompanying Younghusband to Lhasa in 1904, the kind of respect he received in Lhasa resulted in making him the most suitable and capable future leader for Bhutan. Soon after his return from Lhasa Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned as the first hereditary Monarch of the country.

Bhutan’s Development plans:
With ever increasing Chinese Influence in Tibet, British India and Ugyen Wangchuck both felt the need to renew the Treaty of Sinchula for mutual protection and to stop the Chinese influence towards south. In 1910, the government of British Indian and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha.

In the following years, the culmination of India gaining its Independence from British Raj in 1947 and signing of the Indo-Bhutan Treaty in 1949 and the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1950 the independent India extended their friendship to assist Bhutan in all its effort to develop and modernized (Hasrat, 1980) the country. The friendship extended was also to ensure mutual protection of Bhutan and India from the Chinese dominance in the region. With the visit of India’s first Prime Minister Shree Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958, with India’s support many roads were constructed to connect Bhutanese towns with Indian towns across the border to facilitate development.

The first five year Plan (1961-1966) set Bhutan on the way to planned national development with an approved outlay of Rs 1,747 Lakhs sponsored by Government of India.

Bhutan’s Current Stand:
Dorji Penjore writes, ‘Vulnerability’ best sums up the plight of small states in any discourse on security. Many size factors interplay to entangle most small states in a network of insecurities, and smallness has seldom been beautiful’. It appeals to Bhutan more than any other countries.

Bhutan is sandwiched between the two giants of Asia namely India and China. Literarily walking between the giants (Penjore, 2009), one country wanting to keep Bhutan as their area of influence and the other wanting to have it as their area of influence. Bhutan needs to strike a balancing act in dealing with both the giants. Chinese claim over many parts of Bhutan, their desperate demands to establish diplomatic ties with Bhutan and its reciprocal reactions on Bhutan India relationship will continue for many decades to come. The whole conflict and hate-love relationship between Bhutan, India and China originated from a geographical element ‘Land’ and sere location of Bhutan. That’s the relation of History (of countries) with Geography.

Having said and done, keeping aside the geo-politics, the geographical features of Bhutan like the lust green landscape, rich bio-diversity, perennial rivers, snow-capped mountains and lakes in high mountains have earned every Bhutanese citizen a reason to celebrate. It has gathered accolades from global communities. The world community looks at Bhutan for inspiration. Bhutan is a carbon negative country and a country which is so much in love with its natural resources. What Bhutan has achieved so much in so little time is an eye opener and a thought provoking achievement for the rest of the world. In true sense, a new history of a small Himalayan kingdom is in the making. A history is being made from the oasis of nature, the geographic beauties.

Conclusion:
History and Geography subjects are like two faces of the same coin. When we learn history of a country or people we do learn about the climate, and the natural diversity of the place that had impact on their livelihood. The rich history of Bhutan in lot many ways is credited to its own geographical features and its location at least in terms of its concentration and longevity. From the creation of nation-state to the complexity of modern geo-politics that Bhutan is submerged in the relation between history and geography is the interplay in the core of Bhutan’s existence.

Countries having similar geographical features will have similar histories to tell. There can’t be one without the other. Historians narrate events including man, places and universe where they have not participated or have never had the firsthand experience and the geographies study places, nature and universe to narrate historical detail about them. History and Geography is interconnected at various level and their relationship depends heavily on each-other.

Bibliography:

Education, M. o. (2009). A history of Bhutan-19th-20th century-Course Book for class VIII. In      M. o. Education, A history of Bhutan-19th-20th century-Course Book for class VIII (pp. 3-        7). Paro: Curriculum and Professional Support Division,Department of School Educaion,           Ministry of Bhutan.

Hasrat, B. J. (1980). History of Bhutan. In B. J. Hasrat, History of Bhutan-Land of the     b               Peaceful Dragon (pp. 135-136). Thimphu: Education Department, Bhutan.

Hasrat, B. J. (1980). History of Bhutan-Land of the Peaceful Dragon. In History of Bhutan-             Land of the Peaceful Dragon (pp. Chapter 6- 34-45). Thimphu: Ministry of Education.

Hasrat, B. J. (1980). History of Bhutan-Land of the Peaceful Dragon. In B. J. Hasrat, History         of Bhutan-Land of the Peaceful Dragon (pp. 46-59). Thimphu: Ministry of Education.

Jan O. M. Broek, “The Relations Between History and Geography,”Pacific Historical Review   (September 1941): 10: 321.

Penjore, D. (2009). Security of Bhutan: Walking Between the Giants. Journal of Bhutan                     Studies.

Sermet cited by Raymond E. Crist, “Some Aspects of Human Geography in Latin American Literature,” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (October 1962) 21:4,                p.407

Naming Ceremony of our son.

Dear son Yashayr  Daiwik Bhandari, Yes thats your name. Yashayr Daiwik Bhandari. Yashayr means ‘wealth’ (in sanskrit , And in dzogkha:...