It’s been a year, almost

A couple of hours back, I renewed my account. It’s been a year since I purchased the domain, and it definitely feels like it’s been much longer. This blog, however, is yet to celebrate its first birthday – it will do so on the 22nd, on the same day when there will be a Total Solar Eclipse in Central India. We’ll have more elaborate birthday celebrations then. Actually, if you have any good ideas as to how to celebrate the first birthday of , please mail in.

So it was on the 7th of July last year that I registered It took about 15 days after that to decide on my host (I settled on totalchoicehosting), figure out how to organize the site, etc. As you might have noticed, the homepage ( redirects to this blog ( The main reason behind this is that I’ve been too lazy to figure out what to do with my main site. I don’t really fancy turning this into a professional site – LinkedIn are there for that. All my writing is here on this blog, so no separate place needed for that.

There is another blog attached to this, called Twisted Shout. You can see a link to this from the right hand column of this site. You might notice that the site is defunct. The last post on that was several months ago. I had been using that site for discussing stuff such as the Petromax Theory, the Goalkeeper Theory and other similarly strong fundaes. Aadisht and Kodhi, my co-authors on that blog, had also planned to script our sitcom “rash driving” on that. Again, there was only a single episode of that and then NED happened.

Some of you might also know that NED is also the name of a quiz team, featuring Kodhi, Aadisht and me. It’s a subset of the erstwhile Sumo Yet So Far, which also featured Swami. It’s been a while since NED quizzed together, the last occasion being the QFI Open quiz in Chennai last summer. Our next collective performance will be at the Landmark Quiz in Chennai next month. Maybe I could have a section of the site dedicated to our quiz team. Maybe I’ll do that once our CV expands.

Then there are the NED talks, which I had announced a few weeks back. These talks will be held as planned, in October this year in Bangalore. I hope to make this a day-long event, in an auditorium. So basically it will be a series of lectures. We are looking for speakers, and listeners. We will also have 1-2 open house sessions so taht everyone can put CP (class participation).

I hereby call for speakers for the inaugural NED talks. The date is not fixed but it will be on some Sunday this October in Bangalore. You will have to give a talk in less than 18 minutes on any topic that remotely relates to NED. For example, I plan to speak on the Studs and Fighters Theory, and how it might impact NED. So if you are interested in speaking, write a short write up on yourself, and what you want to talk about and send it to me at skthewimp AT yahoo DOT com. I think we will need a total of TEN speakers.

In other news, I’ve got proper net access now in Bangalore (BSNL Broadband). So immense peace are there. Normal services should resume shortly.

The Perils of Notes Dictation

Thinking about my history lessons in schools, one picture comes to mind readily. A dark Mallu lady (she taught us history in the formative years between 6th and 8th) looking down at her set of voluminous notes and dictating. And all of us furiously writing so as to not miss a word of what she said. For forty minutes this exercise would continue, and then the bell would ring. Hands weary with all the writing, we would put our notebooks in our bags and look forward to a hopefully less strenuous next “perriod”.

The impact of this kind of “teaching” on schoolchildren’s attitude towards history, and their collective fflocking to science in 11th standard is obvious. There are so many things that are so obviously wrong with this mode of “teaching”. I suppose I’ll save that for else-where. Right now, I’m trying to talk about the perils of note-making in itself.

Before sixth standard and history, in almost all courses we would be dictated “questions and answers”. The questions that would appear in the exam would typically be a subset of these Q&A dictated in class. In fact, I remember that some of the more enthu teachers would write out the stuff on the board rather htan just dictating. I’m still amazed how I used to fairly consistently top the class in those days of “database query” exams.

I’m thinking about this from the point of view of impact on language. Most people who taught me English in that school had fairly good command over the language, and could be trusted to teach us good English. However, I’m not sure if I can say the same about the quality of language of other teachers. All of them were conversant in English, yes, and my schoool was fairly strict about being “English-medium”. However, the quality of English, especially in terms of grammar and pronunciation, of a fair number of teachers left a lot to be desired.

I can still remember the odd image of me thinking “this is obviously grammatically incorrect” and then proceeding to jot down what the teacher said “in my own words“. I’m sure there were other classmates who did the same. However, I’m also sure that a large number of people in the class just accepted what the teacher said to be right, in terms of language that is.

What this process of “dictation of notes” did was that teachers with horrible accents, grammar, pronunciation or all of the above passed on their bad language skills to the unsuspecting students. All the possible good work that English teachers had done was undone.There is a chance that this bad pronunciation, grammar, etc. would have been passed on even if the teachers didn’t give notes – for the students would just blindly imitate what the teachers would say. However, the amount by which they copied different teachers would not then be weighted by the amount of notes that each teacher dictated, and I think a case can be made that the quality of a teacher is inversely proportional to the amount of notes he/she dictates.

Teachers will not change because dictation is the way that they have been taught to “teach”. The onus needs to go to schools to make sure that the teachers don’t pass on their annoying language habits to the students. And a good place to start would be to stop them from dictating notes. And I still don’t understand the value of writing down notes that you don’t really bother to understand when you have a number of reasonably good text books and guide books available in the market. I agree that for earlier classes, some amount of note-making might be necessary (I think even that can be dispensed with), but in that case the school needs to be mroe careful regarding the language skills of people it recruits in order to dictate these notes.