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Freedom from Homework

A child’s lament: Why can’t our teachers just teach us everything we need to know here at school? We are young and busy kids of the 21st century. Academics are fine but we have lot more to do like play, socialize, be physically active, keep up with technology, read and hinge ourselves to a hobby. In short, we don’t have time for homework and we really don’t like it. We need freedom!

Poor students! Yes, the children are the only people who live and understand what is going on in a classroom. Unfortunately, they are also the only ones most often blamed and least often heard. By now, you must be thinking that I am going to advocate for these students; let me remind you – I am a teacher 🙂

It’s time to look at homework from all perspectives. Why do we give homework if the students don’t like it and it’s no fun for the teachers too? It is an equal task for teachers to assign, check and grade them. So why do we have home assignments? As an educator, I think at some point or the other, we all attempt to answer it. Do share your opinion in the comment section. Now, allow me to share:

  • Reinforcement – Homework reinforces the concepts taught in a classroom. The more you work with them, the more likely you are to actually learn them. Our school time tables are usually designed in a way that the students hardly get any time to reflect. One period after another. When students learn in the classroom, they are using their short-term or working memory. On leaving the classroom, the information in the working memory is replaced by the topic in the next class. In few minutes the entire set up is changed, every variable in the classroom gets a new value.  Have you met your student in a new setting, for example in a park or a mall? Do they respond in a similar way as they do in the classroom? Definitely NO; Even classmates behave differently inside and outside the school. But once we have a strong bond and meetings are regular, we see very less variation in the behavior. Gradually we become independent of the environment. Similarly, students must regularly interact with knowledge in the different environments. They need to access information in ways that are relevant to their world and they must practice their skills in different situations. Education researcher Professor John Hattie, who has ranked various influences on student learning and achievement, told the BBC in 2014 “The worst thing you can do with homework is give kids projects; the best thing you can do is reinforce something you’ve already learned.” And I want you to remember this “Homework is not a punishment, rather it is a reinforcement.”
  • Parent’s involvement and habit formation–  Homework gives parents a chance to see what their children are learning in school. Most of the time, children only open their school bag when there is a homework. In such cases, homework becomes the only reason for parents to interact with their children concerning education. I have observed a pattern in the graph of parents involvement against the standard in which their children study. The slope is mostly negative and finally, in higher grades, the parents are completely off the track, they completely miss the bus. But if the teachers are consistent, the students form a habit.HWA good habit that can transform them into independent and life long learners. Over the period of time, students learn the hard lesson that some things in life come with no options; it has to be done. Even if one doesn’t wish to, one has to get married one day!
  • Have the edge over – Homework encourages a learner to explore subjects more fully than classroom time permits. The acid test is seeing whether you truly understand the material and can do the work on your own. This is especially true with mathematics. When I solve problems of maths in the classroom, every student believes that s/he has understood the underlying concept and they will be able to solve more problems of that nature. But in reality, every student may not. They miss out on the ‘unseen’ steps. Homework, in such cases, help them to come out of their false belief and put them in real action. So whenever I assign a homework, I ask my students to do it themselves and if they are unable to do it, I accept the original and incorrect work. It helps me to modify my teaching strategy to facilitate better learning. It works just like the formative assessments. In science classes, homework is critically important. Students see concepts in a whole new light; most of the time, they are asked to write what they observe. Open ended questions light curiosity and motivate the learners to stretch their imagination. They come out with creative ideas and more follow up questions. And those extra minutes and hours logged at home help a learner to gain confidence in the subject.
  • It’s fun too – Homework gives an excuse to a student to use gadgets, surf the internet, download and print resources. It helps your child learn to look out for resources and put them to use wisely. No child in my class is away from video games, nor am I. So we found an interesting way to engage ourselves. I design games for them and they play at home. So our new way of engaging with devices at home is through homework. I am very thankful to the creators of

I would strongly recommend you to create your own quiz on the platform. I can share one of my quizzes right away. Go to and use code 009534. Enjoy a 15 question quiz on basic addition and subtraction meant for my 5th graders. The code expires on 30th August, so hurry up!

In our next post, we would like to discuss more about homework. If you have any thing to share, please do comment. Thanks for your time and enjoy the videos:

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Sahil Sayed is Educator, Teacher, and Learner. An engineer who understood science and mathematics little better after teaching primary grades for 3 years. Currently heading Science, Mathematics and ICT department at Red Camel International School, India. –

“When Aamir Khan and a former Chief Justice taught my kids”



As teachers, we are always aiming to better our teaching and compliment it with activities and classroom discussions. This article is a real case study on “How to Teach Kids about the Constitution of India?”

Using interactive approach, the fifth graders are taught Social Studies in a manner that patriotism as well as good citizenship is imbibed in these students.

With the Independence day fervor around the month’s corner, the only colours visible are orange, white and green. With a tinge of blue of course.

So come August, and all schools would be geared up to teach all under the sun, about the great nation of ours. While we may have come a long way from Manoj Kumar and Mother India to Rang De Basanti, our learners still get the same dosage of Independence day speeches and costumes.

So for a change, our class of Grade five had a different theme this year. Few classes leading to the nation’s seventy-first independence day, the class learned the true meaning of our Preamble

IMG_20170719_120956The usual class began with a survey on what really does Civics mean. The class loved History with wars minus dates, and they like the terrain of Geography with its oceans and continent, but when it came to Civics, it is more a case of continental drift.

However the survey, where the students were allowed to go in the streets and find out what the people think of Civics, got them on a path of self-discovery and learning. The answers, ranging from politics to PM Modi and parliament to GST, were lapped and then plotted on a survey graph.

The students found the Hindi translation of Civics from the teacher, leaving no stones unturned when they hit the streets. Talk of trans-disciplinary learning. It’s ‘nagrik shastra’ just in case.

The next class was all about who is a Citizen and what is the difference between rights and privileges? The students discussed documents from the passport to the Aadhar card. Civics was now all about them.

IMG_20170719_101825The real joy came when students answered Lotus, Peacock, Tiger to the national symbols but were left searching for answers to the National book and national aquatic animal.

That got us to our next class on the Constitution of India, our national book. The word itself appeared a tongue twister initially but got them excited nevertheless. And yes it’s the river dolphin if you still interested in the aquatic animal!

The following class led us to the first long sentence of our Constitution, which is the Preamble. Now instead of using a typical text book, we Amazoned, Leila Seth’s ‘We the People.’ This illustrated book makes the preamble friendly and approachable.

IMG_20170726_122523With some help from Amir Khan and his Satyameva Jayate episode, the five words were ingrained in the curious minds. Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic never seemed so ideal, nor so learn able.

There were class questions from ‘how is socialist different from social media’ to ‘does secular mean accepting atheism too’, this was a class full of energy.

Yes, the Republic day might be some months away but this was a new freedom we ensured in August. One that takes you away from the closed minds and rote lessons.

“Where the mind is without fear…”

We have miles to go, discuss and decode democracy in our next lessons, but looking at the spirits, this bunch of fifth grades would surely have made our founding fathers proud.


We the Children of India

Hardcover – 15 Apr 2010 by Leila Seth

Penguin India

Satyamev Jayate – The Idea of India – What our founding fathers envisaged

Pictures used are of real classroom shared by the Author.


About the author:

Dawood Vaid is an educationist and trainer. Working with scientists as a Patent & Trademark Analyst, in Moscow and Switzerland, he observed and compared different education pedagogy and created ‘fun-learn’ approach to learning. A voracious reader and an avid horse fan, Dawood loves to conduct quizzes and enjoys his sessions with teenagers. His book ‘The Education Riddle’ is a result of decade long school visits and teachers’ training workshops.

He holds an Engineering degree and has completed Post graduate diploma in Business Administration from Symbiosis, India. He lives in Mumbai, India spending time telling stories to his three daughters and creating curriculum.

He can be contacted at

Decoding Parent-Teacher Relationship: A ‘Leap’ of Faith

Decoding Parent-Teacher Relationship: A ‘Leap’ of Faith

Teacher talking to parents at parent teacher conference

Teacher talking to parents at parent teacher conference


Dealing with a parent could be a teacher’s nemesis or a teacher’s delight, based on the circumstances of the meeting. While this article would focus on the parental involvement, the issue is addressed from an educator’s perspective. Thus it would serve a dual purpose of helping a teacher decode a parent at school, as well as a map of a parent’s interaction guidelines with the school.


The golden rule in parent management is that – An Angry parent is better than an Absent Parent. I speak from my personal experience both as an Academic Head of the International School while also share my emotions and concerns as a father of three daughters.


As an Academician, I understand the fury and concern that an irritated parent brings in. There is a popular maxim in the local culture, that we seek refuge from three authorities – police, lawyers and doctors. Having faced the brunt of parent’s rage, I add the fourth dimension: an irate parent. Yet, I also acknowledge how helpless, the parent community can become. From irrational circulars to managing holidays or getting an appointment with the Principal, these can be a huge hassle and a deterrent for a keen and eager parent.



So, let’s decode this holy grail of parent – teacher relationship. The most important element is effective communication. As in any good and sustainable relationship, a proper channel of conveying each other’s concern as well as grievances would not only reduce tensions but also ease the process of parent involvement.


There are four cardinal rules wrapped in the acronym LEAP. After all a parent – teacher relationship is a ‘LEAP’ of faith. A leap towards better future where both the parties are stakeholders. The growth and nurturing of the student is a collective responsibility. We are stakeholders, collectively, in their success and as well would hold blameworthy together, if the student does not develop to their potential.


Here is LEAP: Listen, Empathize, Ask and Problem-Solving.


  1. LISTEN: Listening is perhaps the most effective and simplest of all the skills to mend any relationship. By being an effective listener, we not only understand the opposite person but also have greater chances of being heard and being accepted.



As a rule of nature, we are equipped with one tongue and two ears which imply very evidently that we ought to speak less and hear more. So when a parent approaches you always be ready with a notepad and a pen. Once a parent home is allowed to spell out all his or her concerns, they would always feel more relieved and would be more secure with the student in the school. To not be eager to answer all their concern with a counter challenge. This puts most parents off and would derail a decent conversation. It might lead to arguments and bad faith as most ill-equipped conversations tend to digress to.


Remember every parent loves their child and this is the origin of their concern. If we approach a parent-teacher relationship through this lens, we would have a greater understanding of a parent’s concern and then we could offer genuine solutions based on our experience as educators.


carry a notepad and pen

do not interrupt a parent

do not offer a solution immediately


  1. EMPATHIZE: We have all heard the old saying with regards to empathy about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. While that holds good even today, we would like to get a more refined definition of empathy.



Empathy would actually mean using positive words to describe a child’s behaviour. Remember to always focus on the child’s behaviour and not on the individual child.  

For example, Jason is a student in your school. It is better to suggest his parents that Jason should be involved during the school’s lunchtime duty, instead of complaining that Jason has a habit of eating other students’ lunch boxes. I love mentioning this every time we speak of empathy, always use ‘Honey before Vinegar’.

We can do a world of good to our parents by being positive in approach towards the child’s behaviour instead of showing displeasure in a particular child. Keep the focus on the child and connect the child’s learning with his behaviour. Parents truly appreciate the teachers’ concern when the behaviour is directly connected with academics instead of classroom management.


focus on the child’s behaviour, not his habits

use ‘honey before vinegar’

connect behaviour with classroom management


  1. ASK: Advices are free and perhaps that is the reason everyone offers you one. A good conversation is about striking the right balance between speaking and listening. Most of the solutions to the problems we seek are from within.



A parent knows his/her child better than a class teacher who is assigned the role for perhaps less than a month to begin with. Thus it is always smarter to ask a parent for the suggestions to the very problems that you are seeking answers to.


Be the first story home – this is very important in context of a school. This implies that you mention any behavioural change to the parent before it comes from the peer group of other parents. In today’s world of technology, rumours spread faster than facts. One misleading WhatsApp message can lead to a far greater miscommunication which would need the involvement of higher authorities to be resolved.


Thus, if you find a child’s behaviour to be inappropriate or you wish to report a particular problem with a specific child, be the first one to inform the parents. The parents would appreciate when the problem is stated in a polite and respectful manner. When you see a disturbed parent, state your challenge through their emotion. For example, you can always suggest to a parent, “I can see you are angry, I would also be too if I were in your place. Let us work together to resolve this problem”.


This would reassure a parent that the child is not only their concern but is also your concern and you are equally worried about improving the child both academically and behaviorally.


most of the solutions are from within

bring the concerns of the parents early on

involve the parents in finding a solution



  1. PROBLEM-SOLVING: Key to any solution to a crisis is to break it down into manageable parts and approach each of them individually. There is poor management joke, with great effect – ‘How to do eat an elephant?’ The answer is simple, piece by piece. In other words, by breaking it down.




I am a great fan of Test Cricket. Once the great master Rahul Dravid was asked how does he plan and concentrate such long laborious innings. His reply was ‘session by session’. In the same way, when confronted with a problem with a parent, break it down.


The problem which might appear huge would easily be understood if categorized into a specific category. For convenience, here are four broad school management categories.


  • Academic
  • Administrative
  • Health and Behaviour
  • Classroom Management


Thus, if the problem is with regards to homework not being done, then the core category would be Academics. The approach would be thus sought academically. If the child is performing well in other subject or it is pertaining to one single subject. It could be a teacher related issue or the level of understanding is lacking. This is a common occurrence in teaching second or third languages in school.


Issues with regards to uniform, books or school van are an administrative one. Similarly, discipline and personality development is associated with Health and Behavioural aspects. While all categories are inter-linked, it would help immensely to break it down into a more manageable task at hand. Remember, our core goal to seek a solution to the problem and enhance child’s learning at school.


divide the problem into different manageable categories

seek a solution in the relevant category



About the author:

Dawood Vaid is an educationist and trainer. Working with scientists as a Patent & Trademark Analyst, in Moscow and Switzerland, he observed and compared different education pedagogy and created ‘fun-learn’ approach to learning. A voracious reader and an avid horse fan, Dawood loves to conduct quizzes and enjoys his sessions with teenagers. His book ‘The Education Riddle’ is a result of decade-long school visits and teachers’ training workshops.

He holds an Engineering degree and has completed Post Graduate diploma in Business Administration from Symbiosis, India. He lives in Mumbai, India spending time telling stories to his three daughters and creating curriculum.

He can be contacted at

Source Article

The Science Express at Mumbai, India

Mumbai July 19, 2017

After a bit of delay in the opening ceremony, one could see the emerging strength of Mumbaikars on platform number 10 at the CST railway station. Science enthusiasts, curious children, educators and eager parents of school-going children were lined up to enter the science express. On the first day of the 3-day halt of the Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS), it received an overwhelming response despite heavy rains in the city.


The polite, yet firm security guards with an enthusiastic team of volunteers made the atmosphere very joyful and friendly. Discipline and Scientific Tempers, both, were kept in check. Rahul, one of the volunteers from Tamil Nadu, shared his experience with SECAS right from the beginning of this year. The team of 30 plus volunteers with a mixed group of undergraduates, bachelors in science and Ph.D. holders: together take this express to different cities with full horse power.


Visitors with a bag full of patience stood in the queue for hours. The theme being on climate change, one could not feel the outside heat once they enter the fully air-conditioned train. The interior was colorful, bright and pleasant. It was a relief to finally step in the express.

A very positive start with the hope to save our planet whose temperature has gone up by 0.85 degrees Celcius from 1880 to 2012. The journey of initial 10 coaches started with a very informative display of the recent changes in our climate and concluded with various achievements in research on climate change by different government bodies. On the way, the visitors were not only given a bunch of information but also equipped with some really do-able action items. Right from using LED bulbs to keep the AC temperature at 25-degree Celcius, from using our rich culture of preserving food items to optimization of the natural resource for example by using public means of transportation and so on… were described in detail.  Oh, how can we not talk about the special coaches called Kids Zone and JOS (Joy Of Science) hands-on lab dedicated for students from grades 1 to 10? Earnest parents stood outside this special laboratory on wheels, waiting for their children to come out and share their experiences. The demonstrations ranged from optical illusion, chemistry, and miracles. It was truly awesome as the participants were given many take aways while they learned the concepts behind these fascinating activities. Small kids used modest balloons and straws to unfold the basic concepts in science. After all their standings, it ended with a smile and tons of learning. The express was truly expressive!


One takeaway for you from the science express:

“Let me guess your birthday now!”

Look at the below grid…, in which grid do you see your birth day?


Shhh… don’t tell me the number, just tell me the grids…I will do little maths!

Once I know the grid(s) that contain your birthday. I will secretly add the numbers from the 1st box of those grids. Yes, it is possible to have your birthdays in more than one grid. For example, your birthday is on 31st (Just like me!). Check all the grids, in this case, you can see 31 on every grid, so we shall add the numbers from the 1st box of every grid (i.e. 1 +2 + 4 + 8 +16) which is 31. You can even try it for your birth month. It’s very simple but it works 🙂

If you are still thinking to take your kids to the science express do take them. If you are worried of the rains and the long queues then better visit Nehru Science Centre. Which is open for you since 1985 at Worli.

Writer profile: Sahil Sayed [STEM Coordinator at RedCamel International School]
He love teaching science and mathematics to children. He think and gifted in making things look simpler and interesting.

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