An Open Letter to My Grade IX Students

– Himal KC

Dear students,

Today, I am writing to express my joy, satisfaction, and our class’s success in particular. I am writing to express how pleased I am to have completed a minor but important task successfully. This task would not have been completed if you had not actively participated. If we had started with your textbook, I would have been staring at you for failing to get you to understand the meaning of a simple word. We challenged our traditional approach and began our journey to discover exactly what was required of us.

Dear students, learning vocabulary is one of the most important aspects of learning a language. Most of you probably don’t recall when you first learned to speak your first language. I want to mention the fact that while calling your parents, you made a lot of mistakes. Being so small at the time, you did not feel embarrassed. Spada (2007) claims that children younger than three years old do not speak in grammatically correct sentences. Children pick up language because they are not aware of their errors. Their primary goal is to tell their elders what they need. According to Nicholas and Starks (2014), Language learning cannot be skill oriented. Children do not learn their first language as you are learning English now. They only focus on words to communicate. I hope you understand the fundamental concept of language learning.

I wanted to share my reflection so that your juniors will be motivated to learn English in the coming academic year. Your success story can inspire others who are struggling to learn basic English words. Sharing reflection can support both the teacher and the students. Reflection is an integral part of the learning process (Hedberg, 2009). I am sure you have understood why I wanted to share my reflection.

Now, let me remind you of how we began our first class this academic session. In class, I assigned a simple task. Except for your two friends, you all struggled to read the text. I was devastated and couldn’t figure out why you were so poor at reading. I told you to put the book down, but I could see your unhappy faces. You had to be wondering how I was going to finish your course at the end of this session. But you knew what I was going to do when I wrote 50 words on the whiteboard. Because the words had short spellings, you all seemed excited. When I asked you to spell and pronounce the words the next day, only ten of you could. That day, I was upset with you because you couldn’t pronounce words like ‘us,’ ‘use,’ and ‘as’ correctly. You looked comfortable when we repeated the words.

What was the turning point in your vocabulary-learning journey? I believe it was the day I announced a spelling contest in our class. I gave you 100 useful words for the spelling contest. We hadn’t touched our books in 25 classes. You were shocked when I named the groups ‘translation,’ ‘comfort,’ ‘communication,’ and so on. You must have realized why I named the groups in that manner. I wanted you to remember a word without having to think about it. On the day of our first spelling context, I was overjoyed. It was a proper spelling contest with a tie-breaker. We spent five periods on the spelling contest, and in the end, a tie-breaker was required in the final. You all remembered the words quickly. You picked up the spellings and uses of words.

Now, at the end of this letter, I want to share some important vocabulary-learning tips with you. I believe you recall what I said after the spelling contest finals. I advised you to use the words in your writing to help you remember them. You wrote a short paragraph that contained a few grammatical errors but don’t worry, you will learn basic grammar later. I must remind you that learning grammar is also important. Sound grammatical knowledge makes you smarter. We will have fun in our next class. Goodbye for now.


  • Hedberg, P. R. (2009). the Reflective Manager. Journal of Management Education, 33(1), 10–36.
  • Nicholas, H., & Starks, D. (2014). Language education and applied linguistics: Bridging the two fields. In  Language Education and Applied Linguistics: Bridging the Two Fields.
  • Spada, N. (2007). How Languages are Learned. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 15(2).

Making Students Work Smart: My Signature Pedagogy

–  Anouska Poudel

In my one year of teaching English literature to children in grade seven, I learned more than I thought I would as a teacher. After growing out of my school years and losing my sense of childhood, I had forgotten how interactive and bright children are. I had forgotten how intelligent and creative they are. I believe that the most important thing I learned is not to judge people younger than me based on their lack of knowledge, but rather as people who have an understanding of the world. George W. Bright claims that one of the largest barriers teachers face in understanding children’s thinking is prematurely concluding what the children comprehend based on their answers to one or two problems (Bright, 1996). This is so true about my earlier understanding of students.

According to Shulman, there are three fundamental dimensions that professionals must keep in mind; and they are to think, perform, and act with integrity. He describes signature pedagogies as forms of instruction that come to mind about the preparation of members of particular professions (Shulman, 2005). Pedagogy organizes the fundamental ways to educate future practitioners for their new professions. He claims that pedagogical signatures can also teach people a lot about “the personalities, dispositions, and cultures of their fields” (Shulman, 2005). Distinctive signature pedagogies must be invented for the field of education to study ‘educational practice, educating students, and preparing them for distinctive forms of professional practice’ (Olsen & Clark, 2009).

I was assigned to teach Jane Eyre and a few poems and short stories from Oxford Reading Circle. I was told to teach the version of Jane Eyre that was abridged by Maple Press,  and they had a version at the school. However, the circumstances were not in my favor and before they provided me with the book, the school had to close down due to COVID-19 protocols. We were stuck to our laptops for an unknown period. It was my first time teaching, so I was rather intimidated.  But I knew the book.  I had my interpretation of the novel and, most importantly, I knew what kind of a teacher I was expected to be.

I started the class by introducing myself. I told them my interests and highlighted the hobbies they would be interested in, such as watching Japanese Anime, movies about Superheroes, fantasy novels that I devoured, and art. I know from experience with other children that they will listen to the teacher only out of duties to the school, and not out of interest. And sometimes, some children do not even feel that kind of responsibility for such duties. I wanted them to listen out of interest, and sharing those things had done the trick. Turning the video on for our online classes was mandatory, and I saw the children perking up at this news. I saw that they had accepted me and were now listening.

I asked them to introduce themselves and they shared everything with me. Even the shy ones were able to tell me about their hobbies without feeling the fear of being judged. I gave each one their own time even though we were short of time.  Once the children seemed comfortable in the class and knew that the environment in my class would be friendly, I proceeded to introduce the book to them.

The first thing that I noticed when I was told to teach Jane Eyre was that it had a lot of themes that the children would be unfamiliar with. It was a completely different country set in the Victorian era, something they might not even have heard of. I assembled a bunch of videos that I showed them to introduce the era, the aesthetics that people preferred, and the social context of the author. This is the link to the video in the picture:–HwdI8&t=26s

Some of the videos were short enough, so I showed them in class.  So, instead of making it a task that was difficult and required full attention, I told them that they could play it in the background while they drew or played a video game. Because of this, I realized that many of the children had actually listened to the videos and knew what I was talking about when I talked about how the Brontes were brought up. I liked to give the children 5 to 10 minutes to answer some questions that I could put forward about those. Some of the questions are as follows:

      1. What do you predict the story of Jane Eyre is going to be about based on the videos?
      2. What do you think of the clothes that these people are wearing?
      3. What important lessons do you think Charlotte Bronte can teach you?
      4. Do you recognize the culture of this time as similar to your own?

I asked the students first to write directly to me in the chat box so that none of them copied each other’s answers. Then I asked them if any of them were interested in reading their answers aloud. Many of them were. I also made a habit of listing the people who raised their hands to speak up. This way, I was able to segregate the students who were willing to speak up and those who were not. For the first few days, I allowed students who were not confident to speak up to stay silent. I did not want to force them into situations where they were not comfortable. But after a few classes, I called their names and asked them to read their answers. They were hesitant at first, but when they realized that their own interpretations were allowed in the class, they became more comfortable with the idea of sharing.

I was introduced to the idea of ‘world Englishes’. It was very interesting and liberating as much as empowering. The term ‘Englishes’ is meant to symbolize the alterations in structure and role of the varieties of the English language that are used in linguistically and culturally distinctive contexts. It symbolizes the vast range of literary creativity coming from these distinctive contexts (Kachru, 1996). English had long become a tool or a weapon to colonize or to help colonize countries around the world. It is a very post-colonial school of thought that allows us to make English our own and not a language that was used against us as a weapon. English has become the key to employment and thus financial empowerment in the state and private sectors (Rahman, 2002).

Because of my familiarity with the discussions about world Englishes, I do not focus on accents. I believe that if their speech is understandable, there is no reason to change the way a person speaks. For me, the focus became on the individual pronunciation of the words because these were still children who were ages eleven to thirteen. They were still confused about words like imminent and eminent, insure and assure, effect and affect, and so on. Because of this, I made the children read a few paragraphs. Many of the children loved reading aloud and, thus, raised their hands a lot, but there were also children who refused to volunteer. So I whipped out my list and called the names of the ones who had not raised their hands to read. I did not interrupt when they made mistakes in pronunciation but while I was explaining, I would emphasize the words that were difficult to pronounce.

In my experience, teachers in Nepal believe that the more homework you give, the better it is for the child because the child will be too busy to be distracted. I experienced this as a child and I was told this by the coordinator of the school. He insisted time and again that I should have given larger amounts of homework that required a longer period of time to complete. There were two particular reasons for which I completely disagreed with this idea.

As much as I believe in hard work, I also believe in working smart. I do not believe that writing six pages for a question is the best way to learn for children of this age. For one thing, their knowledge system is not as varied as a person with a master’s degree and their stock of vocabulary is too small to fill up such long pages. They end up copying everything from the book, from their friends, or from the Internet.

The second reason was: If a child dedicates almost twelve hours of their day to school, how will they develop other skills that they require to become a healthy-minded adult? I remember that as a child I was fortunate to have a school that ended early in the day, where I finished my short but exciting homework quickly and dedicated my time to my hobbies. This allowed me to become all right there and discover my passion for writing. It allowed me to grow a completely different skill that I use properly to this day.

As a result of this, I did not resort to giving extensive homework or assignments to the children. Rather than that, I gave out fun little activities that they could do as Generation Z. There were some assignments I gave:

      1. List the differences between a woman of the Victorian Era and women of today. (Pictures are optional)
      2. Draw Jane as a child using the descriptions from the book.
      3. Compare John Reed to another fictional character you know from other books or movies.
      4. Imagine you were Bessie and write what you would have done to Jane when she cried in the Red Room.

I gave each assignment a gap of three days so that they could discuss them with their friends. When I received the finished assignments, I checked for copied answers. If there were any, I asked them to do them again or they would not be graded.

This article is a reflection of how I prepared and performed in a classroom to teach seventh graders the book, Jane Eyre. Looking back at the activities and the interactions I have had, I am very satisfied with the amount I have been able to teach.


    • Bright, G. W. (1996). Understanding Children’s Reasoning. Teaching Children Mathematics, 18-22.
    • Dinkmeyer, D. (1961). Understanding Children’s Behavior. The Elementary School Journal, 314-316.
    • Kachru, B. B. (1996). World Englishes: Agony and Ecstasy. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 135-155.
    • Olsen, K., & Clark, C. M. (2009). A Signature Pedagogy in Doctoral Education: The Leader-Scholar Community. Educational Researcher, 216-221.
    • Rahman, T. (2002). Language, Power and Ideology. Economic and Political Weekly, 4556-4560.
    • Shulman, L. S. (2005). Signature Pedagogies in the Professions. Daedalus, 52-59.

[Ms. Poudel is pursuing M Phil at School of Education, Kathmandu University.]

How I Developed My Signature Pedagogy

– Ramita Deuja

I was really fascinated when I heard the phrase ‘my signature pedagogy’ from my professor for the first time in my M.Phil. third semester class. Enthusiastically, I made myself clear about what it meant. I understood it as a unique pedagogical invention that we have been practicing in our workplace. Other might have used the same technique but not the way I have been using it. Then I started reflecting on my own practices. I could not assure myself whether the practices that I used long back were my own. So, I started visiting my recent strategies. To be honest, I have been trying so many new strategies to motivate my students. Among all the strategies, I find the strategies of writing a daily diary as a tool for writing improvement is the one that I could claim I have been using differently. Besides, I could claim it to be giving positive results. Aren’t you curious to know, how I started, applied, and brought a positive change in students’ writing skills?

You may not believe me if I tell you that I started diary writing without any plan. It was truly unplanned! I vividly remember the day; it was raining gently during summer. I entered the class confidently. However, it was not well planned.  I asked the fifth grader, ‘How many of you like to enjoy the rain?’  In no time, almost everyone raised their hands. I told them that we would go out and enjoy the rain just for 30 seconds. The class was filled with laughter and excitement. Shouting and running, my innocent 5th graders flew to the paved area close to our upper ground just beside grade five. They tilted their heads to the sky and drank raindrops with full enjoyment. You can’t even imagine how excited they were. Neighboring students stared at me with lots of questions. I took them inside. You are much aware of students’ traits and reluctance, aren’t you? Well the next day, I was a little scared that any parents would complain about the act I conducted.

You must be surprised why I am explaining the incidents. That day I taught nothing. No homework from the textbook. So, I asked them to write a diary of that particular day. The following day, they handed me the original, creative writing with detailed explanations about all the excitement they experienced. I read some of the writing. Stunned, loved, and felt sorry all at the same time. Stunned by their creativity mainly in titles such as ‘The best day’, ‘I drank rain water’, ‘wonderful day’ and so many new words. Loved the way they thanked me for giving them an opportunity to enjoy rain for the first time. Finally, sorry for being too late to realize their need and interest. I dropped the book instantly and decided to share their writing. I stimulated those who didn’t write at home. I helped a few struggling students. I made some of my students help their seat partners finish the task.

The next day, I told them to write what they did, learned, and felt. It was going well. However, I decided to write a sample. So, I wrote my own diary including all the excitement that I collected with them. I skipped all the everyday stuff like getting up early and drinking tea. Then, I asked them to follow the same pattern. Most of the students followed. I reminded a few of them the next day. Every day, I encouraged them with feedback on the same issue time and again. Most of them committed mistakes in the use of tenses. I wrote the words correctly on the board. Patiently, I continued the same activities for a week forgetting course completion and exam. They documented their experience of, ‘Shopping Day’, ‘Outing day’, ‘Swimming Day’, ‘Result Day’, ‘Sad day’, ‘Picnic Day’, ‘Children’s Day’ and so many days. Most importantly, their outstanding word selection to address the diary overwhelmed me; ‘My lovely diary, My cutie, My dear bestie, and Good Night with Emoji. Reading their diary, I realized they have now made the diary their best friend. They shared all kinds of emotions without any hesitation as in the sample. Most importantly, Emoji they made in each writing revealed a visual representation of their happiness. The boy on Children’s Day was so happy about getting chocolates and prizes, whereas others represented their feelings through Emojis.

Diary writing continuously for a long time, sharing their writing and positive feedback stimulated them to write whenever they felt something interesting. I realized the strategy really worked when one of the parents shared that her son doesn’t go to bed until he writes in his diary. Most interestingly, they did not allow their parents to read their writing. But they wanted me to read it in the class as I often read with voice modulation, which I feel they loved. Besides, the students’ happy faces and their excitement to share their writing, I sensed, were the evidence of my success in all the activities I did.

You might be astonished by the way they learned to write. They dramatically learned language skills and aspects in an integrative way. They develop creativity and critical thinking in their writing. They learned to use new words and phrases. They became attentive enough to grasp words and phrases from friends’ writing. They felt free to ask the term to express in English. Some of the students even mixed the languages. I accepted it, to encourage them to write. Similarly, I developed the concept of past tense words and sentences through their sentences. However, I paid less attention to the grammar aspect. I addressed the immediate grammar-related issues. Diary writing practice familiarized them with the V-2 form of most of the words we use in our everyday conversation.

Finally, I love to state that the pedagogy I developed is my signature pedagogy. Although some of the ELT teachers practiced the strategy earlier, none of them to my knowledge may have used it continuously for a long time with the same commitment to change learners’ writing traits and skills together.

[Ms. Deuja is pursuing her M Phil at School of Education]


Two Different Critiques

This post presents two pieces of critical reading of a single text, a short unpublished story. The first was written in the Fall of 2020 and the second in the Fall of 2022. The purpose of including these texts is (i) to show how different readers respond to a text differently, and (ii) to explicate the polysemic nature of a narrative representation.

“Deconstruction of Male-Female Binary”

– Gunaraj Nepal

Take a moment to think about your child who was born as a girl and is now grown with an unusual genital. What would you do? You would do all the usual things to keep her female, right? And you would keep all the unusual things about her secret. The story “The Prize for Unbecoming” deals with the rupture in the concept of gender defined by patriarchy as physical and cultural reality and takes physical union beyond the dichotomy of ‘male’ and ‘female’.

The story is set in a traditional, patriarchal society. The writer seems to be well-informed about the roles for men and women defined by patriarchy. It revolves around Rita turned into Ram Prasad later by her parents. As presented in the story, she was a girl child at her birth but grew with unusual features identical to those of a boy. It can be argued that society wants to see people with fixed gender, so Rita’s unusual growth into ‘boy-like’ was unacceptable. This led her parents to change her name. The change in the name gave Ram Prasad the privilege of being absent from the village until he passed the secondary exams and later. This was a voluntary exile for five years which he would not be able to do as Rita. And again it is “he” who wished to marry the girl he loved. The parents agreed to allow him to marry a girl though the people continued to talk about the biological relevance of their marriage.

Though the story is very brief, it has the power to evoke a lot of responses all at once. A colleague from my department said that this is a story about transgender’s thirst for love. Another colleague said it is all about the cursed family where only the male can bring happiness. And yet another colleague said that this is a surrealist story about genetic or gender change. Still another colleague added that this is deconstruction of males’ genitals that are no longer needed to make a female happy. I think that it is possible for any individual to have some of the markers for one sex and some of their markers for the other sex, thus deconstructing the binary opposition of male/female on which patriarchal constructions of sex and gender identity rely.

Two things kept me wondering about this story: first, its ending with no supporting clues or context; and second, its title which deconstructs itself. Any reader can notice it. Its abrupt ending offers a great deal of scope for the reader to think and reflect. The story shows that Ram Prasad remained in exile for five years, which raises a lot of questions in the reader’s mind.  Where did he go? What did he do? Did he undergo any surgery to make himself “smart to manage” life with his girlfriend Laxmi? Secondly, it is not clear to me why the writer has this title because it tends to support the notion of “becoming”, not ‘unbecoming’ as the title stands. I see a move to the ‘becoming of a male’, who goes to live in exile, falls in love, and marries a girl of his choice. So, it is “becoming” because traditional gender constitutions have been broken to allow Ram Prasad to live smartly with his wife, in a society that does nothing but live in wonder looking for the biological relevance of such a relationship.

The story begins with Rita’s unusual growth as a girl and ends with her role as Ram Prasad who knows how to smartly live with the bride. It has a stylish end: “It’s all about being smart. It’s about being smart to manage,” which keeps the reader in speculation. This leads critics to interpret the story in multiple ways: a story about transgender’s thirst for love, about the cursed family seeking happiness, about genetic or gender change, and about deconstruction of males’ genitals. However, I see it as a deconstruction of the binary opposition of male/ female on which patriarchal constructions of sex and gender identity rely.

[Mr. Nepal is pursuing MPhil at KUSOED]

“Gender Transitioning Should No Longer Be a Taboo”

– Bhaskar Subba

Gender transitioning, an idea originated in the West and now a fundamental right, is a current popular buzz phrase. A Canadian actor Ellen Page, who had a whirlwind Hollywood ride from ‘her’ – excuse my using a feminine pronoun – breakout role in Juno, rather unexpectedly made the headlines when she shared a post on Instagram saying that she was a transgender. Many were struck dumb by this sudden announcement while there were some who simply stood by her, feeling proud. Now, she goes by the name Elliot Page. At least in terms of their gender discovery, I see no difference between Ellen and Rita. Assumed to be a girl child by her parents, Rita, all of a sudden, metamorphoses into a boy, following her unusual genital growth. GENITAL GROWTH, which, if I might say so, is A NON-EXISTENT MEDICAL CONDITION. It is hard to believe, but I am taking this medical condition with a grain of salt.

Actually, the story of Rita is common, not unusual in any sense. She was born as a girl, but unlike Ellen, who needed much courage and time to reveal her sexual identity, dismantles her false sexual identity at an early age after an unusual genital growth. However, it was not easy for her parents to accept the fact that their girl was actually a boy.

As time goes by, some weird things start to happen to Rita’s body: a mustache and a beard grow, her voice breaks up and a menstrual cycle stops. When she is in sixth grade, she makes her first strong demand to her parents, asking them to either take her out of the school that she was going to or send her to a distant school. However, in the story nothing has been mentioned as to why she makes this demand. Perhaps, it could be due to her feelings of embarrassment over her physical change that was taking place. Whatever the reason is, her parents agree to fulfill her wish. The new school gives her a new identity: Rita becomes Ram Prasad, a resounding triumph for him, if you will.

Another turning point comes into Ram’s life when he finds his soulmate, Laxmi. To get married to her was not an easy affair for him, a daunting task, I would rather say. However, with his parents’ approval, he ties the knot with her. But what follows after his marriage is a self-imposed banishment. For some reasons, the couple had to stay away from their home. After five years of staying away from his home, Ram along with his wife Laxmi returns to his village, strong and impervious. His relationship with his wife, one that deviates from the conventional social norms, begins to circulate and a climate of malicious gossip takes root. But such gossip miserably fails to bother them, being completely unsusceptible. Both put up a strong fight against those who spite and hate them and eventually emerge victorious.

Would Rita be able to assert her sexual identity if she was in a completely different situation? According to the story, Rita’s parents have three children including her. She is the only child who is born healthy while her two sibling brothers are deaf and dumb. By an odd quirk of fate, her siblings being unable to hear and speak turns out to be a blessing in disguise. One might wonder how it is so. Imagine if all three children were healthy, would Rita be treated any differently by her parents? That would not have, you might disagree with me, given Rita an advantage that she had. With two healthy boy children, her parents’ behaviour towards her would certainly have been different, making her feel unacceptable. She would have suffered total neglect. It is plain that her parents listen to her and readily honour her wishes because she, although being out of ordinary, is better than her two sibling brothers because she is in full possession of her faculties. That, I think, is the reason why in spite of all odds she is able to be herself.

While the story may possess a simple plot, its narrative lacks a multitude of crucial components. One of them is that we are not told where and when the story takes place. As we know that in any story a setting is extremely important as it provides the reader with context on the time, place, and environment that the story takes place in. Without a context a meaningful interpretation is not possible so that is why I am uncomfortably compelled to say how I actually feel about the story is purely based on assumption. Considering the two names of the antagonist − Rita and Ram Prasad – the story might well have taken place either in countries like Nepal or Bharat. If so, then it is necessary to look at historical context of gender issues, which include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

In the beginning, you might have noticed that I have described the idea of gender transitioning as Western origin. Upon witnessing the Western world’s exhortation for individuals, especially those residing in countries like Nepal and Bharat, to combat gender discrimination, I am struck with the realization that both the residents of these nations, who may have unwittingly neglected their rich cultural heritage, and the Western proponents of gender equality are in need of enlightenment and education. Homosexuality and transgenderism had been completely acceptable for thousands of years in ancient Bharat Barsha until the invasion of Bharat by the Mughals and the Britishers. For example, Shikhandi, who was born as a daughter to Drupada, the king of Southern Panchala, became a biological male after agreeing to a sex exchange with a Yaksha. Similarly, had the act of transitioning one’s gender been considered a social taboo, Arjun, who underwent a transformation from male to female following the curse imposed by Urvashi, may have been hesitant to pursue such a course of action, fearing ostracization or being labelled as deviant. Numerous additional instances serve to exemplify the fact that Sanathan Dharma instructs its followers to display reverence towards all, regardless of their individual sexual orientations.

To the best of my knowledge, any matters pertaining to gender that may be deemed problematic are a direct result of the influence exerted by Abrahamic religions. The holy scripture Bible openly denounces homosexuality, and if you read Leviticus 20:13, which says “If a man lies with a male as with women, both of them have committed an abomination,” then it will not take long for you to realize where these problems have come from. Likewise, in the Quran the prophet lord rebukes the people of Sodom and Gomorrah saying, “Do you commit abomination such as no people in creation ever committed before? You practice your lusts in preference to women, you are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” Most conservative followers of Abrahamic religions still have complete contempt for those people who do not fit into a biological definition of male and female. Some are very discreet – they simply do not want to run into trouble − while others are openly against LGBTQ. For example, the richest state in the world, Qatar, which held the greatest event FIFA World Cup 2022, was in the headlines for its stance on homosexuality. According to their Sharia Law, homosexuality is haram.

I am not saying that a person like Rita is not subject to discrimination and hatred in countries like Nepal and Bharat, where Sanathan Dharma is still widely practiced. What I am trying to get across is that we are the ones who are asked to see beyond sexuality, color of skin and caste. Our Sahastras proclaim Aham Brahmasmi, which literally means I am Brahman. The sole purpose of life is to realize that we are not just a heap of flesh and bones, but soul, according to Sanathan Dharma.

The unfavorable perception that is held regarding sexuality is not inherently ours, but rather a construct that has been imposed upon us. Abiding by the principle of “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma,” which espouses the belief that everything in existence is a manifestation of the divine, we strive to recognize the presence of God within all beings, thereby rendering all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, inherently worthy of acceptance. As a result of this outlook, it becomes apparent that Rita’s gender transition should not to be viewed as a noteworthy topic of discussion, particularly by those who belong to Bharata Barsha, the light of the world.

[Mr. Subba is pursuing Master’s studies at KUSOED.]


My Learning Experiences at KUSOED

– Khem Raj Bhatta

Excellent counseling services, quick and responsive staff, and dedicated and cooperative faculties inspired me to join a research degree (M.Phil.) at Kathmandu University School of Education (KUSOED). A wonderful academic journey at the University has been very gratifying for me. I would like to share my learning experience in the following parameters.

The ICT-equipped classrooms at the University were interactive enough. The well-experienced, dedicated, and cooperative facilitators and the professors have always worked tirelessly to expand the student’s horizons of knowledge and understanding. I realized the real sense of rigorous research training in our M.Phil. classes. Rather than reading and writing for the examination, what I found at KUSOED was the culture of giving more priority to the individual as well as group presentations, which side by side developed reading and writing skills. The conducive academic environment at the university and its inspirational professors motivated me to explore different areas of ELE (English Language Education).

There were three classes in a week for the MPhil Academic routine. Each class was of three hours including a short refreshing tea break. Mostly we had to involve in topic-wise individual as well as group presentations. It was great to be a commentator for a colleague’s/ friend’s presentation in the sense that being a commentator provides an opportunity to get insights on other topics in detail.

When I reflect now, I realize that enormous series of presentations within a course absolutely developed our presentation skills and in-depth understanding of the topic/content. Moreover, guest lectures from distinguished scholars from home and abroad also enriched our knowledge and experiences. The classroom teaching and learning, as far as I can recount now was more practical rather than traditional and exam-oriented.

KUSOED has equipped me with several academic and personal qualities. Through rigorous lectures from the course facilitators and classroom discussions, I got deep insights and an understanding of research methodology, especially qualitative research methods. As a result, I feel confident in conducting small-scale qualitative research.

Steinar Kvale’s book Interviews: An Introduction to qualitative Research (1996) helped me not only take formal interviews for research, it also has been helpful for interacting with people in day-to-day life. This is a great asset for me. The regular classes that I took at KUSOED enabled me to write on various topics related to English Language Education. Apart from the theoretical knowledge on subject matters, I also got insights on conducting seminars and writing and presenting papers.

To sum up, my learning experience as an M.Phil. scholar at KUSOED has been very rewarding and productive to make my future academic life more prosperous. I am always grateful to the KUSOED family.

[Mr. Bhatta recently completed MPhil from KU School of Education]

ईन्जिनियरिङ्गको अड्कल र साहित्यको कल्पना

– नवराज खतिवडा

ईन्जिनियरिङग विषय लिई चार वर्षे स्नातक तहको अध्ययन गर्ने प्रथम वर्षका विद्यार्थीलाई आन्तरिक परीक्षामा मैले सोधेको एक प्रश्न यस्तो थियो ।

“ तिम्रो टाउको जत्रो ढुंगाको तौल अन्दाजी कति होला ?“

विद्यार्थीहरुले यो प्रश्नको उत्तर विभिन्न किसिमले दिए । टाउको जत्रो ढुँगाको तौल १-२ किलोग्रामदेखि २५-३० किलोग्रामसम्म हुन सक्ने उनीहरुको अनुमान थियो । कसैले त त्यो उत्तर कसरी आयो भनेर हिसाब समेत गरेका थिए । त्यस मध्ये एकजना उत्तरदाताले प्रस्तुत गरेको तर्कले मेरो ध्यानाकर्षण गर्‍यो । त्यो तर्कमा गहनता मात्र थिएन, त्यहाँ अडकलसँग जोडिएको रोचक अन्तरवस्तु समेत थियो । त्यही तर्कलाई केन्द्रविन्दुमा राखेर यो लेखको रचना समेत भयो ।

“टाउको र भकुण्डोको आयतन लगभग बराबर हुन्छ । अन्तर्राष्‍ट्रिय मान्यताको भकुण्डोको व्यास २० सेन्टिमीटर जति हुन्छ । सुत्र प्रयोग गर्दा यत्रो गोलो वस्तुको आयतन ५ लिटर जति निस्कन्छ । एक लिटर पानीको तौल एक किलोग्राम हुने र पानीभन्दा ढुँगा दुई गुणा जति गह्रौँ हुने भएकोले टाउको जत्रो ढुँगाको तौल १० किलोग्रामको आसपासमा हुन्छ।“

यसरी खोजमूलक र सही उत्तर लेख्ने ती विद्यार्थीलाई मैले उत्कृष्ट अंक दिँए । उत्तर पुस्तिकामा “अति राम्रो” भनेर स्यावासी समेत लेखेँ । यो रोचक उत्तरको प्रसँग एक दुई जना समकक्षी साथीहरुलाई पनि सुनाएँ । उनीहरुले पनि “सिर्जनात्मक उत्तर” भन्ने प्रतिकृया दिए । ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग विषयको मूलाधार भनेको विज्ञान नै हो । चार वर्षे स्नातक तहको अध्ययनमा पहिलो दुई वर्ष त धेरै जसो भौतिक शास्त्र, रसायन शास्त्र र गणित कै पढाइ हुन्छ । यसकारण विद्यार्थीको उत्तर यथार्थको नजिक भएता पनि त्यस तर्कमा विज्ञानकै अँश अधिक हुनु अस्वभाविक थिएन । त्यही सेमेष्टरका विद्यार्थीको एक कक्षामा केही हप्ता अघि विज्ञान र ईन्जिनियरिङ्गको फरक बुझाउनका लागि मैले एउटा रित्तो कपको प्रयोग गरेको थिँए । मैले रित्तो कप उनीहरुलाई देखाएर सोधेको थिएँ ।

“यो कप भरि छ कि खाली ? ”

आश्चर्य भयो ! उनीहरुको मत बाझियो । आधा जतिले त्यसमा हावा भएकाले “भरी” भनेका थिए । “खाली” भन्नेहरुले कपको काम तरल पदार्थ बोक्ने भएकाले हावाले भरिनुको कुनै अर्थ नभएको भन्ने जवाफ दिएका थिए । वैज्ञानिक हिसाबमा हावाले भरिनुको अर्थ भएता पनि व्यवहारिक हिसावमा थिएन । यसकारण उही तथ्यलाई विज्ञान र ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग वा अर्थशास्त्रले फरक फरक तरिकाले परिभाषित गर्न सक्छन भनेर विद्यार्थीलाई बुझाउन कपको उदाहरण सफल भएको थियो । आफ्नो अघि आईलागेको प्राविधिक समस्यालाई चिर्ने कार्यको प्रस्थान विन्दु हुन्छ- त्यस समस्याको आकार अनुमान । आकार अनुमान गर्नको लागि समस्यासँग जोडिएको भौतिक स्वरुपको मापन गर्नु पर्ने हुन्छ । उदाहरणको लागि पहाडको उचाइ, नदीको वहाव या कुनै पाईपको मोटाइ नै अन्दाज गर्ने कुरालाई लिन सकिन्छ । यसकारण एउटा ईन्जिनियरले फित्ताले ननापी वा तराजुमा नजोखी वा कुनै हिसाब नगरिकन वस्तुको आकार या तौल अनुमान गर्न सक्नुपर्छ । विद्यार्थी जीवनमा जसले यो काम निमेषभरमा नै गर्न सक्ने दक्षता हासिल गर्छ त्यसको “अन्दाज कौशलता” विशिष्ट हुन सक्छ । यही चुरोको सेरोफेरोमा मेरो मनमा एक गहन प्रश्न उब्जियो । भकुण्डोको आयतनसँग तुलना गरी पानीको घनत्वको तथ्यलाई प्रयोग गरी ढुँगोको तौल अन्दाज गर्ने तरिका वैज्ञानिक त अवश्य भयो तर के यो व्यावहारिक पनि भयो त ?  म चिन्तनको दायरालाई फराकिलो पार्न थाल्छु । विद्यार्थीहरुले समस्या समाधानका अरु तरिकाको पनि कल्पना गरेका थिए । केहीले आफ्नो शरिरको वजनको आधारमा टाउकोको तौल अनुमान गरेका थिए । केहीले ईँटा, फर्सी या तरबुजाको तौलसँग तुलना गरी ढुँगाको तौल अन्दाज गरेका थिए ।

दिइएको परिस्थितिमा वा समस्या सिर्जिएको स्थानको वरिपरि साधन र श्रोतको उपलब्धता सिमित हुनसक्छ । कतिपय अवस्थामा हातमा फित्ता वा साथमा क्यालकुलेटर समेत नहुन सक्छ । फेरि अरुले सामान्य दिमागमात्र प्रयोग गरी दिन सक्ने समाधानमा आफूले स्केल या क्यालकुलेटर खोज्दा हाँस्यपात्र पनि बन्न सकिन्छ । यस्तो बेला तन्काउन मिल्ने वा थप्दै जान सकिने वा एउटा धारको सट्टामा अर्को फेर्न सकिने भनेको चिन्तन वा कल्पना नै हो । समस्या सानै भएपनि त्यसलाई चिर्न ज्ञानको अथाह भण्डार प्रयोग गर्न सकिन्छ । विभिन्न तरिकाले सोच्न सकिन्छ । यसकारण कुनै समस्यालाई पर्गेल्नका लागि कत्रो फैलावाट भएको वा कति गहन कल्पना शक्ति खर्च गर्ने भन्ने सवाल महत्वपूर्ण हुन आउँछ ।

ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग विधामा त कल्पना शक्तिको नै विशिष्ट स्थान छ । सामान्य अन्दाज गर्ने देखि लिएर वृहत संरचना समेतको नक्शा वा नमूना कल्पनाशक्तिले नै बन्छ । जसरी वास्तविक अनुहार क्यामेराले खिचेको तस्विरमा हुबहु बनेर निस्कन्छ, त्यसरी नै कागजमा कोरिएको नक्शा निर्माण पश्चात वास्तविक संरचनामा परिणत  हुन्छ । यसकारण केको आधारमा कल्पना गर्ने ? कुन विधि अपनाउने ? उत्तर कसरी पस्कने ? अर्थात् विद्यार्थीको कल्पना वा पूर्वानुमान गर्ने क्षमता कसरी अभिवृद्धि गर्ने ? स्वभाविक प्रश्नहरु उब्जिएका छन् ।

महाकवि लक्ष्मीप्रसाद देवकोटाले कल्पना शीर्षकको निबन्धमा लेखेका छन् – ……उस (कल्पना) लाई वस्तुको उपस्थितिको जरुरतै छैन, स्मृतिपटमा परेको छाया जगाएर ऊ अनुपस्थित वस्तुहरुको सूक्ष्म स्वरुप सत्यप्रदर्शन गर्दछ । ………..हामी कल्पनाद्वारा आँखा चिम्ली चिम्ली वाह्य संसारका वस्तु र तिनका सम्बन्धहरु भेट्टाउन सक्छौँ  ।………..

यसरी साहित्यको कल्पना र ईन्जिनियरिङ्गको अडकलबाजीमा समानता पाइन्छ । महाकविले लेखे जस्तै आफ्नो अघि अनुपस्थित वस्तुहरुको लम्बाइ, चौडाइ, उचाइ वा गोलाइको अनुमान गर्ने सिलसिलामा सर्वप्रथम मष्तिष्कले त्यो वस्तुको छायाँको परिकल्पना गर्दछ । समस्या त्यसबेला सिर्जना हुन्छ जव मष्तिष्कले वस्तुको छायाँको कल्पना गर्न सक्दैन । किनभने त्यहाँ तिखो दृष्टि नहुन सक्छ । या कल्पना गर्नेले कुनै आधारशिला नै फेला पार्दैन । बोधो दृष्टिकोणले निशाना लाग्दैन । सही अडकल आउँदैन । त्यसकारण बोधो दृष्टिलाई तिक्ष्ण बनाउने अर्थात् आफ्नो अडकलवाजी लाई सत्यताको नजिक पुर्‍यउने कौशलता सिर्जना गर्नु विशेषगरी ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग पढ्ने विद्यार्थीका लागि अपरिहार्य हुन आँउछ ।

केही समय अघि मेरा एक मित्रको कारमा हामी धुलिखेलबाट काठमाण्डौँतिर गइरहेका थियौ । केही समय अघि देखि परेको घनघोर पानी अझै थामिएको थिएन । हामी अकस्मात रोकियौँ । हाम्रो अघि लगभग १०० मिटर जति सडकमा फैलिएको पानीको दह थियो । ठूला गाडी त पाङ्ग्रा अग्लो भएको कारणले पानी मिचेर पास भएका थिए । तर हामीले आँट गरेनौँ । मैले वायाँतिर एक लेनको सडकलाई आफ्नो बाटो बनाएर उर्ली उर्ली बगेको पानीलाई नियालेँ । लगभग घुँडा-घुँडा आउने पानी थियो । मैले सडकको चौडाइ, पानीको औसत गहिराइ र भेलको गति अन्दाज गरी जल प्रवाहको परिमाण अनुमान गरेँ । यस विषयमा मेरा मित्रको पनि विचार जान्ने ईच्छा भयो र वहाँलाई सोधेँ ।

“ यो पानीको वहाव कति होला ? “

वहाँले वडो सामान्य र सहज हिसावमा उत्तर दिनु भयो ।

“मेरो विचारमा १.५ देखि ३ घनमिटर प्रति सेकेण्डको वीचमा हुनुपर्छ ।”

म दङ्गदास परेँ । यसका दुई कारण थिए । पहिलो: मेरो अनुमान वहाँको उत्तरसँग ठ्याक्कै मिलेको थियो । दोस्रो: वहाँको सपाट उत्तरमा जुन ओज र आत्मविश्वास थियो त्यो स्मरणीय र अतुलनीय थियो । वहाँले त्यो उत्तर दिँदा कत्तिवेर पनि नअलमलिईकन दिनु भएको थियो । मैले अर्थशास्त्रमा नोबेल पुरस्कार जित्ने अध्येता डेनियल कानेम्यानले लेखेको “थिङ्कीङ्ग फास्ट एण्ड स्लो” भन्ने पुस्तकको प्रसँग सम्झिएँ । पुस्तकमा उनले कुनै आकस्मिक परिस्थितिमा हामी कसरी विचार गर्दछौ भन्ने कुराको विश्लेषण गरेका छन् । डेनियलले परिस्थिति र सोच्ने व्यक्तिको क्षमता अनुरुप दुईवटा सोच-प्रणालीले काम गर्ने उल्लेख गरेका छन् । प्रणाली-१ ले कुनै पनि प्रश्नको सपाट जवाफ निमेषभरमा नै दिन सक्छ । तर कठिन सवाल (जस्तै: १७ × २४) को सही जवाफ दिनका लागि प्रणाली-२ को जरुरी पर्दछ । मलाई भलपानीको वहावलाई आँकलन गर्न केही वेर लागेको थियो तर मेरा मित्रले शायद प्रणाली-१ प्रयोग गरेर सपाट उत्तर दिएका थिए । मष्तिष्कले प्रणाली-२ को प्रयोग विशेष अवस्थामा मात्र गर्दछ । यसको निचोड निस्कियो — मित्रको बगेको पानीसँग सम्बन्धित अनुभव यथेष्ट छ ।

टाउको वरावरको ढुँगाको तौल आँकलन गर्दा मष्तिष्कले आयतन मात्र मिल्ने भकुण्डो स्मरण गर्छ कि तौल र आयतन दुवै मिल्ने फर्सी या तरबुजा स्मरण गर्छ त ? यो कुरा समस्यालाई मष्तिष्कले कसरी आफूले जानेको प्रसँग या अनुभुतिसँग तुलना गर्दछ भन्ने कुरामा भर पर्दछ । अर्कोतर्फ फुटबल खेलको अनुभव अधिक भएको तर फर्सी कहिले पनि नतौलेको व्यक्ति भए उस्को ध्यान फुटबलतिर जानु  स्वभाविक नै हो । अर्थात् देवकोटाले उल्लेख गरे जस्तो प्रश्न ‘मष्तिष्कले कल्पना गर्ने छायाँको स्वरुप र आकार कस्तो हुन्छ भन्ने” हो ।  यसकारण ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग विधामा कुनै समस्यालाई सपाट र सही उत्तर दिनका लागि त्यो समस्यासँग मिल्ने पृष्ठभूमि या प्रसंग निमेषभरमा नै जोड्न सक्नु पर्छ । डेनियलको विश्लेषण अनुसार कहिलेकाहीँ मष्तिष्कले गलत वा अप्रासंगिक उत्तर पनि दिनसक्छ । यसका मुख्यतया तीन कारण हुन्छन् । पहिलो: पृष्ठभूमि या आधारभूत दायरालाई महत्व नदिई प्रश्नलाई अति हलुका तवरमा लिनु । दोस्रो: उत्तर प्राप्त गर्न अल्छि गर्नु । र तेश्रो उत्तरलाई पन्छाउनु या प्रश्न नै गलत छ भन्नेतिर मन लैजानु । विद्यार्थीहरुले उत्तर लेख्न नसक्नु वा गलत उत्तर दिनुको मूल कारक यिनै हुन् । तर सही अन्दाज या पूर्वानुमान गर्नका लागि उपलब्ध विकल्पहरुलाई कुनै नजिरसँग या आधारसँग तुलना गर्न जरुरी छ । आफ्नो अन्तस्करणमा उत्पन्न भएको अड्कललाई पाए सम्मका तथ्यहरुले प्रमाणित गर्नु पनि जरुरी हुन आउँछ ।

दक्ष ईन्जिनियर बन्नका लागि पहिलो शर्त हुन्छ- कुनै परिमाणको व्यावहारिक वा अर्थपूर्ण अन्दाज गर्न सक्नु । विद्यार्थीहरुको पूर्वानुमान गर्ने क्षमता अभिवृद्धि गर्दा सिर्जना भएका यी प्रसंगहरुले हाम्रो शिक्षा प्रणालीमा कस्ता कस्ता अनुमान गर्ने तौर तरिका सिकाउने गरिएको छ र त्यसको व्यवहारिक उपयोग कस्तो रहेको छ भन्ने विषयहरुको उठान गरेका छन् । आशा गरौँ यस विषयमा विद्वत वर्गको थप ध्यानाकर्षण हुनेछ ।


Dancing in the Rice Paddies

Ananda Kafle

Like in the past, this year too, National Paddy Day was celebrated on June 29. Party leaders, government officials, journalists, celebrities and common people went to rural farms, smeared mud on their clothes, brandished spades, held aloft bunches of paddy seedlings and smiled widely for the camera. Moreover, some of them even played music, danced and had a sort of a party. Rice transplantation photographs received much space in newspapers and on television. Some of these celebrators are trying to mimic traditional rice planting practices. In reality, things have changed. The interest of people towards rice cultivation itself has decreased. Shortages of fertilisers and good quality seeds, lack of irrigation facilities, the labour intensive nature of rice farming and meager productivity are some factors that have discouraged peasants from continuing this occupation. Shortage of labour is another hurdle. Nepal’s villages are being evacuated of youths. Instead of being engaged in low-paying seasonal employment, many have chosen to move abroad. Their dependents in the country are either physically unable to work in the fields or prefer to live on remittance rather than do tedious peasantry. Until a few decades ago, the domestic production of rice used to be sufficient for the country’s food needs. Now, a large portion of the demand is being fulfilled by imported grain. Flat lands in the Tarai, regarded as the grain basket of the country, frequently turn barren due to inadequate rain and other adversities. Lack of awareness on the proper use of chemical fertilisers has led to degraded productivity of the soil, which has further increased the need for chemical supplements. Invading insects and weeds have developed resistance due to excessive use of insecticides, and this has made the crops more vulnerable to diseases. Waters from big rivers like the Koshi are drained directly to India across farmlands in the bordering Tarai. Unfair treaties prevent Nepali farmers from irrigating their fields with this water. In some districts, several hectares of cultivable fields have been submerged and made unfit for farming due to embankments and riverbed structures constructed by the southern neighbour. Despite many big rivers flowing through irrigable landscapes in the Tarai, peasants are compelled to wait for the rains to plough their fields. Marking National Paddy Day is not enough to encourage farmers to produce more rice. If the government was concerned about the issue in a real sense, the issues stated above need attention. Farmers should be given greater respect so that more youths are motivated to join them. Otherwise, such celebrations will not bring any change other than providing elites with an opportunity to show off their farming hobby.

(Earlier published in The Kathmandu Post, 9 July  2014)

Being a Teacher

– Hem Raj Kafle

Some school children might wonder, “How do teachers know so many things? Why are they smarter than many other people? Why do people generally not speak ill about them?” The answer in growing up. They know that teachers have spent certain years learning, and imparting that learning. They have learnt from more qualified persons and qualitative sources. They command respect for being responsible, and thus people do not generally speak ill about them.

The opportunity to teach is reward. The realization of being rewarded starts with the belief of being in good company of students and colleagues who signify the piety of creating, transmitting, expanding and sustaining the mission of culturing the society as whole. The teacher is torchbearer, who always helps fellow beings to explore their lives’ directions and to widen their intellectual horizon.

There are productive challenges in being teacher. First, you can’t afford the lazy. A simple rule in teaching is you have to know more than what you can tell in classroom. For this you must continuously know. A competent teacher makes every teaching a new teaching, and every day a different day. And a teacher must be more dynamic and knowledgeable than students. Students adore teachers who are intelligent and active, in the same extent as teachers would love to teach intelligent and active students. Such expectation of reciprocation and mutual respect forms the first necessary classroom infrastructure. Second, you can’t be dishonest. Dishonesty does not go with real teaching. Dishonest persons, in fact, are unfit in every profession that involves welfare and service to people in large number and multiple generations. Even if honesty may not pay at once in teaching, it certainly gives the satisfaction of being a part of a virtuous growth of knowledge and wisdom, which expand as they transfer, and transfer as they expand.

In teaching there is always a chance to know people and be known. Knowing people helps you increase the number of friends. Adding the number of acquaintances is a good source of knowledge, and partly, of emotional security. And this does not happen just once, but over the years. The piety of the profession itself suffices to keep you honest and invulnerable to corruption. Teachers are expected to act as role models both in knowledge and conduct. They are ethically conditioned to continuously update and polish themselves. This keeps them good, and goodness is not without returns, let alone the joy of seeing successes and growths.

Teaching may not ensure material prosperity. Sometimes, think of switching the profession for rapid social or financial uplift. But everyday necessities and the desire for quick fame not suffice make you disapprove the grandeur of teaching. The fact that teachers are until humans stop learning make your presence indispensible and your profession respectable.

 [Published in Educational Frontier]

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