Week 2

After waking up at 5 a.m. the previous day to see the Taj Mahal, we were hardly well rested after our weekend trip to Agra, however we were happy to be back home at the farm, and felt ready to carry on teaching.

The first maths topic on the menu this week was Pythagoras, and we headed straight for the scissors and coloured card, and started making some triangles. We wanted to get across that Pythagoras is a relationship between the lengths of sides of a triangle, and so didn’t introduce the familiar formula a2 + b2 = c2 straight away, and hoped the teachers would discover it for themselves. We got the teachers to measure the three sides of their cardboard triangles, and square the results, and to see if they noticed anything. Sure enough, the sum of two of the squares was (very) roughly equal to the other square, and it was then that we revealed that this is true for all right angled triangles. By seeing what this formula means in real life, and not just learning it and blindly plugging in values, we hoped to make the topic more memorable and intuitive.

Then, sticking with the cardboard triangles, we moved onto trigonometry, and again tried to make the subject more exciting than perhaps it had been taught before. In the UK, most children will learn the rules of trigonometry with the anagram ‘SOHCAHTOA’, and so we tried to get the teachers to think up with an inventive way of remembering this. The most colourful example that came up was ‘Sandeep orders Helen, can Aslam help to overthrow Alampur’, which no-one could forget.

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Maths lesson on Pythagoras

The English topic for the week was direct and indirect speech, and the girls came up with an excellent group activity for learning the difference, that we would see in action in all four centres in the following weeks. Learners were to sit in a circle, and someone would start by saying a simple sentence such as “I am going to school”. Then his colleague to the right would report on this sentence using indirect speech: “Ramesh said that he was going to school”, and this process would repeat around the circle. We found this not only gave people practise in understanding the difference between direct and indirect speech, but exercised their creativity when they had to come up with the sentence themselves.

Following the previous week’s passionate debate on the EU, this Friday’s soft skills topics were more low key. We started with a lesson on Geography and soil and farming (after learning about these ourselves the night before), and then moved on to a discussion of the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of social media, where we discussed our different communities’ views on friend requests, picture sharing, and meme making, and hopefully all learned a lot.

After another long week’s teaching, we were looking forward to a slow weekend where we could finally relax… but it wasn’t to be! We were up at 6 a.m. for a friendly game of cricket with the teachers. After some questionable bent-arm bowling from the teachers, that would result in six no-balls per over in the IPL, and some even more questionable batting from A. Bhavnani, that isn’t likely to land her a contract with Warwickshire county cricket Club any time soon, we headed back to the farm for a delicious cooked breakfast of sausages and egg from Rajjo, that made the early start and heavy exercise more than worthwhile. Then we were introduced for the first time to the Women’s Sewing co-operative, and we got to see the amazing work that we had heard so much about. Women from the local villages would come to the farm, and be given cloth and sewing materials, that they could take away and stitch together, and take back to the farm for a wage. We saw some beautiful dresses, handbags, and quilt covers, one of which is lying on my bed at home as I type. We very impressed by the sewing co-operative, and hope it can continue and expand in the future. The local women are so skilled with a needle and thread, and this gives them a way to make a living out of their talents.

In the evening, Shakti, Ila and Shiv had planned an absolute treat for us, that was definitely one of my fondest memories from the month. We were driven thirty minutes down the road to Gurgaon, the nearest city, and went to the mall. While some relaxed in the spa, and some sought bargains in the clothes shops, I went straight to Subway™ to get myself a much needed fix. After this, we all met up for a viewing of the recently released film “Sultan”, that was a first foray into the wonderful world of Bollywood for some in our party. After a three hour romp moved the usually formidable Shakti Uncle to the verge of tears, we headed back to the farm, spent the Sunday resting and relaxing, and took the bopping beats of “Baby ko bass pasand hai” into the next week of teaching.

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Having dinner in Gurgaon after having seen ‘Sultan’

Rob

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