Wednesday, September 30, 2015

THE DONKEY-WORK







Pic.: Pradeep Nanda



“If Jesus were here today, he wouldn't be riding around on a donkey.
He'd be taking a plane, he'd be using the media.”



Today, I was teaching my twelfth-standard students, in my early morning batch (HSC Board). Unlike the ISC-Board students, the HSC-Board students are not allowed to use calculators. So, today’s kids you see… They are so used to machines and gadgets for quick results; their mind is simply not willing to buy the idea that they have to use it… to become sharp and smart. When I was like them, calculators were seen as a luxury. I rarely saw anyone using them even in offices, leave alone in schools and colleges.

So, we had to use our mind… think in order to add, subtract, multiply and divide. For a Commerce student, it was deemed to be a basic skill which had to be honed. Our teachers taught us various simple and short-cut methods to do complicated arithmetic. For example, if we had to divide between A and B a profit of Rs. 80,040 in 5:3 ratio, we did like this, by visualization. First, we divided Rs.80, 000 mentally and obtained Rs.50, 000 and Rs.30, 000 respectively. Next, we divided Rs. 40 and obtained Rs.25 and Rs.15 respectively. Finally, we mentally added the two results to obtain the final result i.e., Rs.50, 025 and Rs.30, 015 respectively. Similarly, when we had to divide Rs. 79,992 in the same ratio, we used the same trick: First we divided Rs.80, 000 and obtained Rs.50, 000 and Rs.30, 000 respectively; next, we divided Rs.8 to obtain Rs.5 and Rs.3 respectively, Finally, we deducted the second result from the first to obtain the final result, i.e., Rs.49, 995 and Rs.29, 997 respectively.

And, believe me, all this would happen automatically in our minds… Because, we grew up doing it. Our mind was attuned to such calculations.

But, here in Mumbai, even after attending several short-cut classes such as Vedic Maths, UC Maths or Mid-Brain something etc., our young-ones still search for the calcie on their cell-phones. Because, that’s how their mind is attuned to think… fast, without even thinking or strain!

Therefore, imagine the torture and dilemma of these HSC and CBSC kids who are not allowed to touch calcies to find how much is 3 plus 2! You should see their faces to believe it… They simply curse their fate… that, they are not allowed to use the calcie for calculations!

Everyday as I see the plight of my students, I smile and tell myself: Have loads of patience, sir. They have come from Mars and you are from Venus. It’s okay… It’s okay. Chill.


Thus, this morning, in our twelfth-standard batch, when we had a figure of Rs. 40,005 to be divided in 3:2 ratio, I could see the strain on the face of Kevin. He was stressed out. I was smiling as I was watching him and his friends. “Pure donkey work… Asli gadha mazdoori”, I was thinking aloud… and, then, I taught them, without even touching the board, as to how we as kids would do it. And, instantly, I could see Kevin’s face lighting up!

“Kevin, can you tell me why that smile?” I asked him.

“So simple the calculation can be sir,” Kevin put it quickly.

“Yes!!!!” Kevin’s friends joined.

“So, dudes, what is the moral of the story?” I asked.

“We should stop doing the donkey work, sir,” the moral was unanimous, “the gadha mazdoori!”


It is 2 in the afternoon, and, I am still smiling!


GERALD D’CUNHA

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