Friday, 15 October 2021

Tackling Subjective and Objective Summative Assessments in a Year

Many of my students ask me at the end of a lesson why they should attempt subjective type CFUs when they are supposed to be assessed for learning through Multiple Choice Type of questions in their summative assessments. Unfortunately most learners don't realize that one cannot attempt multiple choice type questions unless one is very well grounded in the concepts, ideas and value points in a particular lesson. You can learn about the format, language and the value points of a formal letter only if you write one! Most students believe that an objective form of assessment means that they do not have to write lengthy letters because all they have to is tick on the right choice in the question paper.

The reasoning behind introducing Multiple Choice questions is that you can assess a student on a wider portion of the syllabus though it does not really cater to an in-depth knowledge of a topic. Therefore, in order to ensure that the student has a sound understanding of a concept you will have to resort to a subjective type of  assessments in the formatives. Students will continue to be assessed for their written essays, articles, reports and articles even if at the end they are given Multiple Choice questions. Some of my students even questioned me for making them right long answers based on character portrayals, plot movements, themes and metaphors in literature, including articles, and letters, notices and invitations in the writing section. The answer to this query lies in the fact that while Multiple Choice or objective type of assessments are based on deductive reasoning they can only be successful in what they assess only if the student has gone through inductive learning. In other words deductive reasoning can only take place after inductive learning has taken place and inductive learning can take place and thereof, be assessed through subjective type of assessments.

Inductive learning is also called concept learning takes place through observation to generate classification rules. Ironically enough, inductive learning is more learner-centric than deductive learning. This will become clear from the following example given by the British Council English teaching website-'The form and use of the third conditional is explained to learners, then they have a gap-fill exercise to complete, then prepare their own examples'. Another explanation for deductive learning might be summed in the following words, It is when you take two statements or premises to form a conclusion. For example, A is equal to B. B is also equal to C. Given the two statements, one can conclude that A is equal to C using deductive reasoning.

Somehow, I very strongly belief and advocate Inductive learning, which is data intensive to be a precursor to Deductive learning. As such, you need to write and read numerous essays and articles in order to be able to deduce and infer whether a particular essay is discursive, factual or descriptive in nature. Deduction can only take place after you have gathered enough information. 

It makes sense for competent assessing boards that have split the summative assessments into two assessments in a year to have the first one as a subjective assessment and then the second one as an objective or multiple choice based assessment. The reasoning here is that students who give the objective, multiple assessment before their subjective or written type assessment tend to lose out on written expression skills. They forget all about formats and language conventions. Having the objective type of assessment at the year end will ensure that the students will have had enough of written assessments to tide them over the year in terms of written exam skills.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

The Urban Birds of Gurugram-Unseen Wonders of Nature

Brown-headed Barbets, Copper-headed Barbets, Green Pigeons are rarely spotted in the cities; it is therefore, always a matter of great joy to spot them hopping around in the branches of trees. The birds except for the Silver-bill in this blogpost were spotted at Palam Vihar in Gurgaon recently. The Silver-bill was spotted at the Basai Wetland, and area that is fast becoming a prime zone for residential buildings.

Sparrows were once to be seen in large numbers in the city of Gurgaon but of lately none can be seen. While some might blame the pollution and noise for driving away these tiny birds, others might blame it on the the radiation purportedly emitted by cellphone towers! One bird that very few people will have seen is the Green Pigeon. This is a rather more plump version of the regular pigeon. 

Unlike the regular pigeon however, Green Pigeons roost in the branches of trees and so are probably never noticed by people. Also, Green pigeons like to feed on fruits and they are very shy birds. No wonder, they turn away from the camera's lens while being photographed.

Green pigeons are graceful, bashful and shy birds and they love stuffing themselves with fruits of the Peepal tree. Sometimes the only sign of their presence would be a slight ruffling of the leaves or a movement in the branches. Since they are green in colour it is often difficult to see them. These pigeons were spotted at Palam Vihar.

Another bird rarely spotted in the city is the Indian Silver Bill or the White Throated Munia. These little birds can be found in large flocks in scrublands and fields foraging for food on the ground. In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was tamed and kept as a pet, which is why one of my cousins has Munia as her pet name! Sadly, like the Common House Sparrow, this rather sweet looking bird with its sweet chir-rup call is a sad victim of urbanization!

The Brown-headed Barbet is yet another tree dwelling bird that few in the city will have seen. Unlike its cousin, the Copper-headed Barbet, the Brown-headed Barbet wears feathers of a rather muted colours. Its distinctively red beak and the red patch around its eyes give it a more sedate and mature look. 

The Coppersmith Barbet is yet another tree dwelling bird that few in the city will have seen. Barbets are rather colourful birds. Rather resplendent in its copper-red, yellow, green and grey accents, this bird is a rather interesting study in colours. One might state that the Coppersmith Barbett is one of nature's marvels. Very few people might have seen this bird because like the green pigeon, it is a tree-dwelling bird that is often hidden within the depths of the foliage of the trees that it inhabits. The Coppersmith Barbet and the Brown-headed Barbet were spotted in Palam Vihar.

Amongst my list of urban birds is the Shikra or the Kestrel. This is a smaller version of the falcon and it has adapted to a life in the urban environment. During the earlier days, in fact during the Mughal period, Shikras were used to hunt small mice which would be then fed to falcons and other birds of prey that were in captivity. Today, the Shikra flourishes in Gurugram feeding on rodents and other scraps of food that it might find. Very few people would be aware of the fact that Gurugram continues to be home to a vast number of exotic bird species. It would only require a little bit of alertness, a good eye and an awareness of one's surroundings to be able to spot these birds.

Shikras are sleek, aerodynamic killing machines and to see them hunt rodents is a feast for the eyes. Their keen eye-sight is what helps them spot even the tiniest details. They latch on to movements of rats and rodents and dive to attack them. They carry the rodents to a perch in a tree and then eat them up in peace. The Shikras photographed above was spotted in New Railway Road. 

Another bird found in the city of Gurugram, an urban bird as I would call it is the Tailor Bird. This rather colourful bird is difficult to photograph for the very reason that  it never stays still. This little bird can be seen hoping from one place to the other, constantly on the move making chirruping sounds as it flits about looking for insects to eat. This Tailor bird was spotted on New Railway Road, Gurugram.

The coming of the winter season sees many more birds appearing on the branches of the trees in Gurgaon. While I have posted a number of photographs of Green Pigeons, the ones below are unique as they are a mark of togetherness and love amongst birds. Photographed from the balcony of my house, these Green pigeons seem to be preparing for the winter when they will lay eggs and bring up hatchlings in due course.

A more healthy and plump version of the Shikra was recently spotted by me at Palam Vihar, Gurugram hidden within the branches of a Peepal tree. This one looked somehow like a larger version of the skinny and lean looking Shikra that I had spotted on the New Railway Road area some time back.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

This is what we do in the Click Photography Club

We play with light and colors, perspective and angles and even as we capture moments in time, we try to put in out own perspectives and perceptions. Apertures and shutter speeds, ISO numbers and hand held shots, they all make sense when we take photographs.

Whether it is product photography or still life, we all try to get the best of all. Each week we come up with new ideas and train each other to get the best captures. In all these cases we try to showcase our best! Sometimes, even those with the most basic of cameras come up with the best of the compositions. In other cases it is poetry in composition.

We at the Click club are always looking for the best angles and the best stories. We are photographers who want to show you the things you had never seen before. We have always thought of bringing you the best, to spice up life in a world that has become so drab and predictable.

Seeing life through a tunnel draws our attention to the object in view, sometimes it is all about fixing our goals in life. We at the Click club want to show you the meaning of fixing our goals in life!

We give products a sheen, something that draws attention, and through our creativity we bring you an experience that is granted to give you joy! Angles and lighting bring out the best in the images we take.

We give you angles and shades and through our eyes a picture that gives you joy and inspiration for life. Angles and perspectives might give you joy, but ultimately it is all about sharing with you the joy of life!

Sure we like experimenting with light, perspective and contrasts, we are the Click Club, a band of creative artists who want to show you the brighter side of life!

A lip balm might calm our nerves, but all I know is that it gives us joy to photograph. Life is all about bringing out the best in what we do, whether it is about applying lip balm or for that effect, using coasters!

Our stalwarts work hard enough to make things work. More often than not they work in the background. However, they can not escape the lens!

 Note: the Coasters, Lip-balm and gift packaging items were provided by Meraki Resinspired Tales who can also be found on Instagram:
They can also be contacted on Mobile Number: 9831130081

Thursday, 16 September 2021

The Banjara Market-A Lost Treasure

A benevolent Buddha smiles at the visitors at the Banjara Market

The Banjara Market in Sector 56 Gurugram used to be a go to place for furniture, decoration items and even ceramic ware. The word 'Banjara' means, 'nomads' akin to, perhaps, the word 'gypsies' and so it was that this market was run by a nomadic trading tribe of people hailing from the Mewar region of Rajasthan. This rather quaint and rather unorganized market in terms of proper stalls deserved to be labelled as the Delhi Haat of Gurugram. Unfortunately, the settlement of migrants from Rajasthan faced closure as the land on which they had settled on belongeg to the Government. Most of the residents in the market area had been in situ for about twenty years. The furniture sold was mostly reconditioned from old and weathered wood which gave it an antique look. Some of the furniture was sourced from furniture manufacturing export houses. In fact you might have been lucky enough to have the original tags in place.

Artisans work on an artifact that will adorn the walls of the well-heeled.

The Banjara Market was home to a large number of artisans whose creative art could be seen in the magic they performed on recycled wood and other materials. The vase below, however. seems to have been brought to the venue fully manufactured.

A wooden vase greets the setting sun

While one might wonder if many of the art products might have been made by the artisans of the Banjara Market, what is clear, however, is that the market was a confluence of 'objets d'art' and so you were likely to spot art objects such those you might find in more upscale outlets.

In the company of the Budha-an assurance of good luck

The Covid-19 Pandemic had certainly left its mark on the flea market. Before the pandemic one saw a large number of people visiting the spot for window-shopping and purchasing of unique items bur after the pandemic there were fewer people, a trickle compared to the hoard of people in earlier times visiting the spot.

A collection of effigies of the Buddha assure of a happy future. 

Where else could one find such items if not a flea market like the Banjara Market? It is certainly unfortunate that this amazing market will soon be replaced by developmental projects, surely a big loss for Gurugram and a gain for any other locality that becomes home to the  nomads from Rajasthan.

The message on the canvass, ironical though it might be, says it all. 

Today, ( 5th of October-2021) when I visited the Banjara Market after I had been told by Rishi that the stalls had been disbanded by members of the Municipality, I was greeted by an air of desolation. The items for sale had been confiscated and impounded, the stalls disbanded. Unfortunately, the people running the market had seen it coming and had not done anything about it. When I talked to some of the stall holders about their plans for the future, some of them stated that they had no idea about what to do. A few stated that they would shift to a plot close to the Chattarpur Temple while others stated that they would shift to a plot adjacent to the Leisure Valley park. Others stated that they would go back to Rajasthan from where they had migrated looking for better prospects. Unfortunately, the people running the flea market didn't see it coming, they had been paying a rental of Rs. 2000/- to the land mafia. 

A family gathers around a hookah discussing the way forward.

The unfortunate  fact is that it is the poor people, children and women who are the most affected by displacement caused by civil wars, developmental processes and a general apathy of the people in power. The least that could have been done was to offer these displaced people an alternative site to set up their stalls. This, unfortunately doesn't seem to have been done and today, the people running the flea market have no other place to go to! It is indeed a tragedy of great proportions to see the people running the market left high and dry by the circumstances dictated by the need for development.

A bunch of stuffed animals await a better home

The sense of desolation was palpable and the energy of the stall holders calling out to prospective buyers was missing. It somehow looked as if a bomb had descended on the people. All around I could see people trying to salvage whatever had been left by the administration that had broken their stalls and confiscated the goods they were selling. A most forlorn sight was to see men and women dismantling their stalls, removing supporting structures that had held up the roofs of their stalls and their homes.

Dismantling a home that had sheltered its inhabitants for years

Looking at the desolate stalls and the dejected faces of the people who had once done brisk business one cannot but help feel an intense sadness for them. While one might not blame the administration for the eviction process, one might indeed have hoped for a more humane solution to the problem an acknowledgment of the role that the people running the Banajara had played in promoting traditional art, a yeoman job in recycling products and contributing to the beautification of  the living rooms of the well-heeled!

A curious onlooker looks at the camera even as the stall holders are lost in grief