Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Enemy by Pearl S. Buck shows us how Dr Sadao has to make a difficult choice between his role as a private citizen and national citizen

Dr Sadao is first  a Japanese citizen and then a surgeon and it is these two roles that make it difficult for him to make a choice of whether to save Tom, or hand him over to the authorities. The conversation that takes place between Dr Sadao and Hana in the beginning, when they discover Tom lying on the beach will bring out this conflict that runs through their minds. It is a difficult choice that both Sadao and his wife, Hana have to make in any case, and this is reflected in the words, “If we sheltered a white man in our house we should be arrested and if we turned him over as a prisoner, he would certainly die”. Hana however states the obvious, “You also cannot throw him back to the sea” – her statement helps Sadao make up his mind.
The issue is brought to the fore later when the servants voice their reservations regarding the correctness of Dr Sadao’s decision to give shelter to the American sailor. Hana tells him that the servants think “that you and I were so long in America that we have forgotten to think of our own country first. They think we like Americans.” This is a serious accusation, one that shows that if  Dr.Sadao and Hana had a bias in favour of the American as opposed to their own nation, then they could only be labelled as traitors. That this is not the case is clarified by Dr Sadao when he states, “It is not true,…Americans are our enemies. But I have trained not to let  a man die if I can help it.” 
Dr. Sadao chooses to save the  life of the American Sailor because he is a surgeon who has been trained to save lives if he can help it. What makes everything complicated and rather paradoxical is that throwing the sailor back into the surf would expose him as 'the surgeon who let a man die!' a tag that he would rather not have even if it meant being exposed as a traitor who who had betrayed his nation by saving the live of an enemy sailor. Clearly, Sadao opted to save the life of Tom because he could not bear to be haunted by the guilt of breaking his oath to Hippocrates, and letting a man die.
Often, the choices that we make in life are dictated by the conditions that we live in, and often these are complex conditions. While for the servants everything is straightforward, and as the gardener states, “It is clear what our master ought to do…When the man was so near death, why did he not let him bleed?” What the gardener and the rest of the servants do not know is that sometimes there are no plain answers to the difficulties we face in life. The servants being simple folk (without much learning or formal education ) have not given much thought to the higher laws of humanity as opposed to the narrow, divisive, and limited laws of patriotism. The lesson questions the very concept of “Enmity” as propounded by laws of nationalism; it exposes the hollowness of a term that is based on very narrow terms and conditions  that exclude anyone who does not conform to popular beliefs, beliefs that are subjective, manmade and full of bias.
The decision made by Dr Sadao and Hana, to save Tom’s life is based on their realisation of the hollowness and hypocrisy of laws of patriotism that do not address the higher law of humanity, and the very conditions under which one might label a person as “The Enemy”! In many ways, one can argue that Sadao and Hana went with what they thought was the better choice, to save the life of a human being rather than to conform to the laws of patriotism and let Tom die. They felt responsible for their actions, and they decided to save Tom’s life, not because they had studied in America and he was American, so they had a particular soft spot for him, but rather because he was a human being who was in great need of medical attention. The humanness of the sailor takes precedence over his being an American.
Through the difficult choice made by them, Dr. Sadao and Hana expose the very foundation of Nationalism, a popular philosophy upheld my many Japanese during the second world war including Sadao’s own father and to some extent the servants too. The decision to save the life of the Enemy Sailor is in itself a rebellion against the divisive and exclusive nature of the laws of Patriotism. If only everything was so straightforward and easy as the servants thought! Hana voices her confusion when she states on the seventh day, “Why is it we cannot see clearly what we ought to do?…Even the servants see more clearly than we do. Why are we different from other Japanese?” What she will understand later on is that both of them had made the correct choice, it was a well thought out choice, they went with their heart and not with their mind. It was a choice brought out  by the voice of education, and a loyalty to the humanness of the heart. What makes them different from the other Japanese is their ability to rise above the confines and narrow boundaries of Patriotism and racial prejudice and to see the common thread that runs through all human beings, the fact that universal brotherhood is a more compelling reason to save a life than colour or nationality! Last but no least, I would suggest that in the case of Sadao and Hana, it is the individual that triumphs and emerges victorious over the citizen. In some cases, dissent might be the best choice. Popular opinions and popular beliefs might not always be the correct opinions simply because they are upheld by a larger group of people. History has shown us many a times that the herd mentality or the crowd mentality have often led to much pain and suffering. If Dr Sadao and Hana decided to go against the accepted beliefs of patriotism and nationalim for saving a life then it speaks of loudly of their great courage and bravery. They made a stand against death, and chose life instead! 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Bird Species Spotted at The Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in September, 2015

By this time of the year, that is September, a few birds arrive at the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, located about fourteen kilometres from Gurgaon. Located on the Gurgaon-Jajjhar road, the best time to visit the sanctuary is seven in the morning. To do some serious bird-watching, you need a carry a decent camera, tripod – if you are not very steady, I prefer a monopod although I have rarely used it. My favourite camera is the Canon 1100D (Rebel) DSLR and my lens is the 55-250mm lens which gives you a decent range. A note of caution, remember to remove the polarising filter and instead, use a UV filter on your lens. I also carry a bridge camera for emergencies, namely, a Nikon L-100, which gives you decent snaps and can give you some wonderful pictures if you play with the white balance and the exposure compensation. For the DSLR, my favoured mode is the Manual mode and my aperture/f-stop would be anything from 5.6 to 7+. I don’t suggest going beyond a ISO figure of more than 1600 although I prefer an ISO range of 200 to 800. I am sure you will like some of the snaps pasted below. In case the reader is interested in full-sized version for the snaps pasted below, he or she is welcome to contact me through the comments section of the blog.
This is a snap of The Indian Roller Bird which can be found in a few numbers in the park at this  time of the year.
The Kingfisher is another bird seen commonly at the bird Sanctuary. 
The Indian Hoopoe, the woodpecker is equally comfortable on the ground as it is drilling holes in tree-trunks.
The Heron, another regular visitor at Sultanpur can be seen perched on branches or even sitting on the ground for a long time.
The pink-tailed stork or painted stork is another regular visitor found flying in groups. These rather graceful birds can be found in close pairs, male and females working together, building the nest, bringing the raw materials required to make the nest comfy.
The Cormorant is a common sight at the Bird Sanctuary. This snap of the cormorant was taken before it was driven away by a couple of crows.
The photograph pasted above is that of a Bristled Grass bird. Interesting because of the sharp stripes on its underside, I was not able to get a better shot as it was perched on a branch above me.
Ducks arrive by September and they stay till the end of the winter season. Most of these can be seen flying in groups. They are very shy by nature and the slightest footfall will scare them away from the edge of the lake. These are spotted ducks.


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Is content rather than grammatical accuracy more important while assessing students' answer scripts?

A cursory glance at answer scripts checked by teachers within school will reveal a significant bias favouring students as a whole. This might be seen in the undue advantage that might be given to content as apposed to Coherence (which includes grammatical accuracy, appropriate vocabulary and style of writing, spellings, organization and presentation of relevant matter in a coherent and logical way). Comprehension passages that come under the reading sections, and questions based on reference to context are meant to evaluate and test a student’s understanding and ability to interpret, evaluated and respond to  the given passage. What this means is that students should not be unduly penalised for poor expression and faulty spellings as long as their answers reveal the required understanding of the passage.
Students however are marked strictly for Coherence in long answer questions, and higher order writing skills, Take for example Notice writing. If the total marks allotted is four, then the format takes up one mark while content takes up one and a half and expression, grammar and coherence the other one and a half marks. If, however we were to award a whole two marks to content, then we would be left with only one mark for grammar, expression and coherence! A student who is to be assessed only for content might as well write the value points in the form of bullets, and would still deserve full marks for the content he has produced. For a ten marks article, the marks break up would be: format=1 mark, content 4 marks and Expression ( grammar, word usage, spelling, coherence and relevance of ideas) would take up no less than 5 marks! Increasing the marks distribution from 4 marks in content to 5 marks and reducing the marks distribution from 5 to 4 under expression could make a big difference to the difficulty level of the paper and even affect the quality of assessment!
For the short note questions on literature, what earlier used to be two markers but have now become three markers for grade twelve especially, the three marks are equally distributed into content and expression to the tune of 1.5 and 1.5. For the literature long answer questions based on textbook lessons also the marks are equally distributed into content = 3 Marks and Expression (grammatical accuracy, words and spellings 1.5 + Coherence and relevance of ideas and style 1.5) = 3 Marks which when totalled will give you 6 Marks.
A bias in favour of content in the marking of answer scripts will give a very different picture of student performance as opposed to a well balanced assessment of student performance at the content level and expression level and the format level (for the writing section). While some educationists might argue that since there is separate section assigned for grammar till grade eleven, which constitutes  15 marks out of a 90 marks paper there is no need to assess students on grammatical accuracy in the rest of the paper, I would however argue that since we have moved away from the teaching of formal grammar and have instead taken up communicative grammar, why not  give more stress on assessing students for grammatical accuracy in letters, articles, notices, and even long answer type literature questions?
The CBSE Curriculum/Syllabus document clearly states that Section B, that is the writing section which constitutes 20 marks out of the whole final term paper for grade nine (questions 4 and 5)  ‘will assess students' skill of expressing ideas in clear and grammatically correct English, presenting ideas coherently and concisely, writing a clear description, a clear account of events, expanding notes into a piece of writing, transcoding information from one form to another or using a style appropriate for a notice, message or diary entry’. Clearly, teachers must assess the writing section not just for content, and format but also strictly for grammatically accurate English, presentation of ideas, and the ability to write a clear account of events, and of course transitions.
Unfortunately, there is a slight bias in the CBSE Curriculum document  for grade nine, (The link of which I have pasted below for reference) in favour of content rather than expression and grammar in questions 3 and 4 of the writing section of the term paper which  I have pasted as under:
Note on assessing Writing Tasks.
Q. 3 Content : 2 marks Expression : 1 mark (Accuracy & Fluency) Total : 3 marks Up to one mark may be deducted for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors.
Question number three includes short compositions of about fifty words including message writing, diary entries, or notices. Format finds no place in the marking scheme unfortunately. Here content has greater weight than expression and grammatical accuracy.
Q. 4 Content : 3 marks Fluency : 1 mark Accuracy : 1 mark Total : 5 marks Up to one mark may be deducted for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors
Question number four includes longer compositions of about a hundred words including bio-sketches, data interpretation, dialogue writing or descriptions. Here content has a greater weight than fluency and grammatical accuracy.
Q. 5 An extended writing task of about 120 words in the form of a Formal/Informal Letter or Email. The long piece of writing will assess the use of appropriate style, language, content and expression. 6 Marks
The CBSE document suggests the following marks distribution while checking:
 Content : 3 marks Accuracy : 1.5 marks Fluency : 1.5 marks Total : 5 marks Up to two marks may be deducted for spelling punctuation and grammar errors.
There are no separate marks for format, and the marks distribution is neatly balanced between content and expression.
Q. 6 An extended writing task of about 120 words in the form of an Article, Speech, Debte, Newspaper/ School Magazine Report or Story. 6 Marks
Content : 3 marks Accuracy : 1.5 marks Fluency : 1.5 marks Total : 6 marks
There are no separate marks for format, and the marks distribution is neatly balanced between content and expression.
A cursory glance at the way answer scripts are assessed across grades for English till grade ten will show that there is a strong bias in favour of content rather than grammatical accuracy or even expression. While in some case the difference might be only one mark, when added up, this can make a big difference to what students think they are expected to do well and what they can get away with. In times when grammatical accuracy and quality of expression are lacking, it is high time we addressed this bias before it causes further damage.
The whole case can be understood while correcting thesis papers submitted by students. While correcting thesis papers, what are you supposed to do? Check the research process, originality of ideas, bibliography, citation of sources....etc, or for that effect, the grammar, spellings besides presentation?


Friday, 11 September 2015

Invitations, Notes of Regret and Acceptance, (a quick run through)

Invitations, notes of regret and notes of acceptance are part of the short composition section of the higher order writing skills syllabus for grade twelve, English Core of the CBSE. Invitations may be one of the choices in question four of the Board paper including advertisements, posters, and notices.

Types of Invitations
Invitations can be of two types, namely formal invitations (like the ones that are printed on ornate and well designed cards) and informal invitations that can be written in the form of informal letters.

What are Invitations?
Invitations are formal or informal communications inviting people to attend various events. Formal invitations are sent out by schools, institutions, organisations for various functions like the School Annual Function or Fete, Inauguration of new building blocks, Computer Lab, Science Lab, New Multimedia Room, New office…etc. Some of the less formal invitations would be sent by individuals inviting friends, relatives, and important people to wedding celebrations, birthday celebrations, celebrations of wedding anniversaries, and even inauguration of shops. These invitations however can be drafted using a formal format besides being written as an informal letter.

One example of the institutional formal Invitation is given below:

Note: Mind your capitals, since much of what you write is in sentences, apart from headings, avoid using upper case. In such cases, adjectives and prepositions should not be capitalised! The Annual Day Function is in Capitals because it is an event!

One example of a family invitation in a formal format is given below:


What are Notes of Regret and Notes of Acceptance?
When someone is invited with such grace and is not able to attend the function, then decency requires the person to at least send a note of regret.

A note of regret for the first invitation given above can be drafted as under:

Sector 32, D-3
Vasant Kunj,                                                                                                                                
New Delhi

7 January, 2015

Respected Principal                                                                                                             
Mr. Ankur Garg regrets to state that he will not be able to attend the Annual Day Celebration of the Golden Lion Public school on the 25th of February due to some prior commitments. His best wishes are however with the organisers of the event, and the grand success of the event.

Regards and thanks                                                                                         

A note of acceptance for the second invitation may be drafted as under:
B-26, Sector 32,                                                                                                           Rohini                                                                                                                 
New Delhi

20th January, 2016

Dear Mrs and Mr S.N.Gupta, Mrs and Mr. Rakesh Sinha are glad to accept the invitation to attend the wedding of Gauri with Sarthak on the 28th of January, 2016. They will be present on the occasion to give their blessing to the newlywed couple and lend any assistance should the need arise.

With best wishes                                                                                                            
Mrs and Mr B.L.Sharma
A few interesting questions for practice are given below:
1.Draft an invitation for the Annual Sports Day of your school on behalf of the Principal. Supply your own details.
a) Write notes of regret/acceptance for the same.
2.As the Director of Methodex Office Equipment and Furniture Suppliers Ltd, B-38, Nehru Place, New Delhi, draft an invitation for the employees and important guests to attend the annual foundation day of the firm.
A suggested answer is given below:

a) Write notes of regret/acceptance for the same.
3. You are Anil Kumar Singh, and you have just opened a gift shop, (Sweet Memories) at G-23, M-Block, Mukherjee Nagar, New Delhi. The inauguration for the same has been fixed for October 20, 2015, at the shop itself, and you would like the invitees to be present by  eleven in the morning. Also, gift items will be sold at highly discounted rates.
a) Write notes of regret/acceptance for the same.
A possible note of regret for the above invitation could be written as under:
D-56, A block
Ashok Vihar

6 July, 2015

Dear Mr Singh

Mr. Ashok Kumar regrets to state that he will not be able to attend the inauguration ceremony for the gift shop, Sweet Memories, on the 20th of October 2015 because of some urgent work that has cropped up, however, his best wishes are for the grand success of the gift shop. His blessings and prayers are with Mr Singh and his endeavour.

With best wishes
Mr A.K.
4. You are Ananya Sharma, on behalf of your sister, Anya Sharma, draft an invitation to invite friends, and relatives to your sister’s 16th birthday celebration on the 20th of July, 2016. Furnish your own details.
a) Write notes of regret/acceptance for the same
5. You are Avdesh Kumar and Meenakshi Gupta, both brother and sister. Frame an invitation to invite friends, and relatives to the silver jubilee wedding anniversary of your parents. Furnish your own details.
a) Write notes of regret/acceptance for the same.

Important Note:
Formal invitations are written in the third person narrative, although informal invitations might be written as informal letters.

Monday, 7 September 2015


Words are like building blocks that a structure create!
The right choice of words would a message create
Of images sharp and ideas clear, to remove blunders
That cause an embarrassment so sure!

Of verbs I know that actions describe, and nouns so
Dear that name my friends, adjectives so
Fair that define my friends and prepositions
So pat that make positions so clear!

The linkers I know that connect all I know, verbs and
Nouns and  sentences that flow, to remove the clutter and  bind
The structure that I make, for all to see! For I would not like
To ramble on, but to Convey message all so clear.

And to cement my words with dancing words,
I use participles  and gerunds
And play with past participles because
I would not like to end my action so!

 My prepositions I use so fans should hang from ceilings.
While I pour tea into my cup,  ideas I place in sentences
That glow, and so I dive into rules that confuse me so,
Thus, Will I walk a mile with you if it pleases you so

Of adjectives I know, that the red ball pleases you so,
For you are a good friend and I like you so!
And if a short lesson in rules would please you,
A lesson crisp I will share with you.

Modals I would give, as advice to help you,
For I dare not leave alone one so innocent like you,
For When in Rome you must obey the elders -
In Greece you ought to visit the Parthenon!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Three important strands in literature that the CBSE develops through grades eight to twelve in its textbooks

By the time the students of English Core reach grade level twelve, they will have  gone through similar strands at different grade levels to build an understanding of specific genres of literature. Here I would like to reiterate the ideal case scenario where students typically take up English elective till the grade ten level and then switch over to the English Core syllabus till grade twelve. In such a case, the curriculum framers have made a judicious collection of short stories, poems and drama pieces. Here I would like to specifically state that I am limiting myself to an analysis of lessons in the textbooks. Thus, if I were to divide the Literature lessons into themes or units, then I would like to trace the following themes or strands or even genres that run through grades eight to twelve as follows: Satire: exposing the foibles or weaknesses of individuals or weaknesses in the society, Transformational Literature, whether it is transformation of the individual that has been brought about by intrinsic factors or for that effect extrinsic ones, Relationships, filial, familial, Aesthetics, a study of what makes things beautiful, and so on. I will now break up the English course through grades in the form of the following strands:

1. Exposing the foibles of the society through Satire: ( The Collins COBUILD Student’s Dictionary 2006 edition explains satire to be ‘the use of humour to mock or criticize political ideas or the way that people behave.’) Satire as a genre is one of the important strands that the CBSE develops from grade nine English Elective to grade twelve English Core. Take for example the lesson ‘Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger’ that students study in grade nine.

Grade nine (Elective):The short story criticizes the foibles weaknesses and vanity of the upper class British women’s society during the British Raj. The only reason  Mrs Packletide  wants to shoot a tiger in India is not because she wants to leave India a safer place, but rather because she wants to put to shame her social rival Loona Bimberton who flew eleven miles in a plane flown by an Algerian Aviator! The short story by Saki makes use of irony, hyperbole, and paradox to poke fun at the vanity, and undercurrents of jealousy that drive the upper class society of women. The dramatic irony of Mrs Packletide aiming her gun at the old tiger weakened by senile decay which has a echo in The Tiger King, a short story in Grade twelve written by Kalki and the literary irony of Loiusa Mebbin naming her cottage Les Fauves all are important elements of a satire that exposes the hollowness of a particular section of the society.

Grade eleven (English Core) : Students come across the poem by Vikram Seth in the supplementary reader titled, ‘The King of Melon City”. This is a poem unlike the two other pieces. Vikram Seth uses satire and irony along with hyperbole and paradox to expose the great blame game that bureaucrats and leaders like to play when things go wrong. First and foremost, the King of Melon City claims to be ‘just and placid’ so when he orders that someone should be hanged for the effrontery done to the state when the  Crown was  dashed to the ground by the low arch, it is clear that he would have to be hanged since it was he who had ordered changes in the blue-print of the arch. Also, the poem pokes fun at the people of melon city who are happy to have a melon as their king because they don’t like any interference in their lives. There is an oblique comment about the randomness of the democratic system of electing  leaders for responsible posts. This is an important poem that should be taught to students of grade eleven as an important example of satire. Students should be made to understand about the importance of satire and how it can be an important vehicle for social and individual transformation!

Grade twelve (English Core): In grade twelve, students get to read ‘The Tiger King’, a short story by Kalki. ‘The Tiger King,’ a satire draws a parallel with Saki’s ‘Mrs Packletide’s Tiger’  because the climax of the story lies in the incident where the Tiger King thinks he has shot his hundredth tiger, but in fact misses his aim. Like in Saki’s ‘Mrs Packeltide’s Tiger’ the tiger in  ‘The Tiger King’ is in an advanced stage of ‘senile decay’.  Kalki’s short story like the previous works of literature is a comment on the political and bureaucratic system existing in the country. The attitude of the mighty and powerful towards wildlife and nature is questionable, and so is the kind of relationship of hierarchical protocols with subordinates is brought under the scanner. The selfishness of bureaucrats, their putting the self before the state, their obsession with all things foreign, their expectation that others will give them gifts, like the maharaja expected the shopkeeper to give him the wooden tiger free and not take any money for it are all exposed in this short stories as foibles and weaknesses of the bureaucratic system that is almost as aristocratic as the British Raj. The Tiger King thinks he can go scot free after killing all those tigers, he thinks he can bully his servants and minions into doing what he wants, he thinks he is above the law, but then although he might dictate terms and conditions of jurisprudence,  he is however not beyond Divine Justice! The manner of his death is ironical enough, and it is a message to all those bureaucrats who think that they can get away with their excesses that the sword of Damocles hangs over each one’s neck. The Indian society is full of instances of the rich and powerful trying to destroy wildlife whether it is in the form of shooting black bucks or killing deer, either way, history has shown how the long arm of the law does finally catch up with such people! The theme of a holistic responsibility of protecting our environment and ecology is developed all the way through grade nine, grade eleven and grade twelve with a culmination in the lesson, ‘The Tiger King.’

2. Using literature as a vehicle for the Transformation of the individual: 
Grade Ten (Elective course) ‘The Letter’ by Dhumaketu in grade ten, English literature is an important short story that has the theme of transformation at its core. The postmaster in the lesson is a hard hearted man, unfeeling and insensitive by nature. He calls Coachman Ali ‘a pest’ and wonders why he keeps visiting the post office for a letter that never comes. Coachman Ali’s persistence and patience with which he visits the post office without fail for five years speak of a father’s love for his daughter, a conviction that she will send him a letter one day. A story so touching and full of pathos, it fills the reader’s heart with sympathy. The transformation that takes place in this lesson is in the postmaster’s  attitude. The postmaster who initially thought of letters as mere pieces of paper, now realises that there is a beating heart inside each letter. The postmaster understands how it is to be a father when his own daughter in another town falls ill and he doesn’t get to hear from her for a few days, compare this  with the five year of no new in the case of Coachman Ali! The story also describes the transformation that takes place in Coachman Ali himself. He was a shikari with an exceptionally good aim and a sharp eye and he did not have any scruples in killing wild game even if it meant orphaning their offspring. The change in Coachman Ali however takes place when his daughter Mirriam  marries an army man and leaves her father to settle in a far away town in Punjab. This separation from his daughter  makes Ali realise how the offspring of the wild animals and birds must have felt on being separated from their parents.

Grade eleven (English Core): One lesson that is no longer in the course is the play Titled, ‘Mother’s Day’ by J.B.Priestly highlighted the transformation in the attitude that a husband and their two children undergo when Mrs. Annie Pearson is helped by Mrs Fitzegerald an esoteric neighbour who is adept in switching bodies! The play, a humorous one, depicts the reaction of Mrs Pearson’s family when she tries to stand up for her rights. The play written in the 1950s, is a humorous and satirical depiction of the status of the mother in the family. The play that portrays various issues and problems that are relevant even today delivers a strong message of social reform especially in the way mothers are treated in the family.

Grade twelve (English Core): There are three lessons in grade twelve that have transformation as a very strong central theme and these include the Play, ‘On The Face Of It’ by Susan Hill,’ ‘Deep Water,’ by William Douglas, and ‘The Rattrap’ by Selma Lagerloff, all deal with the transformation of the self. The only difference between the three is that while the transformation in the central characters in ‘On The Face of It,’ and ‘The Rattrap’ are brought about by external agents, the transformation that takes place in the author in ‘Deep Water’ is self induced. Also which ‘On The Face of It’ is a drama, ‘The Rattrap’ is a short story belonging to the allegorical genre written as a fable or a fairy tale. William Douglas's ‘Deep Water,’ however belongs to the  autobiographical genre. In the Drama, ‘On The Face Of It’ the central character Derry undergoes a transformation when he comes across Mr Lamb. That one conversation convinces Derry that he can overcome his handicap, pessimism and live a life of joy, only he has to make a choice. In the case of ‘The Rattrap’ the transformation in the peddler is brought about through his interaction with three people, The old Crofter, The Iron Master, and finally, Edla. The moral of the lesson is that there is goodness in all human beings, and this goodness can be brought out through the kindness and generosity of others. The power of unconditional kindness and generosity in transforming human nature has been highlighted here. ‘Deep Water’ is however different from the other two because it highlights the importance of self-motivation in bringing out visible transformation of the self. ‘Deep Water’ is like a self help book that tells you about the processes and means for bringing about your own transformation. A task analysis of ‘Deep Water’ will reveal that what it takes to overcome one’s handicaps include accepting the one has a problem, taking an expert’s help, persistence, determination, and hard work, doing things on your own, and finally pushing your limits!

3.Literature and  Aesthetics: (The Collins COBUILD Student’s Dictionary, 2006 edition, states, ‘Aesthetic is used to talk about beauty or art and people’s appreciation of beautiful things.’

Grade eight:The poem ‘Daffodils’ by William Wordsworth is taught in grade eight as an example of Romantic Poetry and to describe Worsdworth’s appreciation for the beauty of nature as seen by him and his sister while taking a stroll in the mountains. The image of the dancing daffodils was to remain in his mind long after the day they saw the flowers, and the author mentions how when he was down at heart he fell back on the memory of the dancing daffodils and how that memory helped bring good cheer to him. Now that is what aesthetics is! While the poem describes the meaning of beauty as something that never dies, it also highlights the beauty of nature.

Grade Twelve (English Core): The Poem, ‘A Thing of Beauty’ by John Keats, like the poem, ‘Daffodils’ as read by students in grade eight highlights the meaning of beauty as something that never fades away, and in fact beauty, real beauty is something whose value grows as time passes. Keats moves ahead of Wordsworth when he adds a list of beautiful things that includes, lambs, trees, musk rose blooms, clear rills of water, and even the stories of bravery and sacrifice of people who laid down their lives for a good cause. Keats, himself a romantic poet goes further to suggest that beauty has a spiritual source since it flows from a fountain in heaven to help us tide over difficult times and bear the brunt of indifferent minds, malicious intentions, and ‘dearth of noble natures’.

I have identified three very deep strands of theme that run through the CBSE English course from grades eight to twelve. This analysis is limited to the textbooks prescribed by the CBSE and prepared by the NCERT. It doesn’t mean that other strands don’t exist, in fact they do, but then I guess I would pick them up some other time!