A smile and a patient reply make all the difference.

Admissions are a stressful time for parents and students. Student Volunteers from S K Somaiya College of Arts, Science and Commerce set up a Help Desk admissions assistance needed for all courses.   Students who have gone through the process themselves, understand well the questions and the fears behind it.

Admissions are a stressful time for parents and students. Student Volunteers from            S K Somaiya College of Arts, Science and Commerce set up a Help Desk admissions assistance needed for all courses.   Students who have gone through the process themselves, understand well the questions and the fears behind it.

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MEDITATIVE MOMENTS

Meditation can be also incorporated in our day to day life. It is like moving from closed eyes to open eyes meditation. These are called as “Meditative Moments”.

Meditation is a powerful process that touches one on many levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Our mind has infinite potential including the capacity for empathy, compassion, content, equanimity and creativity. The same mind, on the other hand, falls prey to worrying, jealousy, being critical and judgemental. Depending on how our mind is used it can contribute towards us being happy, content, stress-free or even totally miserable.

This is where the great potential of meditation lies – to harness the positive energies and channelize them towards a more happy and fulfilling existence! The essence of meditation practice is to be aware, present and focused in the present moment. It is the process of teaching the mind to come back to the present.

Research has confirmed what the yogis have known since centuries – that meditation has a potent effect on our physiological and psychological well being changing the way our bodies and brain function; contributing to better health outcomes. Studies have shown how meditation lowers the levels of adrenaline and cortisone and helps alleviate conditions such as depression, hypertension, migraine and pain whilst boosting immunity and fostering a sense of happiness and peace. Hence it is not surprising that meditation has been rightly called as ‘ MEDICATION’ for the mind-body complex.

Even 10 minutes of meditation on a regular basis can make a big difference to our well being. It enables one to experience peace of mind which is an essential component of optimal well being. There are numerous types of meditation techniques like focussing on the breath or specific body parts, chanting of mantras, sound healing, compassion and kriya yoga meditation which provide us with a point of focus or concentration and confer specific benefits directed towards a salubrious existence.

Having said that, meditation can be also incorporated in our day to day life. It is like moving from closed eyes to open eyes meditation. These are called as “Meditative Moments”.

Let us see how we become meditative in some of the tasks:

 

  • Meditation at traffic lights: Most of us commute via public or private transport. Lot of time we experience jams in which we cannot do anything. Instead of getting frustrated and tensed, just take a deep breath and relax the muscles in your face, shoulders and hands.

 

  • While travelling: Be alert which travelling. Don’t be absent-minded. Notice all the information coming through your senses – what you see, hear and feel. This can help to remain concentrated without judgement.

 

  • First thing on the desk: After reaching the workplace, don’t start the work immediately. Most of the time when we start work, we are scattered. It is very important that we become concentrated and relaxed before starting work. Became aware of your breath. Let it move gently and slowly, trying to find a rhythm in the breath. Continue with rhythmic breathing for a few breaths and then start your work. You will find that your efficiency and productivity improves.

 

  • Difficult meetings: Before meeting a difficult person, or facing a difficult situation, take a few deep breaths. Every time you exhale, feel that you are releasing all the negative emotions.

 

  • Remain focused: Do whatever you do as an exercise of concentration and remain fully focused. With any distractions that arise, gently bring your focus back to the task at hand.

 

  • Stressed or calm: Notice the state of your mind while you are using your phone or answering an email. Are you stressed and anxious? Or calm and confident? Whatever it is, try approaching that emotion meditatively.

 

  •  Lunch time: Pay attention to the sensations in your body as you eat. Take time to really experience your food: notice it’s texture and colours. What does it smell like? As you take each mouthful, notice as many flavours as you can. Observe how your mind and body reacts to each taste.

 

  • Specific about use: We are a good multitasker. We try to do many things at a time. Lot of our stuff happens on the phone. Lot of time we use our phone for a purpose and get distracted doing something else. When you unlock your phone with a specific purpose in mind, complete that purpose before you open any other app or notification.

 

  • Be present: When having a conversation with someone, be 100 per cent present: hold their gaze and notice their body language. Really listen to what they are saying, and consider your response. Don’t judge before hand. Be mindful and remain open.

 

These are few Meditative Moments which can be incorporated in our day to day life and we can make Meditation as a part of our living world.

By

Sandeep Solanki

Faculty
K J Somaiya Bhartiya Sanskriti Peetham

Learning our Heritage

At the Somaiya Center for Experiential Learning we design immersive learning experiences in the areas of Heritage Conservation and Environmental Sustainability that enables participants to be curious, creative, think critically and feel empowered to participate in issues that affect the community and the world around them.

In India, we are blessed with the legacy of a rich heritage – tangible and intangible. Some of the historical monuments are centuries old and don’t fail to enthral generation after generation. These monuments are filled with stories – of communities that lived there, their occupation their lifestyle, their art and culture. These spaces provide excellent opportunities to not just learn about history but also about the heritage that surrounds it – both natural and cultural heritage.

While history is the study of our past; heritage refers to the objects and values that belong to the past, looked after in the present for the benefit of the future. Heritage – tangible or intangible, gives us a sense of identity & belonging. It gives us insights into where we come from and who we are and helps build understanding and respect for diversity.

Our recent experiential learning journey to explore the ruins of Pattadakal and Bijapur – with an archaeologist, a guide, a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer, a French researcher, and a bunch of students in tow – provided different perspectives about our past that we otherwise fail to learn from school textbooks.

It all started with a site based learning programme that we designed for school kids as part of the Somaiya Center for Experiential Learning.

Along with 44 kids and a few teacher volunteers, we set off at 7am from a place called Sameerwadi in Bagalkot district of Karnataka. Our first destination was Pattadakal – a place known for its exquisite display of both the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian style of architecture. These beautiful sepia coloured majestic temple structures chiselled to perfection are a delight to the eyes and the soul.

DSC_0807Mr Chandru was our local guide and one with excellent storytelling skills and full of fascinating trivia spoke with passion as he explained how Pattadakal got its name – ‘Patta’ means ‘Crown’ and this is where the kings of the Chalukyan dynasty were crowned”! It was the place of coronation! The river Malaprabha at this location flows South to North just like river Ganga does at Varanasi. This is considered very auspicious and perhaps one of the reasons selected as a place of importance by the Kings.

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Mr Pavitra Krishna Bhat is a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer and alumni of S.K Somaiya College of Art and Commerce. Dressed in his vibrant Bharatnatyam costume he highlighted the various sculptures and narrated the secret stories hidden therein using dance as a medium of communication. His session on ‘movement’ highlighted how one art-form informs and inspires other different art forms.

 

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Bijapur also known as Vijayapura, which is not too far away from Pattdakal was our second destination. The dusty city is dotted with old monuments, tombs, mausoleums, old city walls, and the very famous Gol Gumbaz (the Circular Dome) – that displays the architectural prowess of the Adil Shahi dynasty. What fascinated us the most was the cultural confluence in art and architecture! This city of domes and minarets has architectural and engineering masterpieces that exemplify the confluence of many cultures in the Deccan – where lotuses bloom on geometric minarets, where paintings of yoginis hang alongside those of fakirs and princes, and where a poem may have words in Urdu and Sanskrit in such beautiful balance that it makes you want to dance!

We learn much about conflicts in our history books but the rich cultural heritage that underlines the essence of India can best be experienced through a minds-on – a hands-on approach to learning. Bijapur is a perfect place to discover how two cultures coming together can create both conflict and confluence.

 

Learning about traditional water harvesting systems from French Researcher

 

Our 3 days were spent in a plethora of activities from understanding traditional water harvesting systems employed during the Adil Shah period that is still active to working with local nomadic tribes to learn their intricate embroidery techniques and just marvelling at the use of ‘stucco’ as a building material that has stood the test of time.

 

Interacting with local ambadi tribe

 

Our students also spent time trying to influence other tourists to be more mindful regarding littering around the monuments! They observed uncouth behaviour among other tourists and students visiting the monuments and reflected on their own behaviour. With the help of officers from the Archeological Survey of India, students discussed the need for conservation and the myriad issues in protecting our shared heritage.

 

At the Somaiya Center for Experiential Learning we design immersive learning experiences in the areas of Heritage Conservation and Environmental Sustainability that enables participants to be curious, creative, think critically and feel empowered to participate in issues that affect the community and the world around them.

 

By

SUDHA IYER
Programmes & Communication Manager,
Somaiya Centre for Experiential Learning

Theatre in the classrooms

. Theatre, when embedded in the educational process, can lead to the holistic development of learners viz_ the social, cultural, emotional and spiritual dimensions of the learners.
We at K. J. Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training & Research emphasize theatre training in our Teacher Education program through a course, ‘Drama, Art & Aesthetics in Education.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.

So said Shakespeare, the great dramatist of all times.

Theatre is generally thought of as a form of literary art pursued by a few creative writers for a small target group of literature and art-lovers or as a medium of entertainment for the larger public. But it has immense scope in the education system not only as a co-curricular activity but in the classrooms during the regular teaching-learning process as a methodology of teaching. The techniques of drama & role-play can be employed to make instructional process more interesting, effective and meaningful. Theatre, when embedded in the educational process, can lead to the holistic development of learners viz_ the social, cultural, emotional and spiritual dimensions of the learners.
Social Dimension:
Drama being a collaborative Art form, engages many people at the same time, developing the values of cooperation and team spirit among participants. The participants are required to keenly observe the real people, their languages, mannerisms, behaviour patterns, etc. and understand their inner motivations so as to recreate it realistically.
Theatre also has a huge potential to become an agent of social change & reform. Dramas based on social issues such as corruption, unemployment, Poverty, Child Labor, Gender Inequality environmental management and so on can develop awareness regarding such issues and help in fighting & eradicating social evils. Through drama, learners can also be trained for democratic citizenship so as to make our largest democracy function effectively.
Cultural Dimension:
Culture is not only an amalgamation of customs, traditions, beliefs & value systems to be learnt & imitated by members of the society. It must be assimilated at inner psychic levels so that it endows a member with a sense of identity & belongingness. Careful observation & participation in the Dramatic forms such as Bhavai, Tamasha, Ramleela, Yatra & Yakshagana can provide insights into the rich cultural heritage of India and develop a sense of ‘pride’ for their own culture.
Emotional Dimension:
Drama is now also utilized as a Therapy. The therapeutic use of Drama gives very positive results in the cure of psychosomatic disorders. The student population of today is increasingly being gripped by psycho-somatic disorders such as depression, neurosis, ‘anomie’ and so on. Theatre, allows free voice & expression to the pent-up emotions, provides catharsis which results in healing the deep emotional scars and wounds. Also, by enacting multiple characters with a plethora of divergent human emotions, the participants learn to understand complex human emotions but also develop an emotionally rich personality capable of empathy.
Spiritual Dimension:

Theatre across the world has originated from religious rituals. Although religion and spirituality are not exactly the same, each religion has a component of spirituality. Traditional folk dramas with stories based on mythology beautifully connect the human & divine or the concrete, real and manifested world with the abstract, unreal and unmanifested world. Thus, theatre becomes a vehicle to transport the participants to a transcendental higher reality. It can also embark them on a journey to their inner worlds to explore the meaning & purpose of their own existence and lives.
Concluding, as a Teacher Educator, I strongly reiterate the need for incorporating theatre into the educational process. This does not imply that all teachers must be good playwrights, directors or actors. However, it does imply that teachers must be aware of the immense potential of theatre in education. It also suggests the need for the presence of theatre personnel in every educational institution and also a meaningful collaboration of institutions of academic disciplines with the institutions of Performing Arts.

We at K. J. Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training & Research emphasize theatre training in our Teacher Education program through a course, ‘Drama, Art & Aesthetics in Education. The theatrical training is provided not only by theoretical knowledge but by organizing workshops on Dramatic Script Writing & Acting by professional theatre personnel, by encouraging students to participate in theatre as part of co-curricular activities and also incorporate theatre as a methodology during their internship programs in various schools.

 

By

Dr Sarla A Santwani

Principal,

K J Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training and Research

SCEL – Making a connection for their future

Using forests as a resource for educating the youth provides a direct personal experience which engages and connects the head, heart and mind. Somaiya Centre for Experiential Learning’s overall vision is to create hands-on experiences that provide practical knowledge and skills to help students in their future careers and at the same time also instil in them qualities to be mindful citizens.

Forests and the trees in the fragile ecosystem of our planet are valuable from not just a human use perspective but are imperative for our very survival. If you break down the components of anything and everything that is consumed by man –from the water we drink to the mobile phones we use – you will realize that they all come from exploiting the natural resources around us.

However, most of our modern education system keeps us disconnected from this reality. Our school environments are often sterile and teaching and learning happen through textbook rote learning inside closed walls. There is growing evidence that there is a lack of engagement and connection between students and the natural environment, especially in the cities. The city students can often not tell the difference between a coconut tree and a papaya tree when shown on a farm!
Hand-on Forest Research2At the Somaiya Centre for Experiential Learning (SCEL), we try and bridge this gap. A day in the forest observing, analysing, documenting has helped our students make relevant connections with the world they live in and the ecosystems that help enable their survival.

The aim with which we curate our student programmes is to not just learn about science and research from a technical perspective but at SCEL we strongly believe in the role forest research and education can play in promoting a “pro-conservation” behaviour and facilitate an inquiry and curiosity-based learning attitude. We encourage students to listen to the drumming of a Copper Smith Barbet or observe the Scaly Breasted Munia constructing its abode.
This year, 8th-grade students from K J Somaiya English Medium School Sameerwadi spent 5 days immersed in exploring various topics related to the environment in the Malnad region of the Western Ghats in Southern India. They spent a day exploring ‘Food and Forests’ to understand how forests act as a ‘seed bank’. They ate locally grown food and worked at a women-run seed saving collective.  During the week, they also participated in scientific data collection assisting forest researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

 

Topics such as biodiversity, watershed management, food security, alternate energy sources, ecosystem services and conservation as well as conservation as an Indian tradition i.e. the concept of sacred groves were discussed and deliberated upon.

Interacting with forest officials

 

Similarly, 9th-grade students of The Somaiya School visited the Panna Tiger Reserve and the Gharial Sanctuary. They interacted with scientists from Wildlife Institute of India and the local forest officials during their visit. They spent time within the reserve to study the forest ecosystem, learnt about the prey-predator relationship in the reserve and the role of scientific research in management of the tiger reserves.

 

Interacting with WII Researcher
These curated experiences help to teach students how to be responsible, for themselves as well as for their actions and impacts. They help develop student ability to think from multiple-perspectives – scientific, civic and cultural.
Last week, many students across the globe, took to the streets spearheading the ‘Youth Climate Strike’ to protest the government’s failure to take actions against global warming. They have been championing using social media posts to spread the word and garner the world’s attention to what scientist have called the most pressing issue of the 21st Century.

Using forests as a resource for educating the youth provides a direct personal experience which engages and connects the head, heart and mind. Somaiya Centre for Experiential Learning’s overall vision is to create hands-on experiences that provide practical knowledge and skills to help students in their future careers and at the same time also instil in them qualities to be mindful citizens.

By

SUDHA IYER
Programmes & Communication Manager,
Somaiya Centre for Experiential Learning

Inspired, inspires

Chirag’, young entrepreneur and ex-alumni of K J Somaiya College of Engineering, working on his project at Somaiya Riidl, lit the fire of innovation and entrepreneurship in the minds of students from  Shri Sharda English Medium School, Kopergaon who came visiting Somaiya Vidyavihar, Mumbai.

True to his name ‘ Chirag’, young entrepreneur and alumnus of K J Somaiya College of Engineering, working on his project at Somaiya Riidl, lit the fire of innovation and entrepreneurship in the minds of students from  Shri Sharda English Medium School, Kopergaon who came visiting Somaiya Vidyavihar, Mumbai.

An animated discussion on how to select ideas for entrepreneurship, where to get information on the internet for engineering apps, to how to polish ideas.  Meeting a young entrepreneur made the possibilities of entrepreneurship real for the students.

It is these special moments that inspire.

Making science fun & exciting for the underprivileged

Trained for two days on training techniques, by the NGO Marathi Vidnyan Parishad, and armed with a Science kit, over 20 students of K J Somaiya College of Science and Commerce walked into 7th and 8th standard classes of Municipal Schools in Chunabhati. For around an hour a day, our Science Volunteers, took the young kids into the exciting world of science.

When science comes alive, it is breathtaking. For children studying in the Municipal Schools in Mumbai, science is often something to be learnt by rote.

With the understanding that children who see science through experiments will see the world differently, Dr Sugandha Shetye, Dean(Academic Affairs) Associate professor, Department of Chemistry, Course coordinator, M.Sc. Environmental Science, K J Somaiya College of Science & Commerce, encouraged her students to volunteer in an initiative conducted by Marathi Vidnyan Parishad (म.वि.प.), for making science interesting for students studying in the Municipal Schools.

IMG-20181016-WA0009Trained for two days on training techniques, by the NGO Marathi Vidnyan Parishad, and armed with a Science kit, over 20 students of K J Somaiya College of Science and Commerce walked into 7th and 8th standard classes of Municipal Schools in Chunabhati. For around an hour a day, our Science Volunteers, took the young kids into the exciting world of science.

 

IMG-20181016-WA0012Says Monalisa, one of the volunteers “the children were awed and delighted when they saw the science experiments. This was the first time they actually understood that science exists everywhere around them. The teachers of the schools also enjoyed the sessions. For them, it was learning a new way of teaching.”

For the volunteers, she says “We learned patience and kindness towards kids and the underprivileged. We learnt innovative methods to teach science and also, thorough knowledge of some of the practicalities of science. They were so much more attentive when they realised they understood the topic and quickly grasped whatever we taught them. We will never forget this experience. The 10 days of giving back to the society have taught has values that we couldn’t have otherwise learned.

 

Says Dr Sugandha Shetye “If we want to inculcate a scientific bent of mind in the future generation, we must make science fun. If we want to inculcate a sense of purpose in our students, we must encourage them to take on initiatives where they can see the need and the impact. What better way than for our students, then sharing the wonders of science and doing good at the same time.”