The Lone Spectator

– Krishiv Gubba – Grade X ‘B’
The mermaid cast a longing glance at the village that seemed so preoccupied with mankind’s latest technological advancements. She remembered a time when the villagers flocked to her pond to behold her stunning beauty. Now, she was merely another fish in the pond. At this realization, her depression morphed into a seething rage. She had lately been shunned for two objects the humans in the village seemed to value over her: phones and books, which were both primary sources of entertainment.
Being a creature of magical origins, she was immortal. And ever since the first humans settled on the land, their main pastime was to visit her and marvel at her elegance and the fact that she seemed to have fallen to the Earth straight out of a book of fairy tales.
Unfortunately, the villagers who were exposed to technology quite late due to the geographical remoteness of the place began to seem bored with her as they began spending more time indoors with a book or a phone. She was now all but forgotten, subject only to the visits of a few travelers that occasionally chanced upon the village.
Her rage now knew no bounds as she thrashed around in the water, throwing tantrums in fits of anger. All of a sudden, she spotted a young child, hiding behind a tree and looking at her in wonder, his eyes sparkling with curiosity. The mermaid smiled. Perhaps she had not been completely abandoned after all.
– The prizewinning entry for an Interschool  Essay competition conducted by Nehru World School, Gurgaon by Krishv Gubba, Grade X.

Blaze Your Own Trail!

– Loknath Mahanthi 


“Vive La Revolution!”. Namaste everyone, my name is Loknath Mahanthi. I’m sure you know
the words I cried out before my introduction. These famous words were at the heart of the
French revolution 230 years ago. The revolution happened because, as time went on, people
realized that the king they had been raised to follow was holding them back from progress. I
believe we are in a similar situation. Hence, my topic being, “leaders are shackles”. Before I
continue, I would like to make it clear that I am not saying the position of a leader is harmful.
There has to be someone who shoulders the responsibility and divides the work. What I AM
referring to is the notion of leadership and in turn, leaders, being something amazing. Not just
political leaders, by leaders of any kind.

Upon seeing the title, I’m sure you must’ve thought, “How can they be shackles?”. You must’ve
thought, “a leader is someone extraordinary, someone, that can bring out the best in everyone,
someone that can do the impossible.” We’ve been told this all our lives. Actually, let me
rephrase that. We’ve been fed this notion all our lives. This notion of a strong, majestic, and
powerful leader that can take us to the promised land. We’ve been told this so often that,
unlike a lot of things, we’ve come to not only accept this but embrace it. What do I mean by
embrace? I’m talking about how we romanticize leadership. A lot.

In our movies, where there always seems to be this heroic leader, usually a male, who takes
office and SUDDENLY, everything changes for the good. On billboards advertising schools,
which say things like, “we create leaders”. You know which ones I’m talking about. On our
resumes, under the title of skills, what are we advised to put? LEADERSHIP skills. This has lead
to the idea that these “leadership qualities” are extremely important. To us, leadership has
become something to be marveled at and leaders are seen as saviors, rays of light in the
darkness. This conception has arisen due to numerous people who embody this. Nelson
Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. They were charismatic leaders who garnered
the affection and support of millions of people.

Now, allow me to remind you of one more such person. Adolf Hitler. WAIT. I’m not saying he
was a good person. He was a despicable man. But he also had the leadership qualities we
consider ideal, and so, he had a nation following him. Not just soldiers. Every day, ordinary
citizens. I bring up Hitler because I want to show you that the image we all carry in our heads, the image of a strong leader saving us, is inherently flawed. To the people of Germany, it certainly seemed
like Hitler was saving them, only for it all to end up in flames.

Fast forward to today. Has it changed? When there’s a crisis, do we get out there and help as
much as we can, or sit back and WAIT for our leaders to do something? Yes, we may make fun
of our leaders on social media and news channels, but at the end of the day, when darkness
falls, it is to the leaders we look at. And this is all because we respect the idea of a leader, not the
leaders themselves. The notion of a heroic and strong leader, and because this notion exists,
our leaders have become shackles. Not just in India, all over the world. The idea of a strong leader who can solve anything has made US, the people, lazy and incompetent. How you ask?

Well, to answer this question, let me ask you one. What is the most common answer to the
question, “why is this country so poor and backward?”. I would bet real money that the answer
is, “because of our leaders”. Do you see it? We push off everything off to our leaders, EXPECTING
them to become the leaders from our fairy tales and use their power to affect change. It’s like
we’re damsels in distress and we’re waiting for a knight in shining armor to save us. This
notion of leadership is antiquated. A relic of the past. You have been told all your life that
leaders are essential, that you NEED them. Most of the leaders today are corrupt, vindictive, and
completely our fault. We were told that having a leader looking out for us was the best way to
go. I’m here to tell you that that’s wrong.  You DON’T need a leader.

I hope I have convinced you that leaders are shackles. Let me now try to show that the way we
look at leadership itself is also harmful. Like I mentioned before, “leadership skills” and
“leadership qualities” have become something to achieve, something that people believe will
be of great use. Many of us have our sights set on “becoming a leader”. Many schools and
colleges boast about creating leaders. But, tell me, if all of us become leaders, are any of us
actually leaders? The world continues to spin because there are some who are chosen to
shoulder the most responsibility. They are the ones that “lead” us. If everyone was a leader,
we’d end up creating nothing.

This is what my talk has been about. The two notions, of a strong, heroic leader that will save us
and of leadership being something to work hard for. They will continue to shape the way we
live our lives UNLESS we do something about it. For that, it is important to understand that
leaders and leadership have been given so much power and influence by US, not by some divine
being. I want you to say it with me. Leaders are shackles. But you know what the wonderful
thing is? The key to the shackles is right in front of you. This key is nothing but a realisation.
Realization of everything I have said. It’s dangling in front of you, waiting to be snatched up. As
the saying goes, “wake up and smell the coffee”. Don’t keep chasing after fictional leaders that
can solve all your problems. Become someone that doesn’t NEED such a leader. Become
someone that can stand strong without having to look to a leader for help. Once you do, you
will see the world in a way you never could have before.

You are now standing at a crossroads. Will you take my hand and break off the chains holding you back, or continue to look for a light in the darkness that doesn’t exist? It’s your choice.

Thank you.


P.S. The speech delivered by Loknath Mahanthi, Grade XII on 8th August, 2020 at the TED-X event organized by SPMS, a school in Ludhiana.

4 practices for anyone parenting quarantined kids

– Erika Bocknek

Millions of children attend schools that have been closed or are being directly affected by the new coronavirus social distancing rules. For this reason, many schools have shifted to the online mode of teaching. During this time, anyone parenting quarantined kids need to focus on the 4 R’s: routines, rules, relationships, and rituals.


  1. Routines

    A good routine should create a pattern each day for a predictable child. But there are many ways to do that besides setting up a traditional schedule. New strict schedules may increase anxiety for some kids, especially if the transitions between one activity and the next seem arbitrary. To create predictability outside the constraints of a traditional school schedule, consider holding daily morning meetings to set priorities. Families can use that time to clearly communicate, sort out expectations, and remind one another of what’s ahead, from online chats with teachers to when lunch will be to who will do which household chores or where to go on an afternoon walk. Older children can write those priorities down to use as checklists. Little kids benefit from daily reminders about what they can look forward to throughout the day.

    Several studies, including some I’ve conducted, have consistently found that sticking with dinnertime and bedtime routines, in particular, is good for positive mental health outcomes throughout childhood.

    Even if families opt for a model that’s more flexible than what kids are used to on school days, consistency is key. For example, kids and adults should have at least one meal at about the same time every day together. That meal is a good opportunity for everyone to spend time together free of electronic devices and other distractions. To be clear, the gathering itself matters as much as what’s on the table. These types of routines anchor the day, and research shows that they organize children’s external worlds in ways that support self-regulation, the building block of good mental health. Also, predictable family environments help children feel like their homes are stable and supportive – which is especially important when under stress.

  2. Rules

    While parents and other guardians may see fit to reduce expectations and ratchet down demands, they should stick with the rules that matter most in the long term for their families. For example, it may be reasonable to relax expectations about tidiness or screen time. However, families should maintain rules about safety and kindness and be consistent with consequences. Children of all ages feel and behave better with predictable family rules.

    Parents and other caregivers may want to set new family rules at this time, such as requiring kids to do more chores and share in household responsibilities. Such rules may instill some of the independence, community obligation, and social engagement that students otherwise experience at school.

  3. Relationships

    As families find themselves spending more time together, responsible adults should reflect on their own mood and behavior. Children don’t need perfect parents to thrive, but they do benefit from parenting they find predictable. For example, children should be able to anticipate how their parents or other caregivers will typically interact with them and how the most important adults in their lives will respond to stress. It’s OK for those adults to let on that they’re feeling stressed out, as long as children see them coping with these feelings in safe and appropriate ways.

    Kids fare best when their moms, dads, and other caregivers are warm and responsive when directly interacting with them. This doesn’t require nonstop attention and, in fact, attempts to sustain direct attention throughout the day may detract from adults’ overall capacity to provide this kind of positive attention. Aim instead for planned moments of focused, positive interaction even if brief and repeat throughout the day.

  4. Rituals

    Any special routine can become a family ritual – which is predictable and help every family member feel like they belong to a special group. Research shows that rituals support good mental health in childhood because of the previously mentioned sense of family organization and the added benefit of family cohesion that gives children a positive sense of their identity.

    Taco Tuesdays and regular movie nights work, as do religious practices like bedtime prayers. It’s found that rituals that connect children to previous generations may be particularly powerful, so this could be a good time to revive and adapt a beloved ritual from your own childhood. Or create new family rituals together. Especially during periods of uncertainty like this pandemic, rituals make it clear to kids that their families are stable and strong.


Adapted and abridged



Can I not ask for Suchitra to be the same again?

Can I not eat snacks from jovial Jyothi’ s tiffin box?

Can I not snatch a chocolate from the melody queen Madhuri?

Can I not admire my sweetie pie Sujana?

Can I not see the pretty nods of Priyanka?

Can I not exchange presentations with popular Sara?

Can I not see the ever-smiling dimpled Deepthi?

Can I not see the silver-rimmed sparkling Sireesha?

Can I not stride across the lush lawn to reach Anne?

Can I not meet Trisha as I walk in thoughts?

Can I not listen to loyal Lalitha’s laugh?

Can I not touch the pink Poonam?

Can I not get that personal attention from tech-savvy Shweta?

Can I not see the fashionable Hindi department?

Can I not see the gentle Telugu department?

Oh! How can I forget Nayan Ma’am, a patient listener who I have always leaned upon?

This, I know…..I may now never be able to peep in to see Deepa Ma’am draped in her elegant saree for I am sure I might now have to walk a mile to get a glance at her.

But still, I ask…….Can I not have my good old teaching days back?

So, dear brothers and sisters can we not pray for the good old days to be back?

– Latha Vaidianathan, English Mentor


Thank you God for teaching me technology.
Distancing myself, yet socialising!!
Teaching is my passion,
And Corona brought along Ctrl !! Alt !! Del !!
So, I thought it was time to Reboot and Restart!!
Nope… Not our computers,
Reboot! Restart!
Our Lives
Have we ever done it?
Let’s, Do it now!! 
Reboot Restart!!!
Nope… Not our Anger!
Reboot Restart
Our Compassion!
Have we ever done it?
Let’s, Do it now!! 
Reboot Restart!!!
Nope… Not our hatred!!
Reboot Restart!
Our Love!!
Have we ever done it?
Let’s, Do it now!! 
Reboot Restart!!!
Nope… Not our fear!! 
Reboot Restart!! 
Our courage!! 
Have we ever done it? 
Let’s, Do it now!! 
Reboot Restart !!!
Nope… Not our ego!!
Reboot Restart!!
Our humility!!
Have we ever done it?
Let’s, Do it now!! 
Reboot Restart!!!
Nope… not our fights and differences!! 
Reboot Restart!! 
Our Human Race!! 
Have we ever done it? 
Let’s, Do it now!! 
Reboot Restart!!!
Covid 19…..the little one
mending our ways!! 
Each one of you is equal!! 
None is supreme, it says !!
Covid 19…..the little one
The human race, it censures!!
To create a better world with a better sense
Hopefully, this is the path it paves!! 
Covid 19……the little one
Forcing us to Reboot and Restart!!
Everything about US!!! Every single thing about US!!!
Have we ever done it?
Let’s, Do it now
breathe in….and breathe out……
Before the shutdown!!
To Restart and continue dear God
 In this big bright world !!
Latha Vydianathan
English Mentor 

For the others, to read!

Since the long-forgotten days of 1980, Friday the 13th has become synonymous with ill omens and bad days. I was never one to take it seriously. I noted the date and went on about my day, without a clue as to what was about to come my way. I went to school, studied for the required 2 hours and came back home. As I sat down to start the work given to me at school, my mother informed me of the seemingly glorious, but actually horrific news. A two-week, government-mandated holiday. I rejoiced!….for half a minute. And then reality settled in. I was looking at freedom from schoolwork, yes, but beyond that, there wasn’t much else to look forward to. School provides us with a monotonous schedule that distracts us from the inevitability of death. Now, I had nothing to engage my mind and body, so I turned to the beacon of hope that is the internet. I entered the virtual world at approximately 4:30 PM and was only brought back to reality by the sound of my mother’s, “IF I HAVE TO CALL YOU FOR DINNER ONE MORE TIME, I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL BREAK YOUR PHONE”. All in all, a regular day. However, the question still prevailed, “What am I going to do with the next 14 days?”. The elders warned me not to tempt fate. Now I faced the repercussions. “We are ready to start with our online classes and assignments from tomorrow…” read the email from the school. Online classes. I concluded that the devil had gotten bored with the screams of tortured souls and wanted to experiment on the realm of the living. Good-bye, waking up at 11:30, a time so between breakfast and dinner that you don’t know which to choose and hence have the liberty of choosing both. Hello, education. But the classes still left me more time than actual school.

So I decided to rekindle an old passion of mine. Reading. To enter an entirely new and exciting world with just the turn of a page, who could say no to that? 12th graders, that’s who. I started a book and finished it and was still somehow left with more time. People say having no time is the worst. But I’m betting those people never had to stay in their house for 2 weeks because a man in a far off land had been craving some bat soup. So I went ahead and did a little bit of gardening too. And that’s what this article has really been about. Though this holiday might have been unexpected and, in certain cases, an unwelcome one, my advice to you is to take this as an opportunity. Take up a hobby, or work on the one you already have. The second school starts up again, it’s just going to be homework after homework, test after test. Pretty soon, you’ll be a 12th-grade student with 2 hours of sleep and 3 assignments due in 17 minutes. Trust me, I know. Make good use of this holiday, because another one isn’t going to come soon. This is assuming, of course, that the citizens cooperate with the government and help each other. And, when has that ever NOT happened?

Loknath Mahanthi
Grade XII

Can your child tell fact from fake online?

– Summer Batte

It’s a simple question with no simple answer: What makes information trustworthy? For parents who grew up doing research with library card catalogs and encyclopedias, or in the early days of the internet, it’s a challenge to advise kids researching a school paper online. “Stick with reliable sources” is not very helpful advice if you can’t define reliable.

You might assume (or at least hope!) your digitally savvy offspring are better equipped than their parents when it comes to filtering the reliable from biased and outright false information online. They aren’t.

Think like a search engine

If we are going to use our browser as the main portal to the world and information, we have to think like Google. There are some simple tricks your kids can use to get meaningful, reliable search results.

  • Put it in quotes. To search on a contiguous term, like a name, you should search for “Suchitra Academy.” Without the quotation marks, you could get results with “Suchitra” but not “Academy.” Not super helpful.
  • Go to Google News (under the search bar in your results, toggle from “all” to “news”) for controversial issues or things you’ve seen on social media that seem kind of outrageous. Google News pulls feeds from publishers and can help weed out unsubstantiated rumors.
  • Use Google Scholar for academic subjects. This is a place to find peer-reviewed journal articles, citations by other scholarly sources, and whether some guy with a Ph.D. is really considered a thought leader on a topic. (Hint: You’re looking for scholarly articles by said guy and appearances of his work in university syllabi.)
  • Restrict by domain. You can limit your Google results to Indian universities by adding site:edu to your search. Add site:gov to your search to get only Indian government sources in your results.
  • Keywords are… key. So choose them carefully. Think about which words will help you narrow down the search so that you get the information you’re looking for.

Don’t litter

Until you’ve checked a post out (Looked up the source on Wikipedia or checked the claim on a fact-checking site), don’t share it on social media. Model this for your kids to get them into the habit, too. The world doesn’t need garbage spread around.


Adapted and abridged

IQ, EQ, SQ, and AQ: Which Quotients Are Really Important?

ALL PARENTS and EDUCATORS, please be reminded of the following.
There are three types of intelligence:
Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Emotional Quotient (EQ) & Social Quotient (SQ)
1. IQ is the measure of your comprehension ability, solve maths; memorize things and recall subject matters
2. EQ is the measure of your ability to maintain or be at peace with others; keep to time; be honest; responsible; respect boundaries; be humble, genuine and considerate
3. SQ is the measure of your ability to build a network of friends and maintain it over a long period.
People that have higher EQ and SQ tend to go farther in life than those with high IQ but low EQ and SQ. Most schools capitalize on improving IQ levels while EQ and SQ are played down.
A man of high IQ can end up being employed by a man of high EQ and SQ even though he has an average IQ.
Your EQ represents your character; your SQ represents your charisma. Give in to habits that will improve these three Qs but more especially your EQ and SQ.
EQ and SQ make one manage better than the other.
Now there is a 4th one:
A new paradigm…
The Adversity Quotient (AQ): the measure of your ability to go through a rough patch in life and come out without losing your mind.
AQ determines who will give up in the face of troubles, who will abandon their family or who will decide to quit life’s journey.
Parents expose children to other areas of life more than academics. They should learn to work and share the gifts of their understanding in whatever work that they will deal with (never use work as a form of punishment), sport and art.
Develop their EQ, SQ, and AQ. They should become multifaceted human beings who can do things independently of the parents.
Finally, do not prepare the road for children. Rather, Prepare children for the road.

Too Many Screens Are Hurting Our Tweens’ and Teens’ Eyes.

– Jenn Horton

Digital screens are here to stay—and they’re impacting us, especially our kids. You might have heard that kids who regularly get headaches, have neck pain, and rub their red, itchy eyes are probably looking at screens too much. But is that really a “thing”?

The short answer is yes, and there’s a name for it, too: digital eye strain.

We can help our middle and high school students pay closer attention to signs that they might be experiencing digital eye strain. Here’s what you need to know to be proactive about student eye health and its impact on your students.

What is digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain as when a person suffers from eye discomfort from extended use of, you guessed it, screens. That screen time—specifically, more than two hours a day—is causing many classroom learning difficulties for students. And that, in turn, is creating many new challenges for teachers.

Digital eye strain is the kicked-up version of the visual fatigue optometrists have long discussed with you at your annual visit. But now, it’s more than TVs and desktops or sitting under fluorescent lights for too long. Kids have had hours (and years) of access to smartphones, hand-held video game devices, tablets, etc. Nearly one in four kids spends three hours or more on a digital device. So perhaps it’s not a coincidence that nearsightedness has also increased 66 percent since the 1970s.

What are the signs of student digital eye strain?

Headaches, neck or shoulder pain, irritated eyes, reduced attention span, a negative shift in behavior, and an increased lack of focus.

What can you do to help?

You already know how to monitor your students’ focus and attention. So that means you’re in a great position to spot student vision issues. Here’s what you can do when you see it:

  • See something, say something. Tell parents what you see. No need to diagnose your students. Just say something like, “Your son has been rubbing his eyes a lot lately.”
  • Encourage eye exams. Only 30 percent of families say they’ve talked to an eye-care provider about their kids’ digital habits and eye health. Sometimes parents are embarrassed to admit their kids spend a lot of time looking at screens. Whether it’s in parent conferences or general communications sent home, get the word out that eye exams are as important as well-child visits.
  • Set up eye-healthy digital workspaces. Do what you can to make their digital learning environment ergonomic. Screens should never be too close and ideally, be placed a few inches below a student’s eyes. A student’s chair should be positioned so that the student’s arms are parallel to the desk surface. The chair should also be adjusted so that the student can keep their feet flat on the floor.
  • Take screen breaks in class. Depending on what you teach, screens may be an integral part of your curriculum. Eye doctors suggest that teachers use the 20-20-20 rule whenever possible during the school day: Make sure there’s a screen break every 20 minutes. Focus on something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds to lessen digital eye strain.
  • Go outside for that screen break. Studies show that kids who spend more time outside have a lower risk of nearsightedness.
  • Talk about good digital habits with your students. Do they recognize changes in their classroom habits after they’ve spent a weekend screen binging? Do they notice they are more attentive or alert after a day off or time spent without screens? Teaching them to be their own health advocate includes encouraging them to be aware of their digital habits.

Adapted and abridged

School Is Not Supposed to Be Fun All the Time

– Kimberley Moran

Indeed, there’s a relentless pressure on social media and teacher Facebook groups that every single lesson we design should not only meet a learning standard but also be SUPER ENTERTAINING. We’re always on the hunt for those unicorn activities that teach curriculum but in a way that feels like a game!

I think somewhere along the line, we’ve confused fun with engagement. Because the truth is, hard work can be the most engaging work of our lives. And by saying things like we’re writing informational reports that are going to be super fun, we’re giving students the message that if it doesn’t feel fun they must be doing it wrong. The truth is that hard work benefits kids just as much as play does.

Here are five ways to talk about hard work more truthfully.

1. Hard work gives you dignity.

Give your students dignity by having high (but reasonable) expectations that require hard work and perseverance. Kids naturally want to make a meaningful contribution, so you need to give them the opportunity. Doing hard work “because I say so” is not meaningful. Brainstorm with kids reasons why hard work is necessary as a process. Start where they are and guide them into thinking about why reworking math problems or essays is doing the hard work as well.

2. A hard-work habit is a good strategy to develop.

When we take our kids seriously, they take themselves seriously and rise to the occasion. Developing the habit of hard work requires opportunities to practice. If we’re always making things fun and easy, there is no practice. Be sure to assign hard work that helps kids practice and feel challenged by the lessons you teach. Tell them it’s going to be hard but also tell them that you believe they can rise to the challenge. Teaching kids to set appropriate goals for themselves is a great way to get them to think about what to put work hard toward achieving.

3. Identify the problem and then work on solutions.

Explicitly teaching kids how to identify a problem and develop solutions is an excellent way to get them going. All too often people are reactive instead of slowing down to identify what needs solving. When problems become concrete, the possibility that hard work will pay off can help kids persevere. That said …

4. Hard work doesn’t always pay off.

I’ve noticed a startling trend of kids believing that if they put work into something, they will always be rewarded, and that’s just not always true. Some kids are going to get amazing grades without much work. Other kids are going to do poorly even though they put in the hard work. The key here is to be realistic and acknowledge that there will always be a degree of failure in our lives. It’s not such a shocker to have worked hard only to have failed when someone has already warned of its possibility.

5. Hard work comes before fun.

When we tell kids this mantra to use in their heads, we give them a tool for when we can’t be there. This statement also reminds them that there is a difference between hard work and fun. I remind my own children of this all the time. I’m not having fun all day long at work, but I love how hard work challenges my brain, and I love making money. I don’t lie and pretend to love the hard work, but I do explain how connected it is to things I love.

Developing a good work ethic is a never-ending process, so you should be able to find no shortage of instances of hard work to share with kids. Modeling the hard work that goes into maintaining a house or a job shows them firsthand that hard work is necessary and important. Check out these books for talking to kids about hard work and perseverance.


Abridged and adapted