Books We Love <3

Always a good time to revisit this list 🙂

Jigyasu George

Using this space to track the books we’ve both loved.. to read, re-read, and talk about at random.

Ones that have made us think, and have resonated with each of us at same and different levels…

Ones that were just plain fun..

Ones you’ve asked for again and again

in no particular order here




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Dr. Seuss is a favorite these days.The Lorax was a fun surprise! A creative, rhyming mouthful. A rather simplistic, yet not far from accurate, fictionalization of the ecological impacts of industrialization. You would think that’s a heavy topic for a 3-year old, but not when Dr. Seuss speaks through the words of the lifted Lorax. Mommy warns: skip the several animated movie versions and stick with the book. Unfortunately and quite ironically, it appears the concept of the Lorax has been excessively corporatized by all that animation, in conflict with the message of the book.

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2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Our Very Own History Channel

Advertisement as a source of historical information. From Our Pasts III, NCERT textbook, p. 3

Advertisement as a source of historical information. From Our Pasts III, NCERT textbook, p. 3

I have written earlier about our out-of-the-book and into-the-world approach to the study of history, a process that is driven by questions that multiply each time one of them is answered.

What happens when a child who has grown up questioning the world and the past in this way encounters a history textbook?  I had heard about the improvements that the National Council of Educational Research and Training had made in the approach to history and was impressed by the names of the members of the Advisory Committee for Textbooks in Social Sciences.

We decided to find out. One fine day I unceremoniously pulled the NCERT textbook Our Pasts from the shelf and suggested to my daughter that she read the first chapter. Read the rest of this entry »

Jivanshala Blog in review (2014)

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The sheep are always more excellent

The sheep are always more excellent on the other side of the green.

british_milk_sheep1As it happens last night I was reading William Deresiewicz‘s  Excellent Sheep about the pressure students feel to get good grades at the expense of learning, and how this extends right into the Ivy Leagues – because you don’t get into the Ivy Leagues without having accepted and mastered this technique. He quotes one of his students, “Yes, I am miserable, but were I not miserable, I wouldn’t be at Yale.”

Dear daughter asked me what I was reading so …
I tried to pose a question:  suppose you were assigned to read a book, In scenario A you give the higher priority to finishing the book, even if there are interesting things you would like to explore along the way, you cut short your thinking about them so that you can finish the book. In scenario B you go ahead and explore them even though you might not finish the entire book. Read the rest of this entry »

Homeschool+ Conference

Zero is Beautiful Presentation at the Homeschool+ Conference

Zero is Beautiful: Teaching Mathematics as if People Mattered

I presented my paper “Zero is Beautiful” at the recent Homeschool+ Conference, which is part of a series of conferences under the umbrella called “The Learning Revolution.”

It was really wonderful to have Dr. Maria Droujkova attend the session.

Here are the recordings of all the sessions including mine.  Read the rest of this entry »

Multiple ways to multiply

So … dh commented to me that dd told him that she did not know the 6 times table. Worried, he told me that while it is good that she explores freely and deeply etc , we have to ensure that she doesn’t miss basic things.

I told him, you know the funny thing is, she was telling me something about 6 x 8, which she found difficult because she knew neither the 6 table nor the 8 table. She said, “Well, 6 x 8 is so hard that I just memorized it.”

This was somewhat surprising to me because I thought, what other way is there? Don’t we memorize all of them? Read the rest of this entry »

Soul Energy

Just back from the IHC in Khandala ….met so many interesting people, heard new songs and stories, danced to African rhythms, went birdwatching for the first time in my life, with some serious birdwatchers, heavy-duty binoculars and an equally heavy catalogue.  I actually identified a couple of them including an incandescent turquoise Kingfisher (Sumeet will remember its precise name).

Was very happy to see more people talking about connecting with the social context of some of the issues that come up in our homeschooling journey, seeing that Right to Education really means meaningful education and not merely school admission, and connecting with the majority of children and youth who are learning through life (out-of-school) and seeing that public institutions including NIOS are open for them as well as for those who opt for homeschooling by choice.  Read the rest of this entry »

Zero is Beautiful: Teaching Mathematics as if People Mattered

Forthcoming in Home Education Magazine, November-December 2014


Can you imagine the time before the discovery of zero? My husband and I got a glimpse of this when we witnessed the discovery of zero, not on the world-historical scale, but by our two-year-old daughter.

It was not an easy road. Counting had come uneventfully, but when numbers became numerals and the number 10 appeared on the page not with its own symbol, but with a 1 and 0, suddenly everything had changed. Till that moment, in her world it was still possible to have a system of enumeration like the one used by Ireneo Funes in Borges’ story, “Funes the Memorius.” Funes gives every number its own unique name. He has “an infinite vocabulary for the natural series of numbers” and no use for the concept of place value.

When our daughter saw that the numeral 10 comprised a 1 and a 0 she flung herself upon a chair and cried. Read the rest of this entry »

One real teacher

Excerpts from the essays of Paul Lockhart
Paul Lockhart teaches mathematics at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, New York.

MC Escher, 1948

MC Escher, 1948

From letter to Keith Devlin, Mathematical Association of America

On teaching mathematics to young children:
“I want them to understand that there is a playground in their minds and that that is where mathematics happens.”

From Lockhart’s Lament, Mathematical Association of America

Mathematics is an Art

… if the world had to be divided into the “poetic dreamers” and the “rational thinkers” most people would place mathematicians in the latter category.

Nevertheless, the fact is that there is nothing as dreamy and poetic, nothing as radical, subversive, and psychedelic, as mathematics. Read the rest of this entry »

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