The week gone by had been pretty hectic for me. Quite challenging too. And all that had nothing to do with my work life or with the books that I write. The challenge in fact was from unexpected quarters – Seventh Class Physics. Yes… you heard it right. Seventh standard physics. The last time those books tormented me was three decades ago. And now they have come back to haunt me. Three decades back, mind was young, and brain was fresh. It was easy to deal with it, and must confess without worrying about being modest, that three decades ago, I managed it deftly and conquered it effectively.
Over the last few days, as I read through the books trying to teach my daughter and help her prepare for the physics exams, I suddenly found myself inadequate. I knew what electrolysis was, broadly. But trying to explain and ensure that I don’t leave out even the smallest of details was a challenge. I knew how a dry cell worked. But I had forgotten that its made of a carbon cathode surrounded by Manganese dioxide and ammonium chloride electrolyte and a zinc container which doubles up as a anode. And for those who read this, do you remember how a domestic electric meter which is connected to your mains functions? Many of you, like me, would struggle to speak more than 5 sentences on it, I am sure.
I managed. Just about managed. I googled and read up quite a bit, to make sure that my daughter, who currently thinks that her father is probably the most intelligent man on planet earth continues to think so. Maths was easier to manage as a lot about maths is about fundamentals which once you learn, you seldom forget. And its about attitude (towards maths) too. And I have always believed in my mathematical abilities.
But today, I am proud that i managed to successfully teach Anusha what I wanted to. She knows how electricity is generated, What is the constitution of a dry cell, how electrolysis happens, whats an electrode, what is resistance, why is heat generated when electricity flows through a conductor, and what is Joules law (how many of you know it…….. H = I*I*R*t..where I is the amount of current in amps, which flows through a medium of resistance R ohms, for a time T secs… wow. I remember). She even knows how an electromagnet works.. I ripped apart the door bell to get her to understand principles of electromagnetism.
Sometimes I wonder, if i should give in to the prevalent practice of sending children to tuitions. Atleast they will learn from someone who is clued on to the current trends and will prepare them in a manner that they will do well in exams. But my only concern is will they ever be able to get todays children to have blind faith in what they tell them and hence learn from them — the same way as kids sometimes trust their parents. And most importantly will the tuition master be willing to rip apart his door bell to make sure his students understand electromagnets.