Week # 27

Urdu Language

Last week the kids were assigned the task to research a bit about the Urdu language. There were a couple of reasons to pick Urdu …

  • Relatively new language
  • Most kids in the group can already speak and write Urdu

The kids took turns in giving us some interesting facts about Urdu …

  • Written from right to left
  • It’s rooted in Persian and Arabic
  • Shares vocabulary with Hindi/Sanskrit
  • Started gaining popularity in the 12th century
  • Indo-Aryans made it popular
  • The official language of Pakistan
  • Spoken and understood by a large population in India
  • Language of the poets

And a few others that were related to the above. They have 2 questions for next week

  • What was the need for a new language?
  • Why is the word for “mother” similar in so many languages?

Then we went on to watch the next part of the Khan Academy video series on languages.

Shadow Projection

Last week the kids (specifically Shaherbano) figured out the shape of the object that would make different shadows from each dimension. This week, I wanted them to figure out the shape of the shadow and found this fantastic 3D shape that I printed out for them.

The kids struggled with it a lot, my main suggestion to them was to stop brute-forcing and figure out a useful strategy. One tip was to imagine 10 different rays of light dispersing in different directions and the shadows they would project. They didn’t get anywhere close to the right solution but Shaherbano again figured it out pretty quickly and said it would be a grid of squares.

This was an impressive demonstration of how each kid has a very different brain and it’s just a matter of figuring out what it excels in. Fantastic job Shaherbano, we are all very impressed!

The key take-away is to think a bit slower with a strategy.

Jury Duty

All of the kids became a member of the jury, ruling on a simple case of petty theft. The hypothetical accused in the case was caught on CCTV footage, stealing bread. The hypothetical punishment for theft is 5 years behind bars.

As the jury, they had to come back with a unanimous decision on …

  • Guilty/Not guilty
  • If the accused should be sent behind bars for 5 years or some other form of punishment should be enforced

They all asked very interesting questions, which was the intent here …

  • Has the criminal been charged before? – No
  • Is he poor? – Yes
  • Does he have a family? – Yes, wife and a kid
  • Does the wife work? – No
  • Is he unemployed? – Recently lost the job, not getting a new one
  • Does he have any money? – No
  • Did he ask if he could just take the bread without money? – No
  • Was he getting any help from the government? – No

All the above questions indicate that they were trying to understand the “why” of the crime, rather than the “what”. We also ventured into figuring out why does the justice system exist and they said …

  • Fairness
  • Fear of punishment
  • Protection of rights

The verdict

The conversation went back and forth between why he should or shouldn’t be sent to jail for 5 years as the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. They were all clear on the “Guilty” verdict, the debate was on what should be a fitting punishment. They came up with this …

  • Guilty as charged
  • 1 week in prison
  • Not allowed to meet the family, so he understands the severity of what he would lose if he did it again
  • 30 hours of community service
  • Government support on getting him help to find a new job

I am pretty proud of my little jurors, I would totally live in a country where the lawmakers and jurors were as compassionate as them.

Side Question

As the kids pointed out, people who have been charged with a crime have a hard time getting a job. My question to them was “If the justice system has already punished them, why does society keep punishing them for the same crime even after they have paid their debt to society?”


I want to encourage reading and retention. So for a few weeks the weekly blog would talk about the book they have recently finished or are reading.

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