Shifu program Research paper review


———————– REVIEW 1 ———————



AUTHORS: Arun Arul Selvam, Sri Bhavani Arul, Narmadha Anandavelu, Santhosh Kathiresan, Sivaraman Ramamoorthy and Sanjeev Ranganathan


———– Overall evaluation ———–

SCORE: 2 (accept)

—– TEXT:

The authors need to be appreciated for writing a reflective article on the gaps in their learning and how they overcame these gaps. Anyone who has had a moderate engagement with engineering students in India, especially those in the average technological institutions, recognizes  the seriousness of the problem. The authors correctly point out that an educational system that merely focuses on making the students pass the examinations cannot provide comprehensive education.


It is often pointed out that in higher education institutions in India, including engineering colleges, students are not trained to think on their own. Relatedly, they are also generally not encouraged to build their ethical consciousness based on rationality, develop the ability to connect with others, learn something independently as well as give and take feedback in mutually helpful ways.


The authors of this article, three young men and two young women of ages 23 and 24, are engineering graduates from engineering colleges in villages around Pondicherry. They attend a program — titled BnB Shifu — which is aimed to make participants highly skilled in technical areas such as programming and VLSI Design. The stated goal of this ‘shifu’ (‘master’ in Mandarin) program is to build the skills necessary for success in the IT and electronics business by laying a strong intellectual and spiritual foundation that emphasizes “self-awareness, self-regulation, responsibility, dignity, equity and courage to create.”


The participants note that they went through several exercises as a result of which they increased their ability to focus, to learn things independently, synthesize old information and new information and get feedback from a mentor. Unlike the stressful and exam-oriented classroom practices that they had experienced in their engineering colleges, the participants were given the space to learn in a relaxed manner at their own pace. As a result of these exercises, they became more disciplined individuals and better learners; socially they became as caring about others as they were about themselves. While interacting with people in the Auroville community, they also became more courageous, which supplemented their efforts to be independent learners.


As someone teaching humanities to engineering students, this reviewer gets the sense that the “Shifu” training addresses the general gaps in technical education, especially the problems experienced by students from non-privileged and non-urban backgrounds. This paper needs our attention and the authors have an important message to convey to the planners of engineering education. This can also be seen as a plea for weaving a greater component of humanities into the engineering curriculum, which would give the students a holistic outlook and integrity in character.


However, this reviewer has some problems with the authors’ use of ‘universal values’, which purportedly are cultivated by the students through this program. In some sense, it is correct, as all students need to learn to be disciplined, focused, ethical and interactive to function optimally in academic and industry situations. However, ‘universality’ seems to erase out certain important cultural, linguistic and personal qualities, which each individual brings in as a valuable contribution to an organization.


———————– REVIEW 2 ———————



AUTHORS: Arun Arul Selvam, Sri Bhavani Arul, Narmadha Anandavelu, Santhosh Kathiresan, Sivaraman Ramamoorthy and Sanjeev Ranganathan


———– Overall evaluation ———–

SCORE: 2 (accept)

—– TEXT:

Autoethnography of 5 Youth (case study-like) in 1 year residential program


–       There are several long lists of what the paper is addressing (eg. self-awareness, self-regulation, responsibility, confidence, socialization, system thinking, five minds of the future etc.) It’s not clear in the beginning exactly what components of this program will be discussed and how they are all assessed. This was somewhat clarified with the research questions, but the paper could still benefit from more focus. After reading the ‘Higher Education in India: Challenges and Opportunities” section, it would be most clear if the paper were organized by the five minds of the future and to discuss all other constructs as subsets of those five main topics.

–       For research methodology, the use of autoethnography is a strength and aligns with the goals of the paper since it allows for the authors to tell their own story of their own experiences. It is also a strength that both male and female students are included in the study.

–       It is helpful that the authors describe the program before addressing the research questions. It is especially helpful to hear what daily life in the program is like, since it is such a holistic and immersive experience.

–       It is beneficial for readers that the authors included specific details of components of the program that were helpful to them (eg. Coursera, code-wars, etc.)

–       It is briefly mentioned at the end that the authors found meaningful employment. It would be helpful to learn more about the employment outcomes that have come after completion of the program.

–       Overall, it is important to share this information about the authors’ experiences with this program with a wider audience. My main suggestion to the authors is to be sure the talk is organized to focus on just a few main points. When there are too many topics included, it gets confusing and difficult to follow. I wouldn’t want the important points to be lost among too much information.


Our Reflections: 


Arun : 

My name is Arun. I stand for happiness for myself and others. While writing the paper, it helped to recall what are all things we came through and how we worked in pears. While working with peers, I learned a lot. It helped me to break through my barriers. I’m excited to do it further because our paper got selected. I acknowledge all the people who all supported the Shifu program and gave me a valuable opportunity to write up the paper. The one that I have been through helped me to learn new things. While writing up the paper, I can easily compare my past work experience and how I’m working now.



My name is Narmadha and I stand for equality and happiness for myself and others.The first time I had a chance to write a research paper and I learned how to write a research paper. While writing the research paper I have noticed how much I developed my skills and competency I learned to synthesize what I have learned and I am able to see the difference in me. We have got a positive review from researchers for our work and I felt happy and I am thankful to everyone who ever supported the Shifu program.



My name is Santhosh, I stand for kindness and equity for myself and others. I had a good opportunity to share my experience in Research paper about Shifu program. When I started narrating it, I felt very happy because this will be a cultural shift and also while narrating it, I had noticed all my benefits and opportunities in learning comparing with my College learning.


Sri Bhavani :

My name is Sri Bhavani. I stand for love and equality for myself and others. It is a new and great experience for me while writing the research paper. I had a chance to reflect on my learnings

in the past year. I noticed my system shift from this course, it is shifted from marks focused to acquiring skills. We experimented with a different methodology of learning which helps us to enhance mental, physical as well as competency to work in the technical field. I am very much happy when we receive the reviews for the paper. It conveyed the essence of the paper to reviewers. I am greatly looking forward to the paper being published.

Holiday Learning


In Quarterly exam holidays(8/10/2019 to 12/10/2019), Isai Ambalam Childrens came and repaired the EBD(Ladder and Tree House,) make herbal medicines( herbal soap,herbal tooth powder, and herbal thailam ), repaired the kitchen materials (Induction Heater, grinder)and check and changed the bulb, fans in each class.

Four teachers( Siva, Alex, Vasanth, and Narmada) supported the children.


First, children checked all class what are things going to repair, after they make their circuit plan for each class and implemented step by step.


Fixing Fan and Bulb in Stem land and Prayer hall:


Prasanna from Auroville Electrical service, he came up and taught basics electrical like a tester, using a multimeter to find current and voltage, and description of fuse wire.

Circuit Plan for Each Class:


Cleaning school



Siva explained the circuit of Induction Heater. Children were able to understand the concepts and circuit and fixed on it.


Testing the Induction heater using multimeter:



Fixing the Extension Cable:



Narmada and few girls worked on to make the herbal soap, tooth powder and herbal thailam.


Alex, Vasanth, and children worked on the EBD(tree house and ladder) and painted the library.


Inspiration “Secret of concentration”

~ Sundar, Murali, Naveen

Transferred to the next group this week 🙂 , and worked on the secret of Concentration.

The following passages were translated to Tamil and read with the children in both English and Tamil.

From the teachings of Swami Vivekananda :


To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind,not the collecting of facts.If i had to do my education over again,and had any voice in the matter,i would not study facts at all.I would develop the power of concentration and detachment,and then with a perfect instrument i could collect facts at will.

How has all the knowledge in the world been gained but by the concentration of the powers of the mind?The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock,how to give it the necessary blow.The strength and force of the blow come through concentration.There is no limit to the power of the human mind.The more concentrated it is,the more power is brought to bear on one point;that is the secret.

Do you see,simply by the observance of strict brahmacharya(continence)all learning can be mastered in a very short time-one has an unfailing memory of what one hears or knows but once.It is owing to this want of continence that everything is on the brink of of ruin in our country.

Herein is the difference between man and the animals-man has the greater power of concentration.The difference in their power of concentration also constitutes the difference between man and man.Compare the lowest with the highest man.The difference is in the degree of concentration.This is the only difference

Take one idea,Make that one idea your life;Think of it,dream of ir,live on that idea.Let the brain,muscles,nerves,every part of your body,be full of that idea,and just leave every other idea alone.This is the way to success,and this is the way spiritual giants are produced.Others are talking machines.

How are we to know that the mind has become concentrated?Because the idea of time will vanish.The more time pass unnoticed the more concentrated we are.In common life we see that when we are interested in a book we do not note the time at all; and when we leave the book,we are often surprised to find how many hours have passed.

During the whole week(201906 22-29) and the sleep over the children worked on creating their own drawings and depicted the following story.

Group members: Shakthi, Murali, Ajay, Kalai, Jagathishwari, Sundar(Newcomer), Adhiyaman, Hemavarshini, Parimila, Stella

link to PDF: Arjuna Secret of Concentration

20190706 – children creating their own presentations:

link to PDF: Secret of Concentration V1

Recitation work from the children:

Recitation Presentation

tamil english  translation text

2019/08/17 One liner for our passages

1.Concentration is the essence of all knowledge, a trained mind never makes a mistakes.
2.Collecting facts with the power of concentration and detachment is the essence of education.
3.The world is ready to give up its secrets and the idea of where to look for comes through concentration.
4,All learning can be mastered in a short time by following the code of strict Bramacharya which involves immense concentration.
5.The difference between human beings is in their degree of concentration.
6.You will know that the mind has become concentrated, when the idea of time has vanished.
7.Success in life depends on clear thinking and intellectual understanding which is inherited by the power of concentration.


The teachers and children together worked on scripts to show all the seven points as a play.

Link to Document: Script secret of concentration



At Isaiambalan school a project on value with Swammy Krishnan Maharaj was started last week(20190615) and children along with teachers were split into six groups each with a specific title . Our group was given the topic “True Education” whose avatar was “Narasimha”. Each group had a set of values and their corresponding meaning in terms of the groups name.

The following was ours:

1. Respect: Respect your parents, teachers, and elders
2. Love: Love your Country, your culture and your ancestors
3. Self Discipline: Discipline your body, your senses and our mind.
4. Self Control: Control your words, your thoughts and your actions.
5. Faith:Have faith in yourself, in others an in god.
6. Discrimination: Discrimination between good and bad, real and unreal, vice and virtue.
7. Concentration: Concentrate whole heartedly while studying or playing.
8. Truthfulness: Be truthful in words and actions.
9. Hard work : Work hard to acquire knowledge, skills, and wisdom.
10. Strength : Be strong physically, mentally, intellectually, morally, and spiritually.
11. Conviction: Have conviction in the power of goodness, purity, and honesty
12. Devotion: Have devotion for duty, scriptures, holy people and God.
13. Habits : Cultivate regular habits of prayer, meditation, and reading inspiring and strengthening literature.
14. Same Sightedness: Feel the presence of the divine in all beings and treat them with the same standard as you treat yourself.
15. Firm Determination: Have firm determination strong will power to cultivate good habits in order to achieve permanent happiness, peace, success and fulfillment in life.

Children were asked to write what they understood of these and we shared in group what it meant for each person and translated it to Tamil.

Today(20190622) we read the story of Prahlada and the children were asked to reflect on it by next Saturday.

Link to story : Prahlada

During sleep over (26/06/2019) our team drawn the story. In that story we captured the main thing and drew it. Whatever question we had regarding the story we asked and it got clarified by Anita. On saturday (29/06/2019) we discussed the question we came up and it got clarified. We started preparing the script for drama. We wrote a script with help of our children and teachers.

to be cont..

Group members : Saranya, Kishore, Pravin Kumar, Vasiga, Monkia, AasisKumar, Jagathambal, Sanjith, Prajan, Vimal and Sundar



Logeshwari, Vasantharaj, Alex and I went to present our paper in the ‘Medaiyil Thisaimaani’ program. There were full of teachers from various school. We (we refers to logeshwari, vasantharaj, alex and saranya) got an opportunity to talk about our school (Isai Ambalam) on first day first program. We shared what we do and what method we follow at our Isai Ambalam school.

We were able to deliver everything also we were able to complete it on time. We had a panel discussion in the afternoon. teachers presented their paper to everyone. They also shared what they do and what method they follow in their school.



(i) I was able to be on time for the Seminar. I was able to deliver what I want and I was able to complete it on time. I was able to interact with people from different social profile.

(ii) Our presentation went well and it was well received. We had questions from different people also one teacher inspired by our project (world map). They wanted to have same world  map in their school. Interacting with many people and I met my school headmaster.

(iii) I would like to practise before hand for presentation.


This is the first time I am presenting about Isai Ambalam School outside. I learnt what it would take to give out a presentation to people. It was a good learning experience to become aware of the teaching methods in many of the government schools.

What I did well.

I presented my part of slides in the presentation well other than I expected.

What went well.

The day was started with our presentation and it went well and was received well by the audience.

What I will do differently.

Put time for preparation


I didn’t even think about teaching and teaching methods in Government school. In ‘Madaiyil thisaimani’ most of the teachers are from the government school. They have been following different methods, this surprised me a lot. I learnt that Education is practical and the students enjoy the Joy of learning. One science teacher presented a paper “Innovative participatory assessment techniques for science learning” that inspire me a lot. They created their own website and students published their projects. He also explained how to generate QR code for the website. This makes students more curious towards the science. This program makes me perspective of thinking towards how to take classes more interactively.


I learnt many teaching methods from experienced teacher’s. It’s very useful for me. This program is out of my expectations because is that my first presentation and best experience for
I learned a study on soil,Soil profile, Moisture contents, Pond eco system, etc and then I learned
natural and healthy foods.
in the three days very useful for me. Every day I learnt new things from this workshop.

Visit to Vedandhangal


Children of Isaiambalam school have been studying about birds for some days. The 4th grade children were learning about local birds and their habitats. They were also interested in learning about beaks and legs of different birds and why they are different. We gave them access to computers, books and bird cards to learn and research. We also showed them documentary on Humming birds. They were fascinated to see humming birds being so swift in flight. Since they have learnt about flowers in the past children also picked up the fact that humming birds and flowers are interdependent on each other. Children cut out shapes of birds and hung them in strings to make them fly. Some of them were very happy to draw birds and colour them.

We also decided to take the children to Vedanthangal to visit some of the migrating birds.