Thursday, April 2, 2009


Ed Note: Now that I have a figured out how to beautify the template, I have been suffering from an acute-change-the-look itch the whole day, which I have been (wo)manfully repressing.

Instead, I will recycle a post.

I don’t think anyone ever read this particular one – it was written after a blogging hiatus sometime in Aug 2007. One of those drearily-lowering-periods-when-I-had-no-readers (Sobs!). So why not air it again –(this time hopefully to loud and tumultuous applause).

No particular reason to chose this one, but damn it I am blogcked. I have some fifteen ideas in my head jostling each other which refuse to come out on paper. Bah.

I was cleaning my cupboard the other day and came across an old SUPW project. A self-analysis that was written when I was in the ninth or tenth – hugely entertaining reading for me at any rate. But more on that later.

SUPW as a subject has always fascinated me – insofar as I can’t see ANY conceivable reason for its existence. I googled for the full form- turns out it is “Socially Useful and Productive Work”.

If my memory serves me right, there was absolutely nothing , which was even remotely productive that actually did take place. Some flirting, a lot of paper airplanes and of course some destructive stuff - chairs, tube lights and the odd classmate (though one could argue that the last mentioned was a productive excercise )

Towards the end of the year, there would be some harebrained assignment like knitting shawls (which in my case, unfailingly ended up as tea cosys (cosies?)) or making organdy flowers (which was upwardly delegated to the mother three days before due date). This er ..produce was graded, sent back home, displayed for maybe two days before falling behind some cupboard never to be seen again.

Occasionally you had projects like self-analysis (though how the self analysis of a fourteen year old is socially useful beats me).

I remember trying to bribe a friend to write my project. I also recall sessions where we got together in recess to ‘analyze’ each other viz.swapping candid insults in the name of homework - which would eventually end up in a couple of the boys rolling on the floor hitting each other with a handy desk or two.

In eight or ninth there was this other programme called EREWHON that I vaguely remember was similar to SUPW, only more painful, which I seem to have mercifully blanked out. The only remnant of it is an old grainy photograph of all of us as scrawny preteens with the course coordinator (a snap which looks like a bunch of street urchins with a social worker).

And of course the “Moral Science” lesson in 11th and 12th (anyone who has done time in a convent will remember that). Incidentally, the nun who taught us this, used to read Mills and Boons hidden in a notebook.

I wonder whether anyone does out more moral, socially useful or erewhony after these classes. If my classmates are examples, then I strongly doubt it - most have questionable morals, and are fairly asocial and useless ( which is their saving grace, and the reason we all remain great friends even now)

Do they still teach these in schools.?


Nikhil Narayanan said...

I have an SUPW post in drafts.
May be I need to post.
SUPW is not there now, I guess.


wanderlust said...

our SUPW classes were where we took a break and vented out our frustrations on the hapless teacher assigned to control the class for those forty minutes... and invariably, one of those soft-soap sort of paavam types would be assigned these... i strongly suspect that was part of 'building character' of the noob teacher.
Nowadays kids have subjects in school called 'Disaster Management' or something like that.

sra said...

Ah, that title struck at my memory so powerfully - don't think I've heard SUPW since I left school!

Lekhni said...

Are you a fly on my wall? I was trading SUPW stories with a friend only the other day.

Mo said...

So-many Useful Periods Wasted. that's what we used to call it in school.

I learnt bookbinding once. Also, a very creative teacher taught us how to hem and button and stitch hooks when I was in 5th - those were pretty useful skills that early on.

To think of it, that was the first example of outsourcing. My mother did the cross stitch project for many of my guy friends.

narendra shenoy said...

I had to Google SUPW to find out what it stood for. Two possible reasons - both depressing-
1. I am so old SUPW wasn't invented when I was in school
2. I was in such a crappy school they hadn't heard about this.

shub said...

Turns out some of your readers are more jobless than you think. I have read this post :D
What we had in school wasn't called SUPW. It was called work experience [so weird, now that I think back]. So I always thought SUPW sounded wayy cooler.

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Commenting again :D
SUPW taught me to make candles and chalks,electrical wiring,iron box repair,stitching :D,filing,using the bench vise etc etc


Cynic in Wonderland said...

Nikhil - post post!! Will be interesting to see how other schools handled it. Though going by your other comment, it seems to have been much more useful than my school stuff. but chalks? how on earth do you make that? i wouldnt mind making chalks and electrical thingummies. hmmm.

wanderlust - yes, it MUST have been new teachers. I cant remember any teacher and im pretty sure we wouldnt have been left unsupervised. but dont you think disaster management sounds like more fun than supw? at least its much more action

SRA hehe - i think everyone i know blanked it out too.

Lekhini pls to post about said stories. Take this as a tag now hehe. first nikhil and now you.

Mo, the periods which you were thought - er, were useful? Your ma did the projects eh? My mother used to rant at me first for about a day and then do it. hmmmmm

naren - pat, pat. dont sound so sad. I am sure it was there under some other name. maybe you have just uhm..forgotten it?

shub - I think i love you

Mo said...

Others were pretty useless too. I started my own projects, ma only completed them. heh.

In love with my life said...

We used to have work experience as against SUPW.

And Moral Science classes too.....oh man! the nun who used to teach at our class should see what we have all turned out to be. She might just hang her standards, we are completely amoral:-)

This post bought back lots of memories of reading M& B's in back bench. Thankee

Aquarius said...

I have also passed from a convent and how can I forget Moral Science used to be so boring...

Also SUPW= Work experience. I never ever was able to complete any of them.As u said it was dutifully handed over to my mom or my eldest sis :)

shilpa said...

Heyyy awesome post! I like..a lot!
I went to one of those schools..did we all? Our nun actually had this cool story of how she was going to elope with this guy when she heard a call from God and became a nun instead! Poor guy! My class came up with all these hare-brained schemes to get them together again! That was our contribution to Socially useful work!
Hahaha..sadly my mom ( being a victim of SUPW herself) refused to become a sucker for my generation.So I turned a variety of badly made articles..Only to be ticked off by our teacher."Everyone elses is so much nicer"..well duh their moms are better than me!!!

Epiphany said...

"loud and tumultuous applause"... ;)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Mo - I like your ma

In love with my life - ah so constructively used reading romances? you know strange thing is i have read books on the front bench too. tho not m&bs

aquarius - a convent product eh? i spent 2 years and that was more than enuf. ( uhm i went thru eight schools )

shilpa , Pune + Nuns - are you a st mary's product by any chance?

epiphany - dont be cheeky young epiphany. yeh aaj kal ke bacche ...

P said...

I almost forgot that word! Fun times :)

Meena said...

My daughter has SUPW but I wonder how her "work" contributes to social productivity! Strange term. Wonder who thought it up! A product of a convent school, how can I forget the Moral Science class? Never understood what the "science" was about.Lot of preachy stories. We even had an exam in the subject!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

P - hehe werent they?

Meena - yes, preachy stories were exactly what it was. i think everyone slept in the class. including the nun who taught us

wanderlust said...

no.... all they do for disaster management is write reports on floods and earthquakes.
i prefer knitting shawls :)

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