“So, what is our goal? To change their
attitude, or to convince them that they need to change it themselves?”
“That is challenging, difficult, will
take sweat and tears……….do I really want to even try it?”
We are now at the root of the problem and it is: Do I want to change my own
Attitude is at the root of everything. Attitude decides whether we will succeed or fail. Whether when in difficulty, even that which seems to be life threatening, if we will survive or perish. Attitude decides if when hit by life (or by someone) we stay down or get up. And how many times we get up. And what the result of getting up every time we fall, will be. Attitude, not wealth, dictates happiness. If you don’t believe me, watch slum children leaping into pools of rainwater after the first rains. Do they look happy? Then go and watch your children, who will most likely be complaining about the rain. And ask yourself, “Who has more wealth?” I know that is a dumb question, but then to decide to remain dumb is an attitude issue. To decide to remain blind, even though we have eyes is an attitude issue. To witness a crime in progress and to decide to take a video to post on Instagram, instead of taking action to prevent the crime or to help the victim, is a matter of attitude. Cherophobia (the fear of being ‘too happy’ because you feel that if you allow yourself to feel happy, then disaster will strike), is a matter of attitude. Satisfaction, gratitude, ambition, courage, compassion are all attitudes. So also, are their opposites. And each one has an impact on our life.
Agara – A – is the first letter of the alphabet, so also God is before all
the same way, attitude comes before all situations and circumstances and
decides how they will affect us. Incidentally, another A-word; affect. Let me
tell you some stories to illustrate what I mean.
was 1987 and I was doing a course at XLRI, Jamshedpur. One evening my friends
decided to show me the sights around Jamshedpur. As we drove in the Hindustan
Ambassador car, which was provided for us, the road suddenly deteriorated. My
friend announced, “This is where Jamshedpur ends, and Bihar begins.” We
continued onwards, headed towards Dimna lake and bird sanctuary. This is a lake
made by Tata Steel and provides drinking water to Jamshedpur. On the way we
stopped at a traffic light. The road was a patchwork of potholes joined
together by bits of tarmac to prove that once upon a time when the world was
young, it had been surfaced with bitumen. As I was contemplating life and its
trials, a young boy came coasting down the slope on his bicycle a bit oblivious
to his situation and hit a pothole, bounced out of it and yelled, ‘Wah! Kya
khadda hai!’ (Wow! What a pothole!). Today I am writing this on July 13, 2019,
32 years later, but the incident is fresh in my memory. I remind myself that
nothing changed for that kid or for me. The road, the potholes, the
responsibility of the government, the use of taxes, you name it, everything
remained the same. Yet that kid decided to be happy. So, when he hit a pothole,
he appreciated the pothole instead of complaining. A matter of attitude.
my view the best thing about attitude is that it is entirely in my control. Nobody
can give it to me or take it from me or change it for me or do anything at all
with my attitude. I, and only I, can have whatever attitude I want to. So only
I, can decide if I want to be sad, glad, bad, mad or whatever. That means that
until I want to change it, nobody can help me and if I want to change it,
nobody can stop me. That is power.
1978, soon after I finished graduation with a BA in history, political science
and Urdu literature, I boarded a flight for Guyana where my father was on a
one-year assignment, with the Guyana Mining Enterprise hospital in Linden. It
was a long flight and a long story. I flew from Hyderabad to Bombay to London
to New York to Miami to Georgetown which took more than 24 hours. I flew in a SE
210 Caravelle, Boeing 707, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and Boeing 707 once again.
I flew on Indian Airlines, British Airways, Pan Am (Pan American World
Airways), Delta and BWIA. And at the end of it all, more than 24 hours after I
left Hyderabad, I arrived literally at the other end of the world, without my
baggage. My baggage apparently had other travel plans and I have no idea which
country it was destined for. But for me that meant that not only did I get to
lose all my worldly possessions but also the proof of my education, my degree
certificate, which I had kept in my checked-in baggage for safety.
I should have been devastated. I wasn’t. It took
me about ten minutes to come to terms with the fact that I was walking with all
my worldly assets, the shirt on my back. I found this was a very liberating
idea. In Guyana I got a job, lived and worked in a small mining town in the
middle of the rainforest. My experience of the five years that I spent there
was far from negative. It was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding periods
of my life during which I made lifelong friendships, had many unique experiences,
and learnt a huge amount about human relations and conflict management which
has stood me in good stead throughout my career, now many decades later. I will
talk about those days in context in the articles and podcasts that will come
later but want to say that all this happened because of the way I approached
For one thing, I didn’t see it as a ‘challenge =
difficulty’, at all. I saw it as the possibility to have great fun and great
learning, each day filled with new possibilities. I was in a new country,
totally new (alien!!) culture, food, climate, language, working with people who
were completely different from me in every way, living in a part of the world
that I had never been in and which was as different from my life in Hyderabad as
to make it seem like I was on another planet. Yet it turned out to be one of
the best periods of my life which I recall very fondly today, more than forty
years later. The reason was attitude.
Attitude therefore is how you choose to see what
you are faced with. You can choose to appreciate the good in it and enjoy it
and to see the difficulties as you look at weights in the gym; something that
is tough to lift but can only benefit you if you do. Who makes that choice?
Back home in India, I worked in the plantation
industry for ten years, managing tea, and rubber plantations with coffee,
cardamom, coconut and vanilla thrown in, before striking out into the field of
leadership consulting. During my last three years in the company, I was posted
as Manager of the company’s operations in Kanyakumari District in Tamilnadu.
That comprised of two rubber estates, two factories and a higher secondary
school. The challenge there was the labor force, which was highly militant,
unionized, communist union (CITU – Marxist) and a history of tension between
the management and union. To spice up my life I had an immediate task of
introducing Controlled Upward Tapping (CUT) in rubber. This involved the
tappers using special tapping knives to tap upwards instead of the normal
downward tap. This put a strain on their shoulders and initially it could be
uncomfortable, even painful, until they got used to it. The standard response
to this was to refuse to do it. That led to tensions and some ugly situations
before I got there, including an Assistant Manager having been grievously
assaulted. My challenge was to get the workers to accept this method of
tapping, which meant that I had to convert their dislike and resistance to
liking. To change their attitude from resistance to acceptance.
I spoke to another company in Kerala who were
using this technique and had good results. I requested their management to
allow me to send my tappers to visit them to see their tapping, meet their
tappers and talk to them about the technique. I wanted them to do this freely
without any supervision, so I didn’t go with them. I sent them in a bus and
arranged for them to have a nice sumptuous meal with their hosts and to be
given CUT knives as a take-away gift (for which we paid). I told them to go and
see the work, ask any questions that they wanted to ask their compatriots and
satisfy themselves that this method was a good method for them to earn more
income as well as something which would not be difficult to do after they had
gotten used to the new angle of tapping. All this was treated with suspicion to
begin with, given the history of management labor relations, but I expected
that and didn’t react to it. However, the prospect of a company paid holiday
was tempting and unique and so they went. After that, as they say, the rest is
history. They returned enthusiastic about trying out the new technique and when
they saw that as promised, their yield was better resulting in better earning,
there was nothing more for me to do.
What I had been able to do was to get them tuned
into the channel that everyone listens to; WiiFM (What’s in it For Me). That is
the key to attitude change. Get people to see what’s in the change for them.
Help them to see how they will benefit. Naturally they must really benefit. It
is not a PR exercise. If there is really no benefit, then you will lose
credibility big time if you try to sell it. But it happens often that people
don’t see the benefit until you can show it to them. Once they see how they
will gain by changing their attitude, it happens easily enough. The challenge
is for us to show it to them.
What is essential for the one wanting to bring
about attitude change is to put himself into the shoes of the other and see their
world through their eyes. I had a very interesting experience in this context.
I was doing a series of coaching skills workshops for senior management at
ICRISAT in Hyderabad. This required helping people understand the fact that you
can never coach anyone effectively if you don’t see their world through their
eyes. In other words, you need to put yourself in their shoes. To illustrate
this, I took off my shoes and said to the Deputy Director General, the most
senior manager who was sitting right in front, “Please get into my shoes.”
He got up very reluctantly and started to take his
shoes off. I stopped him when he had taken one shoe off. I asked him, “What are
He looked surprised and replied rather testily,
“Taking off my shoes.”
I asked, “Why?”
He looked really exasperated and said, “How else
can I get into your shoes?” Then it suddenly dawned on him and he almost
yelled, “Wah! What an insight!! I can never get into your shoes until I take my
own shoes off. Wah! Sahab Wah!”
It is often as simple as that. The lesson is
simple but very powerful.
If we want to change people’s attitudes, we need
to first change our own. We must own up that we need to see their world as they
see and feel it. We must empathize and understand. Then we need to show them
how they will benefit from the change. Only then will it happen.
In terms of formal leadership roles, one of the
biggest challenges of the commanding officer is to influence positively the
attitude of those under his/her command. Many try to use authority. All that
they get is outward compliance. Just because someone answers, “Yessah!” with a
salute doesn’t mean that he/she truly accepts what you ordered them to do or
that they will do it when they are not supervised. We are all aware of the
theory, “It is the arm that salutes, not the heart.” That is why I say, “Values
can’t be legislated (commanded). They must be inculcated.” And that is the
reason attitude is critical. Attitude is what you do because of who you are.
Not because of your job, rank or training but because of the truth of your
being. That is why attitude inspires far more than any passionate speech or any
order from on-high. People don’t care what you say, until they see what you do.
Attitude is what Dr. Kafeel of Gorakhpur had, when
though he was not even on duty, he decided to take charge when he was informed
that the government hospital where he worked had run out of oxygen and the
lives of children who needed oxygen, were at stake. He spent his own funds to
buy oxygen and managed to save the lives of over 200 of them. In organizational
life, we have many stories to tell of people who decided to take ownership of
the situation and in the absence of orders and sometimes even in contravention
of them, they did the right thing. Many paid a price for it, but their stand
inspires us to this day. The thing to remember is that even if they had succumbed
to pressure, they would have paid a price. A price which in real terms, would
have been far higher. There is no such thing as a free choice. Every choice has
a price tag. We are free to choose between price tags. That is the reason why
we need to record and preserve such stories, because they are real, involve
real people like us and are beacons of guidance and proof of concept that IT
CAN BE DONE.
the attitudes that are critical for us to have? They are three.
Courage: Courage is the first. Courage is the willingness to stand up against
opposing danger or force. The greater the opposing force, greater the courage
needed. Courage is physical but even more importantly it is moral. Moral
courage comes before physical courage and is often its motive force. Moral courage
is called upon far more often than physical courage in our lives because the
pressure on us is from those who have higher authority, direct or indirect.
They don’t necessarily threaten our life or safety, but they threaten our
careers. Yet we must have the courage to stand up to their threats, open or
But stand up on what basis? On the basis of truth.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “When the truth must be spoken, silence is culpable.”
Truth: Truth is the unshakable belief that truth comes first and over and above anyone else. The duty of every citizen is to uphold the truth in his/her own life. For this, we are accountable and answerable to society. And though society may not have the tools and structures to demand this accountability in a formal manner, it does enforce it very powerfully by giving or withholding respect and moral authority. Moral authority is the reward for moral courage. Without moral authority you may get rank, but you will never have power. Rank is bestowed. Power is earned. The Establishment bestows rank. People give you power. Without power, the badge of rank is costume jewelry.
Compassion: The ability to see
yourself in the suffering of others. In the words ascribed to Benjamin
Earl of Beaconsfield, who twice served as Prime Minister of the
United Kingdom, “There but
for the Grace of God, goes Disraeli.” He reportedly said that on looking at a
homeless man in rags. It is not known what he did thereafter, but the statement
shows that he saw himself, at least momentarily, in the other less fortunate
man. Compassion is not only to see but to do something about that, to alleviate
the suffering, lift the oppression and deliver the justice being denied to the
other. Compassion, above anything else, differentiates us as humans in the best
possible terms. Compassion means that we stand against oppression even when it
doesn’t affect us personally. Compassion means that we go out of our way, take
the pain and the trouble and if necessary, pay the price to fight for the
rights of others. Compassion is a fundamental value, a core strength and a key
resource, without which we simply can’t function effectively and honorably.
Compassion is the result of courage and commitment to the truth. Compassion
wins hearts, inspires cooperation, builds a reputation, enhances influence and
is the best protection.
This is the value of these three, interlinked
attitudes: courage based on truth, tempered with compassion. Truth gives
courage its backbone and compassion ensures that it is applied in a way that is
caring, respectful and kind.
Finally, I must reiterate that attitudes can’t be
legislated. They must be inculcated. We can’t simply order people, “You must be
courageous. You must be truthful. You must be compassionate.” We must show them
how, by demonstrating courage, truthfulness and compassion ourselves in our
everyday actions. We must remember that people listen with their eyes. They
don’t care what we say, until they see what we do.
Leadership is not playacting. It is not pretension. It is not a game. It is authenticity, integrity, putting your money and yourself where your mouth is. We learned to walk our talk and the perils of not doing so, long before we knew that there was such a term. Credibility falls through the gap between walk and talk. We learned that there is only one way of living, and that is by our values. And that was a good way. It helped us to sleep soundly at night and to hold our heads high, during the day. …
Our present methods of teaching which are inflicted on by far the vast majority of children the world over are the single biggest cause for killing the imagination that every child is born with and making them into square blocks which fit our own frightened, constrained and slavish worldview. Those who comply we ‘pass’ and those who challenge it and refuse to succumb, we ‘fail’. The occasional among those we ‘fail’, go on to great fortune. The vast majority disappear, never to be heard from again. Destroyed by the education system they didn’t deserve or ask for.
present methods of teaching which are inflicted on by far the vast majority of
children the world over are the single biggest cause for killing the
imagination that every child is born with and making them into square blocks
which fit our own frightened, constrained and slavish worldview. Those who
comply we ‘pass’ and those who challenge it and refuse to succumb, we ‘fail’.
The occasional among those we ‘fail’, go on to great fortune. The vast majority
disappear, never to be heard from again. Destroyed by the education system they
didn’t deserve or ask for.
the story of young Tommy; one of the stories that do the rounds on the
internet. It is said that Tommy’s teacher asked the class to write an essay
about their dream. Next day all the children brought their essays to class. The
teacher read them all. But when she came to Tommy’s essay she was astounded and
even angry. She wrote a big 0 at the top of the essay and handed Tommy
his book. Naturally poor Tommy’s face fell when he looked at the teacher’s
notation. He took back his book and silently walked back to his seat. The
teacher saw the look on the little boy’s face and took pity on him. She called
him back and said, ‘Tommy, your dream is ridiculous. It is fantasy. It is
totally unrealistic. That is why I failed you in the test. However, I will give
you another chance. If you re-write this dream and bring it back tomorrow, I
will give you some marks.’ Tommy listened in silence, nodded agreement and
returned to his seat. The eyes and smirks of all those who had ‘passed’ were on
his face. They were the ones with realistic dreams which the teacher liked.
Tommy handed in his essay to the teacher. The teacher scanned through it and
was astonished to see that there was no change. She called Tommy to her desk in
an injured tone and said, ‘Tommy, didn’t you understand what I told you? I said
I would give you marks if you changed your dream. You have done nothing here!
So I am sorry I can’t give you any marks.’
at her and said, ‘Teacher, I thought about what you said and decided that I’ll
let you keep your marks and I will keep my dream.’
strange to me that if I were asked to define the biggest challenge of the
teacher, I would say, ‘It is to teach children how to deal with a world that we
know nothing about.’ In such a world, imagination is the key resource that they
will need. Without imagination they would be floundering trying to find answers
in history or ‘facts’ that they had been taught. But they would never find
those answers because they simply aren’t there. Yet the thing that most schools
do with amazing efficiency is to kill the child’s imagination as quickly as
possible. And sadly, they are very successful in doing so.
example how science is taught. It is taught in a way that is no different from
history, for example. It is taught as a ‘fact’ course. Whereas science is not
about fact at all but about constant discovery. Science is about constantly
discovering how little we know. Science is not about answers but about learning
to ask the right questions, learning to analyze data with a willingness to be
proved wrong, learning to design experiments to disprove our most dearly loved
models, knowing that only if the experiment failed could we say that our model
is actually correct. Not forever, but until we come to the next discovery.
is not about answering questions but about raising questions – opening doors
for them in places that they could not imagine. Teaching is about teaching them
the tools of learning which will enable them to pursue learning all their
lives. Not answer questions – end all discussion and pass exams. That is
the reason why the vast majority of children never open a science book once
they finish with school. That is the reason why there is a serious global
shortage of scientists. The whole approach to teaching must change – from
teaching solutions and answers to teaching tools to pursue lifelong learning. Even
when we teach what we know – the answers – we need to teach them how we arrived
at those answers and then ask them , ‘If you faced this issue, what questions
would you ask to find an answer.’ We need to focus far more on derivation,
problem solving methodology and analytical skills than on actually arriving at
some formula or solution.
The same malaise plagues other subjects as well. In history we concentrate on dates and places far more than on lessons learnt and ways of applying them in today’s society. When was the last time you heard a history teacher ask questions like: ‘What did we learn from the history of the Mughals the reflection of which we can see in today’s society? What can we learn from that period of Indian history which we can apply to our lives today? What can we learn from that period which will help us to find solutions to our problems today? Which problem? What is the solution?’ Instead history question papers will ask you for the date on which the first Battle of Panipath was fought; who was fighting whom; not why; not what that indicated about that society and its implications in today’s society. So, children hate history. We don’t relate what we teach to what is happening currently and how learning what happened then can help people in today’s world.
Children hate math, algebra even more. But when
did we ever hear of a teacher teaching math as a problem-solving tool? Or of
teaching algebra as a tool to plan a party? Math enhances ability in reasoning,
intelligence, decision making and abstract analysis. But we only teach dry numbers.
Math enables budgeting, judging and
assessment of business enterprises; it is the basis behind computer
programming, music, art, graphic design, aeronautics – and a million other
highly interesting things. But the way we teach math – the majority of students
hate it, never use it to any advantage and trash 12 years of learning it as
soon as they complete their final exam. So why should you study math at all.
See the answers of some students to this question which their professor asked
Another very interesting article which turned
up on Google on math is here:
Our education system stinks. It is designed to
create mechanics – not learned people. That is how one can become an engineer
without reading any book other than his course books and without any
understanding of anything except the little machine that he works on – as if
the rest of the universe doesn’t matter. All the treasure of human thought,
ideas, discoveries, experiments, reflections and imagination are closed to him.
He doesn’t even know that they exist. He lives a life of stress, doing his best
with his very limited understanding of life, trying to reinvent the wheel, to
discover solutions which others, far more gifted and learned than he could ever
be, have already discovered and written about. But then how would he know about
them when he doesn’t read?
That is why we have idiotic product design
because the designer has no concept of relating his design to the actual user.
He is thinking in terms of his narrow area of knowledge, not of the vast area
of application. That is why Haleem makers in India use washing machines as
kitchen mixers. Saves them a lot of labor stirring the pot when they can have
the pot stir itself. Ask the washing machine designer what he was thinking of
when he designed the machine except dirty clothes? But great opportunity does
not lie in customer demand. It lies in areas that the customer didn’t even know
biggest problem with teachers is that they teach. That is the root cause of all
ignorance. That is why I titled this essay, ‘O! Teacher, stop teaching.’ Start
discovering, learning, enjoying. Start appreciating that the child is the best
thing that happened to you and every single day try to become the best thing
that happens to him or her. Teachers must never teach. They must be like ushers
in a vast museum, walking quietly with their students tiptoeing behind them,
opening one door after another – letting them take a peek – and then handing
them the key to the door so that they can come back in their own time and
explore in detail. The teacher then takes them to another door for another peek
and another key. See?? Imagine how exciting that is for the child! The
teacher’s job is to give them the keys.
is about asking questions – and teaching them to ask questions. The teacher who
gives answers has failed. So never do that. Teaching is about keeping the
excitement of learning alive all lifelong. Teaching is about taking the hand of
a 4-year-old and leading the whole group to a tree. Then sit down under the
tree and tell them, ‘Let me see who can get me a perfect leaf of this tree.’ Actually,
do this and see the fun. When they all come back, brimming with joy at their
perfect finds – ask them if all the leaves are the same, even though they came
from the same tree? Let them marvel at the fact that they are all leaves from
the same tree, but each is different. Ask them, ‘Why do you think this happens?
What is Allahﷻ saying to us?’
pull out a seed of the tree you are sitting under from your pocket. No, it
didn’t grow there, you prepared for the class, remember? Then show them the
seed and let them all (every one of them) hold the seed in his hand and explore
it, texture, shape, color and so on. Give them crayons and paper and let them
draw the seed. Give them a few more so that everyone has his own seed. When
they have drawn the seed, tell them, ‘Now look at this tree. Do you realise
that this tree was inside this seed? Can you draw the tree inside your seed?’
Let them do that. Every drawing must be made much of and draw breaths of
amazement from you – and indeed, if you have ever taught in this way, you will
realise that being amazed is the default setting. It is only when we kill the
imagination of children that they become like us.
tell them about genetics – yes to four-year olds – and explain how the tree was
inside the seed until Allahﷻ ordered it to come out. Explain the whole process of
germination and growth. Draw lessons from each step and show them the glory of Allahﷻ. Of course, that will make your own
role as teacher much harder but also much more fun. To be on top of the game
you have to read and prepare @ 4:1 – Four hours of preparation to one hour of
teaching. The kids will come back with answers to the questions you planted in
their minds. You will need patience and tact and wisdom to deal with some of
them. But you will have the joy of learning, of having doors opened for you
where you didn’t know there were doors. Teaching is about learning. I learnt
some of the best lessons in my life from someone who was knee high to a jack
As a dear friend of mine, also a
teacher put it: What a teacher must inculcate is a sense of responsibility,
self-discipline and a sense of the sacred. These are not easy to teach in a
world that speaks/teaches rights at the cost of responsibility, obedience
and self-indulgence instead of self-discipline and debunking/cynicism in place of respect for the sacred. These are values that were important, are
important and will be important in any age.
is not a job. Anyone who considers it a job must do one of two things: re-think
their vocation or become a cigarette salesman. That is a job. Selling cigarettes
to people to hasten their demise. Teaching must be a passion. A teacher is
someone who simply can’t imagine doing anything else. A teacher is someone who
will teach not only for free but also if they had to pay for it. Only then can
you light the lamp of the love of learning in the hearts of others. Teaching is
to light the lamp of knowledge and dispel the darkness of ignorance. Do you,
Mr. Teacher, consider what you are doing in these terms? I often ask people to
think of a role model and then ask for how many of them it is a parent or a
teacher. I have never had more than 10% of the population, across
nationalities, races and genders, raising their hands. That means that for 90%
of people their role model is neither a parent nor a teacher. What a tragedy,
seeing that these two roles have the maximum face time with children. Yet they
seem to do their roles in such an uninspiring and dull way – if not in a
positively harmful way – that most children are glad to be away from them as
much as possible.
ask teachers to consider this. Every morning a strange thing happens at the
gate of your school. Parents come and hand over their most precious assets to
you without asking for any guarantees for anything; for you to do with them, as
you please for the next 6 – 8 hours. Are you conscious of this responsibility
in quite this way and do you plan for those 6 – 8 to become the best 6 – 8
hours of that child for that day? Do you actively plan this? What would you say
if the teacher, who you send your child to, planned to make those hours the
best hours of your child’s life? Do you believe this is worth doing? If not,
what are you doing here?
a child asks a question, ‘Mr. Great Crocodile, what does this mean?’ You say,
‘You tell me.’ And then let him go away and search. You watch what he is
doing, give him a hint or two but never make it easy for him. If it looks like
he is getting too close to an easy answer, bowl a googly. Ask a question which
will lead him to dig deeper.’ Then when he comes to you with his answer, listen
very carefully and be prepared to be astonished. Don’t put any limits or
boundaries on what he can or can’t say, what he can or can’t question. Then
listen very carefully and take notes. That will do wonders for his confidence
as well as for your own learning.
another thing – abolish exams. Or at least have only open book exams. Exams are
the worst evil that ever happened to learning. They are the final nail in the
coffin which ensures that the child hates learning forever. Just ask yourself
how testing the memory of the child for random recall in a specific timeframe
is a measure of his knowledge? Has this happened to you that a child couldn’t
think of an answer though it was on the tip of his mind, until he had handed in
his paper and the exam bell had rung. And then, five minutes after the bell rang,
the answer dropped off the tip of his mind into his consciousness. Does that
child know or not know? But does that child pass or fail your exam? If that
happens to be a final, qualifying exam, then does it shut the doors on his dreams
or not? Now you know why some poor kids commit suicide? Exams, as we conduct
them are evil.
as we do them are perceived as threats. They are threats. The human brain
responds to threats in the most primitive way by shutting down everything except
reflexes. When a threat is perceived, the reptilian part of the brain takes
over and the neocortex shuts down. That is why in martial arts we learn to
force ourselves to continue to think, while allowing the training to take over
reactions. The thinking gives us the strategic edge in a conflict. Pilots are
also taught to ‘go back to the manual’ in case there is an emergency. That means,
not to allow the reptilian reflex to take over and to do all the checks that
the manual prescribes, because only that has a chance to save the situation.
in exams, we first shut down the brains of our students and then force them to perform
in an atmosphere of high threat perception and pass or fail them for a life in
which there is mostly no threat. At least not when they are reading history,
for god’s sake!! Exams are a sign of our own laziness. We test random memory because
that is the easiest thing to test. Not because that makes sense, or is a real
indicator of learning, understanding and application of knowledge. Reducing it
to multiple choice questions, where the child simply ticks a box is the ultimate
insult to learning. That is done because the tabulation of marks can thereby be
done by a machine and teachers are not burdened with even reading answers. How
much worse can this get?
test. We must test because we need to measure the results of our effort. Test
understanding. Test application of knowledge. Test value addition to what we
taught them. Reward new questions that arose from what we taught them. Don’t insult
your teaching and destroy the lives of students by testing them in ways that
are insane and toxic. Ban exams as we know them. Find other ways of testing.
And treat this like the life-threatening emergency that it is.
you be the one to illuminate the world by igniting minds.
First the words; Eulogy: a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died. Elegy: An elegy is a sad poem, usually written to praise and express sorrow for someone who is dead. But eulogies, Wikipedia assures me, can also be delivered at retirement functions and other such events when a person is leaving you but not for the next world. I assume that it is not a crime to deliver a eulogy, so to speak, by simply expressing appreciation and thanks to someone who has been good to you in different ways, without any formal function or speechmaking. …