FREEDOM OF EDUCATION

 

I am studying a course online which posts some very interesting questions . One of these is

What is the Future of Education?

What really is the future of education?

The Education systems across the world had primarily been structured to prepare the chosen segment of the society to behave and act in a manner that enables the better working of the THEN Businesses. It was eventually expanded to enrol a larger section of society that partakes in the industrialisation; however the decision making was still concentrated in the hands of the chosen few.

Hundreds of years post, we are still not in the future of education. Our end goal is still characterised with what we started with – Enable them to become A STANDARD!!

Are we still not churning our standardised youth who can enable the industry?

Why are we not, I wonder, putting our energies on giving the Youth the power to liberate?

There are few institutions that seem to take the liberation, Freedom and innovation very seriously. They are however looked at with distrust and suspicion. After all they seem to be telling you that majority of the world is wrong or at least not correct. This revolutionary thought may not be a choice for the majority of students. If it is not popular then it cannot really be Right. Most of us follow this rule for making choices and Education cannot be any different.

But this is the very FUTURE OF EDUCATION! The Liberation!! The Freedom and The Choice!!

All of these words that we are scared of even combining with the Standard Education will become part of the Future of Education. It will have to!!

The last century has marked the world with the fight for Liberation. We have fought for Independence in different parts of the world against a Perpetrator that denied us the Social and Economic Rights. We fought and we won, because one cannot be denied Freedom. The then education probably supported the Central thought behind the fervour, and inspired the youth to move towards the basic rights. Today, it is time to move towards the next Right. The Right to Education which is TRUE to us!!

The thought exists, which can be felt in the discontent that seems to prevail for the education system across the Globe. There is a discontentment for the Standardised tests, Scores, Grades which seem to define our students. The System sets unrealistic standards and does not have relevant parameters to JUDGE CAPABILITY. Our Education is subjected and confined to passing examination with very little focus on LEARNING!

Learning is a function that maps experience onto behaviour. Learning is the effect of experience on behaviour.(De Hower)

If the Learning is done only to pass an exam and then there is no behavioural change and is most likely not helping us gain any skills and thus not taking us any closer to our goals. As parents can you facilitate this?

We can either wait till our schools and education system, as a whole, moves into the orbit of change or we can initiate it atleast at home and help the students move toward the future with small but definite steps. If we can create an environment which invokes curiosity then their “not so desirable” Textbooks can become more interesting and perhaps relevant. Relevance is one of the other factors that initiate a healthy learning. Rather than WHY are we studying or the WHY This Content, initiate the WHY NOT?

WHY NOT study History which helps you understand how you have evolved? WHY NOT study Physics that helps you understand the working of the world? Why not ENCOURAGE CURIOUSITY!! If discontent breeds discontent then perhaps CURIOUSITY WILL BREED CURIOUSITY. I hope it becomes infectious and an epidemic that can engulf the students of today to become BETTER LEARNERS and revolutionise the FUTURE OF EDUCATION!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIVE A CHOICE

Our world today has prescribed  measures of standardisation which does not leave any room for Belgium chocolate ice cream with Brownie chunks dipped in Aber Falls dark chocolate coffee liqueur!! Yummm!!

The world will have us believe that only vanilla ( I have nothing against the ice cream) and a few very slight variants  are good for you and indeed get you palette ready for the more exotic kinds. Oh well!!

Why would want the non-standard ice cream? After all it is a risk and comes at a hefty price.

Let’s see, even clothes. If you are not ready to buy the standard size and designs off the H&M’s and Mango’s of the world sure you can go to one of the boutiques and get customised designs but remember there is a risk and yes there is a price. Why not stick to the standard; you can buy five or more for the price of one. And then there are the SALES as well, think about all the advantages!!

The world will have us believe that the standard has a sense of security with least risk; it helps you blend in.  But there exists a world beyond this. A world that has been hand crafted by the dreamers and the risk takers who went out and said – I want the Belgium Chocolate ice cream; vanilla is just not good enough for me.

What do these people have in common?

Apart from the dreaming and the ability to take a risk; they did not conform to the standard measurement of anything – not intelligence, not economic viability and not even the standard system of working. They have ruled by breaking all the rules.

So here I am talking the complete opposite of what I wrote in my last article. But if you read carefully, I am not. It really is an extension to it.

I understand that the generation seem to be focusing on the shortcomings of the education system and are driving themselves to being discontent and hence looking for an alternative where there is none to be found. Do I blame them? No!

And yet the-keep-it-safe attitude kicks in because I too am conditioned like that. Unfortunately majority of our children will grow up conditioned to conform to the standard. They too would look at the wildflower and believe that it would not bloom when the time comes and not be able to appreciate the fact that the wildflowers, unlike the rose, are more resilient and can grow in even the most hostile conditions. And yet, while the rose will find their way into the conference rooms and get to enjoy the air conditioning- the wildflower will have to brave the outdoors and breathe the fresh air.

I wish on the other hand that we could teach the children the beauty of individualism. The advantages of knowing oneself and then adding these to reach a destination that is unique to them. Maybe one day they will learn to question what is taught but in a healthy manner.

They learn to question IF it had happened instead of WHAT happened in a History class. Maybe then they could analyse the situation better in order to apply it to their future. Perhaps even imagine that IF the British did not rule India back in 20th century and instead partnered with India and treated all equal. Allow the children to imagine a cricket team with the strengths of England and India (Pakistan and Bangladesh). Think about the economic power. Think!!

They learn to question the HOW instead of WHERE in geography and perhaps learn how they can save the shift in agriculture. The capital of the states can be found on GOOGLE!!

Give the children a bag of plastic and ask them to get rid of it – waste management. When they bury it out of their sight for lack of an alternative, that is when they will understand the Pollution Problem–and that would be one big Physics lesson done without words!!

The world has moved towards the customised life whether it is ice cream, clothes or cars. Why are we not adapting our Education? The other things are not half as important, and yet we have this misunderstood devotion to the standard education which churns out students with standardised intelligence and dreams. Don’t our children deserve MORE?

So do we let them take a plunge and give up education all together??

Maybe not!! Not just yet anyways, but instead of marking them down and calling them a fool for thinking in a non-standardised manner – Try EMPATHY. Do not ridicule their attempt to chase their dreams; rather try to see their dream with them. For once – Give them a CHOICE.Maybe then you can find a balance between your desire of standard achievements and your child’s attempt at UNIQUE EXCELLENCE!!

WE DON’T NEED NO EDUCATION

It’s another day at work and I got an unusual yet a common question thrown my way.

“WHEN DO YOU KNOW YOU HAVE STUDIED ENOUGH?

When do we know that the education will not help me anymore?”

I wish someone had recorded my expressions at the moment because I was seriously stumped. Here I am in the business of selling Education and mostly encouraging children to study, study well or study more depending on which stage they are at. To say that I did not have an answer would be an understatement.

What I said to this 16 year old and what I really wanted to say to him were not the same. What I wanted to say to him, as a parent, would not come as a surprise to most parents who are reading this.

Let me give you both the sides and you could perhaps decide for yourself, which route you would take if YOU are ever in my position.

First and foremost, when I call this unusual and yet common, I am not putting forth an oxymoronic statement. It was unusual because I was just not expecting a 16 year old to ask me this, after all you are 16, and I wanted to say – GO STUDY. Yet it is perhaps the most common thought that the 16 year olds have today – What is after all the importance of these studies? Our education system is perhaps the one industry that is not KEEPING UP with the super fast train of the future. I do not therefore blame the children for harbouring these thoughts. Yet it is important for us to steer them in the seemingly right direction.

As a parent I just wanted to stop him right there and tell him that there is no SUBSTITUTING EDUCATION. No matter what you think, there are NO SHORT CUTS. More importantly I wanted him to acknowledge my authority as a parent and not argue with me about it, respect my wisdom and believe me because what I say is based out of my numerous experiences. I have seen the WORLD after all.

Sounds familiar???

Well I admit this was my first reaction, and he looked at me, almost as if he was challenging me to come up with these arguments. But I did NOT fall into the TRAP.

He, however, fell into MY TRAP!!

I asked him to convince me that education was indeed going to be useless. He enthusiastically set out on this task.

His very convincing and appropriate arguments:

“I want to become a DESIGN ENGINEER FOR GAMING which is my passion, which no school is teaching. I am already learning the coding language called #%$###$%^ (I did not even understand). I am pursuing a University level course in AI (artificial intelligence – again a grey area for me). Most importantly in school I am wasting time studying subjects that are meaningless for me. They have no impact on my future.

To become someone important in this field I need to come up with something groundbreaking, not study what is being taught, after all that is PAST ITS SALE now( He used so many technical terms that it felt like I was in a conversation with someone at ISRO or NASA).

Did you know that the job we will eventually do in our future do not even exist today, so the PRESENT school and college will not prepare me for them!

(The final blow)Did you know Bill Gates and a million other Tech Guru never went to college!!”

Again – Sounds Familiar???

It was MY TURN!

I got my chance to get THIS GENERATION to listen to me, and I was not going to blow it.

Here is a synopsis:

“Even if I were to agree with you that the present education in school is not preparing you for your future Jobs, it is preparing you for the FUTURE. Schools and university have one very important role to play in your life – that is to prepare you for LIFE. Education while important is but one aspect of it. Interaction with peers, dealing with situations and even facing failures which together form the education that you need to participate in.

The formulas and the technology that you will study here will probably become obsolete, I agree, and yet it is like increasing the number of safety nets. You don’t know when you may fall and which of these nets will come to your rescue.

The classmates are also going to be your competition tomorrow. A good business person always take stock of competition, think of this time as that. Value your competition and also value your accomplices. Each would be equally important in the future. Would you begin a venture before analysing competition?

Dropping out of school will take away a few things. It will steal away the memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life. It will take away the one chance that you will get to form lasting friendships. Are you willing to take it? Think of them as a cultural exchange programme. Learn from everyone around you. If you think the education is not what you need, GET EDUCATED about other things – INTERACT, OBSERVE, PROCESS.

The most important aspect, unfortunately, the world has certain expectations. You will have to live up to that just to ensure that someone LESS CAPABLE than you does not steal the job from right under your nose. He would have a degree that employers can identify with and you DO NOT. That might give them a CHANCE and you may not get any. Do you want to take that chance?

Even in the SHARK TANK the children participants get a deal only if they promise to continue their school/college or the deal is off. These billionaires must know what they are talking about!!

Btw –Bill Gates definitely dropped out – but he dropped out of HARVARD – He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) he had first reached the pinnacle before taking the plunge!!

Mark Zuckerberg – Harvard – developed Facebook while he was there.

So Reach Harvard first!!”

That was my final SET GAME & MATCH!

Look out for the PRESENT

“Education in our time was not what it is today, we were never this stressed!”

If Google could run a survey about the one line that is probably the most repeated in any conversation, I would assume this would win hands down. The cycles of examinations lends popularity to this infamous line and probably makes it the CROWNED WINNER. While some parents defend and find justifiable causes for the same, SOME whine and complain (the latter is found almost everywhere and the former category is a rare almost extinct species).

The statements and discussions are usually heated and almost violent which might give you an idea that the participants are ready to march and protest with hunger strike (do not be fooled, its only a decoy ,they may not necessary want to leave the comfort of their homes). Sometimes these discussions are complete with facts and figures of what the government is doing and more importantly NOT DOING, and sometimes these are just second-hand discussions (discussions done before and the punch lines picked and repeated for effect). These are usually followed by the epilogue:-

What can we do about it? The Children will have to learn to deal with it.

I don’t believe in pressuring the children so I do not EVER tell on marks and grades, they are meaningless.

So where are you going for the summer break this year?”

I have been part of many such discussion and I am quite certain so have you all. You may have been an active member or perhaps just a silent observer (in my case that is an impossible situation – being silent). Each of these discussions has usually left me with a certain sense of shortcomings – Both as a parent and as an Education Consultants. I have seen the parents turn to me for Miraculous Solution to the highlighted problems. Finding solutions, however, seem similar to looking for a Tiger in a Tiger reserve. We know it is around somewhere, the guide promises – it is sitting round the corner or hiding in the bushes right ahead, after all we saw the PUG MARKS. We are asked to sit quietly without a sound to hear the CALL. Meanwhile we drive across the sanctuary in an open Jeep braving the ROUGH TERRAIN and the BUMPS, hoping to experience the deliverance of finding what we are looking for – THE TIGER, or in our case an Education system that works. Sometimes when you catch a glimpse of the majestic beast you feel like you have somehow won a battle and also invoke a sense of achievement that says “We have managed to save you”

My point here, well there really is just one – keep the battle on. The solutions that we all think is round the corner,may not well be. It is a long road ahead and a longer wait for sure. The road is going to be difficult for our children, but it is only as difficult as we make it for them. Love and Support are the only tools that will help the children brave the ride and can also reintroduce the excitement during the difficult drive

We condemn the education system and make it sound like a monster. This indeed makes education an UNFRIENDLY AND DANGEROUS MONSTER in the eyes of our children. A Monster they have to face, and they are not even armed with the magical SWORD. The children turn to us to form opinions, even when they will not agree, we do shape their beliefs.When we highlight our disgruntled opinion, our children are imbibing these. While we can end the discussion with a heavy sigh, the children have to experience it.They are impressionable – what we think about someone or something, in this case the Exams, Education etc, will form their fears and opinions. There is no doubt that Fearing something is not the best way to combat it and our negative opinions are doing just that – Invoking a sense of fear “If my mother and father do not like it and think it is harmful it must indeed be dangerous”

Just as an experiment, try the other route, try Encouragement for a change – Just one more step and you would be there. Try Acceptance – grades matter but not so much that everything else dilute in comparison. Empathy – after all you all have experienced it too and all you wanted was reassurance as well.

We all know what is best for the children – it really is no rocket science but we do get caught up between what WE WANT to say and convey and what we THINK should be said and conveyed.

If we let go and slack today, my child will not be prepared for tomorrow – what about college and what about the job?

These are the years that will be instrumental in formatting the rest of their lives so let them work hard now.

If I let the grades slip now, they will never come back up. Even though I don’t want to be hard on my child, I will have to be. I just cannot accept these grades!!

I am betting that most of us face these dilemmas and somehow we lose the battle of the heart to reason. I completely understand that and know that it holds true BUT…..

There is a huge BUT,

But I don’t want my children to live their lives dominated by FEAR. We need to asses our own child and watch out for when anxiety is overtaken by PANIC, when hard work is overtaken by BURDEN and when excitement is overtaken by EXHAUSTION. We love our children and we look out for their FUTURE. It is time, however, to look out for their PRESENT AS WELL.

WE HAVE OUR DIFFERENCES

If no two students are identical then why do we have identical education system for them. if they have their differences, why doesn’t the system?

Some of you, who are reading this, might be parents. If you are, do you have more than one child? If you are not a parent, then think of two of your closest friends and answer these:
Are they different in behaviour?
What about mannerisms?
Choice of Food?
Maybe the choice of colours?
How about how they tackle problems?
Mornings! How are they first thing in the morning – grumpy or charged up?
Now do you think if you had more children say 8-10, by law of average would they have more commonalities?
Or perhaps even an average behavioural pattern. Would they?
Let me answer that for you – NO THEY WILL NOT. They are going to be as unique and individualistic as the other one – to say the least they will have THEIR DIFFERENCES. One will wake up enthusiastic in the morning ready to charge while the other will surface slowly– Two more minutes that will often extend to 10 minutes after the alarm goes off. One will understand the maths concept in one go and the other, well! This one might take longer than the PRESCRIBED TIME. They will have some similarities; after all, they do come from the same genetic pool. But do they have enough SIMILARITIES that you get confused between them? Unless of course they are identical twins. Even then, do they really?
Now let us apply this to a standard class size of 40 or in some expensive school to 20. Do you think these 20 students have a similar average pattern? They do not even come from the same genetic pool; there are not so many similarities. So to make things easy we find the average of the differential beings.
But there isn’t an average behaviour or an average understanding. Not really! Why then are we fixated to have average teaching, average standardised exams and to top it all AVERAGE STANDARDISED EXPECTATIONS?
Science has proven that there is no average person with an average brain or functionality. Yet we have built our education system around an average brain that functions and understands in an average standardised manner. We have divided the students, class sizes and even class duration with the same standardised thought process. We know and believe that – An attention span does not last beyond 45 minutes. My guess is, this was probably scientifically proven at some point of time by taking inputs and studies from thousands of students and then arriving at the average, mean, median etc of the collected information. Hence the class durations in a standardised class are prescribed as such.
But what if a student’s attention span is shorter? On the other hand, what if the student finds a class interesting and wants the class to be longer? Unfortunately the standardised system does not allow these DEVIATIONS, as they are often termed.
So what are we doing wrong? I would say a whole lot!
What can we do to make it right? I am not sure I have an answer to that.
Does getting an A grade in English tell you if your child is creative. Does it say if he is a team player or that he has leadership qualities? Not really. It is not a judgement parameter. All it tells you is that he did well on some questions that were posed at him on a certain day when he wanted to answer them. What about a day he did not feel like answering them?
You may understand some of the predicament of the school; they do have a procedure to follow. Ideally we should:-Teach a student in a manner that is best suited to them in an environment that optimises their ability to learn. For this a students would have to be seen as an individual and the school should teach a subject which is relevant in a manner that is unique to them.
Can it be done? Yes!
Will it be done? Most likely not.
Let us be fair to our schools. They are doing a lot, and I do mean that. Should I be grateful? Absolutely! Given the scenario, especially in India, where the demand and the supply is mismatched the school and the teachers are overburdened and underpaid. No matter which school set up you look at, this is a common thread that you will find. In these situations, given the rate of change of our dynamic world it would be a task to evolve with them.
My intention of writing this is not really to find faults in our standardised system of education (there are so many that I will reserve that discussion for another day). My intention is to help you realise that there are differences between your child and the educational institution. There could be a chance that your child has differences but can yet overcome them. He/she can in-fact cope up and understand at the pace that they are being taught and therefore probably secures grades which fall into the ACCEPTABLE ZONE (what is this, is another question I would like you to think about). But what if the differential score is larger than acceptable?
Allow yourself first to take a step back and just for a moment not blame your child. He/she is not “not studying intentionally”. It could be that he/she is not being taught in a manner is of interest -We have our differences. It could be one of the many other reasons that affect the academic performance: Mindset, Behaviour, Grit, Acceptance, Relevance, Belonging. All these are interlinked and together affect the academic performance All of these also affect a students in a different manner. It is importance to spot where this chain is perhaps broken or entwined. All it might take is some repairing, if you know where are how.
Each child is jagged. We all HAVE OUR DIFFERENCES and that is in-fact a good thing. Our life would be so boring if both our children were indeed identical. Imagine a world filled with identical. We would be living in identical houses reading the same book eating the same food. Actually think about it, we would not be reading anything, we would all have the same thoughts then what will be left to share? Our life is interesting because of our individuality. Do not kill it just for the sake of ease of CLASSIFICATION –Genius, Intelligent, Average, Below Average or Dumb!!

Your choice of career should largely be based on Skills that you have and Skills that you acquire. The Skill Gap will help you prioritise the skills you must acquire in order to excel in your chosen field. The question arises, when do you start acquiring these skills? Answer to which is NOW!!

SKILLS HAVE NO EXPIRY DATE

I have so far talked about the importance of knowing oneself, knowing the YOU. When I talk about the SKILL SET and the importance of recognising them in you, I want you to understand while I understand the need for most of you to squander and look for various aptitude test, psychometric tests and a zillion other that can help you understand this mystery a little better, I do urge you to not base your life decision on them. Yes they are scientific proven, yes they follow a system which is complex and yes they go about in a way that we do not understand and yes they are true. Well so is the phenomenon of ALIENS. I am no authority to comment on either other than the fact that I do not understand them, and hence my apprehension of believing in them completely. So go ahead and take the IQ tests, but use them with care to decode your life.  As for me, I do not think any set of 20 (or even 40) questions can tell me what I can or cannot do. After all Einstein was told that he would never be able to read or write – but wait there were no tests then. But what if there were? Do you think they would have given him the feedback that he would be the revolutionary scientist? I doubt it! They do however tell you, what you need to work at. So like I said, learn to read the tests in the correct manner.

While our life is largely determined by the skills that we may have genetically, our life will largely be determined on SKILLS that we acquire in the course of our life. With all the drumming about that our brain develops 80% by the time we are 8 years old, you might ask if the Learning is actually Age Specific. I think this belief is one of the reasons why parents are running to teach their child everything by the time they are 8, what if they have missed their bus?

I once met a parent who asked me about the Medicine course. Now with all my experience, I did figure that the child in question is young. You would be surprised how different the questions are depending on the age of the child. So I patiently answered questions that were being asked – which country do you think is the best for Medicine? If the child does not get through the medicine, are there any other options? What kind of experiences should they have while in school? What books can you recommend that as parents we should make them read?

After some of these, I couldn’t resist and asked her how old her child was. She was 8 years old – EIGHT!! You might be thinking that it was ok, some parents like to begin early and after all she was only taking information. You might be right!  I would much rather she asked me about Harry Potter!!

As parents we make it our life mission to assist our children reach the pre-determined destination and follow our passion and dream. I appreciate their single-minded determination, I do!! But my concern in most of these cases is what if this is not your child’s passion? And even worse they don’t even know this is not their dream until it is too late? I usually suggest that we should concentrate in helping them acquire skills, skills that they want to. Each of them will add to their intelligence and sensibility. It is an ongoing exercise that brings huge benefits. Degrees, while important and crucial, are not the only deciding factor in the child life and hence we should lend it some focus.

Skills, they are not age specific – no they are not. They thankfully do not come with an expiry date. I read about a grandmother in Uttar Pradesh who mastered the art of Shooting. She was encouraging her granddaughter to shoot and said this is a child’s play, takes the gun and shoots a fantastic round. It was indeed a Childs play for her; she has won many a medals since. Another OLD gentleman started running marathons when people told him he should retire. He is one of the oldest marathon runners in the world and an inspiration to million. While skills are not age specific, I do believe they however come with BEST BETWEEN age. Try to check this date for the skills you want to arm yourself with and then proceed with care.

Now we have established that you really can learn anything if you apply yourself (maybe with exception of being an astronaut, or maybe not!). We have also learnt that there is no age barrier. Hence – Learn some new skills. Each of these acquired skills will take you a long way into your career in the very least and a long way in your life for sure. A lot of young students that I meet want to believe that they have somehow missed the time when they should have learnt something. I am too old to learn how to dance, I am too old to begin skating so on so forth. All I want to tell you all is that let go of this inertia and find it in you to conquer it.

The next question – how do we determine what skills should I acquire?

Best answer to this would really be – what your heart desires. If I lived in an ideal world, then it should be about what we want to do, but since we don’t and we do have to follow the rules set by the society, job market, universities, schools, social clubs etc. The best path to take therefore would be to acquire some skills that your heart desires and some that agree with your career choice. I had explained that you should ascertain your SKILL GAP before you set out to taking courses and classes. Each of these is a skill acquiring systems and you should choose them with care. Determine what SKILLS would benefit you the most in the chosen career route and then move on to acquire them. Sometimes to master them would only require some small workshops/short courses which you can set out to do while you are still in school and/or in college. Let us say you want to be a journalist. It would benefit if you did a radio jockey workshop today and theatre workshop, even volunteer to work with a social group to get firsthand experience. It would give you valuable lessons on Voice Modulation, a skill set that would help you enormously once you make it to the Television. Another huge benefit is the social communication skill that you would develop. This is important to survive this world no matter which field you take on.

So go on SKILL UP, acquire skills and not just degrees. Think about your future career options and link the skills that you must have to excel in that field. These skills could take a long time and/or a lot of effort; prioritize them in accordance to the value they would add for you. If you want to become a journalist, Horse Riding is not going to be a pressing matter, it will however teach you Balance, definitely important. Acquire a new skill, they don’t expire and they last you a lifetime. Begin today!!

The Burden of Ordinary

Being-Ordinary

I met a student last week – A nice kid, had all the right things to say, courteous and friendly. I don’t think he troubled his parents or his teachers much. He must have been one of those kids who submitted work on time, did neat work and even extended help to fellow classmate. Sounds like someone you know?

Well he was all that, so I was pretty confused because the conversation with the parent started on a strange note. They were almost apologetic for their child. So here I was trying to make sense of it all. The grades and reports said nice things about him but the parents seem to have a completely out of sync behaviour. After much contemplation I figured, they were apologetic because their son was an average student, his fault being – he was JUST ORDINARY

The description of the son went something like this:

“He always gets good grades but he does not focus enough to get the stars.

He is a soccer player. His coach tells me that he is a good team player but LACKS leadership Quality.

He plays the guitar. Always the Life of the party, we tried but he does not take it seriously enough to be professional.”

So on so forth, you get the gist right?

“Can you see the trouble here Madam”, asked the mother.

I could NOT SEE THE TROUBLE, not to begin with, but I certainly could now?

The problem was that the child was ordinary, Good but ordinary. The Trouble however was that the parents did not begin to appreciate that.

He would not make star grades; he would not be a professional musician or a soccer player. Effectively he had nothing for the parents to SHOW OFF when they sit over drinks and talk about the achievements of their child. It’s the most sought after social sport – counting the achievement of the child. Sometimes we want this perfect child only to score points in the social sport. Oh yah, all of this in the light of “I do not believe in Pressuring (its the favourite word) the child”

My Daughter can be anything so long as it is Doctor, Engineer or at least an MBA.

She can have any hobby so long as it is Piano, Guitar or Robotics

She can go to any college so long as it is an IVY League.

Does this sound Familiar?

I know the dilemmas of the parents, oh yes I do. I am a parent and I have, pretty much, the same concerns. I am an education consultant and yes I see and feel the excessive competition in the job market. Do I, Therefore, Identify with them? Totally!

But do I agree with them?

I wish I could say TOTALLY NOT. But this is the grey area that most parents live and face. What do I do? Direct the child to excel in everything he does or appreciate and encourage everything he does?

If I were to appreciate being ordinary or mediocrity, what if he relaxes and does not aim to excel?

What if I push too much, what IF he snaps?

The questions that torment most parents are similar but with varied answers.

My question to you is –

Why should a child face the BURDEN OF ORDINARY?

He carries this weight in addition to all the other weights of education, shouldn’t that be enough?

Being ordinary should not be made out to be a fault of the child and then punish him for it. The future is just that – FUTURE but it cannot define everything that we do today. A word of encouragement will go a far way with your child. Why not applaud a race well run rather grumbling over the medal lost?

You might argue that we are not punishing the ordinary just encouraging excelling. There is a fine line there that we as parents often cross. The encouragement often becomes an identification of failure for most students. It highlights all the mistakes that were made and focus from what was done right gets lost somewhere in the MEANINGFUL encouragement talk.

Do you know why you got 85%? It’s because you spent the last day watching a movie.

Do you know why you missed the Soccer Team?  You have been missing the soccer practice for all those parties.

Can you spot the fault?

Actually there really isn’t any! Each child reacts to criticism and appreciation differently. As parents we have to find the right mix and no one else can really guide you with this.

So what I am really trying to do here is to tell you that sometimes the problem is not the child. The problem is the approach. BEING GOOD should be the most important factor. Appreciate the good, applaud the effort and encourage the child to therefore take pride in him/her. By counting the faults or the shortcomings, even in a kind manner, will only lead him/her to doubt himself/herself at every step of the way.

Am I dressed fine? Should I add a scarf?

Should I submit this report or do I need to add another research study?

I have been offered a job with more salary, but it requires me to manage a whole team. Can I do it?

In this last question, the question should not be – Can I? It should be – HOW can I?

Doubts and insecurities will find a way to pollute their minds because we put these notions of DOUBT YOURSELF. There is a difference in doubting your abilities and analysing them. Analysing is a good sign, doubting has a whole new connotation.

Being Ordinary is fine. Being hard-working should be good enough. Don’t carry the burden of being ordinary – look around you it is a commodity hard to get by these days. Appreciate it!!

 

 

 

 

 

I have lost things that matter

Some child in my daughter’s class lost a copy, her mother asked me to check my daughter’s bag-

this is what I had to say…

 

I have  lost my mind, perhaps in one of those school bag it resides, Patiently to be found

I lost my sensibility, in one of those copies it still exists, waiting to perhaps evolve

I lost my creativity somewhere along the way, the drawing book of your child may still have the painting waiting to be finished,

I lost my curiosity, accepted things as they were, a corner of the bag may be hiding it and it just might pop up as a surprise,

I lost my enthusiasm, it gave away with the routine of life, the tiffin of your child may still hold some of its crumbs,

I have lost a lot, but then I think If the children have them, let it stay there in their hearts and in their school bags,

A thief is out on a prowl and may rob them soon of all this too

Let us wake up and help our kids  protect what matters…

Let the bags be full, not heavy

Let the bags hold knowledge, not just books

Let the bags hold a goal, not a burden

Let the bags hold a dream, not just reality

Let the bags hold hope, not the stress

Let the bags remind them of what they can be, not just who they are

Let the bags be………

 

Cloning is for sheep

 

According to the admissions site of MIT:

“Some applicants struggle to turn themselves into clones of the “ideal” MIT student—you know, the one who gets triple 800s on the SAT. Fortunately, cloning is still for sheep. What we really want to see on your application is you being you—pursuing the things you love, growing, changing, taking risks, learning from your mistakes, all in your own distinctive way. College is not a costume party; you’re not supposed to come dressed as someone else. Instead, college is an intense, irreplaceable four-year opportunity to become more yourself than you’ve ever been. What you need to show us is that you’re ready to try.”

This justifies me constantly talking about the YOU. It may have seemed repetitive and even boring, but there is acloning minds strong reasoning there – I wanted to warn you against the consequences of cloning. Till we do not make time to discover ourselves, we will be attempting to be someone who we may not necessary be. Just because it is right for someone, does that make it right for YOU? Probably not!  If you apply it to yourself in an objective manner you may find the MISFITS. This is true for a college, and even life in general. You cannot be a clone of someone and expect to succeed. If I talk about the education side, you would be surprised to know that each of the high ranked colleges talk about the Right Fit. The admission officers are usually looking at an application to see how the applicant fits in the university and in addition also how the university/college fits with YOU, your goals and your aspiration.

How do we discover ourselves and NOT turn into a clone? This is the precious question all of you should be asking before you embark on your journey of finding your educational path.

There are no set rules for this. There is, unfortunately no book that you can mug up and arrive at an answer. Neither is there a person who can tell you with certainty as to who you are. Your parents, friends, family and even your teachers all hold some pieces that can help you put the jigsaw together, but you, my dear student, have to make the effort.

How would YOU begin?

Discovering oneself certainly does not require you to be off to the Himalayas, although, where I am sitting right now it does sound like an excellent plan. However,If that is not an option, you can start with little steps.

Know your Skill Set.

Each of you has a set of skills, know-how, knowledge, interests etc. Each of this together form your skill set. The skill set of a person is essentially what sets them apart from another.Let me take this one step further to understand the importance. Every profession require a certain skill set.

So to say – a musician needs at the very least, an in-depth knowledge of Music – Vocal and instrumental. A musician would benefit if he/she knows more than one language (if you are a music composer in India you would benefit knowing regional languages).Must understand music production, the technology know-how. You should have the knowledge of history of Music and the instruments. Should have good Communication Skill, and strangely enough Theatre association (look at all the reality show judges). The list can be very long, but it is important to identify these. If you aspire to be a musician, you should know the skills required to become one. The Degree pursued at undergrad level and post grad level also forms part of this skill set.

Now analyse your skills you HAVE. You may already be studying music for last many years. You have already done a lot of theatre. But you may not be good at communication Skills. you still have to pursue a relevant college undergraduate and a postgraduate degree, so on and so forth.

Once you know the skill you NEED and the skills you HAVE you can arrive at, this is very important, THE SKILL GAP.

SKILLS I NEED (to be a musician) – SKILLS I HAVE (at present) = THE SKILL GAP

If you can find this skill gap then identifying your next step would become considerably easy. It will also help you identify a possible route to take. Analysing Skill gap also means that you can identify the amount of effort that you need to put in to become, say a musician.

How to read and analyse your Skill Gap is not a difficult task, try some for different professions and let me know if it helped you arrive at some answers or even better, if it helped you raise some questions. Questions about yourself is good to raise so long as you are agreeable to find answers and are willing to look at possibilities even if somewhat unusual.

 

Toothbrush

via Daily Prompt: Toothbrush

What does Toothbrush effectively do for you? Clean up!! Now you did not have to be a rocket scientist to know that, just a regular guy/girl with a bad breath.

Education is pretty much the Toothbrush of our lives as well. No I  am not making this unnecessary connection for the heck of it. Think about it.

It cleans up your life in the most beautiful manner, leaves you fresh and yes your mind sparkling.

Education is arguably the best Toothbrush one is fortunate enough to get. A mind is essentially a muscle which develops just when we exercise it. Unlike other muscles you can instantly feel the difference in the most effective manner. When I say education I mean it beyond school, college and classes. I mean education broadly as learning. You could learn a new skill – drums maybe, learn a new thing about science or history. It does not have to be related to anything, can be without a plan so long as it leaves you with something new and exercises  that brain of yours. In some cultures it is believed that your mind, and it’s skills crosses over into your next life with you. This is how they explain how some kids are born intelligent with certain inherent skills and some kids do not have that intelligence. I may not believe in it entirely but I must admit it holds some mystery there.

So Toothbrush yes it’s a tool to help you start your day and education helps you start your life in the most beautiful manner.