Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Justified and judicious appreciation

It is a general belief that appreciation is the best recognition. It has also been  a general practice to appreciate people who do good and noble deeds.This is considered to motivate them to do better in future.But some psychologist and the educationists put a question to, too much of appreciation, specially in case of the children.Even the adults expect words of appreciation for exemplary things done by them, though it may be the part of their duty that they were expected to complete.An article in one of the weekly magazines made me to contemplate about this.During the Kargil war, our forces demonstrated extraordinary skills to defeat the enemy and won back our territories from the clutches of the infiltrators from the neighbouring nation.Many brave soldiers made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of their motherland.Those who showed exemplary courage, were adorned with prestigious medals. During this war one officer had helped the Indian forces to get an accurately fair idea about the army formation of the army of the other country.The officer was working with the MI branch which is responsible for the intelligence input and the officer did very well in the given situations. After the war was over the same officer expected appreciation in the form of medal or citation. The army did not find him worth the same.The officer concerned went to army tribunal and asked for the direction to the army so that his efforts could be recognised. The case is still pending but important point made by the then chief of army staff, General V.P Malik is worth considering.As per his statement the officer had done a good job but this was the part of his duty which everyone was supposed to fulfill.This was the statement which made me to think about the merits and the demerits of appreciation and motivation.
Should we do our job to get something in return or do it for the sake of our satisfaction? To do the service for the country is the responsibility and the duty of all of us then why to expect a reward always? The reward will be justified if the person does something more than what is expected as per the duty charter of the individuals. If somebody exhibits extraordinary courage and out of box thinking which brings glory to the organisation and the society, then the reward is very much justified.
I was going through some article regarding the worries and the concern of the parents of young children aged between three to thirteen years. Many of the parents were quite concerned about the eating habits,concentration span,physical exercise ,the grades in academics and the behavior of the children. When they were asked about the steps taken by them to take care of these problems, most of them told that they offer the children one or the other thing of their liking, if they eat proper food or complete their work.The appreciation was in the form of toys,electronic gadgets or taking them out for picnics. To me this appears more of a bribe than the motivation because the children are not made aware of the importance of eating healthy food but they eat it because they will get something of their choice in lieu of that.This is not the right approach because it leads to a situation where when they grow,they expect something in return on completion of every task.This is not the fault of the children but somebody else who made them habitual of such expectations. Here I should not be misunderstood that appreciation or the award or reward is always wrong but the point emphasised is that the award or reward should be the byproduct of the work done and the product should be the self satisfaction of the individual.If the kids are to be motivated then the reward  should be such which helps the children to learn more and does not terminate the learning.For example, if some children in the class are not showing interest in eating the food the teacher might ask them to finish it fast then she would narrate a story to them or if they finish the work in time then they will be taken to the games field  and enjoy any game. You must have noticed that though the children were lured by something to complete the previous assignment but that was also involving the child in the learning process.Suppose if the child has shown an exemplary performance in academics,he can be rewarded with books or other products that help him to enhance his erudition.Even if a child is good at music or dance, could be given musical intruments that might enable him to hone his skill.We need to understand that the children should be taught to complete their work because that will make them to learn something which will help them and the society. They should not be made habitual of getting reward for everything done by them.Let them learn to learn for the sake of learning and not for appreciation necessarily as learning and performing to the best of ones capabilities is the best appreciation one can get for oneself and it also gives utmost satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kids with healthy selves

The children who are able to take decisions for themselves are able to own the consequences of the same so well and in the other case when they are asked  to perform a task by others specially the elders, they feel depressed if they do not get the desired results. In the second case, the result was not necessarily desired by the kids but the adults and in the first case the children had thought of the result themselves.What does it mean ? The simple answer is that the children should be allowed to take their own decisions and not always be forced the desire and the will of the parents and the teachers. The self esteem of the child is very important but the psychologist are of the opinion that self- efficacy is equally important.They say that the self-efficacy is the belief that we can successfully impact our world.Unlike self -esteem which is concerned with the knowing of self worth. Self-efficacy is the judgements of personal capabilities.Though most of the times self-efficacy overlaps self-esteem, but two are not the same.Self-esteem does not have a strong correlation to academic, personal and interpersonal success but self efficacy has a strong correlation with positive outcomes with the children.When the children are high on self efficacy they find it easy to act on their behalf.The ability to act appropriately in one`s best interest is said to be agency. Self-esteem refers to beliefs whereas self-efficacy refers to actions, but both of them refer to personal control.It means both of them are interrelated. The more we feel to exert control in the world, we are more likely to act effectively.
After going through the above mentioned thoughts it is clear that the kids who are promoted to take their own decisions, prove to be more effective in strong actions as well. You must have observed that even the newly born kid does not want to be forced to do something which he/ she is not willing to. Take the case when the mother feels that the child should be fed milk and the child does not want the same ,he/she will not allow the mother to feed him/her.And there can be many more such examples where the children want to be left to themselves.If the child is not wanting to sleep he will not sleep even after the best efforts of the parents. What does it conclude? Right from the childhood, the children unknowingly convey it that the they should not be forced to do the things.This is very important for the parents to enhance the self esteem of the child and develop it further. Self esteem in simple terms is the faith of an individual in the potential of the same. And what we do most of the time, is force children to believe that they need the help of the parents and other people around them which does not help them. And that is why it is very important to allow and help our children to think and act as they feel doing without being very rigid about our own ideas.All must be aware that the kids want to crow land, then walk and then run and then ride a bike and finally drive their cars.If the parents force the child first to do things which are not in this order, the child will not develop self esteem and will be lacking in self-efficacy as well.Forcing the kids to do things as per our wish will not allow them to become healthy selves and if it is so then even if they have high grades in their school exams and other achievement they may not be able to act effectively.I shall end the topic by with an example.Take the case of an infant who squeezes a soft toy and finds that a novel sound is produced.From this the infant learns how his/her actions impact the environment around.Imagine if the same sound was produced by the action of the parents or any other adult or person.The infant would feel that the actions did not arise from within him/her.This can be seen practically also, when an adult tries to produce the sound with the help of any toy, the children do not get satisfied till they have experienced the same themselves.I do not mean that the parents do not have to help the kids but definitely they should not force their ideas and the wishes on the children. Guiding them as and when required is all right but being an obstacle to the development of the healthy selves will prove harmful.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The best performance comes in the situation of crisis

Last few days had been quite stressful but at the same time productive and useful also.The days spent in front the TV and watching how the people of the country responded to the call of Sh. Annaji.As everybody else, I was also concerned about the health of this great man.We used to pray to the Almighty that nothing wrong should happen to him otherwise the country would lose somebody who has reminded us the way our freedom fighters and the people at that time would have fought and suffered for the cause of their country. Not only it would have been a loss but the country would have been in deep trouble because of the repercussions in such eventuality.We respect and appreciate the government and other political parties which ensured the faith of the people in democracy. Though the response was a  bit late but rightly said by somebody that it is better late than never or in hindi-" Der Aaye Durust Aaye". The people of the country specially the youth has made very clear to all that they are not passive observers of what is happening in the country but are very much active to come forward and lead this country towards a better future or a utopian society. Before this movement the feeling was that nobody was bothered about the country and if something was discussed that remained within the four walls of the drawing rooms of the people but this again has been proved that when there is need people will talk about the same outside on the streets also.
The other stress we were through was an internal one related to an activity to be conducted in the school. This activity was the Annual Inter DPS  Cricket Tournament in which nine teams from west zone were to participate.The Rain God has been very kind to this part of western Rajasthan this time though the rains  came a bit late.All were very much tensed whether the matches will be possible in such conditions when it was  raining almost everyday. The other problem was the number of days. Twenty matches were scheduled to be completed in three day and the inaugural and the valedictory function was also to be taken care of in these days only.The school had to hire three more grounds so that twenty matches could be played in three days. Now the problem was of shifting the teams and other basic necessities including the food,commutation etc. The school was working as usual hence transporting the teams by buses was also an issue.Then stay arrangement of the participants and the related issues were also a concern. The uncertain weather had added to the problems and the worries of all of us.But I am really happy writing about the very successful conduct of the tournament without any problem despite the fact that the rain did play some mischief.When the condition of one of the grounds became very poor, shifting the venue immediately and completing the match in time was a great task done by the organises and the persons responsible for the smooth conduct of the matches.I am not writing all this for self praise but if we seriously analyse the two aforementioned situations, they teach us a wonderful lesson of the life.The lesson is that the people of our country give their best in difficult situations.They are competent enough and have the courage to accomplish any task given to them which may not be visible to us during comfortable times.During the matches nobody was bothered about the timings and their own family but the only worry was how to complete the given task successfully.Everyone of them, whether these were the teachers,students or the support staff worked day and night without any grimace on their face and that was the reason the Almighty also helped them.We heard the same in our childhood that  God helps those who help themselves and this appeared to be so very true here.
These two recent episodes made us to believe that nobody can stop us from performing to the best of our potential( and this is in plenty in Indian people) in the times of crisis and that gives a lot of confidence to me as a teacher and the citizen of this great country.
I would like to salute all citizens of this country for reminding us about the importance of non violence.Also my sincere gratitude and thanks to the members of the organising team of the above mentioned cricket tournament and other members of staff and the students for calibrating  their potential and strength to make this event a grand success.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Respect the institutions of democracy

It has been such a relief to everyone in the country once Sh. Annaji informed the nation that he will call of his fast on Sunday(28th June 2011).The whole nation had seen the replay of what would have been done by our father of nation : Bapu Mahatma Gandhiji  for the freedom of our country.The most important aspect of this movement has been the voluntary participation of the citizens and that too without causing any disruption to the daily systems.This is first time in the history of post independence era that no disturbance or violence took place anywhere.This was the magic of the thoughts of Sh. Annaji and other members who had worked tirelessly to awaken the people of the country for the cause of all and not an individual or the group of individuals.Though as usual the people in the government tried to give this agitation different colours but the citizens of the country did not pay any heed to that and the reason for the same is nobody else but the government itself because they did not keep their words on number of occasions.The lessons should be learnt and all those who are in power should ensure to keep politics at its place but when it comes to the problems related to common man they should stop playing with their feelings. During the discussion in the parliament some of the very senior leaders spoke very negative about the motive of the agitation without realising that the country was fed up with such debates and the language used.
Other important issue which was discussed by many people during this period was the supremacy of the elected representatives and the parliament.Nobody has any doubt about the sanctity and the supremacy of the parliament but if the people have begun to think differently for that, then who is responsible for the same? Since the time the proceedings of both the houses have been telecast live, the people of the country know the kind of the respect and the regard the elected representatives have shown towards each other and the supreme body of parliament.The newspaper reports about the happenings in the state assemblies are not good examples for the people to form very positive opinion about them.Throwing  the mikes and the furniture on each other has become so common that it is difficult to decide whether the children should be allowed to read the newspapers and watch these live telecast on TV channels.On the one hand, we say that democracy is the government by the people, for the people  and of the people and on the other hand, legitimate demands are also termed as interference in the functioning of the democratic setup.Rightly brought out by many people and I fully agree with that, the MPs and MLAs are those who represent the people and hence the wish of the people. They are not meant only for the people to get their transfer done or stopped or things related to their personal interest but also what is good for the whole society irrespective of caste,creed and the religion. Our constitution gives equal rights to all the citizens, then why some people are wanting to play the dirty game of politics of caste and religion. When you have an Andolan at such a large scale and your own government and the elected representatives do not respond then there may be some ill feelings expressed by some members of the society but in this case also the responsibility of the people in power is more because our culture has been that elders are expected to pardon the others in spite of behaving as an opponent.
The people of the country respect the elected representatives and the parliament and that is the reason nothing was ever spoken or done against them, but in the last two decades due to the media playing a significant role these two institutions have come within direct reach of the people of the country and the parliamentarians are seen behaving in a manner which the people had not expected at all.The language and the gestures shown by many of them does not leave a good impression on the people. The way the chaos is created the opponents are not allowed to speak is  not something which can be called democratic.Many a times the MPs do not listen to the request and the direction of the speaker of the houses. If this is what they want the public to learn, then they should not expect any respect.The kind of the language used for each other at times is derogatory and ridiculous but our representatives think that they have been elected hence they have the license to do anything and this is one of the reasons as to why the people came in support of this movement.The MPs and other elected members cannot force or demand the respect but the same has got to be earned. All should learn from Sh. Annaji that he did not demand  the support but earned it because he has been genuinely doing something good for the society.Nobody was behind his agitation but people of the country across the spectrum.
We all must have faith in the constitution of the country and the parliament which represent the real Bharat and our elected reprenstives are expected to play a significant role in this. Let the government and other political parties not play with the game of caste and religion but work for social harmony and upliftment of the people from all caste and the religion. Let there be more matured people in politics as maturity is not when we start speaking BIG things but it is actually when we start understanding SMALL things.Annaji through his small way of protest, has addressed a big issue and we salute him for his initiative.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The price of being from an affluent family

While going through the book written by Madeline Levine on the topic the price of privilege,I came across some disturbing but very true incidents which forced me to think about the article I wrote few days back on concerted parenting. Everybody expects that the material gains will make the people happier than what they were before.But the reality is not the same.This is true that fulfillment of the basic needs is very important and when these needs are met the people do feel happy. But once this is done the material gains do not make people more happy in the same proportion rather it has been found that the happiness become constant at one particular point of the material gain and if the person still tries to possess or achieve more, it will reverse the graph.When I say that the graph will be reversed that means that the material gains will have negative impact on the happiness quotient. Now the question which arises is how does this problem affect the children from the affluent families? And this author has tried to find the answer for the same and also the reason behind that.One day she was approached by a parent to help her daughter because they found her a bit withdrawn in doing her work. When Madeline spoke to the child, the prompt answer from her was that she was feeling empty. This was a surprising statement from a child of age twelve or thirteen. Than after many sessions it could be found that the child belonged to a good family background and the parents were really very concerned about her well being  and they wanted her to succeed in everything that she did.This probably made the child feel that the parents were more concerned to fill her with lots of information and the achievements. This is not the case with one child in one country but if seen seriously, the same will be found with most of the children in all countries whether developed or under developed.
This is also true that anxious parents make anxious children. And if analysed then it will be found that most of the parents who have earned a lot of money tend to get more as they are not satisfied with what they have got.As mentioned before that the fulfillment of the basic needs make people feel happy because that is the necessity of a person so that he/she could make all required things available to themselves as well as the family members.But nobody feels happy with what has been achieved and try to get more which may be much more than the basic needs of the person.The things which are procured now are not necessarily necessity but luxury and this continues life long.Take an example and ask someone who earn Rs.twenty thousand today how much more will make him/her happy and the answer may be fifty thousand.And then ask the other person  who earns one lac and the answer might be two lacs.They are the people from the same country but the limit of the money which may make them happy is different but the fact is that when the first person earn fifty thousand and is asked the same question again he will invariably says that he/she needs more money to be happy.So the lust to earn more increases in the proportion of what you have today.What does it lead us to?It appears that more materialistic gains will increase the lust of the people and in the process reduce the happiness
Such parents who are capable of providing all the facilities to their children make them so much dependent either on themselves or on others that children are not able to develop self confidence and it becomes a  problem  for them .When  the  girl in this  case says  that  she  was empty it explains everything. She has got all the things outwardly but has not gained anything internally and that is why she felt empty.The parents from upper middle class force their children to have high expectations and do everything possible to achieve that.The high expectations are not really wrong but at times when it is done at the cost of their own desire and interest it becomes a problem.In such cases the parents love is experienced as conditional on achievement and the children are at risk for serious emotional problem.In USA the study has shown that the children from rich family are in higher percentage  with emotional disorders than the ones from the middle class. This is a surprising revelation and contrary to what most people thought before.The child who says that she is empty also want their parents to extend their love to her unconditionally without expectations. This has been observed so many times on regular basis that if the child achieves something which raises the status of the parents in the society then parents tend to give him/her one or the other expensive gifts. Does this not prove that the parents love and appreciate the achievements more than the children themselves.The children are the reflection of their upbringing and the values imbibed by them and they try to do,the same what they have been exposed to.One child mentioned to, the counsellor that my parents are everywhere but still nowhere at the same time.

The children who come from the affluent family are in any case are not happier than others though this may appear so.They are the ones who are deprived of so many things which really bring more happiness to the children.They are the ones who are pushed by the parents very hard because they are expected to perform better than their parents and also they have better facilities than the other group of the children. The parents feel  great  by providing them all the facility and the help and when the child does not preform to their expectations they push them further.When the children are asked what makes them happy,many of them  said that when they sit and have food with the family members is most relaxing because that is the time when there is togetherness. The parents must try to understand that they should not be over involved in wrong things and under involved in right things and that too both at the same time.This is a very important topic for me and I am not able to convey all what i want to otherwise this will become quite lengthy hence the remaining things will be taken up in future. By that time read it give me feedback and if you can share some examples which endorse what i think and also if you have something which is related to this universal issue, kindly share it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the classroom

The role of a teacher is not only to teach the children but motivate them to learn so that they become independent learners.We all have been students in a school and experienced certain things while being taught by different teachers.If you sit back and try to analyse your experience and behavior there will be some teachers who will come to your mind instantly and for some you will require to think a lot.A teacher who can make a positive impact on his/her students is remembered with a lot of respect and many actions of him/her have indirect or direct influence on the overall performance and achievements of the students in later life.The learning does not take place in the classroom only but  it seems to be one important place for the teacher and taught to be together and learn.
Another observation is that there are some teachers for whom the students wait eagerly  in the class and the children do not realise when the class gets over and they like to continue the class with the same teacher but for other teachers this may not be the same.They are not welcomed by the students and if this is the case, then we can understand what kind of learning will take place in the class.I have been trying to understand it from the teachers and also the students what factors are responsible for such behavior of the students and it has been observed that there are many reasons for this.When a survey was done by some educationists it was found that the children do expect the teachers to behave in particular manner and possess different qualities. Before I mention these, let us try to understand the behavior of different teachers in the classroom.There are some teachers who feel enthusiastic while entering their class and the same is radiated to the children also and they also enjoy their company with the students.For them this is just not a duty but something beyond the boundaries of a classroom. For such teachers the children are equivalent to their own children.There are other teachers who go to the class with an attitude to perform their duty to teach the class and complete the syllabus as decided by the HOD or the Head of the school.They are neither bothered about good or average children and are happy performing their duty.The third category of the teachers is the ones who are tensed even before they enter the class. They are not very much bothered about the important task they are to perform rather they think negative about the class and find themselves inadequate to analyse why is it so. They do not ever try to understand what do the children expect from them and what is wrong with their attitude.Even if somebody tries to talk to them, they find fault in the class only and do not look within. Such teachers neither can be happy themselves nor can make their children happy.The first category of the teachers have wonderful rapport with the class and even those students who are academically not very sound,respect them.Such teachers appreciate the efforts and the achievement of all the children. The second group of the teachers are almost indifferent and carry on the same way year after year.The third category of the teachers must be taken care of because they cast a negative impact on the children and this may not remain confined to their class only but might affect other teachers also.There may be so many reasons for such behavior of these teachers but all children have a fundamental right to be exposed to good teachers only and everyone will agree that the first category of the teachers seem to be the best.All those who become teachers either by choice or by chance should ensure that they prove to be in the first category otherwise they will be doing a lot of harm to the children and the society.
A few things which the children expect from the teachers are mentioned here for the reference of the concerned. There may be many more which can be added to the list.First thing which the students asked for is that the teacher should enjoy teaching the students, the next, they expect the teacher to enjoy the subject being taught.Third, they expect teachers to give them the examples from daily life. Also they want the teachers to have a laugh in the class but they are equally concerned that the teachers should be able to bring the class back in order.The children do not like the teachers who shout in the class.They also want that no child is ridiculed and all students have an easy access to the teachers.Also they do not feel comfortable to be compared with others specially the ones better than them. If these things are taken care of then the learning environment will be created and all will be happy to be in the class, the teachers as well as the students.This may not be easy for all the teachers but must be done for the sake of this noble profession because one mistake on the part of teacher might result in something very negative.So, those who feel they cannot meet these expectations of the children should not come in this profession.Rather those who wish to give it broader horizens and perspective should join this service to build a noble mankind. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Power distance index

Some people of an organisation were entrusted the responsibility of finding and analyse the cause behind the airplane crashes which had taken place in China, Korea and in some other countries.The team of the many people including the psychologist studied the data received from the black box voice recorder and specially the conversation which took place between the crew members and the ATC at different airports because most of the incidents took place near the airports while landing or before that.The results of the study of different crashes were an eye opener and had the link with the kind of the culture and the association the people managing the flight (captain,pilot, first officer, flight engineer etc.) and the people responsible for the air traffic control.In case of the air crash of Korean airline plane near the New York airport gave some clue to the people. While analysing the case , they found that long hours of work was one of the main causes, but the most important was something different which nobody had given any thought before.The upbringing and the culture in that country was that there was a lot importance given to the view and the opinion of the senior in position in any organisation and the subordinates were expected to follow the instructions of the seniors.This did not mean that the juniors were not allowed to put forward their views but this was expected that they would do so in a very polite and submissive manner.This was true for everyone and there were very few people who might have behaved otherwise.In the cockpit (which is comprising of many members)the senior is usually followed by the others and many cases that proved fatal to the people.If we take the case of the Korean plane crash and the study done thereafter, it was found that the pilot was aware of the problem and so were others, but not the ATC responsible for allowing the flight to land.As the ATC manages number of the flights every minute hence until they are told about the serious problem and the emergency by the pilot or the captain, they are likely to take it easy because they become habitual of listening to the problems usually told by the pilot and the most common of them being that the plane is running out of fuel.In this particular case, the crew members were told to wait in the air for several minutes and as the flight had already been in the air for quite long that is why the aeroplane had the problem of fuel.It was the general impression of the pilots that the ATC people at New York airport are slightly rude in their language and most of the pilots from the countries like Korea were not habitual of that so they would not argue much. The other observation of the investigating team was that the pilots of the Korean airlines were also very polite and not very assertive in conveying their point of view.When the ATC asked the pilot to wait for another few minutes, he could not say emphatically that he was running of the fuel very fast and should be allowed to land immediately.The reason for such behavior and attitude of the pilot was because they were habitual of following what was said by the person in authority. What was the conclusion of this study?
The team members studied the other airlines also and then the training schedule and the programmes of the crew. It was found that the country in which the people were able to give their views frankly and without any hesitation were less likely to be in problems than the country where it was the other way round.Then it was seen in context of other work places also and the happy and more productive place were the ones where the distance between the senior and the junior was not much. The point of view of everyone was given due weightage and that made the difference.They came out with the idea of Power Distance Index. This was found that the work place or the country in which the power distance index is low the problems in that organisation or the country seem to be less in comparison to the organisation or the country where the power distance index is high.In the organisations with low PDI the members have freedom to express their views to who so ever they feel appropriate.This is not necessary that their views will necessarily be accepted but whenever the seniors find them worth, they do not hesitate in accepting the same.Take the example of our own country where to me PDI seem to be high that is why despite there being the democracy in the country, the views of the so called low placed people are not that importance as these should be.Things are changing for better now and in many organisations the people are encouraged to share their thoughts and if found good their views are accepted.
After the crash of the plane in discussion the Korean Airline engaged the experts to change the PDI from high to low and the result today is that the number of the problems in the airlines have come down to the minimum.So if the problems are to be reduced than the power distance index should be brought down as low as possible. This should not happen at work place only but right from home to schools to colleges and ultimately the work place.Certainly at the work place it is the authority to decide the authenticity of the complications arising but they also have the right and the capability to sieve the insignificant. So, let everyone be made to learn this for the good of the individuals and the country. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

United India

The last few days have seen a different India in which the people of the country expressed their concern in certain ways.With non-violent demonstrations and silent rallies, they protested against corruption that is plaguing the country and appear to be really worried about the future of the country. This is one movement which has stirred everybody and there seem a unity of purpose to fight corruption. Social activist Sh.Anna Hazareji became a crusader and people followed him without questioning him when they came to know about his purpose.For the last three days (and also during his previous hunger strike in the month of April 2011) it is pleasing to note that no incident of violence took place. No inconvenience to the public has been reported from anywhere in spite of thousands of the people demonstrating on the roads.This is the virtue of the people of this country and also a tradition that they would follow a  person whom they really find dedicated to the noble cause for the sake of the country. It was a pleasant surprise to see young children and the old citizens joining hands and wanting to contribute their bit for making this country corruption free. Somebody argued that the people should not get involved in the practice of corruption by being a party to that in anyway.This is absolutely correct but the problem is, when the government is not ready to listen to the voice raised by so many people against corruption, all can very well imagine what would happen to someone who is alone.The honourable members of parliament and the political parties are finding themselves in a very difficult situation and are not able to decide which way to go.Our respected home minister says that he did not know anything about the arrest of Sh.Annaji and others and that he did not know his whereabouts for four to five hours of his arrest.Does it not seem to be a joke? Whom is he  trying to mislead? The citizens are aware of the political scenario and they cannot be befooled. Besides that the leaders must listen to the popular hindi song- "Ye jo public hai, wo sab janti hai". People in power should know that their negligent remarks will make them a subject of mockery .One of the spokesperson of the ruling party spoke in such a foul language against a person who is doing everything selflessly.The members of the same party visit the houses of the terrorists and addresses them with a lot of respect. Is it not very unfortunate? Some people were discussing that Annaji started this movement little early and the same should have been planned for the year 2013 because parliamentary elections are scheduled in the year 2014.In that case, those who are wailing on the supremacy of parliament and the constitutional rights of the members of  parliament would have got the reply. They are trying to act like the kings and treating  the people of the country as their subjects, the practice which was stopped by our forefathers in the year 1950.Another question asked by the people is, should not the MPs express the feelings of the people? Who elected them for parliament? The answer is very obvious, they are the representatives of the general public who is being treated like paupers.Our culture has been quite considerate to all the fellow beings but the kind of language and actions the people in power are showcasing, is not good for the democracy and parliamentary system of the country.I was stunned when some of the students came and said they want to join the agitation of Sh. Annaji.This shows the seriousness of the problem and our government is still not understanding and behaving as if they are fighting with someone who is an enemy to them,within the country.Another thing people are not able to understand is,why the government is trying to label it as a party affair ? The question asked here is, are the RSS people not Indians and do they not have any constitutional right to have an opinion for the sake of the people of this country? If the government feels that they are not, then should they not be thrown out of the country or legally banised? People are looking for an appropriate answer of this.
Few honourable MPs (whose party was rejected in the last elections have been in jail themselves due to corruption charges) were against civil society and questioned the authenticity of being the public representative. To expect anything else from them is foolishness.
Nobody is denying that the laws are to be made by the parliament and not the public but who stops government  from taking into account the views of the majority of the people. If you have any doubt about the movement, get the referendum done and make the law accordingly.When will the politicians stop diverting the attention of the people from the real problems and issues?Sh. Annaji is fighting for the cause of all and not a particular caste and religion and probably being treated that way, otherwise if he would have been leading an agitation for caste or religion, things would have been altogether different as they had been in the past. The people of the country have been suffering because of the caste based or religion based agitations and the trains and other public transport system was completely paralysed for months. The government could not do anything and was helpless. Let everybody try to understand how many agitations have been there in free India, where there have been no loss to the public or private property?
Our freedom fighters gave their life not only to keep the parliament supreme but also to provide the citizens a  free nation  where they can express their views and the same be heard by the people in power.This is true that the so called "aam aadmi" of the country is suffering the most due to the menace of corruption. If this is controlled this aam aadmi will become a free citizen in the real sense.
All countrymen have full faith in the constitution of the country and they respect the parliament the most but the ones who are the part of the parliament should also introspect and try to do everything possible to restore the faith of the people of the country in our democracy.Let there be healthy debate in and outside the parliament to reach to a consensus to build a corruption free nation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When to help a child?

The general perception as on today is that the children are exposed to a lot of hard work and they are not able to cope up with the same.There was a report in which it was mentioned that because of the knowledge explosion most of the children and young adults are filled with a lot of information all the time.The researchers have even warned that this may cause problems and the structure of the brain might also get changed and that we do not know will be beneficial or harmful.The reason of taking up this matter is that sometimes people misinterpret information with knowledge and learning which is not the case in reality.The information available and learning are different issues because information is something which is learnt from  external sources but the real learning takes place within and that is so well depicted in the statement by Swami Vivekananda in context of education that education is the manifestation of the potential within an individual. Learning can not take place until somebody work and make efforts all by himself.People discuss a lot about the concentration span which help a person pursuing on something for some time.True, but the most important thing which should be talked today is self confidence and enthusiasm to try to solve a problem on our own before seeking the help of others.
I came across one surprising experiment done by a group of people who set up a school basically meant for the children of the parents who themselves were not educated but wanted their children to study and be successful in life.The parents and children were asked to sign an undertaking in which they were to agree for long hours of the school and hard work even after the school hours. Many parents who thought that they were not able to extend any help to their children in a normal school, they always were a support to all the other children enrolled in this new school. The school timings were from seven thirty in the morning till five in the evening. Afterwards the children were asked to spend around three hours to complete their homework. Due to this the children were forced to spend more time on studies than anything else. As far as the physical activities are concerned the children were encouraged to take part in them during school hours.This three hours home work duration was too much to everyone and initially there were problems to all children but slowly and gradually they got used to the routine.The result of this was very much evident to everyone at the end of the session when these children performed at par with any other child from the so called good schools. What made that to happen was a case of study and the people found that these students were exposed to difficult situations of completing their home tasks all by themselves and there was no help easily available to them. Moreover, they were forced to solve the problems themselves and this gave them an exposure to learn more in comparison to the other children who were served the solutions on a silver platter.Three hours home work was not much in terms of quantity but there used to be only fifteen twenty problems which were to be solved by the children.It was found that average time taken by the children to get the solution of one problem was more than ten minutes. They were trained to find the solution and not to give up before they have tried at least for about twenty minutes. The children became used to of spending as much time as required till the  solution of the problem was found.
Another survey was done in USA and that was how much time the school children spent on solving the problem before they give up and seek the help of others.It was found that maximum time spent was five minutes before the children gave up and the minimum time was thirty seconds.The average time spent was about two minutes.Look at the other case where the children spent more than ten minutes before they gave up the efforts and sought the help of others like the teachers or anybody else.You can very well understand the reason behind the good performance of the children from a school where they were motivated to try themselves than seeking help of others.I have not come across any such study in our country but the general perception is that our children used to spend a lot of time on solving their own problems before going to somebody else and that was probably one of the reasons why they perform so well if they get an opportunity to work abroad.But now the things are changing and due to so many helping hands available to many of them they give up so early when they do not get a solution and approach a tutor or parents for the solution. The time spent in self efforts is getting reduced and that is not a good sign for learners. It may appear to have saved the time of the child today but what is the use if he/she has not learnt how to face problems and find the solution. They become habitual of resorting to find solutions from others.We come across many cases where the mother or the tutor completes the homework of the children.We should try that our children  spend time on solving their  problems on their own and then as per the need external help can be extended.The children should be encouraged to spend  to spend at least ten minutes and may be more than that depending upon the nature and the complexity of the problem. If we do not do that and provide the ready made solution then we in no case helping, but harming them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Power of women

It was in the month of December 2010, when  one of my very dear students suggested me to write my thoughts as and when possible,I hesitated a little.In the beginning, I never thought that it would be possible to do so on regular basis but without the support of some people and as I often say, my expressions were given a direction and I discovered the pleasure of writing. God has always been by my side to extend His support in different ways. I would like to very humbly thank all those people who encouraged and helped me to improve upon the quality of the subject matter or the topic chosen.But all this would not have been possible without the constant support and timely help of one very important person in my life.If I try to look at my journey in life , it has not been so smooth as it appears to be but has been full of surprisingly difficult situations and episodes which occurred at regular intervals.As I mentioned earlier too that I was lucky to have been born in a family which was much respected in those times. My grandfather was very well known in the area he lived in and many people used to visit him everyday to meet him or to find solution to their problems.I, being the only child in the family at that time, had all the right and privilege to be with him most of the times even when he used to have meetings and certain important discussions with the people of the society. This exposed me to so many situations related to life unknowingly though it was all by chance and I was not able to understand things so easily at that time.After he departed from this world, the things changed ,but  I was still very fortunate to be the son of a mother who bestowed all her care and affection on me and provided me with all possible opportunities to be in the best possible school and college. Though it must have been very difficult for her due to different reasons. As I grew in the company of my grandfather so the impression of his teachings has always been firm and deep on my mind and my mother tried to fulfill all what my grandfather used to do for me.After completing my education ,I started working in one of the best schools of the country and was quite happy with what I was doing. During that time, as it happens with everybody, my mother selected  my life partner and asked for my consent.This is true that I was not prepared for it but as was destined, could not say no to this proposal. After a few months of the marriage once again the things changed to something not very favourable and I had to change my place of work due to some unavoidable circumstances. During this change nobody was happy with me except two people who did everything possible so that I do not feel disheartened,disappointed or depressed.I realised the fact that people who really care for you ,would be known to you only at the time of adversity.Before all this,everybody used to be too close to us, appreciate us, but this change unveiled the truth to us.During this predicament nobody else but these two people in my life saved me from something which would not have been good for anyone of us.
After the sad demise of my grandfather, things went haywire in the family and someone who was responsible to look after and support the family, got tensed because a lot of responsibility suddenly came on his shoulders for which he was not at all prepared. He was none other than my reverent father.Today, I can understand how difficult it would have been for him to manage the worldly affairs of such a big family and that too which was known and respected because of the reputation of my grandfather.Probably this stress made him to behave little differently and he would get angry very soon for even the smallest matter.As a child, I was not used to this anger and always felt bad and was nostalgic of the days spent with my grandfather.After our marriage, when I was finding it difficult to manage self and others,I also experienced the same frustration and tension .In those difficult days when everyone had a different impression about me,she stood by my side without ever showing or expressing what she was going through because she had to manage me as well as other members of the family.Anyway, she could get me through that difficult time and the life started sailing smoothly.When I sit and look back and think of those days,I always wonder if she was not around with me, what would have been my fate. She went through all difficult situations without ever expressing in actions and gestures.Rather she was always so comforting, caring and compassionate.She even sacrificed her own career for the sake of the family and made the life of others around comfortable(she got many opportunities to work in better capacities than what I was at that time but did not take up any of those jobs for the sake of the family and specially me because she wanted to see me being successful in life).
As I mentioned above, after the loss of my grandfather, my mother and my wife helped me to become what I am today. When people appreciate any work done by me including the thoughts which I have been able to express in my blog ,I wonder, if I should be given any credit for this or it should be directed to my beloved wife because all this could be possible only due to her benign support,understanding nature and a heart full of patience. I have been only the medium, but the real force behind all this has been my wife Sangeeta;who has always been my greatest strength in life.Undoubtedly, she has proved it so well that women are an eternal source of inspiration, motivation and tremendous power to pave the way for exponential growth and prosperity of the family and society.She by virtue of perseverence,tolerance,forbearance and the many qualities of head and heart, could be my real friend, philosopher and guide. Kudos to my wife for the innumerable selfless sacrifices that she made for me.I owe everything to her, be it my career,my family or my passion for the profession.Though words can not suffice my innermost thoughts but I wish her a big god bless.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CCE: A mattter of concern for stakeholders

The central board of secondary education introduced the concept of continuous and comprehensive evaluation two years back in classes IX and X and from the last year in classes VI to VIII as well.During the parent teacher meetings and also while talking to the parents many of them have a feeling that the children do not pay much attention towards their studies as they used to do before.This is a natural response to something which has been introduced recently and everybody will take some time before understanding the importance of the new system of evaluation.But there are certain issues that need to be tackled at the earliest otherwise the children who are passing through this transitional phase will have difficulty in future.The university system in the country is following the same old pattern of admission and evaluation. Everyone is aware of the hundred percent cut off syndrome of one of the most sought after colleges of the country.Now  who should be blamed for this, the college or the system or some other agency.It becomes the case of demand and supply and there are so many wanting to get admission in one college,so, what does the college do? I am not saying that this is a good scenario, rather it brings me back to the question should the change in school system not be as per the requirement in the universities and the colleges otherwise the children will face problems at the time of admission in the university/colleges.I am highlighting the concern and the issues which have been raised by the parents either to the teachers in parent teacher meetings or to the head of the institutions and these concern and issues need to be addressed.
As all will agree that the concept of the CCE has many advantages over the traditional method of evaluation because here overall development of the children is assessed.But before assessment the learning process is to be taken care of.Many people ask if everyone involved in the assessment have the idea of the concept of CCE, including the parents?When we discuss about formative assessment then why should this be confined to one assessment only? Because formative assessment is the tool to improve the level of learning of the children. Let us be honest and say whether objective is being achieved, the way FAs are being conducted.The truth may sound bitter to many but as per the feedback it is not achieved in most of the cases.Take the example, when the children are to make a project on some topic and when they are asked what have you learnt from this,most of the time the answer is a blank face.They are more focused in making it is as beautiful as possible so that teacher gives them a better grade.The grade is still more important than the learning whereas the objective of FAs is to facilitate the learning of the children.The parents also complain about the excess use of  Internet because the children keep sitting on the computer for long hours in the name of making the project.In a number of cases it has been reported that it becomes the Wikipedia cut,copy,paste activity.In one of the PTMs many parents of classes VI to VIII earnestly desired the formal tests also be taken and the marks to be added while promoting the children. All that reflects about the acceptance and the attitude towards our new system.
When we talk about the teachers, they do have some genuine problems in its implementation.As most of them have studies in the old system, that is why find it difficult to understand and adjust as per the new system.The schools which can afford and have access to the training programmes are in better position and in those schools the system will start yielding  positive results very soon.But there are many which are not in a position to provide all that help and orientation to their teachers and all will  agree that the teachers have to play a key role in making this change to be effective and beneficial to the students.The other issue raised by the teachers is the number of the students in the class.You will find the schools having forty five to seventy student in a section and with this strength expecting one teacher to conduct the teaching and the evaluation in a proper manner is too much to expect. We should be realistic in our our approach and should not turn a blind eye towards problems that prove to be a hindrance in the path of proper learning of the child.So, if  CCE is to be successfully implemented then more training programmes and awareness programmes must be introduced not only for the teachers but parents and students also.Many schools are doing it on their own but this should be the policy of the board and it should not be left at the will of the schools. The other important issue to be addressed is of the strength and it should be ensured that it is not beyond thirty or maximum thirty five children in a section.
Change is inevitable and is also imperative for the progress of a society or the nation.CCE system of education is an excellent step taken in the right direction but now effective implementation of the same is very important. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Violence among the children

Times have changed and so has the mindset.This mindset gives rise to an indifferent behaviour.In the last few years a number of cases of bullying or dominance or any kind of violence have been reported so often by the parents, teachers and the children who suffer this menace.Has this number increased so fast or the reporting of these cases is making us believe that such incidents have increased as felt by most of us? We all know that it was almost the same in the past also but the number of cases reported were probably less.Earlier the parents would leave it to the discretion of teachers and the school to take care of such problems and would not at all support the child who might have been at fault. Bullying or any other kind of indiscipline was neither approved earlier nor is approved at present.The concern in the past and now too, is how to take care of such  children who are not very well behaved. Though the number in comparison to the ones who are very well behaved is less. Let us try to understand the nature  of most of the problems which are observed in the inappropriate action and behavior of the so called indisciplined children.
Most of the cases reported are on account of impulse and immaturity of which the child would not have any estimate and knowledge. He may not even realise that something wrong was done by him/her.This may be like throwing a pencil or chalk or any other thing on the other children. If this is not taken care of at initial stage, such actions might become the habit  of the child leading him/her to indulge in more serious offence of throwing heavier objects like water bottles, which may severely hurt the other children.The other case may be of taking the pen or the pencil of the other children per force without asking them to show supremacy and superiority.The same may happen  in the games field when one child teases the other innocent one just for fun because the second child may not be  physically very strong in comparison to the other one.Then there may arise any problem in the school bus because of seat or even within the classroom when the children provoke each other.For example, one day two children were arguing on some issue and all of a sudden one of them got so angry that he threw his water bottle on the other child which hit him on his face.Though the child who threw the bottle might not have intended to hurt the other child but it so happened.There may be many more example where the children unknowingly got involved in such acts which harmed others and themselves too.When you look at these incidents, these seem to be of simple nature but should not be ignored by the parents as well as the teachers.
When we seriously analyse the indiscipline, I think the children are behaving almost in the same manner as they used to, in the past. But now even the toys available to them are  different than before, like aliens, guns etc. and the video games which most of the times are full of violence, whereas in earlier times the children resorted to outdoor games and activities. Also in the past the children were not exposed to the  slang language which they hear outdoors and the violence that they witness on TV or read in magazines and the newspapers .The access to the Internet at a very early age is adding to the violent activities of the children.Let us try to see how the children can be helped to improve their behavior in the school and at home.
The parents can play a very important role in this endeavour as they are the ones with whom the children spent maximum time. When they are told by somebody or reported by someone else regarding the improper behavior of their child, they should not reject this outrightly. I do not say that one should believe it blindly but try to know the truth without being biased. If done so, the parents will be able to know the real situation and if  the child is found involved in something which is not desirable then he/she should be made to realise the same and counselled about not indulging in such activities. I am sure if the parents have the desire and patience, the child will definitely improve.If need be, the help of the school teachers and the counsellor can also be sought.And also if  some improvement(may not be very significant) is observed then that should be appreciated and the child should feel that the parents are now happy with him/her.Sometimes the parents and teachers keep nagging the children for the wrong he/she might have done  in the past though the same has not been repeated by him.The parents should first try to correct and improve their own child before raising a finger on any other child.If all will follow this, then the problem will be solved to the maximum extent.The teachers should also try to understand why one or two odd children are behaving that way and disturbing others.After this, with the help of the parents, make the children realise the wrong done by them.The teachers should involve these children in one or the other activity which might help in channelising their energy in the right direction.The most important thing is that adults, like the teachers and the parents. should not do anything  which they do not want their children to learn.This is the key to make the children learn good manners and not get involved in any kind of negative behavior because many a times, it is noticed that the children use such abusive language about which they do not have any idea and this they learn  from the elders.The children are so tender and innocent that you give them love and affection and they will reciprocate more than that and also if exposed to negative behavior or language will do more than what they were exposed to. Everyone should have unprejudiced and positive thoughts about these children and treat them with love,affection and care.They reflect the influence of their surroundings in their actions,words and deeds,so,the evil of misconduct and misdemeanour should be nipped in the bud,thereby curbing the instinct of incessant violence among children right at its inception.        

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Believe in the power of youth

It has been heard so many times that the youth of the country is not that much concerned as is expected but if everybody looks at the thinking and the desire of the youth, despite all odds around they do have a lot of respect for the nation and are really concerned for the welfare and the progress of the country.Few examples can be quoted which came to our notice very recently(and when thought and analysed seriously it was found that it was the same earlier also). The case is that whenever the children of even the age group of 13 to 16 years were given an opportunity to do something which would involve the people around them or help to solve the problem of pollution or save water or any other community service task, they come forward with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Very recently children were told about the concept of helping those who are in need, in terms of providing them the notebooks etc; by recycling the paper waste like the used newspapers,notebooks or the books which are not in use.They were asked to collect such waste and give it to an agency which will  recycle them,make them of some use and give it to the needy children who are not able to buy these otherwise.The children were so excited to take up this task which was quite evident in their eyes. The other case was, when they were asked by the teachers to bring their old clothes to be given to the people who were in the need of them and once again they did it so sportingly that it made us feel so proud of them. I know it can not happen so for every child but then, are these the children to be blamed or our parents and the teachers who have not taught them this very important lesson of life.Majority of the children want to help others but there may be a few around who would not be wanting to do the same for many reasons.However, the negative things in the society are talked about more than the positive incidents  and in this process the good work done is not appreciated and recognised as much as it should be.
The other important issue in this regard is the thought and actions of the adults that influence the children and the youth.In some cases, it has also been observed that some parents object to things which are so important for the children to learn at a very early age like ensuring that the place around the child is clean. For example, if a child has used an eraser or torn the paper or spilled some food(either at home or in the school) we should encourage the child to learn to clean that place and throw the waste in the dustbin or wherever it is supposed to be thrown.But in some cases, parents might not appreciate it and if so then the child will never learn to do the same.Such cases are very few but sometimes this only becomes an issue at home and  in the school.Here  the parents and teachers are required  to motivate the children for such small but very significant learning,like being particular about the cleanliness and becoming independent in some tasks.
Always encourage the children to keep their surroundings clean.This may start from the room of the child and study place etc.They should be able to make their beds, arrange their school bags, polish their shoes and most importantly pick the used plates after the food has been finished and place them in the sink and basins. Their habit should not be spoiled for the sake of making them comfortable by providing help and support for everything they should do themselves.The children should be encouraged to do their own home work and the tutor should not be made available for that because in some cases it has been found that there are different tutors for different subjects because the parents feel that the child may not be able to do them on their own . Another simple example of helping the elders at home and even the younger one who may need the help of the capable ones.In the families where these things are followed, the children there are always prepared to do things not only for themselves but also for others as well.There may be so many things which otherwise seem to be so simple and insignificant but can help the children develop the habit of being  concerned and responsible citizens of the country.In the end, I would like to emphasize that the young children and the youth of the country is very much aware of their responsibilities and the ones who are doing it so well should be recognised and appreciated and the others who have not learnt it this way should be encouraged to develop this in their personality.This also reminds me of an ancient proverb which says, "The greatest of the walls were built with the smallest of the bricks." So, the onus of guiding and channelising these youthful bricks to form the greatest of the pillars lies on us. If we earnestly desire to progress,these smaller areas and issues should be addressed.It will not only give us solace and satisfaction but also help us to achieve prosperity.The ability and power of youth should not be undermined as it is immense and we have to believe in it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Concerted Cultivation

While reading about the the people who have been very successful in their life , I came across many factors which contributed in their doing better than others. Different people had different IQ level and also the area of interest.Some were into games and sports ,some entrepreneurs,some computer professionals,some lawyers and various other fields.If observed carefully, it would be found that they had something exceptional in them but this is also true that all people are born with some talent, then the question is what makes some people successful than the others? As mentioned earlier, there are many factors responsible for that and a few basic ones are; the opportunity,the appropriate age,the will to achieve,the circumstances at local and global level and the other one which is important is parenting.
It has been observed that many successful personalities about whom people are curious to know seem to the ones from an ordinary family background. But if studied in detail, it is also found that the percentage of such successful people is less than the ones who were from middle class or upper middle class family background. Some people tried to seek the reason behind it and it was not what was anticipated by many, that they had the advantage of being from an affluent family and they did not need to work hard. Everyone must understand that one cannot be successful without working hard but other factors do make a significant difference.When studied in detail, it was found that the children from middle class were helped by their parents and they were always there to support them as and when required whereas, the situation was altogether different in case of the children who were not that fortunate to have born in those families.During the research it was observed that the parents from the middle class had the advantage of being helped by their parents in developing their confidence and the skills. On the contrary, the other group of the children were left to themselves because their parents neither had the resources nor the time and the knowledge to help them.So, success of these people was achieved in more difficult situation than the other group.One example shall make this point clear to all.One fortunate child had a very concerned mother who was fully involved with the child`s progress in every field he was interested in.She would go to his school on regular basis and meet his teachers. She would share all what she felt would help him to do better. She inculcated one very important quality in the child and that was to question, if he had some doubt whether it was at home, in the school or anywhere else.One day when she took him to the doctor for general check up, the child asked the doctor about some serious problem which he was facing.Many children of his age would not have talked or questioned the doctor if not encouraged by the parents.The parents who support their children in anything creative and logical,they do contribute in making them successful in life, be it the case of taking them to hobby class or parent teacher meeting in the schools , they are always there with the children.
If we consider the other group of the children ,there it is clear that the parents do not have the confidence to go and suggest anything to the teachers because they feel it is the responsibility of the teachers to look after the children and take care of their problems.These children will have to make their place on their own, hence probably to be appreciated and encouraged more than others.The parenting care and support is very important in the success of the person. Try to look at the list of the successful people and you will find that many of them had successful parenting. This should not be mistaken with extreme interference in the life of the child which may rather prove to be detrimental in his/her growth .The parents will have to understand, when and where to intervene so that the child does not become dependent on them.In the example mentioned above the mother was working as the support when required. She did not ask question on behalf of her son rather prepared him that he could question himself.The parents and the teachers a play very important role in the life of the children and they have got to play a constructive role in bringing out their potential, irrespective of the family background.
Fortunately in our country the parents are more aware of their role in the present than in the past and now even the low income group parents want their children to be successful, hence the schools should also help them and should not pay more heed only to those parents who come to meet them quite often, but the other parents should also be encouraged and counselled to be more involved with their child. This collaborative and sincere effort will take care of the problem with which these children are born. Therefore,this concerted cultivation will help and motivate all the children to be successful in their own fields.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Importance of practice

When I wrote about ten thousand hours concept ,many friends  shared it with me that this is the same as  practising for as many hours as mentioned for becoming better than others.This is true, but at the same time one more thing should be analysed and understood that practice is not  necessarily to compete with others or trying to be better than them but making oneself better than before. When we talk of outliers( the ones who have extraordinary things which others could not do) than again it should be clear that anyone who has done extraordinarily well did not really to do better than others but because he/she had a desire and will to achieve that for self satisfaction or happiness.There might be some exceptional cases which might prove otherwise and the one which I remember is that of the great Acharya Chanakya who made Chandragupta to work that hard so that the Guru could take the revenge of the insult he had been subjected to.The other case may be of Guru Dronacharya who also dedicated his whole life to make his Shishyas, the best.
When the word practice comes to mind then one more thing makes you to think and that is, should practice be considered something being repeated every day or this is something different? I think practice is the medium or the essence to try new ways of doing things and when I say new ways, that means better ways to explore and perform and whenever this side of the practice is taken then new things are discovered or created. Take the case of the scientists and you will find that they are the ones who keep practising for long hours and this practice for them becomes the experiment.Consider another example of the players be it the Hockey players, basketball, cricket ,chess, football or any other game,and again it is found that the practice  sessions are used to do something different every day.So the word practice should not be confined to only repeating the things but understanding and doing the same thing with a little difference and novelty.
For doing this, a person should have patience and clear objective to be achieved and for patience one has to have time which is becoming a problem for most of the people now a days.This is practice only which will make the person learn the things self and use them as and when required. Take the example of someone who has been sitting in the side seat of the person who was driving the car and he/she always felt that it was very easy to drive the car but one day when the same person tried his/her hand on driving, to do so was found very difficult. But after some practice the same person becomes as good as the other person was and in many cases, better than him/her.Another example of the mother cooking chapati for all and everybody feels as if it can be done easily but when one tries it for the first time, the results are known to all  very well.One student shared his experience of college, that in his graduation, he was taught two different papers by two teachers of the mathematics.Both the teachers were considered to be very good and their students respected them the most. One teacher would come to the class and tried to solve as many problems as possible when asked by the children.As always happens when somebody gets an easy solution of the problem then one does not try a difficult one and the same happened here also. The students used to get almost all their problems  solved by the teacher.In the other case, things were absolutely opposite and the teacher would solve only limited problems and rest of them were left to be solved by the students. The teacher would come in picture only when there was an actual need.The students had no choice but try themselves and at times used to feel disgusted and considered the other topic to be easy than this one which was taught by the second teacher. When they were about to appear in the examination they were more concerned about the topic which they had to practice themselves but when they appeared in the examination they performed much better in the topic they had done themselves(than the other one) with only appropriate support of the teacher.So here also own efforts played a big role.There is another story about a scientist who had tried to create something new and had worked very hard for many years without any success. One day he was asked a question by one reporter that, did he not feel ashamed of the fact the he had failed so many times(around one hundred times) and still considered self to be a great scientist? He smiled and  answered that he had not failed rather he was better than anybody else because he knew one hundred ways by which that problem could not be solved and now what ever he would try it would be different than these one hundred ways.He further said that nobody else knew these many ways by which this problem can not be solved.
So, everyone should understand the importance of practice and ensure that they have the patience and the perseverance to assert this very important way of doing better than before.At the same time another important thing which should be remembered is that practice is not the thing you should do when you are good. It is the thing you should do that makes you good.And also this is equally important to become better than what you are as on today. This makes you confident and you also learn to be self reliant.Thus, the old saying,"Practice makes a man perfect",is still significant if one is determined to achieve success and perfection in the area one chooses for oneself.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Develop reading habits

I happened to read a short but a real story in one of the magazines and that was related to a child who faced a few family problems.When the girl was in class IV, the parents got separated, the mother left the home and during this period only the elder sister was admitted to some college hence this girl and the father were left at home alone. The father was working as a librarian in one of the schools.When the mother and the elder sister were not around,  this girl and the father used to have a lot of time.This girl felt a monotony seeping into her life. The father could realise the problem of the child and he decided to start reading books for her and also encourage her to read, but it was not an easy task to start with. The father being the librarian knew how to motivate the children to read books and help them overcome the initial inertia. He told the daughter that he would read for her first and if she liked it then she could do read independently. The girl initially was not impressed by the idea at all but she had nothing else to do so she reluctantly agreed. Her father told her that they would read books for hundred days and then if needed would stop the practice after that.They started with the reading of books and after a few months they became so fond of the routine that they could miss on anything but reading the books. The girl grew up reading the books and listening to the stories the father used to tell or read for her and this did not stop at hundred days but continued for about seven-eight years till the girl had to leave the home and to join a college. But even after joining the college her habit of reading the books continued.This changed the personality of the girl and now she was more confident and could take part in any discussion without any hesitation.Also she wrote her first book appreciating her father and the reading they had done together.
Another news which has come from one of the premier institutions of engineering(IIT Kanpur) that they are going to ban the use of the laptops on the campus of the college and the reason mentioned for the same is that the excess use of laptops and the net being available due to wi-fi, is causing many problems to the students and they are showing the signs of depression because they continue working on these gadgets late night and are not able to have proper sleep and hence are not able to concentrate on their studies during the class hours.For some, this may seem an incorrect step by the management but we have to think about it seriously. Though all will agree that the laptops and other electronic gadgets have become the part of the life of the people particularly the youngsters but at the same time improper use of the same has been a concern to many, but they are not able to portray their apprehension because they would then be tagged to be against technology and use of the things available to the young adults.But now many people have started realising the negative impact of such things available to them.
Why has it been so that the children have drifted away from reading books and have resorted to the gizmos like laptops? The most important reason has been that people particularly the parents are so busy in their work that they hardly have any time to read.The children staying in nuclear family are more affected by this than the other group of the children.Most of the children are pre-occupied in their so called studies that  they rarely have any time to peep through the books and spend most of their time in cramming the things told(not really taught) in schools and the tuition centers.They are made to realise by many people that the only important thing they have to do is to get into a good professional college and what happens there has been explained by the example of the engineering college mentioned above.I do not mean here that the use of laptops is not good but excessive use of these electronic gadgets is definitely harmful and that has been proved in a number of studies done so far. Also the excessive use of the electronic gadgets is causing serious health problems to the youngsters which is a serious concern to the people.
Whereas the reading of books does not ever cause any problem to the back or the shoulders or the eyes as much as it is caused by the work or reading on the screen of the laptop or computer.The books can be very handy to everyone in any of the situation. Book reading can be started at any age but the people who start this in their childhood continue with the same all through the life until and unless there are some reasons to reduce the reading hours. I know people who would not sleep without reading something before they go to bed.Reading books exposes one to the variety of the ideas and he/she can visualise the happenings and the incident which helps the person to develop thinking and that is the base for creativity.The kingdom of books is as vast as universe and there are books available on nearly every topic under the sun.Reading books help us to come out of any difficult situation because while reading the book one tends to forget the stress or the problem he/she might be facing. The children will not be able to develop the habit of reading which is very important for them, until the adults particularly the parents help them in it.It has been observed that the father or the mother would purchase a mobile worth Rs.Ten thousand but not a book which costs not more than  Rs.Two to four hundred. They should know that if mobile is important for the child then books are more important(here by books I mean other than the course books).The teachers should also develop the habit of reading books other than the subject they teach and share it with their students.This will motivate some students if not all and they will develop the habit of reading books as book reading is an extremely pleasant and intellectual exercise.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Consistent hard work pays the dividend

When one of the friends read the article on the topic age appropriate achievements, he asked a question, if it was the only way to success or there are other factors also which contributes to it. I had to think about the same and as believed and talked about, by many great people, this is true that age cannot be the only reason for success. It made me to realise that consistent hard work is another very important factor contributing in the success of a person.This can be proved by taking many examples including the case of the hockey players,football players or any other successful personality. If the hockey players had not practised for long number of hours everyday then whatever was the age or the talent of an individual player they would not have achieved what they achieved in the long run.Here the rule of practicing for ten thousand hours comes into play.People have found that the ones who spend around ten thousand hours honing their professional or vocational skills, by the time they reach the age of twenty, they are likely to be more successful in their field than the ones who had not done so.In this respect, we can take the example of players and the entrepreneurs,business icon and the people who became famous in the field of the music or tecnnology. Take the example of Ms. Lata Mangeshkar, Ms.Asha Bhonsle,Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Bill Gates, Beatles band group and Bill Joy who have made a mark and have created history in their respective fields by achieving great heights.
When we try to understand the success of Beatles -one of the most famous rock bands, it has been found that they used to be ordinary singers who sang on the roadsides and played the drums and other unsophisticated musical instruments, though some of the members were indeed talented.They formed a group and then went to America.There also they sang in clubs and on the roadside with or without audience. Fortunately one day, they got a chance to play in one of the clubs in Germany which changed the entire scene. Before they ventured into this club, they hardly played for more than one hour everyday and that also the same numbers which were very popular and that did not allow them to learn more or sing their own compositions. But once when they were in Hamburg they played the whole night, seven days a week and that transformed their lives.In ten years, they could play for about the same number of hours as required by someone to be successful.
If we take the case of Bill Gates then again it is observed that though he was good in maths but got an opportunity on his way and worked for more than sixteen to seventeen hours a day on computers, in those days of 1960's when computers were not so easily available.Many of you would be knowing that his father was a lawyer and the mother was the daughter of aa affluent banker, so we can easily gauge that he belonged to a rich family.He used to get bored by his routine very soon during his school days. His parents took him out of a public school and sent him to a private school which was basically for the children of elite people of the country and that school was Lakeside. Fortunately that school started the computer laboratory when Bill Gates came to class VIII and he got  a chance to work upon that. He used to go to computer center corporation after the school hours which was formed at the University of Washington.He used to skip his precious night sleep sneaking to the computer lab. This club went bankrupt and Bill Gates and his friends used to hang around the center before they came in contact with someone from an outfit known as ISI(Information Sciences Inc.) where they were allowed to work on computers in return of some work done for ISI.During this time Bill used to spend a lot of time working on computers and programming.He worked day-in and day-out to climb the ladder of perfection thereby carving the road to success.It is certainly on this account that he is amongst the most prosperous and famous people in the world.
When we think of Bill Joy, the same story emerges here also. He was very sharp in maths and wanted to do engineering or graduate in maths before he came in one of the first universities which had the finest computer centre in those days and that was University of Michigan. He was impressed by the ambience of the building and the set up and got his hands on computers and thereafter it was no looking back from computers. This was somewhere in the year 1971.This young boy of 17 years of age spent maximum time in the computer centre. In those days programming was not that easy and shared programming was also not possible. There used to be some hours given to individuals and they were charged for the same. He learnt to crack the pass word of others and worked for many hours on the computer. This was similar to what Bill Gates had been doing,cracking the passwords and using the device to learn and explore. And all those who are aware of Bill Joy`s  achievements would know that he was the one who could rewrite the programme LINIX. In this case also the number hours spent by Bill Joy was around ten thousand hours by the time he reached the age of twenty.
These were very few stories of the successful people but we come across so many and the common link in all of them is that the individuals got the opportunity and by consistent and persistent hard work, they became successful. And in most of the cases the rule of ten thousand hours worked very well. Even if you have the talent and appropriate age, perseverance and honest efforts for long are the key to success.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Age appropriate achievements

While reading a book, I came across interesting studies and research done by some people and one of them was regarding the people who had migrated from Italy to United State of America. The process started with four- five people from Italy moving first and others followed them and they settled in different parts of USA.One particular group/locality was studied by one of the doctors for the reason that the natives of America and migrants from other countries were suffering from heart diseases and it was one of the major causes of their death. But in this particular locality, this was not the case whereas they used to eat the same kind of food and the genetics also could not be assessed as the factor for not having heart disease because the other group of the people who also came from the same locality of Italy did have the problems of a similar nature as anybody else in America had. The doctor then involved psychologists and other people to find the cause of difference. They studied the life style of different groups in that area and the findings were that the cause of this group being healthy than others was their life style. They were close-knit families and a small society . They all used to work hard but were very fond of interacting with each other by not only sitting inside their houses, but also outside the house anywhere under the shade of the tree or by the side of the house. The researchers found that the three generations used to sit and have their meals together, particularly the dinner.It proves that the joint family system we used to have in our country was of great help to the people to release their stress without any outside help.
This study motivated the other people to find the reason behind some individuals doing better than the others meaning thereby the story of successful people.While doing so they came across some startling revelations which nobody had thought before and that was the impact of age of the person on his/her performance/achievements. They studied specially the players of Hockey in Canada and Basketball and  Football in other countries.
The children in Canada were picked-up by the schools at a very early age and then coached by experts, and then the best were picked-up at every stage till they were of the age group of 18-19 years and proved themselves to be the excellent players who were considered to be representing their states or the country.These people tried to understand what made them different from others to reach this stage. Was it their hard work or the genetic effect or the best coaches available to them? To their surprise they found no concrete reason for this till by chance they came across the date of birth of the players who had made a mark in the game of hockey.They found that out of approximately twenty top players more than forty percent were born between January and March and about ten percent between October and December.This was something which made them to analyse the reason behind their performance. They found out that the cut off age for the young kids who were supposed to be selected for coaching when they were very young was first January every year. This made it very clear that the child who was born on second January will get a chance next year. So if seen carefully the child born in January and the child born in December had  an age difference of approximately eleven months to one year. This one year difference made the maximum difference on the performance of the adult players.  The one who was born on second January 1960 and the other born on second December 1960 would have been considered together and might have been selected at that very young age and as the elimination kept taking place at every stage by the time they were of the age 18- 19 years, the ones who were older could perform better than the others and that is the reason that most of the successful players were born between January and March. The same was found true for other games in other countries also. This concludes that the age difference contribute  a lot in the success of the people.Though the other factors were also responsible for the success but the major contributor for the same was the age.
Then the other group of the people studied the impact of the age on the academic achievements of the children, when they were of the age of around eighteen years, and the result came out to be almost the same.When the children are admitted to a school at the age of four or five years, it is difficult to make any difference at that time but as they grow, it is noticed that the children who are older tend to perform better than others(exceptions are always there). The parents and the teachers do not pay any attention to this fact and start believing that this particular child is not good in studies.Parents particularly believe that one full year of the child will be wasted,without realising the consequences. Though a proper study should be done in the area of academics also before reaching to any conclusion, but the above mentioned studies make us to believe that the age would play an important role in the success of a person of the same age bracket because in schools also you have some cut off date and that may be 31 March or 30 June. If we take the case that the child should be born on or before 31 March 2011 then we find that the child born on 1st April 2010  and the child born on 31st December 2010 will study together and this difference of almost one year will have an impact on the relative success of the children.Thus,it can be concluded that achievements do correspond to age. Also the society should allow the children to grow and then assign age appropriate tasks to them,thereby seeking age appropriate achievements.