We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Monday, March 28, 2011

India does not need to learn from West?

An headline article in "Economic Times" caught my attention today. "Are Gates and Buffet" buffed by India Inc?

At the end of the complete read, I felt poor about India Inc and my deep bias towards Indian family culture grew manifold. The summary of the article was. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the billionaires from west, on their tour to India found only a couple of handful Indian billionaires attending their philanthropy promotion dinner. The article went on to explain in details about how Indian businessmen are different than western. A summary is here.

Left side is the comment from Article - Right side is my reaction.

1. India has a rich culture - (What is the definition of rich? Handful of Brahmins ruling the knowledge world, handful of kings ruling poor people to support their luxurious lifestyle? And tons of nonsense religious superstitions and spiritual richness, which are not really helping anybody to make any progress to the extent half the country's poor go to sleep without food?).

2. India has a strong family culture - (Yes, where Ambani brothers fight in public for left overs by their father).

3. Indian family businesses need to live for their heirs and can not spare for others - (Yes, else those poor heirs who grew up traveling Mercedes, would not have a baseline to make their future travels in Jet Liners).

4. India believes in family culture and not independence - (Yes, family culture, where only your family matters, outside your family, your home, there is deep nonsense as a society, as long as you are doing good as family, screw the society. Why build independent kids who can think on their own, because else how could families be not able to manipulate them?).

5. India inc has its own ways of giving - (Yes, that is why you see such a pathetic education system, such pathetic infrastructure and such pathetic society).

At the end the article said, India does not need to learn from West. I am like what? God save this country. If this country and its businessmen rule on the attitude of "we do not need to learn from others"...I can imagine its future ....Well ofcourse these are the views of the article author, but a super respected business paper, like Economic Times, providing such conclusions on its headline article, leaves lot to worry about the overall attitude of Indian society.

But on a cheering note, there was also an article in Economic Times that Indians are the fourth largest donors to Wikipedia worldwide with an average donation of around $17. Well I lost the statistics completely, but this is more cheerful a news.

Only if our industrialists understand their role in building societies. I have the highest respect for Tata's, Premaji, Narayan Murthy, Birla's. The view in this article, does not include them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to teach ...

I was thinking hard on the different methods in which different teachers teach things. I was trying to derive a common theory behind why most of the teachings that students get to attend in classes, colleges goes bad? Why students are not motivated to learn and why students feel education is boring, and they are forced to study it.

Some prime reasons that I could think upon were as follows.

1. It is very difficult to find a person who has become a teacher for the love of teaching. Teaching in today's society is many times considered a task which is done by people who can not get better jobs. Well, if a person has become a teacher because he/she is not capable of getting a better job, then I guess he / she will not be equally dedicated towards it either.

2. In order to get motivation in teaching, students should be given a big picture of how the things that they are being taught fit in the bigger canvas. That is any kind of teaching needs a top down approach. First explain the context, explain the practicalities of why the learning that is going to be done, is so important and make it interesting for kids to understand it. Once kids are able to relate it to their day to day life experiences, once teacher would start teaching the nitty gritty details of the information (content of the teaching), students would be well prepared mentally to absorb it.

What happens in usual cases is exactly opposite. Teachers teach from bottom up layer. And to be frank, they never reach the upper layer, since most of them are not conversant of what that upper layer is, because they themselves are not that much knowledgeable.

Teaching is different from information delivery. You do not need teachers for providing information delivery. There are books, online medium and other sources for doing that. Teachers role is to make teaching a pleasant exercise for students to understand it, at minimal basic level and be able to articulate the basic concepts, so that students can go on their own, in the higher exploratory path.

3. Every kid out there is smart and he / she is special in some way, but these teachers, fail to understand it, because they never understand the importance of the role they are playing in shaping the child's future. Why ? Again because if they had that knowledge, they would have simply stopped being a teacher and would have accepted a higher paying job. There is some strong co-relation in why most teachers are teachers and why most of them are pathetic. Its a systematic vicious cycle.

4. What could be alternatives to this. There are definitely a very small percentage of teachers out there, who are extremely dedicated, motivated, and passionate to teach and make a difference in the lives of children, But unfortunately they are extremely handful and mostly they become an envy of the other majority, and face lot of politics in one way or other, for the lack of others to raise up to their level.

So, a better experiment could be. Lets try to create a replicated model of our teachers, who are good, in an animated way. An animated teacher never gets tired, never shows disrespect, never complains and could be easy to use. A good question to ask is, how to make him more interactive, like a real school teacher is. It is easy to make use of a pre-programmed teacher but it is an extremely difficult task to learn how to make an intelligent, interactive teacher.

Research is being carried out and I Am sure soon we would have better teachers, to teach our kids, for a better future. And I hope then we would be able to have a better society, because then we would be able to have lots of kids, who would turn up growing into responsible adults, who would be doing the work they love to do, than are forced to do, because they never got motivated in schools.....