The “Free Hand” Lesson

It’s been a long time since I blogged – took the so-called “blogging vacation”. Back now….

I was watching a movie about karate (the karate kid) and a particular scene stuck in my head. The kid was trying to learn Karate from a book! It was as if a light bulb went on for me. I’ve never seen Indians try to self-learn something (some people are good at observing others do things and learn, but I’m trying to make a different point here). It is somehow not taught in our schools and not present in our culture. There are no stories and mythical characters who have self-taught themselves. There is a very strong component of “guru” as a human element being present or they were magically gifted (like Hanuman).  The only self-taught person I know of in Indian mythology was Ekalavya and he was suitably punished for learning something he “shouldn’t” have! I’m not arguing that one kind of learning is better than another but there is definitely an interesting element to being a self-taught person and having different sources of learning.

Is this why we see such a proliferation of exam-oriented training/coaching centres? I’m wondering what is the kind of sales that self-help books have in India (anyone from FlipKart want to comment)? Probably that is not even the right metric, because someone may wrongly believe that they can learn/want to learn from a book and purchase it and never use it again. What do you think?
PS: Karate means “Free Hand”

3 Responses to “The “Free Hand” Lesson”

  1. 1 Anoop September 3, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Hey! good to see you back on this space, it was inactive for a long time as I can remember..
    Well don’t you think so its Indian mentality?, We are naturally prosaic aren’t we?.. May be this is one of reasons I can say, we dont want to venture out and indulge in self learning process.. As you wrote about the mythical story of “Ekalavya” and that he was punished for indulging in self learning process, I guess punishments are mandatory in India especially to people who indulge in self-learning process, the story also says the same thing dosen’t it?..
    I had teachers during my schooling who wasted no time in making judgements about students if they asked some intelligent questions or indulged in self learning process, their 1st reaction would be “HE thinks he is too smart no wonder he does not pay attention to us”.. Such discouraging attitude was deeply imbibed into most of us, no wonder we never indulge in something creative and used to be mostly prosaic all the time inorder to avoid getting punished..This seems to be the root cause for lack of motivation to actively involve in self-learning process.. If I have to put it in a positive note we may think these centers of excellence as they call themselves are better places where people get more quality & better learning experience..
    But mostly the reason is the former than the latter, if you agree with me on the former case what Sales would Self-learning books have? close to zero may be!

    • 2 sree September 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Thanks Anoop! I’m back for sure 🙂

    • 3 sree September 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

      Hey Anoop,
      Thanks for the thoughts. In fact, I did hear back from someone at FlipKart and they said that the sales of self-learning books was high indeed. To quote, “Yes, we sell loads of them. All authors of all pedigrees on everything physical to metaphysical.” But he also added that its more of self-help kinds rather than self-learning.

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