Archive for the 'Thinking' Category

Raising a self-aware generation

I had an off-beat resume land in my inbox recently. Nia (name changed) is an out and out commerce student who scored a whopping 97% in her commerce PUC and is set to go on to do her BCom and CA when she seems to have made an about-turn in her life and joined a teacher training course followed by a specialization in special needs education. Intrigued by her story, I call her. She clears few rounds with us and reaches the interview round with me.

I ask her the question point blank. “Why did you opt out of a commerce career for a teaching job? Is it because it was convenient?” She replied, “I was not well in 11th grade for a long time and in 12th I scored the marks because I had just spent hours practicing the sums and pushing myself, I had not understood the fundamentals, nor did I like it that much. When the marks came I forgot all that and went ahead and joined B.Com honours with coaching for CA. Few months down the line I realized that it was not meant to be. I always wanted to be a teacher and empower children. I was abused as a child for several years and I don’t want children to go through that in life, ever.”

I’ve not found this level of clarity between marks and skill level and humility in a fresher level candidate so far. I wondered, what made her different? Why is that such a rare skill to find? Maybe it was the life-changing event of ill-health, maybe it was the abuse. But, if takes a life-changing event like abuse or some other equivalent trauma to make our children naturally reflective should we wait for that to happen for each and every child on this planet before we teach them to think for themselves, reflect, understand and navigate the language of emotions and social interactions?

Also, by that corollary, should we then wait for our children to have something to talk to us before we teach them language? Shouldn’t we wait for them to figure out economics before we teach them numbers? Shouldn’t we wait for them to discover new facts and figures or new civilizations and cultures before we teach them science or history or geography?

When we teach a lot of these skills in just in case (they need it later on) why wait to teach them the more important skills of thinking, reflecting, communicating, problem-solving and managing emotional in life? Why wait for them to learn it in due course? Nia learnt it the hard way you don’t have to wait for your child to learn it that way too. You have a choice of enrolling your child at Sparkling Mindz today and starting work on all of these skills at an early age.

Nia learnt it the hard way you don’t have to wait for your child to learn it that way too. You have a choice of enrolling your child at Sparkling Mindz today and starting work on all of these skills at an early age. We can’t guarantee that children will not struggle, that is part of their normal life and growth trajectory, I believe with the essential thinking, emotional and social toolkit they will be better equipped to deal with the life’s ups and downs, when they come knocking.

 

 

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Teaching is about hope!

Teaching is a very personal job and is all about hope. My close interaction with teachers from a non-student point of view, over the past few years has brought me to this conclusion. Why, you may ask?

A teacher has to overcome their own personal prejudices to teach a student in the way he/she learns best. It is very easy to spot weaknesses but guiding a child along its areas of strength is one of the most critical and crucial part of teaching.

When a child shows negative behavior, being able to separate the child’s behavior from the child and adopt a positive approach to prevent recurrence of the behavior is not easy.

So, lets celebrate the open ended teachers who opened their hearts and minds so that we could learn. Thank you!!!

What is inside matters

I was reading Shiv Khera‘s book ‘You can Win‘ recently and I read a story in it that kind of stood out, “A man was selling balloons at a fair. He had all the colors – blue, red, green that one could think of. Once in a while when the sales slowed down, he would send one of the helium filled balloons up in the air and as it flew up all the children wanted one and his sales would go up. A little boy came around, tugged at his shirt and asked him whether the black balloon would fly if he let it go. He calmly explained to the child that, “It is not the color of the balloon but what is inside it that makes it fly”. It is so true about people too.

We, at Sparkling Mindz, make the children realize this and guide them towards thinking and exploring rather than just merely looking at what others are saying or doing. They get a chance to be themselves and even surprise themselves by trusting that they can! It helps improve confidence levels, offers great avenues for self-expression and most importantly, helps them develop as unique individuals that they are. That has been our guiding philosophy from Day 1, that children are unique and different and if we treat them that way they will begin to respect that too.

If you are looking for an exciting place to work, if you are passionate about working with children and looking for a place where you can really make a difference in the lives of children, Sparkling Mindz is expanding and we are looking to hire trainers (learning facilitators) in several areas in Bangalore – Whitefield, Jayanagar, HSR Layout, Kalyan Nagar, Yelahanka, Malleshwaram to name a few. More details at our website – http://www.sparklingmindz.in/jobs.html. Again, if you think that you are the right person to create out-of-the-box experiences for children and are interested to do so, please email us your resume and we will revert asap!

A new journey – Sparkling Mindz

It’s been a while since I posted out here…life has been hectic, life has been venturesome!

About a year ago, an idea struck me that simply summed up as –  the only thing that can make you stand out in the crowd is how you think, learning to think should be taught at a much younger age than it is taught today and that, it should be fun while you are at it! So, I started Sparkling Mindz along with a group of like-minded individuals, who have been a pillar of support in the growth of this organization.

You may be wondering what Sparkling Mindz is? It is an after school program that provides children an opportunity to grasp thinking skills in a fun way!

It is exciting to see the children’s eyes light up they feel empowered to think, generate ideas and then apply it in their day-to-day lives! They learn to transform into confident, thinking individuals…

You can read more about the programs and about us on our website www.sparklingmindz.in and view pictures from the workshop at our facebook page. Do help by spreading the word and becoming a fan on our facebook page!

More on the journey soon….but do write in with your thoughts and comments. Most importantly, help us reach out as far and wide as possible by spreading the word around to those who can benefit and help us make an impact on millions of lives.

Uncomplicating Things

It is interesting how we end up complicating things way beyond necessary sometimes. Today I heard a comment, “You need a process around your process!” As if having one process was not good enough, you add a couple of layers on top of it so that neither you nor anyone looking at it later can understand what it was meant to do at the first place.

Let’s try and keep things simple. Uncomplicate. We need to scale but do we need to embrace complexity for the sake of it?

IIT heads complain of plunge in quality

Today I read a news article in Times of India titled, “IIT heads echo NRN on plunge in quality”. The whole article goes on to talk about how the seats in IITs today are getting filled by students who are fatigued by years of coaching and in the larger scheme of things, don’t even want to be an engineer. It is sad state of affairs, indeed. But to hear the heads of the institutes complain, instead of do something about it, is sadder. This could have been easily seen coming and here are some thoughts of mine

1. If you set up an exam that is hard to achieve and pass through and prevent people with interest from joining unless they can showcase aptitude 2x the current level of education system. This kind of ‘fatigue’ is bound to happen. We, as Indians, are proud to pass through tests that are seemingly insurmountable and that give you a certain kind of ‘elitist’ status over others! Take the civil services, for example. Most people taking the exam don’t even know what they will be doing post the selection! It is the same with students who are getting coached to get into IITs (and to a large extent the CAT fever too! – they are being taught how to beat the system!!!) – while it will take you across the threshold, it will not get you inspired and motivated to become an excellent engineer or an excellent manager (or a good anything)

2. Next, what have the IITs themselves done to inspire the students joining to wake up out of fatigue and create interest? Is there an emphasis on innovation, creativity or even applying the skills being learnt beyond the basics? If so, where is it being showcased? It is a chicken and egg story and only if you focus on inspiring students will they get inspired and motivated – the other way round is an ideal dream, but can you make it a reality by just cribbing about it?

3. Now, lets look at the industry. These children who join the IITs are very smart and the smartness flows to where they money is. If money is in engineering, they will continue being engineers, if it is in pharma/FMCG/ITES companies, they will get trained to become sales people for Pharma/FMCG/consultants, as the requirement might be. Look at it from their point of view and the society’s point of view, if you are the best of brains and you are not earning the best of salaries, you are a loser! There is no premium on thinking, being different, being unique or standing up for what you are passionate about (let alone sometimes even figure out what is it that you are really passionate about!) and then what about the self-fulfilling prophecy of these large institutes that the most successful people come from there?

4. That brings us to the story of change. What should change to make this better? The mantra is – Innovation and Creativity to create a “thinking generation” of students! The institutes needs to innovate at a much faster rate and create a new form of entry criteria, a new way of working with the corporate world, a new wave of innovation from their labs and that will create enough inspiration and motivation even in the most fatigued or uninterested child to beat and excel the system (where the system is aligned and focused in the right direction)

The seeds of change lie in you, if you are unwilling to lay them in the ground, don’t fret over lousy results!!!

PS: On second thoughts, whatever has been written above is a law of averages and I’ve seen enough inspired, motivated and self-aware IITians over my work life to be impressed by their smartness, hard work, dedication and motivation. So, please don’t take this as a personal note on anyone. I’m just responding to the system’s response on its own intake quality!

Helmet tell-tales

I’ve seen too many people push their phones into the helmets to enable them to talk while driving a motorbike. It poses a lot of risks, the obvious one being of concentration but the non-obvious one being of the phone falling down and the neck acquiring a partially bent position! Wouldn’t it be a great idea if we could have phone pouches inside helmets? Much cheaper and more efficient than headsets. Can prevent accidents to the phone! What do you think?


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