Positive Thinking and Active Learning

It has become a challenging task to change the mindset of teenagers of this generation, it’s difficult even to find out how the stubborn and adamant attitude has seeped into their personality and much to worry is about how and when have they created barriers to their listening and understanding abilities. Parents silently surrender to their children’s unreasonable wishes after making a set of futile attempts in convincing them and rather look with hope at teachers to take up the role of counseling their offspring for taking up their education ahead which they think is good for them. When talking about students’ attitude, it reminds me of an anecdote I came across recently, which goes like this:

Once there was a bunch of tiny frogs, who organized a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. The race began. Honestly, none in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. Statements such as, Oh! WAY too difficult! They will NEVER make it to the top.” or “not a chance that they will succeed, the tower is too high!” yelled the people in the crowd. The tiny frogs began collapsing, but one continued higher and higher and higher, this one didn’t give up.

At the end, everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog that after a big effort was the only one who reached the top.

Then all the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it to only find that the winner was actually deprived of the sense of hearing. The wisdom of this story is: Never listen to other people’s negative or pessimistic tendencies, because sometimes they take away your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you.

Always think of the power words, because everything you hear and read will affect your actions! Therefore, always be positive & above all, be hard of hearing when people tell you that you cannot fulfill your dreams & always think “I can do this”.

The discussion is not about dealing with teens that are mature enough to take better decisions in their life than their parents and teachers but rather about those teens that do not possess the required maturity but think that they have decided about their future goals. Many a times we as teachers see that the decision a dropout takes is not worth a try but being unable to penetrate their mindset, the struggle to convince and retain them in the academia subsides.

Every academic year, hundreds of students come out of schools, out of which few are enrolled in higher education out of sheer passion or choice,but most of them are those who have enrolled out of force because their parents wanted them to be what they (parents) could not become in their life (principle of karmic cycle is what parentsapply here) or just because people in their circle became what they want their child to become, and few others enter just because they could not decide what to take up after losing a great battle to achieve their aspiration, for whom I feel is that if they couldn’t get what they loved or aspired for, then they should start loving what they got and it will definitely fetch better dividends in life than what they would have achieved by getting what they loved.

In my childhood days, I used to hear some of my elders saying that if God wants to convey something to you then he sometimes does it through the advice or instructions of your parents.

Many engineering graduates in the state where I belong to are dropping out just because they feel engineering is a tougher course than any other degree course, it is understood that such thoughts are due to “fear of unknown” and “fear of failure” that restrains them in proceeding with their engineering degree, because it’s the fault of our societal system that associates disgrace with failure, there is no second chance here, whereas countries like U.S and U.K have second, third and multiple chances that is the reason why our countrymen excel in foreign land and not on their own soil. Out there, colleges and universities allow students to learn and experiment with no botheration of failure that is why the colleges and universities over there are like how an amusement park is for a kid to explore and experiment without the fear of failure or intimidation.

The former President of India Late Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam has redefined and expanded the disgraced English words like “FAIL” as First Attempt in Learning, “NO” as Next Opportunity and “END” as Effort Never Dies”. If we go in the same direction of this kind of positivity, then schools and colleges should stop using the word FAIL in the report cards of students who could not win the race of memorization and replace it with “YET TO” that could sound more graceful and positive.

Talking about memorization in my discussion above,this is another evil that has become a permanent and integral part of our education system, we have prominent education system in India, which still rewards and awards memorization or felicitates students who excel out of rote learning, we have never evolved to give away prizes or accolades to talent and capabilities.

It’s high time that the graduates who enter higher education should unlearn to learn, unlearn all the unproductive practices that helped them to only score in the examinations and learn to adopt practices and methodologies leading to productive learning. Students who are unable to come out of years of rote learning which they were subjected to and could not get acquainted with text book learning are the ones who dropout in majority from higher education.

This reminds me of the story about a university professor who went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about wanting to learn Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The Professor watched the cup flowing over until he could no longer hold back himself. “It’s overfilled! No more will go in!” blurted the Professor. “You are like this cup,” said the master.

Planning, prioritizing and working within the time limit are more important for teachers to keep stressors out of the view.

It would be great contribution to the student community and nation if teachers, educationists and intellectuals put fruitful and sincere efforts in making the students escape from clutches of rote learning to the realm of remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and synthesizing.

About the Author

Prof. Md. Sameeruddin Khan is currently the Director at Sree Dattha Group of Educational Institutions. He has been instrumental in building various institutes from ground level zero and a custodian of major institutional tie-ups.

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