Last post of 2012: Welcome 2013, I am ready for you!
Well, so much for writing a blog every day..I have decided to take a break from everything, even blogging for the last few days of the year. I am literally escaping into the Himalayas for some contemplation and quality time with the kids and the mums.
But before I do that, here are some initial thoughts on what I’m expecting from the year ahead (these aren’t resolutions yet though!)
Turbo mode: It’s been a charged 2012, but much time and energy was wasted in self-doubt. In 2013, I ain’t looking back. There is a mile long list of stuff I want to do and it’s high time I did it.
Book of illustrated stories for children: Among other things, I am planning to write a bunch of short stories for children. I already have one written down. I plan to team up with an illustrator and self-publish these.
Diving certification: I must get my scuba diving certification this year. Have planned to do this forever. No good comes out of delaying what you really want. No such thing as delayed gratification (wink wink!).
Weight and fitness: Those ten-odd kilos have got to go in 2013. It’s my absolutely unbreakable promise to myself! I got to keep my date with the trainer starting second week of January!
There is also a set of career-related ambitions that are very important to me and 2013 will be a critical year to ensure certain milestones are achieved. It’s too early to divulge them yet, but am keeping my fingers crossed!
Before I sign off though, I want to thank (cheesy I know, but very very sincere!) Rahul, mum, Nupur, Rachna, my kiddies, all my dear friends at Vipul Greens and encouraging readers like Bharat, Sheetal, Nippo, Ananth, Swatantra, plus those many others who read all that I write on my blog. It is through the unconditional support as well as the constructive criticism that I have seen my writing evolve. I will not be writing a daily blog in 2013, but then I might! Frankly, it’s become an addiction…..
Happy New Year everyone!
Dumbed down education, dumb professionals, a numb future? Sep 20, 2012
The world has changed immensely since we went through the motions of being ‘educated’. not just in terms of technology and the amount of information available, but in the perspective of educationists now viewing the student as an active participant, one influential in the process of education rather than as a mere recipient of knowledge.
Today’s youth, in my perception with the interactions that I have had through teaching in an architecture college (SPA) and through interactions with schoolchildren at various stages, are fitted with bright and super-agile minds. However, there is a wide variety in background which impacts their ability to perform in an academic environment.
One one hand, many students may come to the education system with handicaps. In architecture college, for instance, kids from rural or peri-urban backgrounds often have a hard time understanding references to lifestyles and expectations that teachers assume are obvious and simple to comprehend. Language of instruction is another common challenge for non-English speakers.
On the other hand, most kids love rising to a challenge and lose motivation when the system does not challenge them. So you have a split situation, in which some students are struggling to come to a reasonable level, while many others are barely making an effort, complacent that the minimum effort will be enough! The only way the conventional education system has to tackle this is to dumb stuff down. Keep expectations at an average, make things simple and obvious, make process overarchingly important so as to almost relegate content to the backburner.
I do see the benefits of giving kids a free hand though. Almost every one of my friends who has taught design studio has expressed that their students were motivated when they were allowed to be innovative and could take some decisions about their work for themselves. Even so-called average students produced exciting results when they were pressurized, encouraged and cajoled to better themselves. The trick appears in offering a framework for problem solving and allowing the solutions to evolve rather than a top-down approach of asking kids to pick from a menu of pre-made existing solutions.
For the field of architecture and urban design, this ability to weave in elements of research, design, planning and policy into a cohesive and workable solution is critical. By continuing to dumb down architectural education, we run the risk of creating yet another generation of incapable professionals who will end up becoming slaves of unworkable bureaucratic visions or worse, of the rampant profiteering schemes of vested interests. If we aren’t investing in the professionals of the future by offering them an academic environment fraught with challenges, where risk is possible and even welcome, we should numb ourselves and be prepared for the possibile demise of the increasingly urban economy that India is becoming.
Looking at things differently: Lessons from my yoga class- March 2, 2012
I joined a yoga class this week. It was the missing piece that fit into the only empty slot I had in my life, for now 🙂
It is a class that my mum has introduced me to and the slot it is filling is the one reserved for working out. Filling this slot and keeping it filled is my nemesis. I have tried a number of things, with mixed outcomes. I hated gym, I like walking but it gets monotonous after a point and I haven’t really been able to leave home early enough to find empty roads to cycle on. I loved the Shiamak dance classes I did for two years, though, because they taught me about balance, presentation, emotion, interpersonal skills, grace and most importantly, they taught me to let go and become a child, be in the moment, simply enjoy.
I have a great feeling about the yoga class. First, because I love the stretching, toning sort of workout. I’m not a great one for the huffing and puffing and streaming sweat! But more because yoga is taking things up from where I left off at the dance classes. The focus of the class is on developing self awareness and through conscious, disciplined movement, the aim is to achieve calmness of the mind. Through yoga, my teacher says, we can train our minds to think positively, convert negative emotions to positive ones. We can also discipline our minds such that we are able to clear our minds of residual thoughts and start a new task with a fresh slate. I find this fascinating as a concept. If we could achieve this, think how much more efficient we would be in the workplace; we wouldn’t lose our temper at our kids when we get home after a grueling meeting; we would be able to enjoy each experience to the fullest, and so on and so forth.
Of course, it’s easier said than done. My teacher also said that most of us will not be able to achieve this within this lifetime, but she assured me we would ultimately, a few lifetimes from now! Now that puts a different spin on things. My eyebrows rose up sharply at this, I think. For the next discourse was about karm yoga. The concept of doing your best without thinking about the result. The minute you focus on the result, apparently, you lose focus and derail whatever you’ve set out to do!
This, I think, is the toughest for us city dwellers to practice. Everything in modern life is engineered around the process of first setting expectations, then doing stuff to meet these. The goals come first; then we plan to achieve them and finally we take action. Karm yoga reverses this, literally turning life on its head!
This is why the yoga class is auguring well for me. It is allowing free reign for me to question the very basic principles I have led my life on. I am at the exact stage in life when doing this is a very pleasurable aspect of the journey I think I am on. Let’s see where it takes me!