CHANGE AND COMPETITION

Change is an ugly word. It sends shivers down one’s spine.

Competition is an even uglier word. It makes one spineless for that very moment that the word is mentioned.

Change is inevitable. Competition is mandatory.

When one refuses to change, it affects him alone.

When one refuses to compete, it affects society.

Those who fear competition are the greatest visualizers on earth. They tend to visualize unreal things in a real world. To say that they are deranged is very harsh. ‘Hallucination’ is a better word for this group of people. At least, they are given the opportunity to imagine in their ‘mind’s eye’ things which they cannot imagine in the real world.

To say that they are idealists is to stamp a philosophy unto their hallucinations. In philosophy, idealism is an imaginative treatment or representation of things in ideal form. It does not lend credence to this group of people.

So why do people fear to compete? Is it because they will lose their identity in the process of competing? Or is competition a ‘tsunami’ just waiting to wash them away?

The English saying ‘a storm in a teacup’ comes to mind. I think this saying is meant for this group of people. Take another saying, ‘make a mountain out of a molehill’.

When they see a teacup, they actually see a storm brewing in it. Not the tea.

When they see a molehill, they visualize a mountain which is impassable.

Is there a remedy for such people? The answer is no. They have become so accustomed to hallucinations that a reality check will only agitate them further. They are like a volcano ready to erupt and unleash its destruction unto the surrounding areas.

Competition will rear its ugly head one day. It is not something that you shove under the bed. If you shove it under the bed, it will rock the bed. And when the bed is rocked vigorously, a lullaby can’t stop it from rocking. It will only rock it harder until the sleeper is thrown off the bed. There go the sleeper and the bed.

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PRACTICE STRENGTHENS LEARNING

The value of practice in any endeavour can never be underestimated. It is a sine qua non. In teaching, it is imperative. Learning without practice defeats the very purpose of learning at the outset. Practice makes perfect is an adage that must be taken seriously in teaching and learning. Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. Flip the coin and both sides come together. They are inseparable.

A teacher must prepare his materials seriously from different angles taking into consideration the various tendencies of his charges. The preparation of his materials in an organised manner sets the professional teacher apart from the mediocre teacher. “Order is heaven’s first law.” Unfortunately, this same order applies to the affairs of the world too. Therefore, the logical order of teaching requires the absolute scrutiny of teaching material to the minutest detail. In any instance some topic of relevance is left out, the train of thought is disrupted. The teacher is then left with no other alternative but to repeat that topic independently of the material presented earlier. The learner becomes confused as to where this topic is to be stored in the earlier material.

The drudgery sets in. Both teacher and learner come to grips as to how they ‘fit in’ this topic into the learner’s respective compartments that make up his ‘mind box’. Another challenge exhibits itself at this stage – the understanding of the material presented. If the learner doesn’t understand the material, he is going to have a difficult time remembering it. If he doesn’t remember it, he is going to have an uphill task applying it in his daily life. It all boils down to the way a teacher organises and presents his material in a logical order.

Sir John Adams aptly described it in these words – “memorisation through understanding.” If the learner doesn’t understand what is being taught, he will not memorise it for long. And it is my contention that if a learner wants to understand the material that he is learning or studying, he should be given AMPLE PRACTICE which fortifies his recollection of the subject matter.

As an English trainer, I find that ample practice in the topics taught enhances the participant’s understanding and recollection of the subject matter. Hence, the participant is able to use it in his daily life with ease. This is achieved when I apply the logical method of presenting my subject matter. What is being taught now must be logically related to what has been taught before.

TEACHERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

The teacher makes a difference. This statement has far-reaching consequences in the field of education and training. How a teacher conducts a lesson is very important. Lessons should be conducted using the scientific method. In other words, a teacher needs to be very methodical in his teaching. Teaching then becomes a craft which leaves an indelible impression on young minds to probe further into their academic subjects independently.

The teacher is then entrusted with a monumental task – to mould a student’s mind for the betterment or destruction of mankind. Make no mistake about it. Teaching is a profession that must not be trifled with. Only those who have the true passion for teaching or have been thoroughly trained in the art and science of teaching by expert teachers, who are passionate teachers themselves, should bear the burden and responsibility of teaching the young. Otherwise, it becomes a case of the blind leading the blind. This is very apparent when one inquires the students who can’t even articulate clearly and confidently on the subject matter previously taught by a teacher. In all fairness, some students don’t pay attention in class or are playful. However, the majority of students will pay attention if lessons are delivered in an interesting manner. It is this group of students that the teacher should target in his teaching.

When lessons are conducted in an interesting manner calling forth the student’s ability to think methodically, they become a lively exchange of intellectual training between the teacher and student. A teacher that concentrates all his available resources in delivering the subject matter in an organised manner has won the interest and concentration of the student. The student becomes a willing participant in the process of learning. It is this willing participation on the part of the student that the teacher should bring to the fore. Those who fail to do this have failed utterly as teachers and in the art and science of teaching.