My Take on ‘Self-Directed Learning’

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Over generations of evolution of the way we learn, humans have started believing the fact that children learn only what they are taught or made to or sometimes even forced to learn. Somewhere down the years we’ve totally forgotten that the human species is naturally made to learn new things and to adapt to surroundings and situations on its own. We are the only species which can make the most of favourable conditions, bend our needs to accommodate survival.

Yes, as adults (parents or teachers or both) it’s our responsibility to make sure that the learning is happening but not necessarily the way in which we want it to happen. We almost always forget that it’s not our learning so it never was about what we want. It’s always, always about what the child wants. It’s about the child’s interest and inclination. It’s about his desire to learn something. Learning can happen anywhere, anytime as it’s driven by the mind irrespective of the time, place and other external factors. It’s best achieved when there’s less structure and more choice. Choice empowers learners. It gives them a feeling of control over their learning. This control and ownership act as catalysts in making them hungry for learning something new. The whole aspect of happiness which revolves around the realisation of understanding something new is almost euphoric. Remember when you could parallel park all by yourself for the first time? When you just knew which direction to steer in reverse and the car simply fitted into the empty space like a glove. That euphoria! It can only be achieved when you do it with minimal intervention of another person.

This doesn’t imply that we just let the children be and let them do whatever they want to. We’re always there as an onlooker, a facilitator, provider of resources and for ensuring their safety. We’re there to help only when it’s asked for, and not when we wish to expedite the process just to put a check across our to-do list, mental or otherwise. It’s time taking, no doubt, but it’s lifelong.

Self-directed learning is like creating little mountain peaks in our minds, which might take a long time to be made but once they’re there nothing can move them.


Hard-Boiled Mornings

Holiday mornings are always lazy. They start with sleeping in a little and cuddling in a bit more. But if you have a little one whom you put to sleep as per the parenting book, he’s bound to be up before you and you generally open a single, cautious eye to see the closeup of a little face demanding breakfast. No matter how much you want to laze some more, those sleepy little twinkling eyes burn out your plans. 

And then starts this hardest ever task of the household day – delivering a hot and presentable breakfast. I am not a fan of steaming hot food, but breakfast seems to have multiple items which taste best when consumed hot. And that’s specifically why I find this the hardest food delivery of the day. 

I’ll share this morning’s itinerary and I’m sure many of you would feel it’s sort of autobiographical. 

Now I started with first boiling the eggs. All thanks to my Chemistry teacher mother, I do that in the pressure cooker and three whistles are what do the trick (Tip! Make a mental note!). By the time the pressure runs out I thought of multitasking possibly the most impossible task to succeed in – boiling the milk (which will boil over later at some point of time), although I use the heat milktimer on the induction plate but every time get the minute calculation wrong (Another tip: you’ll have to work out the calculation yourself though!). Now my son and I like egg sandwiches while the husband likes plain boiled eggs with buttered toast. Another challenge while preparing breakfast is that it’s the most (and may be the only!) customised meal of the day and if it’s a holiday, you just kind of give in. 

As the first sandwich was ready, I cut it up for the little one first. I put the tea on heat milkagain after dunking all the ingredients together. And I put my sandwich to grill while I served my son. He needed a wash up first, which I did in a jiffy, put on TV for him (sorry, guilty of that!) and put his plate in front of him and rushed to check my sandwich. If you go by the steak grilling units, it was “done well” on one side! Are we done? Not yet. Then I made buttered toast and peeled eggs for the third member in the family. I was almost proud of the lovely plate which looked pretty Instagram-ready (with a colour enhancing filter of course!) and realised the chai was on “heat milk” all this while. We ended up enjoying a great breakfast with rationed half cups of tea. 

Well, that’s the end of one of many ordeals with delivering hot, customised breakfast. Now I’m stuffed with two egg sandwiches (scroll up to see that I strategically missed mentioning making a second one!) which seem to be literally stuck down my esophagus. So as an extended breakfast item, I’m going to make second cups (half again!) of tea for the two of us. 

If you’ve got a similar anecdote, do share in the comments please.

‘Teaching’ Technology

As a technology teacher, I always keep looking for new tools to excite my students. During parent teacher conferences, when a parent comes and asks me how’s their child doing at my subject I almost always say, “Everyone is good at technology” or “All of them love ICT lessons”.

But when I’m alone, I reflect on these statements many a times. If everyone already loves technology and is good at it, then what am I here for? What’s my role?

This is a generation of digital natives. You show a two year old how to scroll through the camera roll of your phone once and they won’t ask you again. This makes me question my validity again and again. If these children are born with the skills, do they really need someone to show them how to use a tool? Will they remember me if I just teach them how to add bullets to their Word document or how to change the speed of a video to slow motion while making a movie? Would it matter to them later in their lives? They would have figured it out themselves eventually, through self-exploration like I did.

Today, out of the blue, this realisation hit me that if I keep my content at the centre, there’s nothing much about me as a teacher which my students will take with themselves as a life lesson. What they will and MUST remember me for is making them understand that if they use someone else’s account details to login, it’s as much a crime as it is breaking into someone’s house. They should remember me for educating them that using someone else’s work as their own is as much a sin as lying. They have to be reminded of what I told them once about a nasty post staying on the Internet forever even after you delete it, before they go on and get carried away into doing something like that. They’ll obviously remember me when setting their net banking password to “w€LCom#$79” and not “welcome12”. And when they’re parents themselves and thinking about which video games to let their children play, they’ll have to think of me while installing that counting game and telling their child, “Oh it’s such a lovely game about making a rainbow with all these beans. Let’s see how many there are!”

This thought was definitely quite a relief because it solidified my purpose of being here. As a technology teacher, I’m not here just to teach the coding or the presentations. I’m here to teach some vital lessons for life which count!

Don’t be driven by the content. Keep the pedagogy as your nucleus to make yourself count. We are technology teachers and yes, we matter!

It doesn’t matter…

It doesn’t matter if dinner is not that great.

What matters is that you have food on your plate.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t decide which dress to wear.

What matters is that you have a closet which is far from bare.

It doesn’t matter that you can’t afford holidaying on a cruise.

What matters is that your life has people whom you can’t afford to lose.

It doesn’t matter “where” we go or “what” we do.

What matters are the memories, the people, the “who”.

It doesn’t matter, it never will.

What matters the most never comes with a bill.

DIY: The Math of Positivity

When we meet someone new, whether professionally or personally, we almost instantly start the math of relationships. More so, if we’re sure that the person is going to be around in our lives for a longer duration. This math is always going in our head every time we interact with that person.

We tend to start our “person” math score with a zero. Well, I’m not too sure of the roots of the many reasons behind it but I strongly feel it’s because of growing up in a developing country where we have to fight to reach everywhere and get everything. So, naturally when we meet someone new there’s quite a high probability that there might be some kind of physical, emotional, financial, racial or psychological race which we would be expected to run together.

Now this “race” is forever at the back of our minds and every person becomes a mental opponent who might score over us any time. So every little thing this person does is under our scrutiny of the “person” math, remember? We’re not as generous in giving a +1 as we are critical in giving a -10. And so it goes that the person who started with a zero is now found at, say, a -56 within a week of his entry with his score constantly dwindling lower than ever.

Where’s this scoreboard?

Displayed outside somewhere?


Do we type and print it?


Where do we maintain the balance sheet?

Right! In our minds.

So for every person who holds a negative score stays in our minds were we keep doing the “person” mental math of mostly subtraction and rarely addition. This is the negativity which adds up in our minds and occupies a substantial space in our heads. And without realising we start radiating this all around, complaining that the people around us are not how we want them to be.

There’s a very simple way of avoiding all those negative numbers getting stored in the chambers of our brain. When you meet someone new, instead of starting with a zero, start with a hundred. This will not lower the “person” score to negative too soon as you subtract or sometimes add. And chances are that if this person stays on for longer, the number of additions might even surpass the subtractions! And the end result: you won’t have so many negative scores within that little head of yours.

At the end of this quite complicated thought, if I can simply put it in a single statement – When you meet someone, always give them more chances than they deserve just because you deserve the positivity.

A Grateful Mess

My house is almost never clean. You can’t walk a handful of steps without slipping over a miniature luxury car or kicking into a stranded ball. There’re books strewn across the floor at times. There’s a room which has a mini tent full of all imaginable toys, most of them with a broken leg or a missing wheel. Almost all battery operated ones are out of battery at ALL times! There’s a police bike whose siren somehow never runs out of power and is always resonating loud and clear across all the corners of the house. A tricycle which has hardly ever been used in its true state, you’ll mostly find it toppled over with some mechanic experiment going on with its tyres. Of course we have a TV with an HD subscription, but only three channels are surfed through whenever it’s on – Baby TV, Nick Jr. and Disney Jr. The bed sheets are never in place, with a lone pillow sometimes even found lying on the floor. There are days when you settle for a Sunday afternoon siesta and you might feel something poking your back in bed, which you rummage through to fish out a little green aeroplane. One cushioned potty seat is almost permanently perched on top of a toilet ring, although never put to any good use. There’s a pack of wet wipes in every room, handy enough to reach out but strategically hidden enough for, you know, obvious reasons. The dresser is just an empty mirror now with all the makeup and even combs tucked away inside the cupboard. Yes, my house is never clean and far from perfect but I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I know many of you can relate with these struggles but nevertheless love every bit of the blessing that our little monsters are.

To Friendship…

There have been times when I was down in the dumps.

When the roads I drove on were full of bumps.

There have been times when I needed someone to lift me up.

When I wanted to share a chat over a tea cup.

There have been times I needed a shoulder to cry on.

When I felt the night will never break into a dawn.

For all those days, for all those times.

You were there with me, my partner of many crimes.

Can’t thank you enough my mate, my friend.

It’s because of you life’s been going on, despite all the bends.